Faneuil Hall — Peter Faneuil donated Faneuil Hall to the town in 1742. In the hall, James Otis and Samuel Adams raised their voices to oppose England's oppressive tariffs. Then on the evening of December 16, 1773, more people gathered at Faneuil Hall to discuss the British tax on tea than could be accommodated. The meeting had to be moved to the Old South Church, an upcoming stop on the Freedom Trail.
This is Faneuil Hall, the cradle of
liberty built and given to the town of Boston by Peter Faneuil. Still
used by a free people, 1930.
Faneuil Hall was enlarged in 1806. The lower floor has always been a market; the second floor meeting hall is dubbed "the Cradle of Liberty" because of the protests against British policy voiced there. The fourth level houses the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company Museum.
Just across from Faneuil Hall is Quincy Market. During colonial times, this area was the Boston waterfront but has since been filled-in. Today, the market is a prime example of the adaptive use of old structures. Its many restaurants and stores make it a shopper’s paradise.
Boston Massacre — About a quarter mile from Faneuil Hall is the site of the Boston Massacre. A circle of cobblestones in the street outside the Old Statehouse marks the site of the Boston Massacre, where on March 5, 1770, British soldiers killed five colonists during a confrontation that escalated to violence.
The Bloody Massacre Print: “The
Bloody Massacre perpetuated in King Street Boston…” From a drawing
attributed to Henry Pelham. Engraved by Paul Revere, 1770, Boston.
Hand-colored line engraving, 1966.
The Old State House
The Old State House, Boston’s oldest public building, was built in 1713 as the seat of British colonial government. Here the Royal Governor and the Massachusetts Assembly debated the Stamp Acts and the Writs of Assistance. The Declaration of Independence was first read to Bostonians from the east balcony on July 18, 1776. The building served as the State House until 1798, and was also Boston’s City Hall from 1830 to 1841.
The Old State House — Built in 1713, the Old State House was the seat of Massachusetts Colonial government. In 1766, it housed the first gallery that was opened to the public where they could watch their government in action.
The Massachusetts House of Representatives met here and denied that the British Parliament had the right to tax the American colonies without representation. They issued a circular letter that sought a meeting of delegates from all thirteen colonies to discuss the Stamp Act.
Boston Tea Party — On a longer visit to the area, a three quarter mile walk up Congress Street is recommended. The approximate site of the Boston Tea Party can be found at a bridge where Congress Street crosses a harbor channel. Today, there is a replica of one of the tea ships where visitors are encouraged to throw a “chest of tea” overboard into the surrounding water.
Old Corner Bookstore — About a block past the Old State House is the Old Corner Bookstore. Originally built in 1712 as the home of Thomas Crease, this building was the center of literary Boston in later years. Such noted authors as Longfellow, Emerson, Hawthorne, and Oliver Wendell Holmes gathered in this bookstore.
Old South Church — A short distance from the bookstore is the Old South Church. “Old South," built in 1729 as a Congregational Church, was the largest meeting space in colonial Boston and often served as a town meeting site whenever attendance grew too large for Faneuil Hall. Town meetings were frequent at Old South, especially in the years prior to the Revolution.
Old South Meeting House
Best remembered as the site of the tax protests that led to the Boston Tea Party in 1773, Old South has been the site of religious political and social debate for over 300 years. This brick meeting house was built in 1729 to replace the Cedar Meeting House, which its dissident Puritan congregation had outgrown. Here Benjamin Franklin was baptized and African-American poet Phillis Wheatley worshipped. In 1876, the venerable structure was nearly demolished, but Bostonians rallied to rescue Old South. It was the first instance of historic preservation in New England.
The most famous meeting in the Old South Church took place on December 16, 1773, when Bostonians met to consider the British tax on tea. After the meeting a band of men disguised as Native Americans left the church for the waterfront. They boarded three ships and dumped their cargoes of tea into the harbor. In retaliation, Parliament closed the port of Boston, bringing the country a step closer to rebellion.
