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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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

If This Is Wednesday, We Must Be at Faneuil Hall

I’m spending much of this week playing tour guide to dear friends from London. The twelve-year-old twins in that family will be studying the American Revolution for two semesters next year. That’s about two semesters more than I remember studying the English Civil War or Parliamentary reform, so I’m trying to help out by showing them the local Revolutionary sites.

Monday was Lexington and Concord. One twin took the photo above, though he was put off by the chest-banging aspects of the motto on the flagpole. Munroe Tavern’s presentation of the British soldiers’ experience was a good way to end the day. Today we’ll visit some of the sites in downtown Boston, and tomorrow Bunker Hill after I finish talking to the teachers.


Jim Padian said...

Thought across the great pond, it was always referred to as "The War for Independence?" Have not been back to Lexington in years (lived there for 40), so I can't recall what the chest-banging motto said.

Anonymous said...

I've always known it as "The Revolutionary War".

I think there are several markers at that flagpole with brief inscriptions commemorating the first battles of the war. I haven't been there in almost 20 years, so maybe something else has been added?

John L Smith Jr said...

They are very fortunate to have YOU for a tour guide! I'd always heard that from the British POV, it was called "The American War". I'm sure at the North Bridge you pointed out the site of the British soldiers' common grave. When I was there a couple of weeks ago, the site was manned by a British period soldier.

J. L. Bell said...

The motto is actually modest, so far as these things go: "Birth Place of American Liberty." Other locations in the U. S. of A. might disagree, but it doesn't claim to be birthplace of all liberty or the like. That sort of self-congratulation is not at all British (except, of course, when they're proud of being so modest).

Britain's period term for the Revolutionary War was indeed "the American War," but that stopped being such a good identifier after 1812. Now they seem to use "American Revolution" as easily as we say "French Revolution" or "Russian Revolution."