Moments in Revolutionary History

  1. Resistance to the Stamp Act (1765)

    The king imposed a stamp duty on all published materials in the colonies, including newspapers. Furious Bostonians boycotted English goods in response.

  2. Boston Massacre (1770)

    Angry colonists picked a fight with British troops in front of the Old State House, resulting in the deaths of five unarmed Bostonians.

  3. Samuel Adams Tea Tax Speech (1773)

    Adams’ incendiary speech during a forum at the Old South Meeting House inspired the Boston Tea Party, the most subversive action undertaken yet in the debate over colonial secession.

  4. Boston Tea Party (1773)

    Led by Samuel Adams, the Sons of Liberty protested against the king’s tax policy on tea by boarding three British East India Company ships and dumping their cargo into Boston Harbor, a watershed moment of colonial defiance.

    Reenactment of the Boston Tea Party
  5. Paul Revere’s Ride (1775)

    Revere rode to Lexington to warn revolutionaries Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops intended to arrest them. One of the bravest acts of the war, it would be immortalized in the Longfellow poem The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.

    Statue of Paul Revere
  6. Battle of Lexington (1775)

    Revere’s ride was followed by the first exchange of fire between the ragtag colonist army and the British at Lexington.

  7. Battle of Bunker Hill (1775)

    The colonists’ fortification of Charlestown resulted in a full-scale British attack. Although defeated, the colonists’ resolve was galvanized by this battle.

    Bunker Hill
  8. Washington Takes Command (1776)

    The Virginia gentleman farmer, George Washington, led the newly-formed Continental Army south from Cambridge to face British troops in New York.

    George Washington
  9. Fortification of Dorchester Heights (1776)

    Fortifying the mouth of Boston harbor with captured cannon, Washington put the Royal Navy under his guns and forced a British retreat from the city.

  10. Declaration of Independence (1776)

    On July 4, the colonies rejected all allegiance to the British Crown. Independence was declared from the Royal Governor’s headquarters, known today as the Old State House.

Massachusetts State House

The 1798 Massachusetts State House is Charles Bulfinch’s masterwork, and among the nation’s most mimicked – not to mention earliest – examples of public architecture. With its brash design details, imposing stature, and liberal use of fine materials, the State House embodies the optimism that ran through post-revolutionary America. The building is best understood in three distinct sections: the original Bulfinch front; the marble wings constructed in 1917; and the yellow-brick 1895 addition, known as the Brigham Extension after the architect who designed it. Just below Bulfinch’s central colonnade, statues of famous Massachusetts figures strike poses among them are the great orator, Daniel Webster, President J. F. Kennedy, and Quaker Mary Dyer, who was hanged in 1660 for challenging the authority of Boston’s religious leaders. Directly below the State House’s immense gilded dome is the Senate Chamber, which has hosted some of the most influential debates and speeches in US history. The government’s larger legislature, the House of Representatives, convenes in the Brigham Extension. While the building’s principal purpose remains governmental, the State House also functions as a working museum, boasting important murals, statues, and artifacts from Massachusetts history.

Massachusetts State House

The Sacred Cod Bestowed on the House of Representatives by Boston merchant, Jonathan Rowe, the carving of the Sacred Cod has presided over the Commonwealth’s legislative activities since 1784. It disappeared briefly in 1933, when Harvard’s Lampoon magazine orchestrated a dastardly “codnapping” prank.

Top 10 State House Features
  1. 23-carat gold dome

  2. Senate Chamber

  3. House of Representatives

  4. “Hear Us” Exhibit

  5. Stained Glass Windows

  6. Doric Hall

  7. Hall of Flags

  8. Nurses Hall

  9. Sacred Cod

  10. State House Pine Cone

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