By Pam Pacelli Cooper
When we last left Elijah Vose and his wife Sarah, the first attempts at a Constitution for the Commonwealth had ended in abysmal failure.
We rejoin them in 1780 after the Constitution, which was drafted by John and Samuel Adams and James Bowdoin, has been ratified.
Many people don’t know that the Constitution of the Commonwealth remains the oldest continuously functioning written constitution in the world. It's carefully structured chapters, sections, and articles became a model for the United States Constitution, which did not follow for another seven years!
Little wonder Mr. Vose and his wife shout Huzzah!
If you would like to see the text of this forward-looking and radical document, follow this link, then read the Constitution of the United States for comparison.
The Constitution of the Commonwealth, 1780:
The Constitution of the United States, 1787:
Engraving of James Bowdoin by Granger courtesy of fineartamerica.com
Patriots Day commemorates the first battles of the Revolutionary War on April 19th, 1775, primarily at Lexington and Concord. It is celebrated in both Massachusetts and Maine (Maine was a part of Massachusetts in 1775 and did not become a state until 1820).
However, Governor Frederic Greenhalge only designated the holiday as such in 1894. The holiday, which marked the beginning of spring had originally been designated a day of fasting and reflection, a leftover from Puritan times. By the time Greenhalge came along, there was very little fasting, and instead the holiday was observed as the opening day for ballgames and other spring sports. Acknowledging the changing times, and preserving the precious holiday, Greenhalge helped engineer moving the date to April 19th, thus combining sports, time off, and patriotic fervor in one festive day.
Today, though Patriots’ Day has been moved to the third Monday in April in order to create a 3-day weekend, it still retains the celebration of sport and patriotism which makes all Massachusetts citizens proud.
Below, please find a link to a powerful article from The Atlantic celebrating the grit and determination of Bostonians past and present in the face of the tyrants of 1775 and the cowards who bombed the Marathon in 2013.
Click here to read the article
Verissima’s Pam and Rob Cooper took the pictures at Concord’s celebration this year.
Elijah Vose has just returned from the first vote regarding a constitution for the newly formed Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He sits at his kitchen table and describes his disappointment at the failure to reach a consensus to his wife Sarah.
by Maureen Taylor
Four women established the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1890. They felt strongly about preserving the memories of men and woman involved in the founding of the United States. More than 850,000 women have joined the DAR since then.
The DAR library is one of my favorite places to do research. It's an amazing collection of material. While doing research for The Last Muster: Faces of the Revolution (2013), I made a major discovery. In 1935, the Nebraska Daughters of the American Revolution collected images of patriots from their members and compiled them into a multi-volume scrapbook. While I'm still tracking down the owners of some of the photographs and paintings,in other cases those pictures are part of The Last Muster.
Eric Grundset, Library Director of the DAR Library, spoke with me about the library. After listening to Eric, you'll want to make your own visit to the library. You can listen by clicking the play button.
by Maureen Taylor
One hundred years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1876, a group of men in San Francisco descended from Revolutionary War patriots formed the Sons of Revolutionary Sires as a civic and fraternal organization. Thirteen years later, the National Society of Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) grew out of that group. The SAR chose April 30, 1889, the 100th anniversary of George Washington’s inauguration, as their founding date. The SAR “was conceived as a fraternal and civic society composed of lineal descendants of the men” who supported the cause of American independence. President Theodore Roosevelt, an SAR member, signed the Act of Congress on June 9, 1906, that gave the organization its charter. You can spot these SAR grave markers at the burial site of men recognized as patriots. If you descend from a patriot, you may be eligible for membership in the National Society of Sons of the American Revolution. You can learn more about membership on their website and consult the list of state and district society webpages. Photo taken by Timothy Valentine, Wikimedia Commons
General Thomas Gage
Visit with Sarah and Elijah as they discuss the end of Boston's 11 month siege, and the end of eight years of British occupation of the city. Even though the siege was ended, the war would continue for another several years, but Boston would never again be a military target. The citizenry were now free to assist other colonies in the fight for independence. Crean Brush, the Tory Elijah mentioned in our last post, attempted to escape Boston in a ship filled with plundered goods; however, Captain Manley, under direction from General Washington, harrassed the departing fleet and captured Bush and his booty. We are sure Elijah and Sarah must have shouted: "Huzzah!"
Photo Courtesy of Fine Art America
By Pam Pacelli Cooper
I met Francie King as a part of my work in the Association of Personal Historians and we got to talking about her fascinating work as a Revolutionary War re-enactor. Here’s what she told me: “I became a re-enactor because I wanted to find a way to learn more about American Colonial History and in the process see if I could educate others as well.” Her Regiment was peopled with historians who were committed to showing the real, not the Technicolor, aspects of a Revolutionary War regiment (see the Motley Crew photo).
She learned how to dress authentically, making her own clothing, as many re-enactors do; clean, load, and fire a musket; heft gear for long miles of marching; and follow commands during battle reenactments. As a female soldier, Francie would not have been alone in the Revolutionary War. History has shown that women did indeed serve, but always in disguise, one of the most famous being Deborah Samson. Other women served in camp as part of the distaff, and after many years of service in the field, Francie now fills that role more often.
The Motley Crew
Re-enactors set up colonial re-encampments both in and outside of New England and invite the public to visit and see what life was like during the Revolutionary War years. You can attend re-enactments from Quebec down to some of the southern states. Here in Massachusetts, Glover's Regiment, based on the original led by John Glover of Marblehead, sets up camp every July in Marblehead. No modern day conveniences are allowed—that means no makeup, watches, jewelry, cell phones, or any other 21st century markers—and the public is free to visit the encampment for two days (July 13-14, 2013).
