Minuteman National Historic Park
To find out about the roots of the American Revolution it is necessary to head around 35 kilometres (22 miles) out of Boston. Concord, Lincoln and Lexington are the places where in 1775 the colonists first took up arms to defend their liberty, and their actions led directly to the revolution. Although the sites where this took place are geographically spread out, they have been brought together as Minutemen National Historic Park. We visited in early January on a very cold and snowy day. The historic buildings and one of the Visitor Centers are closed in winter, but we still found the visit worthwhile. Summer visitors are offered the added experience of the interiors of the buildings with rangers in period dress.
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Hancock-Clarke House, Lexington
This building is interesting in terms of age alone, as it was built around 1700 for the Reverend John Hancock. The house has not been saved from demolition by its antiquity, but by its association with the American Revolution. On April 18, 1775 British troops were advancing towards Lexington and Concord. By then the house was owned by the Reverend Jonas Clarke who was entertaining Samuel Adams and John Hancock, both known proponents of independence from Britain. It was to warn Adams and Hancock of the British troops that Paul Revere and William Dawes rode out from Boston, Revere’s ride later becoming the subject of a famous poem by Longfellow.
Minuteman statue & Lexington Green, Lexington
By the mid 17th century the American Colonies were setting up militia to protect themselves from foreign invasion. The Minutemen were the elite of the militia, highly mobile forces that could be assembled quickly. Organised on a local basis, the Minutemen were skilled fighters and a very powerful force even though they had no central command. They saw active service alongside the British Army in the French and Indian War, but it is for their action against the British Army in the early stages of the American Revolution that they are best known. In this picture a statue of a lone Minuteman stands in front of a snowy Lexington Green.
North Bridge, Concord
News of the shootings in Lexington spread fast and later in the day American forces shot at British soldiers at North Bridge, near Concord, forcing them to retreat. The bridge in this picture is not the one that stood here when the shots were fired in 1775 . That bridge was dismantled in 1793 following the construction of a new road that was less prone to flooding. There was no bridge until 1875 when an ornate one was constructed to mark the centenary of the North Bridge confrontation. That bridge was washed away in 1888 and subsequent bridges were either washed away or suffered wind damage. This bridge built in 1956 proved strong enough to withstand wind and water, but it did require repair after a dynamite attack in 1969.
Buckman Tavern, Lexington
While Boston makes a lot of noise about its role in the American Revolution, Concord & Lexington are the places where it began in earnest. By 1775 a feud between the British Government and the American Colonists over colonists’ rights had been simmering for ten years. On April 19 at Lexington Common the feud boiled over as the British Army confronted Colonists. Shots were fired leaving eight Colonists dead. Built around 1710, the Buckman Tavern was the headquarters of the Minutemen (American Militia) when the British Army arrived and those first fateful shots were fired.