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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Sunday, August 11, 2019

When the “Powder Alarm” Came to Shrewsbury

Here’s a link to something else I didn’t realize was on the web: video of my Road to Concord presentation in Shrewsbury in January 2018.

Chapter 2 of the book begins in that town:
While Gen. Gage was arranging to remove the gunpowder from Charlestown, a young Irish merchant named McNeil was traveling from Litchfield, Connecticut, toward Boston, where a relative was baking bread for the king’s troops. On August 30, McNeil had watched a large crowd in Springfield pressure the local judges into not holding court sessions under the Massachusetts Government Act. On the night of September 1 he stopped at a tavern in Shrewsbury in central Massachusetts. “[A]bout midnight or perhaps one o’Clock,” McNeil later told the Rev. Ezra Stiles of Newport, he woke up to hear “somebody violently rapping up the Landlord, telling the doleful Story that the Powder was taken, six men killed.”
That was the “Powder Alarm,” reaching Shrewsbury as the rumor traveled west. By the end of the day, royal rule was finished in most of Massachusetts. But the race for gunpowder, artillery, and other matérial of war had just begun.

In honor of the Shrewsbury connection, I focused this talk on that day and its fallout. Also, I see, I wore a suit.

Thanks to the Shrewsbury Historical Society for hosting me, the local cable-access service for recording the events, and Ben Edwards of Walking Boston for the link.

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