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, July 18, 2008

“Yesterday the Declaration for Independency was Published”

Of course I’m going to link to this document when the Massachusetts Historical Society makes it so easy!

On 18 July 1776, Sheriff William Greenleaf, assisted by Col. Thomas Crafts, read the Declaration of Independence aloud to the Massachusetts Council and the public gathered outside the Town House (now called the Old State House). The M.H.S.’s object of the month is a letter from Henry Alline to family members describing that event.

Yesterday the Declaration for Independency was Published ou[t] of the Balcony of the Town House. A detachment of the Train of Artillery with two field pieces. And also a detachment of the Colony Troops attended in King Street [soon renamed State Street, for obvious reasons], and after the[y] finished Reading the Declaration there [were] three hearty Chears given, And the field pieces were discharged a Number of times, & the Musquettry, & the Several batteries in Town & upon the Islands and at Nantaskett fired, the Bells rang, and in the Afternoon was tore down the Lion & the Unicon upon the East End of the Town House & the Kings Arms taken down from the Council Chamber, Court House & other places & towards Evening all were Committed to the flames to the Satisfaction of every body but Tories.
Most of Alline’s letter is actually taken up with smallpox inoculations for the family and the frustrating quest to recover property and documents that had gone missing during the siege.

Links on the M.H.S.’s webpage lead to other accounts of the reading from Abigail Adams and John Rowe.

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