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Francis Merrifield’s Bible

Earlier this spring the Bonhams auction house offered for sale a Bible printed in Edinburgh in 1755. What made this particular Bible so notable were the handwritten inscriptions:[On the reverse of the title page] Cambridge, Jun 17 1775. Show More Summary

Two Swords from the Battle of Bunker Hill

It’s that time of year, when Boston 1775’s thoughts turn to the anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill on 17 June.Boston Magazine’s website just featured one of the Massachusetts Historical Society’s most striking artifacts of that fight: the crossed swords of Col. Show More Summary

The Return of the “Adams,” 17 June

Back in 2014, as I reported, the National Park Service removed the “Adams” cannon from the top of the Bunker Hill Monument for conservation work.On Friday, 17 June, the anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill, the “Adams” will return to that site. Show More Summary

Southern Baptists Call for Removal of Confederate Flag

Earlier today the members of the Southern Baptist Convention, which is meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from public life. It reads in part: … we call on all persons, along with public, governmental, and religious institutions to discontinue the display of the […]

The Road to Concord Erratum #1

I’ve been wary of rereading The Road to Concord in published form lest I trigger some version of Gaiman’s Law: Not only will there be a typo or other error in the book you’ve been carefully working on for months, but “it will be on the page that your new book falls open to the first time you pick it up.” Now that first moment has passed, at least. Show More Summary

Interpreting Reconstruction at Historic Sites

Not much going on this week. I am finishing up my presentations for CWI, which kicks off this coming Friday. Here is one of the sessions from a recent symposium on Reconstruction that took place at the Columbia Museum of Art in April. This panel discussion on the ongoing push to find a suitable historic […]

Isaiah Thomas’s Travels and Togs

When Isaiah Thomas reached Halifax in early 1765, he didn’t have much. That’s what happens when you leave your apprenticeship early. Having worked for printer Zechariah Fowle for nine years, the sixteen-year-old knew he was taking aShow More Summary

The Stamp and the Printer’s Devil

I’ve been pointing out how some of Isaiah Thomas’s stories of defying the Stamp Act while working as an underaged journeyman printer in Nova Scotia don’t stand up to scrutiny. On the other hand, we know that the sixteen-year-old didShow More Summary

Freeman Sign in Mechanicsville, Va., meets its demise in two-car accident

A two-car accident has destroyed a concrete and iron marker at the Battle of Haw’s Shop in Mechanicsville, Va., erasing one of a series of markers that date back to the mid-1920s to mid-1930s and are considered to be the oldest such Civil War battlefield signs in Virginia and the country. Beginning in 1925, a […]

“All the stamped paper for the Gazette was used”

Here’s another story that the respected master printer Isaiah Thomas told about his misadventures as a sixteen-year-old in Nova Scotia in 1765. Back in Boston, the anti-Stamp Act demonstration and riot of 14 August ensured that no official was willing to distribute stamped paper. Show More Summary

Virginia battlefield park opening Saturday will honor both Confederate and Union soldiers

This weekend, the 155th anniversary of the Battle of Big Bethel near Hampton, Va., a park laced with walkways and markers opens to the public. As with many such parks in the South, there are Confederate markers dating back to the mid-20th century, but this park has an unusual feature — a monument dedicated four years ago […]

New Interpretive Plaque at Ole Miss

Earlier this year the University of Mississippi announced plans to place an interpretive plaque at the site of the Confederate soldier statue on campus. It created a bit of a buzz on campus and led to the university’s History Department issuing its own alternative interpretation. As indicated in the first link above, I also expressed […]

Can Netflix Inspire MOOCs?

The Netflix model of customized, easy to use selection could help revitalize the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) industry, according to Jonathan Keats at Wired.  Since bursting onto the education scene in 2011, MOOCs have experienced both an increase in participants and in dropouts. As low as 5% of MOOC students are actually completing the courses that they have […]

“And what I say, you may depend is Fact.”

On 21 Nov 1765, the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston News-Letter ran this item from Nova Scotia in a roundup of reports on protests against the Stamp Act:At the late Exhibition of a Stamp man’s Effigies at Halifax, were the following...Show More Summary

Can Social Media Save the MOOC Revolution?

“Higher education is just on the edge of the crevasse,” warned Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen in 2013. Pointing to the rise of MOOCs, or Massive Online Open Courses, Christensen argued that the emerging popularity of online learning would disrupt the traditional model of classroom-based instruction. Show More Summary

A Sixteen-Year-Old Standing up to the Sheriff?

According to Isaiah Thomas, writing his History of Printing in the first decade of the 1800s, his decision to print the 5 Dec 1765 Halifax Gazette with mourning borders to show (someone’s) displeasure with the Stamp Act had a significant effect in Nova Scotia. Show More Summary

“Does Any One Remember Negro Confederates?”

On a number of occasions over the past few years I have announced a cash award for anyone who can locate a piece of wartime evidence that points to the presence of black men fighting as soldiers in the Confederate army. I would love to find a letter or diary entry from a Confederate soldier […]

The Halifax Gazette in Mourning

I was in the middle of relating the teen-aged Isaiah Thomas’s misadventures with the Stamp Act in Halifax last month when anniversaries, events, and my book publication interrupted.So even though the sestercentennial of the Stamp Act crisis is happily behind us, I’m going to finish up those stories. Show More Summary

The Privilege of Printing Parliamentary Debates

Every so often I’ve mentioned how in the 1760s the British press was wary of reporting the exact language of Parliament’s debates.There’s no official record of the debate over the Stamp Act, for instance, or the debate to repeal it. Instead, we have to rely on private letters and memoirs, which often disagree. Show More Summary

Yale and Benjamin Franklin’s Good Name

Yale Magazine recently reported on how editors at the Papers of Benjamin Franklin project spotted a letter from William Franklin providing new details about his estrangement from his father.The magazine stated:William Franklin remained loyal to England, and by the time he moved to London in 1782, he and his father had been estranged for years. Show More Summary

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