Four U.S. Presidents were born in Massachusetts and many more lived here during their schooling, including eight graduates of Harvard University. Can you name them all? (Answers at bottom of the post.) In honor of President’s Day, tour guides Kristen and Brooke will be hosting a History of Boston trivia night at Aeronaut Brewing on Tuesday, February 18 at 8pm. Four of our favorite Massachusetts themed presidential stories are below and--HINT--they'll help you at our trivia!
1. Danger Strikes Teddy Roosevelt
In September 1902, Theodore Roosevelt was visiting Pittsfield, Massachusetts when his carriage was struck by a speeding trolley car. The carriage careened around 40 feet, knocking Roosevelt onto the pavement and bruising the Governor of Massachusetts, Winthrop Crane. Unfortunately, Secret Service agent William Craig wasn’t so lucky. He got stuck under the train car and became the first U.S. Secret Service agent ever killed in the line of duty.
2. JFK Born in Brookline
Brookline, just a few miles from downtown Boston, is home to the 35th president's birthplace and first family house. It's now a National Historic Site (the inside is under renovation and closed to visitors for 2020). Rose Kennedy purchased their former home on Beals Street to commemorate her late son, and set all the clocks in the house to just before 3pm, when Jack was born on May 29, 1917. For more JFK history, his Presidential Library and Museum is worth the visit and we touch on a few Kennedy-related tidbits on our Freedom Trail tour!
3. Abraham Lincoln Assassin Stays in Boston
In 1863, John Wilkes Booth a national star and had performed in numerous local theater productions. He was in Boston in April 1865 and stayed at the Parker House. Ten days later, Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. In a strange historical coincidence, the man who would later kill Booth, Boston Corbett, had undergone a religious conversion in Boston, changing his name to honor the city where he became a new man.
4. Coolidge Crushes a Strike
Calvin Coolidge, our 30th president, was born in New England, attended Amherst College, and served as governor of Massachusetts. As governor, "Silent Cal" presided over a crazy moment in Boston history – the 1919 Boston Police Strike. When over three quarters of the police force announced a strike over the right to form a union, violence broke out and eight people died over four days. The strike ended when Coolidge put Boston under martial law for the first time since the Revolutionary War. Crushing the strike launched Coolidge into the national spotlight and led to his selection as Warren G. Harding’s running mate in the 1920 presidential election.
U.S. Presidents Born in Massachusetts: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, John F. Kennedy, George H.W. Bush
Harvard Graduates: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, George W. Bush, Barack Obama
Granary Burying Ground is a peaceful cemetery in the midst of Boston’s bustling downtown. If you’re on the Freedom Trail, you’ll find it as you walk down Tremont Street from the Boston Common. And if you join one of our tours, we'll take you in there!
The burying ground used to be part of Boston Common when bodies began to be buried there in 1660. A granary next door, used for wheat storage, gave the burying ground its name. The Park Street Church has stood on the old granary site since 1809. There are an estimated 5,000 bodies buried here, though you won’t see nearly that many tomb stones as most are family tombs. Here’s a list of graves to check out on your visit:
1. Three signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried here: John Hancock (left side), Samuel Adams (front right), and Robert Treat Paine (right wall).
2. The victims of the Boston Massacre are buried next to Samuel Adam’s tomb – on his family’s plot in fact! Join our tours to find out why…
3. Paul Revere is buried toward the back of the burying ground. It can be hard to find, as it’s small and close to the ground. But it’s worth searching for to pay your respects to the man famous for the midnight ride!
4. Peter Faneuil, the namesake for Faneuil Hall marketplace, is also buried here. Peter died in 1743, six months after Faneuil Hall opened as his philanthropic gift to the town of Boston.
5. The Infant’s Tomb is the final resting place for hundreds of young children. Infant mortality was quite high in colonial Boston and into the 1800s. You can find the tomb near the Franklin obelisk in the middle of the burying ground. This is where Benjamin Franklin’s parents and many of his relatives are buried, but he is buried in Philadelphia.
6. James Otis is a mostly unsung revolutionary hero, active in Boston's politics in the 1760s. He and Samuel Adams serve as bookends of the burying ground. Learn more about Otis and his wild benders and fights in episode 2 of our podcast, Beer Makes History.
If your New Year’s resolution is to read more and/or learn about Revolutionary history, we put together a reading list of our favorite books!
