The Boston Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile path going through Downtown Boston from The Boston Common to the USS Constitution in Charlestown, Massachusetts. It goes through 16 historical locations including government buildings, burial grounds, churches, meeting houses, etc..
The official Trail Sites are:
1- Boston Common, 2- Massachusetts State House, 3- Park Street Church, 4- Granary Burying Ground, 5- King’s Chapel, 6- King’s Chapel Burying Ground, 7- Boston Latin School with Benjamin Franklin Statue, 8- Old Corner Book Store, 9- Old South Meeting House, 10- Old State House, Site of the Boston Massacre, 11- Faneuil Hall, 12- Paul Revere House, 13- Old North Church with Paul Revere Statue, 14- Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, 15- USS Constitution, 16- Bunker Hill Monument.
The Boston Common
[pullquote]Oldest City Park in America founded in 1634.[/pullquote]From its inception to 1830 this 50 acre land welcomed cattle to graze as they pleased. Among others important figures of the American Revolution, Samuel Sprague, a participant in the Boston Tea Party and fought in the Revolutionary war is buried there.
The Massachusetts State House
This is the State capitol and seat of government for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. [pullquote]Considered by many one of the most magnificent public buildings in the country[/pullquote]The also called “New State House” was designed by famous architect Charles Bulfinch and completed in 1798. The land of the State House was once owned by John Hancock and used as a cow pasture.
Its most distinct feature, the dome was made originally with wood. It was later in 1802 covered with copper by Paul Revere’s Revere Copper Company. Then it was covered with 23 karat Gold Leaf in 1874. Later on during World War II, the Dome was painted gray to avoid reflection and protect the city from bombing attacks.
The dome is topped with a gilded wooden Pine Cone symbolizing both important role of the lumber industry during early colonial times and also the state of Maine that was part of the Commonwealth during the time of the construction.
Robert Gould Shaw Memorial
The monument shows Robert Gould Shaw and his men, the first all-volunteered African American unit in the US Army in 1863.
Born into a prominent abolitionist family, Robert Gould Shaw and his men were sent to the Second Battle of Fort Wagner in Charleston, South Carolina. Although he was killed during the attack and his men had to draw back, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw’s leadership became a legend with a unit that inspired tens of thousands more African-American to enlist for the Union and contribute to its ultimate victory.
In 1989 the film Glory stared by Mathew Broderick as Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, tells the incredibly brave story of the 54th regiment.
The Park Street Church
In the same location, in 1728 a granary was first built to store grain. It had to be closed because of vermin infestation and became a barn.
Then in 1809, almost a century later, inspired by Christopher Wren’s church design in London, the Park Street Church was built.
It is in this church that the first American Sunday school took place in 1818.
In the early part of the 19th century this church was known as “Brimstone Corner” because gunpowder used in the war of 1812 was stored in the church basement.
The 217 foot steeple was one the first landmark that visitors saw approaching Boston.
[pullquote]It is in this church that the first major public statement against slavery was given by William Lloyd Garrison on July 4, 1829.[/pullquote]
It is also in this church that Samuel Francis Smith’s American patriotic song “My country, ‘Tis of Thee” also known as America was born;
Lyric by Samuel Francis Smith
My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From ev’ry mountainside
Let freedom ring!
My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free,
Thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills;
My heart with rapture thrills,
Like that above.
Let music swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees
Sweet freedom’s song;
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
The sound prolong.
Granary Burying Ground
The granary may be long gone but its name lives on in this cemetery. Established in 1660, the Old Granary Burring Ground is Boston’s third oldest cemetery and has 2,345 graves. [pullquote]Many Revolutionary War heroes are buried in this old burring ground including three signers of the Declaration of Independence; Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine.[/pullquote]
It is the final resting place of the Franklin family, Paul Revere, the famous “midnight rider”, Peter Faneuil, (Faneuil Hall), and the five victims of the Boston Massacre.
The King’s Chapel, the first Anglican congregation in colonial New England, was built in 1754 during the reign of King James II.[pullquote]The original building built in 1688 was a wooden church.[/pullquote]
It was built on a town burial ground since no one in Boston wanted to sell a desirable land to the non-puritan Anglican community.
The wood from the original church was carefully disassembled and shipped to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia and used to build St. John’s Anglican Church.
The King’s Chapel is one of the greatest designs of the acclaimed colonial architect Peter Harrison.
The King’s Chapel bell was cast in England and cracked in 1814. It was recast by Paul Revere and rehung. It is the largest and the last bell cast by Paul Revere foundry. It is the same bell that has been rung at services ever since.
King’s Chapel Burying Ground
The King’s Chapel Burying Ground established in 1630 is located directly next tot he King’s Chapel and was Boston proper First burying Ground. It is the resting place of John Winthrop, Massachusetts first Governor who played a leading role in the founding of the Massachusetts Colony, the first major settlement in what is now known as New England after Plymouth Colony. He served as Governor for 12 of the 13 colony’s first 20 years of existence.[pullquote]Mary Chilton, the first woman who stepped off the May flower and participated to the First Thanksgiving in 1621.[/pullquote]
Boston Latin School and Statue of Benjamin Franklin
The Boston Latin School, the first public school in the United States modeled after the European Latin School was established on April 23, 1635. Ben Franklin statue marks the original school street location of the original school building.
Four of the important figures that signed the Declaration of Independence were students here. Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Robert Treat Paine. [pullquote]Of the four, only three graduated. Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s greatest minds dropped out.[/pullquote]
Old City Hall
The Old city Hall was built in 1865 in the French Empire style and home of Boston’s council until 1969.
