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The Thanksgiving Proclamation at Old South

The controversy over Gov. Thomas Hutchinson’s Thanksgiving proclamation in 1771 caused particular trouble in Boston’s largest meetinghouse, the Old South. That church had not had a placid year. In 1769 its minister, the Rev. Samuel Blair, had suddenly resigned and moved out of the colony. Show More Summary

My 2017 Best Picks for The Civil War Monitor

Thanks once again to Terry Johnston for inviting me to share a few of my favorite Civil War books from 2017 with the readers of The Civil War Monitor. This […]

The Proclamation “read in our churches last Sunday”?

The Rev. Dr. Samuel Cooper no doubt had an inside view of the Boston Whigs’ efforts to organize political resistance to Gov. Thomas Hutchinson and his 1771 Thanksgiving proclamation.Indeed, Cooper was probably one of the Boston ministers who came out early to promise he wouldn’t read the proclamation to his congregation. Show More Summary

The Governor’s Thanksgiving Proclamation as a “solemn mockery”

By law, Gov. Thomas Hutchinson’s Thanksgiving proclamation for 1771 was supposed to be read out by the ministers of all the meetinghouses in Massachusetts.That’s why the colony commissioned Richard Draper to print the proclamation in broadside. Show More Summary

Shorto on Revolution Song in Boston, 30 Nov.

Back in 2009, Ray Raphael contributed a “guest blogger” posting here about his book Founders, which traces the history of the Revolution through seven individuals.Ray wrote: “One of the characters is a given: George Washington. There is absolutely no way we can tell the larger story of the war and the nation’s founding without him. Show More Summary

Why the 1771 Thanksgiving Proclamation Was “Offensive”

So why were Boston’s Whigs so upset about Gov. Thomas Hutchinson’s Thanksgiving proclamation for 1771? What was their problem with the phrase about thanking God for having ”continue[d] to them their civil and religious Privileges”?For years those politicians had complained about new laws from London violating their established liberties. Show More Summary

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

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