1. The Birth of the Republic by Edmund S. Morgan
Best for: a fantastic summary of the who, what, where, when, why
Morgan writes the definitive political and economic history of the American Revolution, which expertly lays out the cast of characters and their motives. Finding humor in things as mundane as taxation, this is an entertaining and scholarly introduction to the founding of our country.
2. Boston in the American Revolution: A Town Versus an Empire by Brooke Barbier
Best for: Boston-centric history
Read the riveting story about how a small town in Massachusetts ignited a period of rebellion in the American colonies. Each chapter highlights a key player and shows what historical sights look like in present-day Boston. If you’re in the city, combine your reading with a Freedom Trail tour!
3. American Revolutions by Alan Taylor
Best for: alternative perspectives
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Taylor dismisses more narrow histories of the Revolution in favor of painting a broader picture that focuses on all of America, not just the thirteen North American colonies. This book is a follow-up to the fantastic, American Colonies, which also includes the history of the French and Spanish colonies throughout North America.
4. 1776 by David McCullough
Best for: military history
One of the most comprehensive popular histories of the American Revolution, 1776 guides you through the intricacies and emotions of war. It’s largely written through the lens of George Washington and British commander William Howe, making it ideal for those looking to learn more about the trials and tribulation of war.
5. An Empire on the Edge by Nick Bunker
Best for: the British perspective
Bunker offers a version of revolutionary events as seen from the other side of the Atlantic, using many British sources that American historians infrequently access. He attributes much of the buildup to Britain’s oversights, misunderstandings, and errors, which offer a fresh perspective to histories that tend to focus on political and military machinations.
6. The Radicalism of the American Revolution by Gordon S. Wood
Best for: academic vigor
One of the preeminent historians of American Revolutionary history, Wood writes an epic political, cultural, and economic history of the roots of the American Revolution. Wood argues that the Revolution was radical because of all that it accomplished and that later societal changes (like equality for women and minorities) were only possible because of the Revolution. The book is thoroughly evidenced to appease academic audiences, but still entirely readable for a casual reader.
7. Never Caught by Erica Armstrong Dunbar
Best for: under-represented voices
If you’re looking to hear from the disenfranchised, check out this “untold story” of Ona Judge, an African American woman in pursuit of her lawful freedom from America’s First Family. Coming to terms with the darker side of early American history and its legacies, this book offers a moment of reflection and nuance central to our understanding of the time period.
8. Paul Revere’s Ride by David Hackett Fischer
Best for: getting to know Revere and lesser-known Revolutionary actors.
This book explores the life of Paul Revere and his legendary midnight ride on April 18, 1775 – on what would become the eve of Revolution. Fischer also focuses on British General Thomas Gage and expertly mixes the colonial and British perspectives to offer detailed accounts of the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
For those who love holiday cheer and a good beer, you can’t miss these wintery selections! Make way for spices and stouts to get you through the holiday season and snowy evenings.
1. UFO Winter Blonde
Made with vanilla cold brew, this light and refreshing wheat beer from Harpoon’s unfiltered offerings series tastes like a Christmas cookie in a glass. It's simply divine. And if you can resist not drinking it all, use it to make this curried beer and butternut squash soup for a heavenly pairing! Tasting notes: vanilla and wheat.
2. Riverwalk Storm Door Porter
Dark beer lovers rejoice! Winter brings a lot of porters, and we love this deep and complex brew from Riverwalk Brewing in Newburyport. We don’t have many storm doors in Massachusetts, but maybe stash a few in the pantry in case you need reinforcements for a snow day! Tasting notes: vanilla and cinnamon.
3. Jack’s Abby Red Tape
For those who aren’t quite ready to commit to porters or stouts, grab a Red Tape from Jack’s Abby. This dunkel style (dark German lager) is a nice malty, amber. Bonus: the can will match your Christmas sweater! Tasting notes: cocoa and caramel.
4. Secret Stairs Boston Stout
You might think of Trillium as a summer-time spot given its multiple beer garden and patio spaces, but they do winter as well! Their signature Boston stout is available at local craft beer stores and all of Trillium’s locations, but we recommend checking out the newest taproom at Fenway – there will be ice skating next door as soon as it freezes! Tasting notes: nuts and chocolate.
5. Harpoon Winter Warmer
We’re doubling up on Harpoon because they really get into the winter spirit! As one of Boston’s oldest breweries, Harpoon has been making this New England staple for over three decades and you can often find it on our tours! Tasting notes: cinnamon and nutmeg.