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, October 16, 2018

Upcoming Events of Interest in Salem and Taunton

Sometimes it’s good to get away from the crowded Boston Common of 1768, so here are a couple of interesting historical events taking place elsewhere in Massachusetts.

On Wednesday, 17 October, and then again on Wednesday, 24 October, the Salem Maritime National Historic Site will offer a special talk titled “Smuggling Stories from Captain Derby’s Wharf.” Richard Derby, Sr. (shown here), was a prominent Salem merchant captain whose sons Richard, Jr.; Elias Hasket; and John all played important roles in Massachusetts’s Revolution.

Drawing on recent research, park rangers will share real tales from the Salem waterfront, including:
  • The Crown’s seizure and auction of Fayal wine from the Derby warehouse in 1771.
  • The accidental sinking of the Crown’s Customs boat in the Salem harbor.
  • John Derby’s smuggling adventure on the Quero.
This free hourlong program is scheduled to start at 7:00 P.M. on Derby Wharf, 173 Derby Street in Salem. The park urges people to bring lawn chairs and blankets because the talk will be delivered outdoors near the water. (If the weather is particularly poor, though, I understand there’s an indoor site at the ready.)

On the weekend between those talks in Salem, Taunton is celebrating its “Liberty and Union” Festival, inspired by the British flag with that motto sewn onto it that local Patriots raised in 1774.

On Thursday, 18 October, public historian and landscape architect Tom Paine will speak at the Old Colony History Museum about “That Spark of Liberty: Robert Treat Paine and America’s D.N.A.” Tom is a sixth-generation descendant of Robert Treat Paine, the Taunton lawyer who became one of Massachusetts’s signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Tom will delve into the Paine family stories that inspired descendants of the Civil War Generation. He will discuss Paine’s years as the first Attorney General of Massachusetts, including his roles in crafting the world’s oldest modern constitution and the legal abolition of slavery in the state.

This talk is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served at 6:30 P.M. with the talk to begin at 7:00. The museum is at 66 Church Green in Taunton.

The town’s “Liberty and Union” celebration has already reportedly gotten under way with middle-schoolers sticking flags into people’s lawns. But the big day is Saturday, 20 October. There will be a walking tour of historic downtown Taunton starting at 11:00 A.M. at the Old Colony History Museum. At 11:30 a procession from the statue of Robert Treat Paine to the museum will end with the raising off a “Liberty and Union” flag. Meanwhile, there will be music and dance, games and pumpkin-decorating for kids, crafts demonstrations and historical reenactors. The complete list of activities is here.

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