The Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail was established in the 1950s as a way to attract tourists to some of Boston’s most cherished historical sites.  However, in recent years there has been clamoring by some folk to clean it up — to make it more historically accurate.  By that I mean to include the forgotten voices of the revolution — the cordwainers, longshoremen (remember them?) and other working-class people.  Well, we witnessed it yesterday at Old South Church.  In the back there was a marble bust of none other than George Twelve Hewes, a shoemaker who was at the Boston Massacre and also who participated in the Boston Tea Party.  I don’t know about you, but I find history more compelling when it’s a story about “common” people — or the “middling sort,” as 18th people were wont to say.

I really enjoyed the presentations yesterday, especially the meeting in the church before all the “fun” began in the Boston harbor.  Divided as we were between loyalists and patriots, it reconfirmed to me something I already knew: how intensely personal the revolution was.  We like to think as the Civil War dividing families and communities, but, of course, this happened first during the revolutionary era.  A wonderful film showing how the war shattered one family in a small Connecituct town is Mary Silliman’s War.  I purchased a copy for the grant; let me know if you’d like to borrow it.

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4 responses to “The Freedom Trail

  1. history591twelve

    Matt,
    I sent my reply to your post to Jonathan by mistake. Oops.
    David

  2. history591six

    I have taught a bit about the Civil War and have laearned about the dividing of families and friends. I have a great exercise I do with my students to bring that home. I am in my infancy regarding the Revolutionary War, but now I realize the similarities during this period. I would like to learn more about the regular folk, too.

  3. history591seventeen

    Matt,
    I truly agree with you that the simulation we did showed us how strong the feelings of those involved were. It is a perfect way to demostrate that to us students, and I would love to borrow your video.
    Dana

  4. history591fifteen

    I agree that we need to also remember the forgotten people. We always focus so much on the more famous, or more commonly known, people of the Revolution that we tend to forget all the others that also participated. I think it would be great if Boston and other cities started to remember the stories of these individuals too.
    Lauren

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