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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Saturday, March 12, 2016

“The End of Tory Row” in Cambridge, 24 Mar.

Among the historical talks on Thursday, 24 March, here’s the one I’ll attend: “The End of Tory Row,” at Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site in Cambridge.

I’ll be there because I’ll be doing the speaking. This is the latest of a series of lectures I’ve given at the site about how that house was used by the Vassall family and Gen. George Washington.

Here’s the description we came up with for this year’s talk:
On September 1, 1774, the estates along the road from the center of Cambridge toward Watertown comprised a prosperous community, linked by bonds of family, religion, and politics. By the end of the month most of those families had moved out of their mansions, and the royal government no longer had authority over most of Massachusetts. Drawing on new research for his upcoming book The Road to Concord, J. L. Bell describes the dramatic confrontation that led to those changes. 
For this evening I plan to focus on the experience of Thomas Oliver (1738-1815), the first owner of the nearby mansion now known as Elmwood (shown above).

On 8 Aug 1774, Oliver was sworn in as the new royal lieutenant governor of Massachusetts. He was probably as surprised as anyone about that commission; as I discussed back here, he had never been politically active. Newspapers speculated that officials in London had appointed Oliver because of a family connection, or because they thought he had a family connection, or simply because someone  filled in the wrong given name on a form.

Less than one month after becoming lieutenant governor, Oliver and his family had been driven from their stately home into Boston. Most of his wealthy neighbors (almost all of them related to his wife Elizabeth) soon moved behind the British army lines as well. By the end of September 1774, the country neighborhood that was later dubbed “Tory Row” was almost entirely empty of Loyalists.

This talk will discuss what happened in that month, and the ramifications of those events on the overall political situation in New England. It is scheduled to start at 6:30 P.M., after on-street parking spaces become available in the neighborhood. Seating in the Longfellow Carriage House is limited, so please reserve seats through this Facebook page, by calling (617) 876-4491, or by email. Thanks!

1 comment:

RodFleck said...

On my list of things to do, is to visit Boston and now I am adding, when I can also attend a presentation by Mr. Bell!