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, September 10, 2020

“When Washington Went to War at Sea” at Historic Beverly, 14 Sept.

On Monday, 14 September, I’ll deliver an online presentation through Historic Beverly on “When Washington Went to War at Sea: How Beverly Became the General’s Naval Base.”

Our teaser:
In the fall of 1775, Gen. George Washington adopted a new strategy to drive the British army out of Boston—attacking its supply ships at sea.

The semi-secluded cove of Beverly was the first base for those missions, and soldiers from Essex County sailed out on armed schooners to hunt British ships. This talk looks at the ups and downs of America’s first naval campaign, overseen by a general who never saw the ships he commissioned.
I’m drawing this talk from the National Park Service study I wrote about Washington’s work in Cambridge.

The online session is scheduled to start at 7:00 P.M. A Historic Beverly membership or $10 donation provides access to it. Sign up through this page before 5:00 on Monday the 14th.

This talk is moored to Historic Beverly’s exhibit of paintings of the Revolutionary War created for Henry Cabot Lodge’s 1898 book The Story of the Revolution. Lodge commissioned a select group of American illustrators to paint images of crucial moments in the war. Those pictures are all now owned by Historic Beverly.

Interestingly, while some of those artists worked in full color, others created their images in black and white, or what today we’d call “grayscale,” sometimes with splashes of red for the British army uniforms. That made those pictures easier to reproduce in Lodge’s book. Above, for example, is a detail of a picture of Gen. Washington reviewing his troops by Hugh W. Ditzler (1871-1949).

Historic Beverly is displaying at its 1781 John Cabot House two dozen of those paintings and additional period artifacts, including one of the first copies of the Declaration of Independence printed in Massachusetts, commissioned by the state government from Ezekiel Russell. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, the society couldn’t welcome visitors to its sites for some months this year, but folks can visit this exhibit in its final weeks.

In addition, on Thursday, 24 September, at 4:00 P.M. curator Abby Battis will offer an online peek of the exhibit, walking through the display space, discussing the artists, and showing several paintings in the collection that didn’t make it into the main exhibit except for this final week. That online event will be live on Historic Beverly’s Facebook page, and it’s free to all.

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