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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Friday, November 08, 2013

“Long Room Club” and RevWar Schmoozer

This post is another spin-off of my talk about “Boston’s Pre-Revolutionary Newspaper Wars” on Wednesday, and perhaps an inducement to attend tonight’s “RevWar Schmoozer” at The Point. That event will in part celebrate the publication of the first Journal of the American Revolution collection, just off the press.

In Old Landmarks and Historic Personages of Boston (1873), Samuel A. Drake wrote this about Benjamin Edes and John Gill, printers of the Boston Gazette newspaper:
Edes and Gill, when they printed the Stamp Act, occupied premises on the south side of Court Street, about on the present site of the Adams Express Co. In their back office, on the old corner, the council for the destruction of the tea was held, of which [Samuel Adams was the master spirit. The Gazette, under the control of Edes and Gill, was the paper in which Adams, [James] Otis, [Dr. Joseph] Warren, [Josiah] Quincy, and other leaders of popular feeling, wrote, and became conspicuous for its able political articles. . . .

Over the printing-office was a long room in which were wont to meet the active patriots. They took the name of the Long Room Club. Samuel Adams was the leader. [John] Hancock, Otis, Samuel Dexter, William Cooper, town clerk, Dr. [Samuel] Cooper, Warren, [Dr. Benjamin] Church, Josiah Quincy, Jr., Thomas Dawes, Samuel Phillips, Royal Tyler, Paul Revere, Thomas Fleet, John Winslow, Thomas Melvill, and some others, were members. In this room were matured most of the plans for resistance to British usurpation, from the Stamp Act to the formation of the Provincial Congress at Watertown.
That statement is echoed in many other descriptions of the “Long Room Club” from the late 1800s to today. The list of men is one that David Hackett Fischer used in Paul Revere’s Ride to identify the best networked Patriots. The upstairs meeting-room inspired Esther Forbes’s description of the “Boston Observers” in her novel Johnny Tremain.

But I’ve come to believe there’s something very important missing from Drake’s description. Come to the Schmoozer tonight and I’ll tell you what it is.


Anonymous said...

Didn't John Adams write about attending one of these meetings?

Charles Bahne said...

I believe that "Old Landmarks and Historic Personages of Boston" was written by Samuel Adams Drake, not S. A. Otis.


J. L. Bell said...

Doh! Too many Drakes (Francis wrote Tea Leaves, too many Otises, and too much haste. I'll correct that.

J. L. Bell said...

There are a couple of passages from John Adams's diary pertinent to the Edes and Gill print shop—one from 1769 and one from 1772.

John said...

Couldn't make the Schmoozer and as I reside in NYC have somewhat of an excuse however flimsy. So what was the important thing missing from Drake's description?


J. L. Bell said...

My answers will appear shortly in the next posting.