J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Friday, September 01, 2006

Boston Goes Radical in September

September brings an exciting Revolutionary lecture series organized by the Paul Revere Memorial Association (which preserves the Paul Revere House in the North End) and hosted by Old South Meeting-House in Boston. All these talks are 6:30-7:30 on Wednesdays, and all are free. Three are by historians whose work I already like a lot. The whole series is titled "A Radical Look at the American Revolution."

6 Sept: Ray Raphael on "Adams, Revere, and 'The Body of the People'." Did Samuel Adams and other men we view as leaders of Boston's Revolutionary movement lead the people, or were they pulled along by the people? (See my recent remarks on Thomas Crafts, Jr., one such leader who felt tugs both forward and back.)

13 Sept: Russell Bourne on "Cradle of Violence: How Boston's Waterfront Mobs Ignited the American Revolution." You heard about this book first on Boston 1775.

20 Sept: Doris Fanelli of the National Park Service on "The Unfinished Business of the American Revolution: Race and Slavery at the President's House Site in Philadelphia." The NPS displays the Liberty Bell on a site that overlaps the footprint of the mansion where George Washington lived during his presidency. Also living in that house were enslaved workers he had brought from Virginia. When the NPS chose to include that fact in its historical markers and interpretation, some people objected to bringing such a troublesome issue into a shrine to liberty. Others, including me, thought there could be no better example of liberty than noting how Ona Judge and Hercules Washington began their journey to freedom from that spot.

27 Sept: Brendan McConville of Boston University on "A Funeral Fit for a King: Terror, Iconoclasm, and the Coming of the American Revolution." Systematic violence and intimidation from 1773 to 1776, breaking down the old political order and ending the First British Empire. What could be more fun?

Now here's the odd part: the Paul Revere House and Old South websites don't appear to announce these events yet. But you don't have to trust me (though you should). Some or all are listed by WHDH, the Boston Globe's book blog, and the Downtown Crossing Association.

And the sad part: Wednesdays are my busiest nights this month. On the 6th, for example, I have two other events scheduled for the same evening when Ray Raphael is speaking. So go! Go on without me. 'Tis a far, far better thing I do...

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