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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Thursday, November 07, 2013

“Politics and the Pulpit” at Old South This Month

Today the Old South Meetinghouse launches a series of lunchtime talks on the theme of “Politics and the Pulpit.” Each lecture runs 12:15 to 1:00 P.M. and is free to Old South members, $1-6 for others. Here’s the lineup of topics.

Thursday, 7 November
Liberty’s Pulpits: Boston Churches in the Revolution
Churches preaching politics? Hear the inflammatory language of Boston’s Revolutionary preachers in a first-person portrayal by Patrick Jennings of Boston National Historical Park. This program, offering a chance to converse with a late-18th-century minister about politics and religion, premiered at Harborfest in 2011.

Thursday, 14 November
“Liberty is in real value next unto Life”: Samuel Sewall and The Selling of Joseph
In 1697, Judge Samuel Sewall offered a public apology at Old South Meeting House for his role in the Salem witch trials. Three years later, Sewall wrote The Selling of Joseph: A Memorial, the first anti-slavery tract published in New England. Peter Drummey, librarian of the Massachusetts Historical Society, which holds the only surviving copy of this pamphlet, discusses Sewall’s use of Biblical text to decry “Man Stealing” and the place of The Selling of Joseph in ongoing discussions of slavery in 18th-century New England.

Thursday, 21 November
“Speaking of Slavery” at the Meeting House
In this premiere performance, Eric Hanson Plass and Merrill Kohlhofer of Boston National Historical Park portray George Washington Blagden, senior minister of Old South Church from 1836 to 1872, and Jacob Merrill Manning, associate and then senior minister from 1857 to 1882. Despite admonitions from Blagden, in 1857 Manning began to speak out publicly on the issue of slavery from the pulpit. In 1858, after John Brown’s raid on Virginia, he declared, “I would certainly have advised him not to do it, but I am far from regretting that the attempt has been made.” This statement begins a conversation between the ministers about slavery, liberty, patriotism, and ministry.

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