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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Tuesday, April 07, 2015

“Meanings of Liberty” Events at Old South in April

This month the Bostonian Society and Old South Meeting House are presenting a series of Friday lunchtime events at the latter venue on the theme “Meanings of Liberty.” These presentations commemorate the 250th anniversary of the month when Americans learned that the new Stamp Act would come into effect in November. That law, aa tax enacted by Parliament rather than the colonies’ own legislatures, provoked transatlantic debate on the bounds of liberty within the British imperial system. Of course, American independence didn’t end conflicts between central and local authority, or community and individual liberty.

Friday, 10 April 10, 12:15 to 1:00 P.M.
Liberty Hall: Popular Politics in the Shadow of Boston’s Liberty Tree
Boston’s Liberty Tree—a stately elm located at the corner of Essex and Orange streets—rose to prominence during the tumultuous Stamp Act protests of 1765-66 and quickly became both an important symbol and gathering place for the Boston crowd. Discover the forgotten story of “Liberty Hall,” the name that Bostonians gave to this public space. Liberty Hall’s elaborate rules and rituals invite new ways of thinking about popular politics during the Revolutionary era. Don’t miss this lecture and discussion led by Nathaniel Sheidley, Historian and Director of Public History at The Bostonian Society.

Friday, 17 April, 12:15 to 1:00 P.M.
Symbols and Meanings of Liberty
Come to the Old State House to meet Stephen Greenleaf, Suffolk County’s Sheriff in 1765. As sheriff, Greenleaf endeavored to keep the peace in Boston during the tense days and months that followed the passage of the Stamp Act, but often failed. Greenleaf will even share the particularly harrowing tale of his attempt to remove protest symbols from the Liberty Tree! Stay after the talk to reflect on the meanings of liberty today as you make your own liberty symbol in the form of a lantern or “liberty leaf” to add to our Liberty Tree.

Friday, 24 April, anytime 11:30 A.M. to 1:30 P.M.
Liberty Verses, Liberty Tree!
Stop by Old South Meeting House and add your own “Liberty Leaves” to the growing tree. Choose from a selection of short poems and stanzas about liberty and freedom (some by poets connected with Old South) or write your own “liberty poem”! This activity will be one of several available as part of the site’s celebration of April School Vacation Week and National Poetry Month.

The first and third events will take place at Old South, the second at the Old State House. They are free with admission to each site, and come with a one-day pass to the other museum as well. All are of course free to members of the Old South Meeting House and Bostonian Society.

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