Boston, Massachusetts

This photo of Boston is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Boston, Massachusetts is a great city to take your child when studying the American Revolution. Home to the famous Freedom Trail, a 2.5 mile red-lined route you can walk to visit 16 historically significant sites. Visit Paul Revere’s house, site of the Boston “Massacre”, Old North Church (One if by land, Two if by sea) and Bunker Hill (“Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes”). Home to Samuel Adams (“A Statesman: Incorruptible and Fearless”), John Adams and James Otis, Jr (“Taxation without representation is tyranny”), all Harvard educated (founded in 1636) , Boston is where the animosity between the “Americans” and the British escalated. Being a major port of trade between Britain and the Colonies, Boston felt the impact of British taxation. The Colonists were split between being loyal to the crown, needing the British army to keep the French and their Indian allies from pillaging Colonists farms and settlements and wanting financial independence. The King needed help to pay for his war machine that operated around the world and felt justified taxing the Colonists.

Work through these issues with your child as events began to take place and the possibility of compromise faded. Study the “Boston Massacre” to understand what caused it, what really happened and how Paul Revere’s version of the facts ended up igniting resentment against the British. Certainly a teaching moment in political spin, it appears Revere took a British artists drawing of the event, erased certain clubs and rocks from the hands of the colonists and re branded the incident as a massacre fueling anger towards the British Crown. Lost in many children’s history lessons is the fact future President John Adams defended the British troops in court and won acquittal for six of the soldiers and reduced sentences for the final two. See where the Sons of Liberty threw their Boston Tea Party and explain to your child the tie between that Tea Party in 1773 and the current Tea party active in American Politics today.

Discuss the confusing fact that Bunker Hill Monument is actually on Breed’s Hill and how the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s inaccurate “Paul Revere’s Ride” made Paul Revere a national legend. Students should test and question history and confirm the accuracy of what they are being taught. Boston is a great place to start.

This photo of Boston is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Going to Boston gives your child the opportunity to gain greater perspective seeing the locations first hand and dive deeper into the history by focusing on more of the facts.

This photo of Boston is courtesy of TripAdvisor

From Boston, it is less than an hour’s drive to visit Lexington and Concord, MA where the fist shots of the American Revolution were fired.

This photo of Lexington is courtesy of TripAdvisor

The town of Lexington is little changed from that day and the bridge at Concord is one of those historical must see’s. More important to history is what happened after Concord on the road back to Boston as the Colonists rallied to the aid of their comrades and the War for Independence started. The Colonists had grown up with guns, learning to hunt at a very early age. This talent would play a critical role in the long war and frustrate the British.

This photo of Concord is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Paul Revere’s Ride

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,–
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.”Then he said “Good-night!” and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,–
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel’s tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, “All is well!”
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,–
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse’s side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry’s height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer’s dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,—
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
>From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,—
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.