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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Monday, April 09, 2012

Links for the Patriots’ Day Season in 2012

Events commemorating the start of the Revolutionary War come on strong in the next couple of weeks. The best clearing-house for happenings out in the countryside is BattleRoad.org’s Events page. Among those items is my own talk in Lincoln tomorrow night: “What Did the British Hope to Find in Concord on April 19th?”

BattleRoad.org’s listings extend to the end of the month. They include the battle demonstrations and encampments inside Minute Man National Historical Park on 14-19 April. I prefer visiting those over the venerable dawn skirmish on Lexington common because they’re (a) not at dawn, and (b) spread out, so the sight lines are better.

On that last point, writer Derek W. Beck asks whether V.I.P. seating for the Lexington reenactment is in the spirit of the occasion. Or would the provincials in that skirmish have seen those arrangements as similar to seating the meetinghouse according to social status and wealth?

One local commemoration I hadn’t read about before is Acton’s “Robbins’ Ride.” Alas, “for the purposes of safety and practicality,” this isn’t reenacted by an actual thirteen-year-old boy on a horse. Then again, an adult is more likely to ride responsibly.

In the city, Boston National Historical Park hosts its annual “Paul Revere’s Row” on 15 April. The next morning, Roxbury celebrates William Dawes’s trip through that town with events starting at 8:00 at the U.U. Urban Ministry/First Church. The Paul Revere House has many presentations and family activities lined up for the school vacation.

Finally, on Sunday the Boston Globe ran several articles pertinent to the holiday:
  • On reenacting the real fight in Lexington on 19 Apr 1775, which occurred in the afternoon as the British expedition came back through town and met the reinforcement column. In the late 1900s the town militia’s attack on the regulars withdrawing to Boston became known as “Parker’s Revenge.” 
  • On Bedford’s pole-capping ceremony, a tradition that goes back 47 years. (While I’ve found scattered references to the “Liberty Cap” in Revolutionary times, the symbol seems to have reached its greatest popularity as a Jeffersonian symbol during the partisan politics of the early republic.)
  • On Cyrus Dallin, sculptor of the Paul Revere statue in the North End, and his museum in Arlington.
  • On the legacy of the “praying Indian” communities of Massachusetts—Natives who adopted Christianity and a lifestyle that combined American and European culture, only to be eventually swept along by the growing population of British settlers and their descendants.

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