Here lies William Cushing, who was a chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court. He was born, died and buried in his beloved home in Scituate. Route 3A, one of the major roads in this area, owes its official name to him - Chief Justice Cushing Way.
This man was one of the major figures in early American history. He served as a circuit judge while we were still a bunch of colonies, and threw his lot in with the revolutionaries. In 1777 he was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, and in 1783 Cushing issued a ruling which led to the abolishment of slavery in the state. He wrote, "I think the idea of slavery is inconsistent with our own conduct and constitution, and that there can be no such thing as perpetual servitude of a rational creature."
William Cushing went on to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, appointed by George Washington himself. At one point, Washington nominated William Cushing to be the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States; Cushing declined the nomination because of his age and concern for his health.
William Cushing's family burial ground is now designated as a state park. Some have called it the smallest state park in America; the cemetery is only 25 feet by 30 feet, so it's not hard to imagine the claim is an accurate one.
But I have to tell you... this man, who played such a key part in our nation's history, is largely forgotten. The Department of Conservation and Recreation, which is in charge of the state's parks, doesn't even list Cushing Memorial State Park on its website. The cemetery is unkempt and forgotten and the path leading to it largely untrodden upon. It sits in the shadow of a construction site for two enormous McMansions, both of which will probably not house as many people as are buried in the quiet little place in the woods which they dwarf.
It seems a shame, doesn't it?
4/15/11 UPDATE: I am told that some local Boy Scouts may be taking on Cushing Park as a clean up project this spring - huzzah!