If you’re not in Massachusetts, and want to see links to other re-enactment groups, click here for a list of those around you.Photos courtesy of courtesy of Francie King and Glover's Regiment re-enactors
By Maureen Taylor
Over the years, my search for images and information for The Last Muster books has taken me to small town archives and big city museums. Genealogists love to show me possible candidates at conferences. There are even unexpected discoveries.
A few weeks ago I was in England for the Who Do You Think You Are Live genealogy conference. Afterwards, I had a quick visit with friends. They suggested a day trip to Stratford Upon Avon, home of William Shakespeare. It's a beautiful village even on a cold rainy day.
I never thought to find a Last Muster connection in Shakespeare's birthplace, but I did. On the second floor of his house is a small exhibit about the building. Behind plexiglass was a visitor sign-in book, just like the ones museums use today. This first sign-in book dates from 1812. Curious to see the name of the first visitor I leaned in and gasped. It was T. H. Perkins of Boston, Massachusetts. He's one of the men featured in The Last Muster: Images of the Revolutionary War Generation (Kent State University Press, 2010).
Thomas Handasyd Perkins witnessed the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770. Late in life, he recalled seeing the frozen blood in the street and could still remember the locations of the bodies. At the time of the massacre, he was 6 years of age.
The events of that day and his family's involvement in the resistance to British policies changed his life. His father was a member of the Sons of Liberty and died in 1773. His mother let her sons train with guns, just in case they needed to join the cause.
At the time of his death in 1854, biographers called him New England's most successful merchant. He was also a generous philanthropist. Perkins helped establish the Perkins School for the Blind.
He was supportive of the building of the Bunker Hill Monument. At the laying of the cornerstone in 1823 and at the dedication in 1843, Daniel Webster spoke of Perkins. "His charities have distilled, like the dews of heaven;he has fed the hungry, and clothed the naked; he has given sight to the blind; and for such virtues there is a reward on high, of which all human memorial, all language of brass and stone, are but humble types and attempted imitations." This statement appeared in Daniel Webster's Address Delivered at the Laying of the Cornerstone, 1825.
Perkins 1812 visit to Shakespeare's home wasn't the only time he stopped in Stratford Upon Avon. A notation in the center margin makes note of the fact that he returned two years later. Both visits occurred during the War of 1812, when Britain was again at war with the United States.
By Pam Pacelli Cooper
For 11 months, from April of 1775, to March of 1776, American militia were able to contain the British troops, through a combination of fierce resistance and the beneficial aspects of Boston’s geography which made it easier for the Continentals to hold their ground.
Yet there was a grisly toll on Boston and its population. In this short video clip, John Morrison, a volunteer guide for Boston by Foot, portrays Elijah Vose, a man in his mid-60’s who lives in Milton with his wife Sarah. This imagined conversation between them, takes place in their kitchen (filmed at the Suffolk Resolves House in Milton, MA) in late winter of 1775-76. Mr. Vose describes the appalling conditions in Boston as communicated to him by his grandson, also named Elijah, who resides in Boston and is 17 years old.
The Vose family emigrated from England in 1657 and purchased 174 acres in Milton. Elijah Vose has two sons, Joseph and Josiah, also farmers. Joseph had played a major part in attacking the Boston lighthouse in spring of 1775. At the time of this conversation, he was with Benedict Arnold’s troops, assisting in the siege of Quebec. He later left a journal of his expedition and sent letters home to his mother.
By Maureen Taylor "Revolutionary Voices is a proud sponsor of the Houstory Online Scavenger Hunt, running from March 4-10. As a hunter, you'll need to find the "clue" hidden in the Heirloom Registry record. I'm taking part in the third leg of the hunt -- which actually doesn't start until tomorrow -- and goes until Sunday, March 10. As a special "bonus," I'm giving you your clue a day early. Enjoy!"
I love the idea of an heirloom registry! Preserving the stories of all family memorabilia is the first step to sharing these items with future generations.
At first I couldn't decide what to register--my husband's grandmother's table, my grandmother's plate or a quilt? Then I remembered a wedding present with a link to the Revolutionary War. It's a spoon.
My in-laws have friends that live in England. When we were first married we visited England and they took us out for a lovely dinner near Covent Garden. After the delicious Italian food, they presented us with this silver spoon. They bought us a single piece of Revolutionary War period silver. That was decades before I began work on The Last Muster project.
It's a perfect heirloom to register. While not associated with an ancestor, it's a special item to us. Just looking at it brings back memories of that evening in London.
If you want to register an item it's simple. Go to the Houstory Heirloom Registry page to purchase a unique registration number. Then create an account at www.heirloomregistry.com, and upload information and photos of the item. I hope you'll want to participate in the Scavenger Hunt, one of the prizes is a copy of my Preserving Your Family Photographs book.
- If you’d like to start the scavenger hunt now, I suggest you first go to The Houstory Hearth blog’s special Scavenger Hunt Page. There you’ll find information about the hunt, the prizes – and most importantly the list of the other three blogs you’ll need to visit today.
If this is your final stop for Hunt No. 3, be sure to submit your entry form with your secret words before Sunday, March 10, 2013 at midnight PST. Good luck – and happy hunting!
- You'll also need my item number to unlock the secret word in a photo caption. It's KMGC-537-466-2281-2011