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, February 23, 2021

“Perpetual Memorial” from the Paul Revere House, 5 Mar.

Last March we commemorated the Sestercentennial of the Boston Massacre.

There was a big gathering at the Old South Meeting-House with remembrances of each victim. There were book talks and signings. There were many reenactment scenarios around the center of Boston, both before and after our dramatic recreation of the shooting near the original site.

And of course there was the Covid-19 virus. The news and health guidelines were both still hazy, but I remember elbow handshakes, hand sanitizer, and feeling grateful that was a mainly outdoor event.

Now, shameful revelations and half a million American deaths later, we know we have to be more strict about public gatherings. There will be no Massacre reenactment in 2021.

However, the Paul Revere House has organized an online Sestercentennial commemoration of how the silversmith illuminated his house on 5 March 1771 to keep alive the memory of the violent deaths in Boston the previous winter.

I’ve quoted the sources on how Revere illuminated pictures in his windows in 1771, and how those pictures were moved to windows overlooking the shooting site in the following years.

In announcing “‘A solemn and perpetual memorial’: A 250th Anniversary Reimagining of Paul Revere’s Boston Massacre Illuminations,” the Paul Revere House says:
On March 5, 1771, Paul Revere used his recently purchased home to keep the memory of the Boston Massacre and opposition to the British occupation in Boston fresh with a series of three illuminations displayed in the windows facing North Square.

According to contemporary reports, thousands streamed by his house in silence to witness the spectacle which was a key link in the Revolutionary chain between the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party.

Our virtual program offers footage of a local artist’s reimagining of the illuminations, descriptions from period newspaper accounts, and an in-depth panel discussion with Revere engraving expert Prof. Nancy Siegel and Boston Massacre scholar Prof. Serena Zabin to add context and color to this incredibly significant event.
Folks can sign up for the online program here. There is a suggested donation of $10. All people who register by 6:30 on 5 March will receive a link to the YouTube premiere of this event and also be able to watch the recording of it later.

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