It now houses number of businesses, though its most famous tenant was the upscale French restaurant, Maison Robert that s closed in 2004.
The Old Corner Bookstore
Built in 1718, the Old Corner Bookstore was considered by many the cradle of American literature, it was the center of the American book publishing.
Listed on the register of Historic Places, the Old corner Bookstore was the meeting place of Nathanael Hawthorn, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Harriet Beecher-Stow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, and Charles Dickerson where they will discuss poetry, politics and literature.
Old South Meeting House
This historic church building was built in 1729.
Yearly anniversary meetings of the Boston Massacre were held at this church until 1775. Most notable speakers include John Hancock and Joseph Warren.
Britain’s debt doubled following the war against France. The thirteen colonies seemed to be an easy source of revenue. On May 10, 1773, the British government passed the Tea Act which introduced arbitrary taxes and granted the East Indian Company a monopoly on the tea trade.
One of the most famous assemblies occurred in late 1773 where more than five thousand colonists met to debate British taxation and demanded that the 3 ships containing 60 tons of tea withdraw from Boston Harbor.[pullquote]On December 16, 1773, in that very meeting house, Samuel Adams announced, “This meeting Can Do Nothing More to Save the Country”.[/pullquote]
The Sons of Liberty disguised as Mohawk Indians were waiting outside, they had now the green light to destroy the tea.
What was called later “Boston Tea Party” was quickly organized and 342 chests of taxable tea from England worth $700,000 (in today’s money) were dumped into the Boston Harbor in defiance of the Tea Act of May 10, 1773.
[pullquote]Colonists were against the Tea Act because they thought that it violated their rights “No taxation without representation”, James Otis’ catch phrase.[/pullquote]
The harsh reaction of the British government helped ignite the American Revolution.
Old State House
Built in 1713, the Old State House was the center of civic life in Colonial Boston. It is here that Samuel Adams, John Adams, John Hancock and James Otis were debating and arguing against the British crown’s policies. They debated the future of the American republic. The idea of a free market, a free enterprise system and a self government was born in this magnificent building.
On July 18, 1776 the declaration of independence was first red to Bostonians from its famous balcony. They celebrated by tearing down the Lyon and the Unicorn, symbols of Britain.
Two hundred years later, on July 4th 1976 Queen Elizabeth took part in the celebrated annual reading of the declaration on the July the 4th and was paid $35,000. Some say to make up for the loss of the tea dumped in the harbor a few hundred years earlier.[pullquote]It is on its balcony that the Declaration of independence was read for the first time on July 18,1776.[/pullquote]
Every July 4th at 10:00 am the declaration of Independence is read from the same balcony.
On March 5th, 1770 five male civilians were murdered and six others were injured on this site by the British during what is known as the Boston Massacre.
[pullquote]John Adams, the cousin of the Revolutionary leader Samuel Adams wrote “the foundation of American independence was laid on March 5, 1770”.[/pullquote]
The relationship between Britain and its colonies started to crumble at that point in history. The Boston Tea Party later on reinforced that sentiment.
The incident also known as “the incident on King Street” fueled Paul Revere and Samuel Adams Revolutionary cause against the British authorities.
Paul Revere’s colored engraved illustration (inspired from the original scene depicted by Henry Pelham) was used as a very proficient propaganda throughout the thirteen colonies to fuel animosity towards the British occupation.
In the center of the King’s Street (now state Street) monument is a five pointed star representing the 5 deaths enclosed by 6 cobblestones, representing the six wounded. The thirteen cobblestone spokes represent the original thirteen colonies.
Often referred as the home of free speech and cradle of Liberty, Faneuil Hall is located near the Boston water front. [pullquote]The building was donated by a rich merchant Peter Faneuil and was used as a market place and a meeting hall since 1743.[/pullquote]
Faneuil Hall has been a meeting hall and a market place since 1773.
The hall played a vital role in revolutionary politics. It is in that hall that colonists first protested against the Sugar Act,, the Stamp Act and the Tea Act imposed by the British government.
It was the site of several speeches by Samuel Adams and James Otis and others to promote independence from Great Britain.
Paul Revere House
Built in 1680, the Paul Revere House is the oldest building in downtown Boston.[pullquote]Paul Revere lived there for thirty years from 1770 to 1800.[/pullquote]
He an d his family lived here when he made his famous ride to Lexington on the night of April 18th and 19th 1775 that would be immortalized by Longfellow famous poem “Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride”. He was sent to Lexington to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops were coming to arrest them. Paul Revere was joined by two other Sons of Liberty; William Dawes and Samuel Prescott. They all made it to Lexington but only one, Samuel Prescott was able to reach Concord and warn the colonial militia of the British intention to cease arms and munitions.
Old North Church
Built in 1723, the Old North Church was inspired by the works of Christopher Wren, the British architect that rebuilds London after the great fire.
The steeple was the highest point on the highest ground in the city of Boston, so that when both lanterns were lid by Robert Newman on April 18 1775, they were seen very well and alarmed the Patriots in Charlestown that the British were advancing by boat across the Charles River. [pullquote]“one if by land, and two if by sea”, poem immortalized by Longfellow.[/pullquote]
Both lanterns were hung just for a minute to alert the Melissa that the British were coming[pullquote]This site was the very beginning of the battle of Lexington, the battle of Concord, and the American Revolution.[/pullquote]