Boston National Historical Park

Boston National Historical Park


Temples of DeCoster

Ever wonder why native New Englanders call the island nation in the Caribbean, "Cuber"? Well, it may be for the same reason that in the 18th century they spelled the old Portuguese name, DeCosta, as DeCoster. Many Sephardic Jews, persecuted in Portugal and Spain in the seventeenth century, came to Newport, RI seeking religious freedom. The name migrated with this particular family and so became DeCoster in Newport, or at least in Boston where in the eighteenth century we find a man named Temple DeCoster building churches! Jews could not step foot in Boston in the 18th century let alone build churches. What's the hitch?

It turns out that Temple was the son a Sephardic Jew from Newport, named Isaac, who came to Boston, became Christian and married Mary Temple in 1699. Temple was born in 1712, and by the time he was 30, is listed in historical records as the housewright for two sites of Boston National Historical Park; Old South Meeting House (1729) and Faneuil Hall (1742). If that were not enough, he is found in the records of King's Chapel as housewright for that magnificent church building on the Freedom Trail, completed in 1754. By that time he seems to have been a master housewright.

A master housewright in the eighteenth century was what today we would call a general contractor. What is more, he interpreted and executed a general design given to him by an architect who did not do the detailing and finely drawn blueprints as architects do today. He was a master builder, and oversaw a building's construction from start to finish.

Quoting from a record dated April 10, 1753, the Annals of King's Chapel states, "It was agreed to pay Temple DeCoster, housewright, 'for his Services as an Overseer or Director, and as a Draftsman for the Workmen, for £13 6s. 8d. lawful money….' "

It is interesting to note that Temple DeCoster bought a tomb from Ebenezer Messenger in 1756. Ebenezer is found in those same records on January 21, 1754 as having agreed "to turn in a neat {sic} and handsome Manner all the Palasters {sic} that shall be wanted to go round the Communion Table."

These clever builders of ancient Boston probably cut themselves pretty good deals.



From its founding in 1630, Boston has always been an important port. The United States Navy recognized this in 1800 and built on the shores of nearby Charlestown one of the first six Navy Yards in the country. For nearly one hundred seventy five years Charlestown has played an important role in building, and maintaining, the United States Navy fleet.

Suggested Reading

BostonNational Historical Park


Elementary and Middle School

Adkins, Jan, John Adams, Young Revolutionary, Aladdin Paperbacks, 2002. (3rd - 6th grades)

Alsheimer, Jeanette E. & Patricia J. Friedle, The Trouble with Tea, Pentland Press, Inc., 2001, (5th - 8th graders).

Appleseeds Magazine, Growing up in the American Revolution. Vol. 3, No. 2, Cobblestone Publication, October, 2002. (3rd - 5th grades).

Berleth, Richard, Samuel's Choice, Whitman & Co., 1990, (5th - 8th grades) Fictional story about a young black slave boy who helps Washington's army in the Battle of Long Island in 1776.

Bliven, Bruce, American Revolution, Random House, 1958. (5th - 8th grades)

Bober, Natalie S., Countdown to Independence, Simon & Schuster, 2001 (5th-8th grades)

Borden, Louise, Sleds on Boston Common, A Story of the American Revolution, McElderry Books, 2000. (5th -7th grades)

Brennan, Linda Crotta, The Black Regiment of the American Revolution, Moon Mountain Publishing, 2004. (3rd- 5th grades) Story of black regiment in Battle of Rhode Island, 1777.

Cobblestone Magazine, Boston Massacre, March, 1980. (3rd - 5th grades)

Cobblestone Magazine, British Loyalists in the Revolutionary Era, August, 1987. (3rd - 5th grades)

Cobblestone Magazine, Patriotic Tales of the American Revolution, September 1983. (3rd- 5th grades)

Cobblestone Magazine, Spain and the American Revolution, November 2000. (3rd - 5th grades) $4.95

Day, Nancy, Your Travel Guide to Colonial America, Runestone Press, 2001 (5th - 8th grades) A travel guide to colonial life.

Davis, Burke, Black Heroes of the American Revolution, Odyssey Publications, 1976. (5th grade)

Davis, Kate, Samuel Adams, Triangle Histories: The Revolutionary War, Blackbirch Press, 2002, (5th - 7th grades)

Dutcher, David C.G., Concise History of the American Revolution, American History Series, Eastern National Publication, 1999. (5th-8th grades).

Earle, Alice Morse, Diary of Anna Green Winslow, Applewood books, 1894. (5th - 8th grades)

Edwards, Ben L., One April in Boston, Spyglass Books, Inc. 2000. (5th - 8th grades).

