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, March 30, 2012

Pauline Maier Talks Ratification in Lexington, 30 Mar.

Tonight the Lexington Historical Society hosts Prof. Pauline Maier speaking on how the states ratified the Constitution, the topic of her recent book Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788.

On 10 Dec 1787, the town of Lexington had a meeting to respond to the call for a convention to respond to the proposed new federal structure for the U.S. of A. The upshot:

The Town then made choice of Benjamin Brown Esqr. to represent them in the State Convention to be held at the State House in Boston on the Second Wednesday of January next to give their Assent & ratification to a Constitution or Frame of Government for the United States of America as reported by the Continental Convention begun & held at Philadelphia, in May, 1787—
Benjamin Brown (1720-1802) was a farmer and deacon of the local congregation. He had been a selectman, member of the town’s committee of correspondence, and representative to the Massachusetts General Court and Massachusetts Provincial Congress. (He was also father of Solomon Brown, who Boston 1775 notes was quite significant in the start of the war.) The Wisconsin Historical Society displays a nearly unreadable image of Brown’s official documentation as a delegate.

The Lexington town records don’t seem to include complex or wary instructions for Deacon Brown. In that town at least, there seems to have been little discussion of whether Americans should or should not “give their Assent & ratification” to the new Constitution. Brown appears in the official record of the convention in Boston (at the Federal Street meetinghouse, not the State House) only once, voting yea at the end. But there was a lot more drama evident elsewhere.

Maier’s talk on that saga will begin at 8:00 P.M. in the Lexington Depot Building and 13 Depot Square. There will be coffee and cookies, and book sales and signing.

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