Boston and the American Revolution


Boston, MA

October 3rd, 1999

"Listen my friends and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. On the 18 of April in '75, hardly a man is still alive who remembers that famous date and year."

As we travel through this land we are constantly reminded of the history that forged this country into the nation it is today. Repeatedly, we have heard discussions and lectures describing some specific point or time as the "birthplace of America". For me it has always been the events that occurred on April 18th in 1775 between Boston and Concord Massachusetts. I had been looking forward to this stop ever since we left Cincinnati. Driving into Boston with a 48 foot rig was still on my least desirable activities so we dropped our jacks at the Salisbury Beach State Reservation in Salisbury some thirty miles North of Boston. After conferring with the locals we decided to drive 6 miles to Newburyport and jump on the Boston Metro. As we bumped along the way, I was entertained by a very lively conductor and his ingenious ways of telling where people were going to get off, in case they went further than their ticket allowed. We walked out of south station and walked the half dozen blocks to the historic district. The Boston National Historical Park is a different kind of park than is usually run by the Department of Interior. Only three of the 16 sites in the park are owned by the park. The remaining are either owned by Boston or by private organizations. The park takes the form of a red brick path several inches wide that is laid into the sidewalk. After obtaining a walking tour guide at the visitor's center it was just a matter of following the red brick road as we wandered through Boston in search of history. First let me digress to the Boston of 1775. After several years of excessive taxation implemented by Great Britain, Boston had become a hotbed of rebellious ideas. A British regiment had been dispatched to keep the peace. A short time prior to this date, a dispatch had been received from the King of England ordering the various military detachments throughout the colonies, to seek out and confiscate arms and gunpowder in the possession of colonialists as a preventive measure against rebellion. This order was the fuse that lit the revolutionary powder keg. The colonialists had been talking rebellion for some time. They had been stockpiling weapons and forming companies which drilled frequently. Officers had been chosen and although no formal organization officially existed, a functional one was very much alive. There were spies and counter spies, and intelligence swapped as in any conflict. Soon the colonialists knew of the order and took action to resist the action. Paul Revere quietly left his home as he often did, riding out into the night. He crossed the George River and rode to the top of a hill overlooking the city where he could clearly see the steeple of the old North Church. Secreted in the Church tower, among others was Robert Newman. If the British marched out of Boston to confiscate a large stash of weapons in Concord, they would either go around by land or directly access the George river by boat. It was reported to be a large infantry regiment. Sometime during the night the word came. 700 British infantrymen had marched to the docks on the George River and were preparing to cross. Robert Newman lit two lanterns and hung them in the steeple, and then quickly departed. When the two cats eye lights shown out across the George River, Paul Revere turned and galloped off toward Lexington, which is halfway between Boston and Concord. These were the thoughts I mulled over in my mind as we walked along the red brick path to the old cemetery where Robert Newman is buried. On we went to the Old North Church which, although now enclosed in buildings on all sides, is still majestic in appearance. It is a working church and no pictures are allowed inside. Several blocks away stands Paul Revere's house. Now owned by a private concern, there is a gaudy brick wall built up around the property and there is an admission charge. The trail continues through the old part of town, covering some two and a half miles and 16 historic stops. It is indeed a strange imagery of old and new. Street cafes and restaurants abound with the customary elevated price lists. We walked until we were tired and then headed back to the Metro and back to the campground. This was a day of great exercise and a witnessing of a starting point of a country and a way of life. We will continue the story with visits to both Lexington and Concord, but that is another story.

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