Ferris, Jeri Chase, Remember the Ladies- A Story About Abigail Adams, Carolrhoda Books, 2001 (3rd - 5th grades)

Forbes, Esther, Johnny Tremain, Houghton Mifflin, 1943. (5th - 8th grades)

Fradin, Dennis, Samuel Adams, The Father of Independence, Clarion Books, 1998, (5th - 8th grades)

Franklin Institute Science Museum Book, The Ben Franklin Easy & Incredible Experiments, John Wiley & Sons Publ., 1995 (3rd - 7th grades)

Fritz, Jean, Can't You Make Them Behave, King George? Coward-McCann, 1977. (3rd - 5th grades)

Fritz, Jean, Why Don't You Get a Horse, Sam Adams? Coward-McCann, 1977. (3rd - 5th grades)

Gaines, Ann Graham, King George III, Chelsea House, 2001, Revolutionary War Leaders Series. (5th grade)

Griffin, Judith Berry, Phoebe the Spy, Puffin Books, 1977 (3rd - 6th grades)

Hakim, Joy, From Colonies to Country, Oxford University Press, 1993. (5th - 8th grades)

Haskins, Jim, ed., Black Stars of Colonial and Revolutionary Times, African Americans Who Lived Their Dreams, John Wiley & Sons, 2002. (4th - 8th grades)

Heinemann, Sue, Amazing Women in American History, A Book of Answers for Kids, Stonesong Press, 1998. (4th - 8th grades)

Kelley, Nancy, The Whispering Rod, White Maine Kids, 2001. (5th - 8th grades)

Kids Discover Magazine, American Revolution, 2000. (3rd - 5th grade)

Kids Discover Magazine, Colonial America, 2002, (3rd -5th grades)

Kids Discover Magazine, 1776, 2002. (3rd - 5th grades)

Kids Discover Magazine, Revolutionary Women, 2005.

Kroll, Steven, The Boston Tea Party, illustrated by Peter Fiore, Holiday House, 1998. (3rd- 6th grades)

Lasky, Kathryn, A Voice of Her Own, The Story of Phillis Wheatley, Slave Poet, illustrated by Paul Lee, Candlewick Press, 2003. (3rd- 6th grades)

Lehey, Patrick M., What Was the Name of Paul Revere's horse? Eastern National Association & Paul Revere Memorial Association, 2001. A good reference book on myths vs. facts of Revere written by the Paul Revere House historian.

Millender, Dharathula, Crispus Attucks, Aladdin Paperbacks, 1982, (3rd - 5th grades)

Moore, Kay, If You Lived at the Time of the American Revolution. Scholastic, 1997. (3rd - 5th)

Osborne, Mary Pope, Revolutionary War on Wednesday, Magic Tree House # 22, 2000. (3rd - 6th grades)

Rappaport, Doreen, The Boston Coffee Party, An I Can Read Book, Level 3, Harper Trophy Publishers, 1988. (2nd - 4th grades)

Schanzer, Rosalyn, George vs. George, The Revolutionary War as Seen by Both Sides. King George III and General George Washington. National Geographic Society Children's Books. 2004. (3rd - 6th graders)

Stephens, Amanda, Liberty's Kids, Freedom at Any Price, March 1775- April 19, 1775, Grosset & Dunlap, 2003. (3rd - 6th grades)

Stephens, Amanda, Liberty's Kids, Justice for All, December 5, 1773- September 5, 1774, Grosset & Dunlap, 2003. (3rd - 6th grades)

Tucker, Mary, Boston Tea Party, History Hands On, Teacher & Learning Company, #TLC 10302, 2001 (Activity Book for Grades 1st - 4th)

Walker, Niki & Bobbie Kalman, The Milliner, Crabtree Publishers, 2002. (5th - 7th grades)

Weidt, Maryann N., Revolutionary Poet- a story about Phillis Wheatley, Carolrhoda Books, 1997. (3rd - 5th grades)

Weir, Sarah, ed. America's War of Independence 1763-1783- A Concise Illustrated History of the American Revolution. Silver Moon Press, 1992. (5th - 8th grades)


Allison, Robert, Short History of Boston, Beverly, MA, Commonwealth Editions, 2004.

Applewhite, Harriet B. & Darline G. Levy, Women & Politics in the Age of the Democratic Revolution, Univ. of Michigan Press, 1996. Read "The Women of Boston" by Alfred Young and "I have don…much to Carrey on the Warr" by Linda Kerber.

Bahne, Charles, The Complete Guide to Boston's Freedom Trail, Cambridge, MA, Newtowne Publishing, 1985.

Bober, Natalie, Abigail Adams - Witness to a Revolution, Atheneum Book, 1995.

Boston National Historical Park Handbook, Boston and the American Revolution, National Park Service, 1998.

BostonNational Historical Park, Merchants & Farmers in Battle, The Battle of Bunker Hill, curriculum packet, 1998. Free National Park Service Publication.

BostonNational Historical Park, What's Behind a Monument? George Washington's First Victory at Dorchester Heights, 1996, Free National Park Service publication.

Cleary, Patricia, Elizabeth Murray- A Woman's Pursuit of Independence in Eighteenth-Century America, University of Massachusetts Press, 2000.

Copeland, David A., Debating Issues in Colonial Newspapers. Primary Documents on Events of the Period. Greenwood Press, 2000.

Cott, Nancy F., The Bonds of Womanhood, "Woman's Sphere" in New England, 1780-1835, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1977.

Curran, Emily and Sanderson, Jill. Phillis Wheatley and the Origins of African American Literature. Boston, MA: Old South Association, 1999.

Diamant, Lincoln, ed., Revolutionary Women in the War for American Independence, A one volume revised edition of Elizabeth Ellet's 1848 Landmark series.Praeger Publishers, 1998.

Emery, Michael, The Press and America: An Interpreter's History of the Mass Media, Allwyn & Bacon Publishers, 1996.

Fischer, David, Paul Revere's Ride, Oxford Univ. Press, 1994.

Fischer, Max W., American History Simulations, Teacher Created Materials, 1993.

Fowler, William, