August 4, 2016

Sacred Cod of Massachusetts

Sacred Cod

The Sacred Cod is a four-foot, eleven-inch carved-wood effigy of an Atlantic codfish, hanging in the public viewing gallery of the House of Representatives chamber in the Boston's Massachusetts State House. It was placed in the House of Representative chamber ceiling in 1784 to commemorate the importance of the fishing industry to the Bay State.

Sacred Cod History

There have been three versions of the Sacred Cod:

  • 1700s - 1747 - Displayed in the Old State House, destroyed by fire.
  • 1747 - 1774 - Stolen by the British during the Revolutionary war.
  • 1784 - Today - Moved to the new State House in 1895.

Stealing the Sacred Cod

There have been two cases of people stealing the Sacred Cod:

  • April 16, 1933, some Harvard Lampoon students stole it, it was returned a few days later in a dramatic fashion. A phone call to the Harvard University Police to have them follow a car with no license plate. After a brief slow speed chase, the car pulled over and two men handed over the Cod and sped away. The Cod was returned about 50 hours after it was stolen.
  • November 16, 1968, some Boston UMass students stole the Sacred Cod and was returned a few days later.

President Frankin D, Roosevelt

In 1941, the Sacred Cod became a topic when President Franklin D, Roosevelt visited Boston during a time when there was a push to use aluminum as part of the World War 2 defense. President Roosevelt was invited to visit Boston to start the nation-wide aluminum drive.

According to the Boston Globe, Franklin R. Roosevelt said, "I have been informed that the Sacred Cod emblem of Massachusetts, which hangs in your august chamber, is made of aluminum, or of aluminum sections. I think it would be a generous gesture and an example to the rest of the citizenry if the members of your honorable body voted to contribute the code to the cause of the defense."

The Sacred Cod is under the Massachusetts State Art Commission control, and they did not approve of removing it from the chamber. (There's no indication that they actually took President Frankin D, Roosevelt offer seriously.)

Assorted Sacred Cod Trivia

  • John Hancock was the sitting Massachusetts Governor when the original Sacred Cod was given to the House of Representatives.
  • The Sacred Cod is made of mostly pine and there's barely any trace of aluminum. The Sacred Cod is Four feet, 11 1/2 inches long, 10 inches wide at its fin point.
  • In 1965, the Sacred Cod was cleaned, and when it was placed back it was hung backward facing the South. For 70 years, it was facing North.
  • In 1937, some representatives wanted the Cod to be replaced by a greyhound as a tribute to "the power of the dog track operators." In 2008, Massachusetts eliminated Greyhound racing via Question 3 on the November 4, 2008, ballot. The last greyhound race was on December 26, 2009, at Raynham Park.

Viewing the Sacred Cod

You can see the Sacred Cod on a tour of the Massachusetts State House. Tour of the State House is free. You are allowed to take pictures inside the State House.

Comments

Add your Comments

Feel free to leave a comment about this post.

- Feel Free to add HTML to your comment!