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The Story of a Grave in Medford

In 1849 John Russell was digging a cellar and fence on land in Medford that belonged to Nathaniel Holmes Bishop. He turned up some human bones.Russell took those remains home and showed them to neighbors. It’s unclear what evidence led to this conclusion,...
From: Boston 1775 on 31 May 2021

Asians in Eighteenth-Century Massachusetts

South Indians were enslaved in North America well before the two Continental Army soldiers I discussed yesterday.The 9 June 1757 Boston News-Letter included this advertisement: Ran-away from his Master, Ebenezer Webster, of Bradford in the County of Essex,...
From: Boston 1775 on 28 May 2021

Preserving Red Jacket’s Peace Medal

This portrait shows the Seneca leader Red Jacket wearing the silver medal engraved with a symbolic picture of him meeting President George Washington in 1792. In the early 1800s, Red Jacket faced pressures from both inside and outside his community. White...
From: Boston 1775 on 12 May 2021

Joseph Dobel “very unfavorably represented”

Capt. Joseph Dobel, veteran of a Boston riot, the Continental Navy, and the East India trade, was discussed at the highest levels of the U.S. government in 1799. President John Adams was then beefing up the United States Navy. Having had the U.S.S. Constitution...
From: Boston 1775 on 12 Apr 2021

“Upon his Interment a large Mob attended”

As I described yesterday, the funeral of Lt. Gov. Andrew Oliver on 8 Mar 1774 did not go smoothly. Some of Oliver’s close friends and relatives, including his brother, Chief Justice Peter Oliver (shown here), and their in-law, Gov. Thomas Hutchinson,...
From: Boston 1775 on 31 Mar 2021

A Funeral Procession for Andrew Oliver

I started this month reviewing the events of early March 1774: the return of the Massachusetts Spy, the death of Lt. Gov. Andrew Oliver (shown here), John Hancock’s Massacre oration, and the second Boston Tea Party.That wasn’t all. Lt. Gov....
From: Boston 1775 on 30 Mar 2021

The Sources for Revere’s Window Art

My second thought on the art that followed the fatal events of early 1770 is perforce not as developed as yesterday’s. Of the three images that Paul Revere illuminated in his windows on the first anniversary of the Boston Massacre in 1771, we can...
From: Boston 1775 on 26 Mar 2021

“My sincere attachment to the interest of my country”

On the morning of 3 Mar 1774, Andrew Oliver, lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, died. He had previously held the offices of provincial secretary and stamp agent, though of course he never got to do any work in that last capacity.John Adams viewed Oliver...
From: Boston 1775 on 5 Mar 2021

The New Massachusetts Spy

Two hundred and fifty years ago, the Massachusetts Spy had gone a full month without a new issue.Zechariah Fowle and Isaiah Thomas had launched that newspaper in the summer of 1770 with ambitious goals. As described back here, it was smaller than the...
From: Boston 1775 on 2 Mar 2021

A Long Search for Hercules Posey

At Zagat, the chef and culinary historian Ramin Ganeshram shared the story of her research into Hercules Posey, head cook at Mount Vernon and the Presidential Mansion in Philadelphia until he freed himself from slavery. In this article, Ganeshram describes...
From: Boston 1775 on 28 Feb 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...
From: Boston 1775 on 23 Feb 2021

The Battle for Young’s House

Yesterday I recounted the British army’s march in February 1780 from their lines at King’s Bridge, New York, up to Joseph Young’s farmhouse in White Plains.The Continental Army had moved into that stone house and used it as a base to...
From: Boston 1775 on 3 Feb 2021

Van Horn on “The Power of Objects,” Plus a Panel on “Caribbean Connections”

Tonight, on Monday, 30 November, the Massachusetts Historical Society will host an online talk by Jennifer Van Horn on “The Power of Objects in 18th-Century British America.” The event description says: Over the course of the eighteenth century,...
From: Boston 1775 on 30 Nov 2020

A Memorial to a Mother

Jane Cave, later Jane Winscom (1752-1812), started writing poetry as a teen. Her first datable poem is about the death of the Rev. George Whitefield in September 1770.When the American War for Independence broke out and there was a general fast declared...
From: Boston 1775 on 22 Oct 2020

Peter Faneuil’s Disability and What It Might Mean

In my recent discussion of Peter Faneuil and the meeting hall still named after him, I referred to him as disabled. That produced some questions. So here’s more on what Faneuil’s contemporaries wrote about his body. On 3 Mar 1743, Benjamin...
From: Boston 1775 on 13 Sep 2020

After-Death Revelations from the John Adams Papers

The letters from Abigail and John Adams that I’ve been quoting come of course from the Adams Papers project at the Massachusetts Historical Society.This week the project received printed copies of the twentieth and latest volume of the Papers of...
From: Boston 1775 on 18 Jul 2020

The Speakman Chronicles, or, That Escalated Quickly

Last month, I said I didn’t know whom Christian Barnes was referring to when she wrote in June 1770 about “a young gentleman who has formilly headed the mob in Boston and now resides” in Marlborough.I’ve since figured out who that...
From: Boston 1775 on 8 Jul 2020

“Including the records of very poor people”

I’ve been analyzing Michael Bellesiles’s interview on Daniel Gullotta’s Age of Jackson podcast last year, particularly his comments about the Emory University committee that criticized his book Arming America.The relevant part of that...
From: Boston 1775 on 26 May 2020

“Prolix, confusing, evasive and occasionally contradictory”

As I described yesterday, in 2002 Emory University asked three senior historians from other colleges to investigate specific questions about Michael Bellesiles’s research in Arming America.The committee’s report (P.D.F. download) concluded:Subsequent...
From: Boston 1775 on 25 May 2020

Arming America: How “the Controversy Arose”

As I described yesterday, in 2002 Emory University asked three outside scholars to investigate charges of “failures of scholarly care and integrity” against Michael Bellesiles, author of Arming America.Those scholars were academic heavyweights:...
From: Boston 1775 on 24 May 2020

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