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 09, 2013

Reenactment of the Lexington Tea-Burning, 14 Dec.

As I’ve mentioned before, Old South Meeting House and the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum will host their annual reenactment of the Boston Tea Party on Monday, 16 December. That’s the 240th anniversary of the event. Tickets are still available.

Two days before then, on Saturday the 14th, the Lexington Historical Society will host its second annnual “Burning of the Tea” reenactment. That event actually occurred on 13 Dec 1773, and three days later the radical Massachusetts Spy reported:
We are positively informed that the patriotic inhabitants of Lexington, at a late meeting, unanimously resolved against the use of Bohea Tea of all sorts, Dutch or English importation; and to manifest the sincerity of their resolution, they bro’t together every ounce contained in the town, and committed it to one common bonfire.
That item went on to say that the people of Charlestown were considering the same action.

The next Monday newspapers, including the Boston Gazette and Boston Post-Boy, reprinted the first paragraph but not the second. I don’t know whether that means Charlestown didn’t proceed to destroying tea or whether its inhabitants’ action was lost in the excitement over the Tea Party. Because by then, of course, a much larger amount of tea had been sunk in Boston harbor.

Though the tea-burning in Lexington was thus overshadowed, it’s still significant as an early sign of rural support for Boston. The interests of farmers didn’t necessarily align with those of merchants, mariners, and craftsmen, but the voters of Lexington chose to support the people of the port. The Boston Gazette for 20 December printed the Lexington town meeting’s detailed resolves against the tea, adopted just before the burning, as the first item on its front page. (The Boston Post-Boy, which leaned toward the Crown, declined to run those resolves on account of space.)

Lexington’s reenactment of the tea burning will take place at 3:00 P.M. at Munroe Tavern (shown above), 1332 Massachusetts Avenue. The Rev. Peter Meek will portray the Rev. Jonas Clarke. The Boy Scouts will build a bonfire, and the William Diamond Fife and Drum Corps will play music. All other children must be supervised.

1 comment:

Edward Eck said...

There was another tea burning in Marshfield, MA, which was pretty amazing considering that Marshfield was strongly pro-tory. The site is still there and is marked by a plaque on Tea Rock Hill. Unfortunately most of my White relatives were in favor of the British and were expelled to Nova Scotia, from which several did sneak back after the Revolution. See the Wikipedia and the White Family Genealogy.
I'm Peregrine White's 9th (or thereabouts) grandson