Rename The Town Of Amherst Massachusetts

Rename The Town Of Amherst Massachusetts

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Brendan MacWade started this petition to President, Amherst Town Council Lynn Griesemer and

The town of Amherst Massachusetts (and any US or Canadian town with that name) is named after a genocidal British-born businessman and baron. That name should be changed.

He wasn't a war hero as some locals claim. He wasn't a hero to anyone outside his family and the British Empire. In fact, I'm not sure if he ever set foot in the town that is named after him. It is not clear if he had a direct or indirect hand in the killing of local indigenous people in New England. But it IS clear that he advocated for the mass killing of indigenous tribes. It is also clear that in the French and Indian War, he acted as a general for the British Empire. His mission included using the Iroquois as soldiers against the French and other local tribes that resisted the British conquest. He helped the British achieve two goals of driving out the French and reducing the indigenous populations.

I argue that Amherst is disqualified for two reasons: his advocacy of genocide, and the simple fact that he was a British imperialist, not a patriot. We should all know that New England is stolen land. That cannot be reversed. But when a town is named after one, specific, bad non-American, then that error can be corrected. There is a great opportunity to right a wrong here. 

Lord Jeffery was a homicidal imperialist. He was honored by the British because he was on the winning side in the French and Indian War in Quebec. The capture of Montreal in 1760 guaranteed a British conquest of French Canada, and the final end of French power in North America. It also meant that the American colonies of Great Britain would be less dependent on London, because they were no longer threatened by the French. In a perverse way, British victory over the French in Canada would lead to American independence and the loss of Britain's most important possessions just 20 years later. But that in no way makes Lord Jeff a man to memorialize and remember. 

College students in the area first explored the possibility of changing the town name in 1992 with the 500th anniversary of Columbus' first voyage to the Caribbean. The idea is that indigenous peoples and cultures who lived here before us should be remembered, not Europeans who conquered them. Changing names and memorials 30 years ago was a much steeper climb than it is today.  But now, with dramatic recent events and a tangible shift in public opinion, it is time to get the job done. Amherst College has stripped the name from their hotel and has dropped Lord Amherst as their mascot. It seems that the door is now open to a town name change.

Simply put: Amherst does not have to be called Amherst. It was not founded by Lord Jeff. The name was forced upon the town by a British official less than 20 years before the British were driven out of Massachusetts.

We could rename it Norwottuck, which was the indigenous name the locals wanted in 1759, until the colonial governor intervened and chose Amherst. We could name it it after a town in England (we have Sunderland and Northampton nearby, both similarly named). Or we could name it Dickinson, after the artist who was born and who died there, and really made Amherst the great town that it is. That would be a rare opportunity to name a Massachusetts town after a great woman.

I am not proposing the new name. I want to see support for the current name to be removed. We need that consensus first.

This petition is started by Brendan MacWade, UMass [town name TBD] 1995.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!
At 2,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!