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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Monday, March 19, 2018

Orations at Old South, 21 Mar.

On Wednesday, 21 March, the Old South Meeting House will host “Speak Out!”, its fourth annual remembrance of the Boston Massacre orations.

From 1771 to 1783, Boston had a yearly town meeting to commemorate the fatal violence on King Street. The tradition was started by Dr. Thomas Young speaking at the Manufactory on 5 Mar 1770, and the town’s politicians decided the event was successful enough to make it an official occasion, not just a speech by a radical who wasn’t even from around here.

That year the town had assistant schoolmaster James Lovell speak in April. From then on, the orations were always on 5 March or, if that date fell on a Sunday, 6 March. The invited orator was usually a rising young politician. In order:
In 1783 Boston decided that remembering the Massacre was less vital now that Massachusetts was independent, and the town shifted its annual patriotic oration to the Fourth of July.

The Old South event focuses on the orations leading up to the war. The description says:
Join us to hear selected excerpts of these speeches, performed by an inter-generational group in the grand hall where the orations took place 240 years ago! Learn about the orations and their significance with special guests Bostonian Society Executive Director Nathaniel Sheidley, historian Robert Allison, and Dr. Joseph Warren biographer Dr. Samuel Forman. Audience members will also have the option to read from a selection of excerpts; prizes will be awarded to the most rousing orators in youth and adult categories!
This free event is co-sponsored by the History Department at Suffolk University, the Bostonian Society, and the Boston Public Schools’ Department of History and Social Studies.

All are welcome, but Old South asks people to please register in advance. The speeches start at 6:00 P.M. If the weather is bad, the event might be postponed for a week until 28 March.

ADDENDUM: This event has now been rescheduled for 28 March.

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