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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Wednesday, January 04, 2023

Speaking of William Molineux

The Patriot leader William Molineux died unexpectedly on 22 Oct 1774. That news came as the long political confrontation between Boston and royal officials was turning into a military confrontation between Massachusetts and the Crown.

Molineux had been one of the most visible of the Boston Whigs since the non-importation movement. He was always at the front of the crowd during outdoor protests, pushing for harder responses in meetings. In 1774 alone Molineux:
  • was defying a judicial order to serve on a jury as a protest against the judges accepting salaries from the tea tariff.
  • led Bostonians in booing the Customs Commissioners at a banquet in May. 
  • addressed the crowd in Cambridge during the Powder Alarm in September.
  • helped to collect cannon for the resistance in October. 
And then Molineux was dead. His sudden disappearance from the scene raised tensions and sparked rumors. It also caused his memory to fade since he wasn’t around for the Revolutionary War or the new federal government.

For The Road to Concord I wrote a long chapter about Molineux leading up to his death, what I thought would be the most detailed study of him yet published. And then, because the manuscript was too long, I cut that chapter and another that weren’t tightly tied to the main narrative about stolen cannon.

Last month Bob Allison and Jonathan Lane of Revolution 250 invited me to come onto the coalition’s podcast. They suggested I might have something to say about Molineux. Well, I had a lot to say about Molineux!

You can listen to that conversation through Buzzsprout and other major podcast platforms.

[I’ve provided a link to the audio podcast. If you watch the video on YouTube or Facebook, it’s not just that that camera performs poorly in dim light. Right now I really do have a beard.]

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