Patriots Day is a special holiday in our area and usually involves battle re-enactments, thousands of visitors, parades, and many learning opportunities for kids. Since local Patriots' Day activities are cancelled this year, we thought we'd try to recreate some of the spirit and experience with this article. Below is a brief history of the events of April 1775 and a number of videos from local celebrations.
In April 1775, tensions were running very high between Parliament in Britain and the thirteen colonies in America. Britain needed money after the French & Indian War in the 1760s and taxed the colonies heavily. With no representatives in Parliament ("taxation without representation"), the colonists protested strongly. In March 1770, colonists gathered in protest in Boston and were fired upon by British soldiers, an event known as the Boston Massacre. In December 1773, colonists dumped a ship's load of tea into Boston harbor to protest taxes on tea. In the spring of 1774, Parliament passed the "Intolerable Acts", stringent measures specifically focused on Boston and Massachusetts. Colonists convened the First Continental Congress in PA in September 1774 as a result.
On April 18, 1775, 700 British soldiers marched from Boston toward Concord to seize munitions that colonials were storing there. Paul Revere and William Dawes rode out from Boston to warn residents in Lexington and other towns that the British were coming. Paul Revere arrived in Lexington at midnight and notified John Hancock and Samuel Adams, who were sheltering there. The British troops reached Lexington Green (the common at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Bedford St) at 5:30 AM and were met by a group of about 80 colonials (Minute Men from Lexington and nearby towns). A skirmish was sparked when a shot was fired (it was never determined which side fired), and the British overran the small group of Minute Men. The British marched on to Concord and were met by hundreds of colonials, who fought back the Redcoats. The British retreated and were forced to march back through Lexington and Arlington toward Charlestown. As they passed through Lincoln and Lexington, the British and Minute Men engaged in more bloody battles.
Every year, we celebrate the start of the Revolutionary War and our steps to full independence with many events in Lexington, Concord, Bedford and surrounding towns. Below are videos of the events, in chronological order, to try to capture the essence of local Patriots Day weekend activities. Hopefully we will all be celebrating together again next year!
Local celebrations begin a week before Patriots Day with the Liberty Pole Capping in Bedford and Meriam's Corner Exercise in Concord. Both these events commemorate efforts by colonials to rebel against the British.
James Kane, "Liberty Pole Capping Parade", YouTube, April 8 2012, https://youtu.be/qhECV23SPDE
Minuteman Media Network, "Meriam Corner Exercise 4 7 18", YouTube, June 8 2018, https://youtu.be/qDRCbVHVgNE
A dramatization of Paul Revere's ride to Lexington.
kewbei, "The Ride -- Paul Revere short educational film piece", YouTube, July 14 2008, https://youtu.be/Q1El-guPeEo
At dawn on April 19, the British reached Lexington and fought a small group of colonials on Lexington Green. This video shows the annual re-enactment, which takes place real-time, at 5:30 AM.
Ryan Cote, "Patriots Day 2016, The Battle at Lexington Green", YouTube, April 18 2016, https://youtu.be/f4lyI9pbcYI
Mid-morning on April 19, the British reached Concord and engaged with the Minute Men at North Bridge. See this video of the North Bridge annual re-enactment.
fishycomics, "North Bridge Reenactment Fight: Concord Mass", YouTube, April 19 2009, https://youtu.be/91kOYlkLyK4
The British retreat from Concord and are met by Minute Men in Lincoln for Parker's Revenge, a bloody battle. This video of the re-enactment includes helpful commentary from a local educator.
Timothy Spurgin, "Patriots' Day 2016 Battle Road: "Parker's Revenge" Demonstration", YouTube, April 16 2016, https://youtu.be/k2SH3zkEkOA
The remaining British troops continued retreating and battled more Minute Men at Tower Park in Lexington. See this video of the annual re-enactment.
Brandon F., "Reenactment of the Retreat from Concord, Tower Park, Patriot's Day 2018", YouTube, April 15 2018, https://youtu.be/I53rrsJvN_M
Patriots Day weekend is capped off by parades in Concord, Lexington and surrounding towns, with the largest in Lexington. This video captures the entire Lexington parade. There's a lot of commentary at the beginning -- start at 19:00 to see just the parade.
Keep in mind that the Minute Men units have been marching all weekend. Many of them participate in re-enactment walks from their towns to gather in Concord and Lexington for the battles; many units start in the middle of the night and march for 10 miles or more. The Lexington parade is the culmination of a very busy weekend!
LexMedia, "Lexington Patriots' Day Parade (April 17th, 2017)", YouTube, April 8 2019, https://youtu.be/VA3c1ABFPgc
I hope this overview of Patriots Day weekend activities has been interesting and enjoyable!
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