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Publishing the 1771 Thanksgiving Proclamation

I’ve been considering Gov. Thomas Hutchinson’s Thanksgiving proclamation in 1771, one of the many bones of contention in Revolutionary Boston. Hutchinson’s own account may have been accurate in the basics but it wasn’t in all details,...Show More Summary

“Our Civil and Religious Rights and Liberties”

In the last, posthumously published volume of his History of Massachusetts, Thomas Hutchinson claimed that “the continuance of civil and religious liberties had constantly, perhaps without exception, been mentioned” in royal governors’...Show More Summary

“They could not join in giving thanks”

Yesterday I shared the 1771 Thanksgiving proclamation issued by Gov. Thomas Hutchinson (shown here). It quickly became a source of controversy.Why? In his role as historian, Hutchinson presented his side of the story this way:It hadShow More Summary

“A Day of Publick Thanksgiving” in 1771

By tradition, the royal governor of Massachusetts proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving in the province every autumn, usually in late November or early December.(Governors sometimes also proclaimed Thanksgivings in response to military challenges or triumphs, but those special days didn’t replace the late-autumn holiday.)On 23 Oct 1771, Gov. Show More Summary

A Visit to Marlborough, 28 Nov.

On Tuesday, 28 November, I’ll speak about The Road to Concord to the Marlborough Historical Society. The town of Marlborough pops up multiple times in the story that book tells, starting with how it reportedly sent both infantry and mounted militia companies to the “Powder Alarm” on 2 Sept 1774.The following February, British officers Capt. Show More Summary

A Bearded Portrait Painter in 1753

British and American gentlemen of the middle and late eighteenth century didn’t wear beards. Revolutionary War reenacting groups have to decide whether their adult male members must shave off their beards, mustaches, or [most distinguished...Show More Summary

Preserving the Memories of Lesser-Known Bostonians

This month the city of Boston announced that it had established a “pattern library” for city websites and applications.One purpose is to ensure that city websites have a common look so citizens recognize them as official and familiar. Show More Summary

A Letter on London Politics

Edward Griffin Porter’s Rambles in Old Boston (1886) quotes this letter sent to the private teacher John Leach in Boston. It offers a glimpse of radical politicians in London and of the Boston Whigs’ attempts to make common cause with them. Show More Summary

Gen. Gage’s Trunks

The Clements Library at the University of Michigan owns the papers of Gen. Thomas Gage (1719-1787), last royal governor of Massachusetts. Back in the 1700s, gentlemen involved in politics maintained possession and ownership of the papers they accumulated in their public careers. Show More Summary

A Voice from Nantucket

For the last couple of days I’ve quoted newspaper accounts from October 1738 about a violent uprising of Wampanoag people on Nantucket that not only never happened but was, contrary to the first reports, never even planned. In the winter...Show More Summary

Searching For Black Confederates Soldiers Is Off To the Publisher

I suspect there are a few of you out there who will be happy to hear that today I finished my book project on the history of Confederate camp slaves […]

The Nantucket Conspiracy “wholly contradicted”

Yesterday I quoted items from the Boston News-Letter of 5 Oct 1738 and the Boston Evening-Post of 9 Oct 1738 about a narrowly averted uprising of Wampanoags on Nantucket Island, and ongoing fears that the Native sailors on whaling ships might have risen up, too. Show More Summary

A “horrid Scheme” on Nantucket?

On 5 Oct 1738, the Boston News-Letter published an article describing a planned uprising by Wampanoags on Nantucket Island:We hear from Nantucket, That there has been lately a horrid Scheme conceiv’d by the Indians of that Island, to...Show More Summary

Boles on Jefferson in Boston, 14 Nov.

Jefferson: Architect of American Liberty is a new biography of the third President by John B. Boles, a professor of history at Rice University. He was co-editor of the essay collection Seeing Jefferson Anew.Jonathan Yardley, longtime book critic for the Washington Post, really likes this book. Show More Summary

When Alexander Wished for a War

On 11 Nov 1769, a young clerk on the island of St. Croix wrote to his friend Edward Stevens, who had headed off to King’s College in New York.As to what you say respecting your having soon the happiness of seeing us all, I wish, forShow More Summary

Clues to Young George’s Education

A couple of months back, the Oxford University Press blog ran an extract from Kevin J. Hayes’s George Washington: A Life in Books discussing the first President’s school days and early reading.Here’s an extract from that extract:Further evidence shows that at one point in his education Washington did attend school with other boys. Show More Summary

Alabama’s Doug Jones Believes the War Caused the War

Looks like the Democratic candidate in Alabama’s Senate race has seen Ron Maxwell’s movie Gettysburg one too many times. Here is one of Jones’s recent political ads in which he […]

A Presidential Plodder

Plodding Through the Presidents is Howard Dorre’s ongoing blog about reading Presidential biographies, starting with Flexner’s Washington: The Indispensable Man and getting as far as, well, Andrew Jackson. So the important ones, really.Dorre...Show More Summary

Henry Louis Gates’s Betrayal of Bryant Gumbel and History

Bryant Gumbel woke up today believing that his great-grandfather briefly volunteered for and served as a soldier in the Confederate army. Since the airing of Finding Your Roots on Tuesday […]

Horace Walpole’s 300th Year

The year 2017 marks the tercentenary of the author and aristocrat Horace Walpole’s birth, as well as the 220th anniversary of his death.The Lewis Walpole Library in Farmington, Connecticut, has launched what it’s calling “Walpolooza”—a...Show More Summary

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