August 6, 2015

Commemorating the Liberty Tree and the Stamp Act Riots

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This month marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Boston's famous Liberty Tree. On August 14, 1765, Bostonians gathered beneath an enormous elm not far from Boston Common to protest the hated Stamp Act, which taxed the people of Massachusetts without their consent. The protest convinced the official charged with administering the tax to resign his office, and the tree where the protest had begun received a new name: the Liberty Tree.

This event is commonly viewed as the start of the American Revolution, while the Liberty Tree emerged as the most prominent symbol of the important role played by ordinary people in creating the new republic. The Bostonian Society will be commemorating the enduring legacy of the Liberty Tree at a number of upcoming events.

Join us at Liberty Tree Plaza (at the intersection of Washington and Boylston Streets) on August 14 at 8:00 pm for a lantern illumination.  Community organizations from throughout Boston will gather at the site of the Liberty Tree to display 108 copper lanterns modeled on the historic lanterns that were hung on the Liberty Tree during the Stamp Act crisis. The lanterns will be decorated with artwork and together will give expression to the meanings that the Liberty Tree holds for the people of Boston today. Nat Sheidley, our Historian and Director of Public History, will be one of the speakers at this event.  This event is a presented by Medicine Wheel Productions and Revolution250, a coalition of historic organizations (including the Bostonian Society) committed to working together to mark the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution.

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Take part in Echoes of the Past, a free, live-action game on August 15 from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm.  Begin your adventure at the Old State House or at the Downtown Crossing Information Cart on Summer Street. Discover riddles, ciphers, grudges, and plots to learn the story of Boston's historic Stamp Act Riot. With the guidebook in hand (or using a web version on their mobile device) players will hunt for ghosts, or "Echoes of the Past." These live costumed interpreters will quickly draw  players into the political intrigues of 1765. After collecting a stamp for their book from each character in the game, players will discover the game's thrilling climax at 4:00 p.m. when they join together with an 18th-century mob to participate in a protest march from the site of the Liberty Tree to the hub of colonial power, the Old State House.

Participate in a reenactment of the Stamp Act Riot on August 15 at 4:00 pm.  Meet at the corner of Washington Street and Winter Street (next to the Downtown Crossing T Station) and join historic reenactors in period costume in a raucous march through the streets of Boston to the Old State House to protest the coming Stamp Act. Can the stamp distributor be compelled to resign his post? This event is co-sponsored by the Bostonian Society and Revolution250.

We hope that you'll be able to join us for these events, and please leave any questions in the comments.
 

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