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 09, 2013

The 19th of April at the Boston Tea Party Ships

The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum has multiple events lined up for Friday, 19 April, the actual anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord. (The state holiday of Patriots Day comes on Monday the 15th this year.)

At 9:30 A.M., the museum will unveil its new statue of Samuel Adams outside its doors. This event is free and open to the public since it is, well, out on the bridge. Susie Chisholm created this statue at her studio in Georgia. The picture here comes from a sneak preview the museum offered on its blog last month.

Since there’s already a statue of Samuel Adams at Faneuil Hall, I question whether the city needs another one. And right next to the tea ships? While the tea was being destroyed, Adams kept far away from the scene and in the middle of a crowd of witnesses.

You know whose statues we really need in Boston? Dr. Thomas Young and William Molineux, two of the most active crowd leaders during the pre-Revolutionary protests of the late 1760s and early 1770s. Both were off the scene by the end of 1774—Young moved to Newport and then Philadelphia, and Molineux died. That’s one big reason they’re the least remembered of Boston’s important political leaders. Of course, both also had unorthodox religious views and radical ideas or methods that didn’t endear them to later generations of historians.

We also don’t have portraits of either Young or Molineux. But the lack of an accurate visual model didn’t stop the Tea Party Museum when it wanted a statue of Capt. John Parker from the Lexington green. Young was with Adams in the Old South Meeting-House during the Tea Party, but Molineux wasn’t, and therefore probably down at the docks.

Back to 19 April at the museum: At noon and again at 6:00 P.M., Prof. Benjamin Carp will speak at the museum on the myths, facts, and global ramifications of the Boston Tea Party. Ben’s the author of Defiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party and the Making of America, and coauthor of at least one promising project this year. Tickets to his lectures (which cost $35) include “assorted pastries and tea, beer or wine.” Advance purchases recommended; call 617-338-1773.


Daud said...

In the BTPS&M's defense, the Samuel Adams statue at Faneuil is a generic man with a faint resemblance to John Hancock- while this Adams is a good likeness.

As for why he's at the BTPS&M- well, I daresay the version of history they peddle supports the conception that "Sam" Adams was the mastermind behind everything that ever happened and that nobody in Boston (especially not the motley rabble) lifted a finger without him orchestrating the whole thing.

John L Smith Jr said...

Are you familiar with a statue anywhere in Boston (or anywhere for that matter) of Dr. Warren? HE is the one who should have multiple statues!

J. L. Bell said...

As I recall, the museum's portrayal of the political conflict in Boston is all Patriots versus Tories, with no tensions within the Patriot movement: between radicals and moderates, merchants and craftsmen, employers and employees, &c.

Good point about this Samuel Adams looking more like his Copley portrait than the square-jawed figure at Faneuil Hall.

EJWitek said...

One of the panels on the magnificent bronze doors that open into the Senate Wing of the US Capitol building has a depiction of Warren dying in the arms of Col Prescott at Bunker Hill. The panel may not be historically accurate but the doors are a must see for any visit to the Capitol.

J. L. Bell said...

Thanks! Here’s a picture of those doors.

Mark Jacobson said...

A positive about the new Sam Adams statue is that is relatively close to his birthplace which was, I think, somewhere on the old Purchase St. at the waterfront just to the south.