Old South remained a church until the 1870s, when its congregation moved to a new church in Back Bay. The Old South Association, a private organization, was formed to preserve the building and to continue its affiliation with the exercise of free speech. The Association remains active through lectures, exhibits, and publications.
Granary Burying Ground — About a quarter mile past Old South, is the Granary Burying Ground. Many notable Americans are interred here, including Declaration of Independence signers John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, and Samuel Adams. Also buried here are the victims of the Boston Massacre.
Boston Common — The walk on the Freedom Trail concludes at Boston Common. This land was purchased in 1634 as a militia training field and for the "feeding of Cattle." During the Battle of Bunker Hill, the British embarked for Charlestown from the Common. The "new" State House, which overlooks the common, was designed by Charles Bulfinch and built in 1795 on land that originally belonged to the John Hancock family.
At the end of this Revolutionary Day is the Visitor Center. The center is a source for information for those beginning their walk in the other direction on the Freedom Trail.
German View of
In the spring of 1776, George Washington succeeded in placing heavy artillery on Dorchester Heights, overlooking Boston. General William Howe, the British commander, decided to leave the city rather than risk another assault on fortified American positions. On March 17, the last British ships departed, leaving Boston to Washington’s army.
(Boston Common Marker)
Adams National Historical Park—A recommended stop on a longer visit to the area are the three homes of John Adams, which are a short drive south on Interstate 93 (Exit 7) in Quincy, MA. In the Adams National Historical Park are his birth home, his home during the Revolutionary War and his home while serving as President.
The Adams Birthplace
This is where John Adams and John Quincy Adams, the 2nd and 6th presidents of the United States, were born. In 1735, John Adams was born in a salt box house that was only 75 feet away from the house where his son would be born.
The home known as the John Adams birthplace was built in 1681 and was bought by John Adams’ father in 1720. On October 20, 1735, John Adams was born in this small, saltbox home. Upon his father’s death, John’s brother inherited the home but John Adams later bought it from his brother in 1774. John and Abigail Adams lived next door and rented this house during the Revolutionary War.
John Adams’ Revolutionary War home was built in 1663 and was also bought by his father in 1744. John Adams inherited this home when his father died in 1761. He brought his bride, Abigail, to this home in 1764 and it was here that she gave birth to their second child and future 6th president of the United States, John Quincy Adams. During the war, while John Adams served in Philadelphia, Abigail supervised the education of their children, took care of the farm and served as an inspiration to her husband. Abigail penned many of her famous letters to John from this home.
These two 17th century homes are the two oldest presidential birthplaces in the country and are less than 75 feet apart.
John Adams’ third home was built in 1731 and became the residence of the Adams family for four generations. This was John Adams’ home during his presidency.
Beneath these walls are
Son of John and Susanna (Boylston) Adams, second president of the United States, born 30 October 1735. On the fourth of July 1776, he pledged his life, fortune and sacred honor to the independence of his country. On the third of September 1783, he affixed his seal to the definitive treaty with Great Britain, which acknowledge that independence, and consummated the redemption of his pledge. On the fourth of July 1826, he was summoned to the independence of immortality and to the judgment of his God. This house will bear witness to his piety, this town, his birthplace, to his magnificence, history to his patriotism, posterity to the depth and compass of his mind.
(United First Parish Church marker)
Also in Quincy is the United First Parish Church. The church, built in 1828, is the final resting place of John Adams and his wife, Abigail. Their remains are in vaults in the crypt below the sanctuary. Also in the crypt are the remains of John Quincy Adams and his wife Louisa Catherine. The church is an active parish and tours, which include the crypt, are provided by church staff.
Room and Board in Boston — A great place for dinner and to stay for the evening is a short walk from Boston Common back on the Freedom Trail. Just across Tremont Street, not far from the Granary Burying Ground is the Omni Parker House (617-227-8600). The hotel has been a Boston landmark since 1856 and is the birthplace of Boston Cream Pie.
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