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, December 10, 2012

Tea-Burning in Lexington, 15 Dec.

It’s Tea Party season in Boston again as we stuff a commemoration of the historic event into the hectic holiday season. The Bostonians of 1773, most of whom rigorously ignored Christmas and had never heard of Hannukah, Eid, or other faiths’ winter solstice holidays, didn’t have that trouble.

The first announcement actually comes from half a day’s ride out of town:
The Lexington Historical Society invites you to attend the first-ever re-enactment of a little known but critical event in town history: The Burning of the Tea. This free event, open to the public, takes place on Saturday, December 15, at 3:00 P.M. at Munroe Tavern, 1332 Massachusetts Avenue in Lexington.

Three days before the Boston Tea Party, citizens of Lexington burned all their tea in a common bonfire. Lexington’s minister Jonas Clarke issued an incendiary declaration of support for the people of Boston, warning that anyone in Lexington who consumed tea would be treated “as an enemy of this town and this country.” Clarke’s fiery words resonate through history, a foreshadowing of events to come: “Should the State of Our Affairs require it, We shall be ready to Sacrifice our Estates, and every thing dear in Life, Yea & Life itself, in support of the common Cause.”

Rev. Peter Meek will give voice to Rev. Jonas Clarke’s powerful 1773 public resolution. Citizens are welcome to join re-enactors from the Lexington Minutemen in stoking the bonfire (built by Lexington Boy Scouts) with tea (supplied by Peet’s Coffee and Tea) to protest Parliament’s “wicked” policies. The William Diamond Fife and Drum Corps will supply a stirring live soundtrack. A musket salute from the Lexington Minutemen will provide the finale, and all will then be invited inside Munroe Tavern for coffee and hot chocolate—but absolutely no tea!
This event is scheduled to last for ninety minutes.

(The thumbnail image above shows Tom Fortmann portraying the Rev. Mr. Clarke at a 2009 event.)

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