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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Sunday, July 16, 2017

“The Road to Concord” Ends in Stow, 20 July

On Thursday, 20 July, I’ll speak about The Road to Concord at the Randall Library in Stow, Massachusetts.

For this talk I plan to stress the end of the story, as Gen. Thomas Gage strove to find the cannon that the Massachusetts Provincial Congress was accumulating in the countryside—particularly in Concord.

On 29 Oct 1774, that congress appointed Henry Gardner (1731-1782) of Stow as its “receiver general”—the shadow treasurer for a shadow government. The congress asked towns to send Gardner all the taxes they collected for Massachusetts instead of sending them to Harrison Gray, the royal government’s treasurer in Boston.

In 1907 Edward Everett Hale wrote for the Massachusetts Historical Society, “It would seem as if Henry Gardner might be called the first person who by public act was instructed to commit high treason against the King.”

Be that as it may, Gardner was responsible for managing payments for the cannon, carriages, and artillery equipment that the congress bought over the months before the war. Given how the economy worked, he may simply have kept track of the debts that tradesmen or wealthy Patriot merchants were accruing. Many towns apparently chose to keep their tax collections themselves rather than forwarding them on to either side.

Stow has another link to the story in The Road to Concord. It looks like that town was the farthest west that the Boston militia artillery company’s four brass cannon traveled in 1775. The town’s website says, “Cannon were hidden in the woods surrounding the Lower Common, gunpowder and other armaments in the Meeting House and a small powderhouse on Pilot Grove Hill.” I look forward to seeing those sites.

This talk will start at 7:00 P.M. at the Randall Library, 19 Crescent Street in Stow. It is free and open to the public. I’ll have copies of The Road to Concord and other books available for sale and signing.

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