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, May 11, 2012

Gen. Gage Slept Here

As part of the London government’s program to punish Boston for the Tea Party, Gen. Thomas Gage used his prerogative as new governor in the spring of 1774 to move the Massachusetts General Court to Salem.

The legislature protested, but it was protesting everything those days. The body met in Salem for less than two weeks, from 7 to 17 June. As soon as Gage heard that the lower house was voting to send delegates to the First Continental Congress, he declared the session adjourned.

Samuel Adams as Clerk had arranged to have the chamber locked, so Secretary Thomas Flucker had to read the governor’s proclamation to the closed doors until the legislators had finished their business. (There’s a little more intrigue to that story.)

Gage remained in Salem through the nearly the end of August. Last month, Boston 1775 reader P. J. Curran asked me where exactly he lived during that time. I did some digging, and found that the governor borrowed a mansion built in Danvers around 1754 for Robert “King” Hooper (1709-1790). That Loyalist merchant dominated the trade in Essex County’s fishing catch. His Danvers estate became known as “the Lindens.”

The good news is that the Lindens house has largely been preserved. The bad news, at least for folks touring Massachusetts, is that it was preserved by being dismantled and reassembled on Kalorama Road in Washington, D.C., in 1935. Here’s a Washington Post article about the house, and here’s a Library of Congress collection of photographs taken shortly before the move. In addition, one room’s paneling went to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City.

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