Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Boston, Massachusetts

The Freedom Trail

Good day followers! On Saturday I had the pleasure of visiting Boston, Massachusetts. I traveled along the Freedom Trail visiting sites of Revolutionary War history. Alas the clouds kept spitting rain and the crowds prevented me from getting as many pictures as usual, but here's a little taste of what I saw.

We started our tour on the Boston Common, America's oldest public park, founded in 1634. It has a Rhode Island connection (we found a bunch of those in Boston) - the land was originally owned by William Blackstone (or Blaxton as they said it back then). He was a bit of a recluse so when the Puritans moved to Boston, he sold his land and went to... not exactly Rhode Island but what's NOW Rhode Island! First to my neighborhood (Rehoboth) and then to what's now Cumberland. Another Rhode Island connection at the Boston Common is the famous painter Gilbert Stuart, who painted the portrait of George Washington on the $1 bill, is buried on the Boston Common. Apparently his family forgot where they buried him so he couldn't be moved back here to his birthplace. I will go find out and try to change history!

Moving along on the tour, we stopped for a time at the Granary Burying ground to look at the old grave stones. It was established in 1660 and many famous people are buried here like Paul Revere, John hancock, Sam Adams, victims of the Boston Massacre and Benjamin Franklin's parents. (Another Rhode Island connection - Benjamin's brother James and his wife Ann lived in Rhode Island. Ann was the first female newspaper editor in America!)

The Granary was once part of the Boston Common and the grass was kept neat by grazing livestock. In the 19th century, the stones were moved into neat rows to make way for the lawnmower. I don't think I like that idea. How do I know where my ancestors are actually buried? 

Puritans didn't believe in graven images but used tombstones as an artistic expression of their attitudes towards death. Many of the gravestones feature skulls with wings that represented the soul flying to heaven.

uritan churches did not believe in religious icons or imagery, so the people of Boston used tombstones as an outlet for artistic expression of their beliefs about the afterlife. One of the most popular motifs was the "Soul Effigy," a skull or "death’s head" with a wing on each side that was a representation of the soul flying to heaven after death. Elaborate scroll work, poetic epitaphs, and depictions of the Grim Reaper and Father Time also adorn many headstones. - See more at: http://www.thefreedomtrail.org/freedom-trail/granary-burying-ground.shtml#sthash.lnxH4uJB.dpuf

Here I am in front of the grave of the great patriot Sam Adams. He did not invent beer but he was a politician and a lawyer and a leader of the rebellion against Britain. In my travels I have encountered him as a hot headed revolutionary, something like a terrorist leader, at least from the Loyalist point-of-view. He became a member of the Continental Congress and a governor  

Here I am with another Franklin monument - this one to Benjamin Franklin at the Boston Latin School, the first public school in America (founded 1635). It was only for boys - boo! Benjamin Franklin did go here but he dropped out! Sam Adams and John Hancock, signers of the Declaration of Independence went here, as did Charles Bullfinch, designer of the Massachusetts State House. 

 Moving on, we stop at the site of the Boston Massacre. On the 5th of March 1770, British troops were trying to occupy Boston and prevent rebellion but ended up starting one instead when a soldier hit a Bostonian with his musket for insulting an officer. An angry mob of Bostonians confronted the soldiers and they fought. In the confusion, some soldiers fired and 5 men were killed or wounded. The Bostonians, influenced by an engraving by Paul Revere, saw this as a bloody massacre but John Adams, who defended the soldiers in court, argued they fired in self-defense. 

This ring of stones is the first commemorative site of the Boston Massacre where the men fell. 

This ring is the new monument, showing where the soldiers stood.

This sign inside the Old State House Museum shows the spot of the Boston Massacre then and now.

We traveled on and I stopped for a photo with this gentleman in front of the Green Dragon, named after a famous colonial tavern where the revolutionary leaders met in the back room. 

Our final stop is in front of Paul Revere's house.Paul Revere was of French-Protestant origins, an engraver, printer and silversmith who is most famous for his "midnight ride" as told by Henry Wardsworth Longfellow.  

Longfellow got some facts wrong, but Paul Revere did ride out to warn the countryside the British were coming. He got captured but other men escaped and helped warn the farmers the British were coming. That led to the Battle of Lexington and Concord. (See my previous post about the Concord Museum).

This is the oldest house in Boston, built in 1680 on the site of the childhood home of my guardian's cousin, Cotton Mather, a famous Puritan minister. The house was originally a large and fashionable place built for  a wealthy merchant. Paul Revere moved here in 1770 when the house was no longer fashionable. It was large enough to hold his family (first wife Sara, their five children and his mother; later his second wife Rachel and their children! A total of 8 children lived here at one time.) 

I want to visit his daughters, but we must return home soon. I have other photos of me on the Freedom Trail in my Visitors album!

I finished the day weary from so much walking and traveling through time. Felicity's cook prepared me some special cornbread and buttermilk as a late night snack before bed. (from Pippaloo on Etsy).

I hope you liked my tour. Come back next week when I will be visiting early 19th century Providence!

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