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 04, 2017

Making the “Salem Connection,” 7 Apr.

On Friday, 7 April, I’ll speak at the Salem Athenaeum about “The Salem Connection: A Crucial Part of Massachusetts’s Secret Drive to Collect Artillery Before the Revolutionary War.”

This event is part of Salem’s commemoration of “Leslie’s Retreat,” the confrontation on 26 Feb 1775 when a Patriot crowd prevented Lt. Col. Alexander Leslie from searching a smithy near the North River for weapons.

As I describe in The Road to Concord, there actually were weapons in that forge—at least when Leslie and his soldiers arrived in town. But blacksmith Robert Foster had hastily moved them away while David Mason, the man who had collected those guns, blocked Leslie’s approach at a drawbridge. Those cannon were part of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress’s drive to build an army.

Salem was also the site of other significant actions resisting the royal government in the preceding year:
  • the Massachusetts General Court’s vote on 17 June 1774 to send delegates to the First Continental Congress, which prompted Gen. Thomas Gage to dissolve that legislature.
  • the Salem town meeting’s vote on 24 August 1774 to send delegates to an Essex County convention, which Gage tried to stop by detaining local activists and summoning troops; that didn’t work, so he gave up on Essex County and moved back to Boston.
  • the first meeting of the Provincial Congress on 7 October 1774.
I’ll speak about how all those events tie together as part of a province-wide resistance to the Crown.

My talk is scheduled to start at 7:00 P.M. Admission is $10 for Salem Athenaeum members, $15 for others, free for students with identification, with the proceeds benefiting the host institution.

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