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Daniel Tours America
Harvard, Cambridge, MA
11th Jul 2008

The F-word is all I have heard today. Freedom. I walked the Freedom Trail throughout Boston. 

In the morning I transferred from Jamaica Plains to surf with a nurse downtown in a very nice neighbourhood.  

The Freedom Trail, which really could have been called the Boston History Trail or the Boston Revolutionary Trail, but of course that would not have been chest-beatingly American enough, is a 3-mile long red line painted on the pavement that leads tourists from site to site.  All of the landmarks are to do with the deep and rich history that surrounds Boston and its role in the revolution.  I often thought throughout the day that there is more history in two square miles of Boston than in the rest of the country combined.

The trial starts in the park and its first stop is the State House.  This is the State Capitol but it has never been called such.   From there we see the Park Street Church, the third oldest building in the city, and its adjacent Granary Burial Ground.  In this cemetery are the graves of "founding fathers" Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Paul Revere and the Franklin family tomb.  More on Revere later.

The King's Chapel was closed for a private services but the cemetery was open.  Just down from these is the Latin School, America's first public school.  Both of these ar epoints of interest on the trail.

One of the more interesting places was the Old South Meeting House.  In the museum here I learned about the run-up to the Boston Tea Party, since it was in this building that they had discussed what to do about the tax on tea.  It was at first interesting to note he museum's choice of words, but by the end of the day I was sick of the P-word.  In 1773-5 the local people were still citizens of Britain, and so for them to have been patriots they would have needed to have shown dedication to Britain, since America as a country did not exist for them to have shown loyalty towards.  They did not show dedication, rather they showed nothing less than treachery.  The deeds they committed at the time are viewed now as heroic but at the time many were mere criminals, and in fact by today's standards they would possibly have been called terrorists or freedom-haters.  They were most certainly not patriots.  This is the first example of a gross misrepresentation of history.

It is also interesting to note that were these people alive today, the so-called freedoms and liberties that these people fought for may well be suppressed by the misnamed Patriot Act.  Were these people alive today and attempting similar subversive and treacherous acts, then the freedom and liberty for which this struggle was supposedly all about may be suspended in the name of security.

 The trail then moves to the site of the Boston Massacre, the second misrepresentation.  Let us first state the facts:  1. Five civilians were killed by British troops. 2. The troops were defending themselves and suppressing a riotous crowd.  3. A massacre is "killing a large number of humans indiscriminately and cruelly."  Therefore it is a gross misrepresentation to call this a massacre.  Tsk tsk.

The next stop, Fanuiel House, is where the town used to meet before it was formally a city.  It is still used for civil ceremonies and debates.

The trail goes though North End (Little Italy) to Paul Revere's house.  This was the chap who rode from Boston to the countryside to warn civilians that the troops were planning to march on Concord and Lexington.  He was captured and sung like a canary: hardly a hero.  He did not shout, "The British are coming!" because 1) the citizens he was warning were legally still British, 2) the mission was a secret.  He said, "The redcoats are on the move."   That quote is the third misrepresentation of the time, and is actually a line from a poem written 40 years later.  Basically Revere was a nobody, but because of this poem he has been elevated to hero status, and this grave and house are as important on the Trail as that of real heroes such as Adams and Hancock.

Near here is the Old North Church, from where lanterns were used to signal to other revolting proto-Americans whether the troops would march or sail to Concord.  The myth, the 4th lie, is that the signalman would use "one (lantern) for land, two for sea."  The troops were already in Boston and would not arrive by sea; the code was actually "one for land, two for river."  

The church had its original box pews.  These were small (neck height when seated) cubby boxes in which families would sit during the sermon.  They rented the pew from the church and had exclusive use of it.

From here was yet another cemetery, the Copps Hill Burial Ground, and then I crossed the river to visit the USS Constitution.  Old Ironsides was a battleship from the turn of the 19th Century, which fought and won against many British ships in the war of 1812.  It was against HMS Guerriere that she was said to have sides of iron as the cannon balls would not penetrate.  The ship did not fire until the ships were aligned, at which point the entire broadside was unleashed upon the hapless Guerriere.

Finally the Bunker Hill monument remembers the battle there, which was actually fought on Breed's Hill.  It was here that the Colonists were told not to fire until they could see "the whites of their eyes."


By this point I was exhausted, pissed off with the F-word, and rather embarrassed to be a Redcoat.  So I came home.

Next: Boston: Beacon Hill and the waterfront
Previous: Cambridge (Harvard and MIT) and Boston, MA

Diary Photos

Harvard, Cambridge, MA

State House, Boston, MA

Franklin`s grave, Boston, MA

Adams` grave, Boston, MA

Freedom Trail marker, Boston, MA

First school, Boston, MA

Site of Boston "Massacre", MA

Sunbathers, Boston, MA

Cobbled street and Revere`s house, Boston, MA

Family-style pews, Old North Church, Boston, MA

5600lb cannon, USS Constitution, Boston, MA

USS Constitution, Boston, MA

Bunker Hill Monumnent, Boston, MA

Boston, MA

Typical Boston houses, MA

Punks, Boston, MA

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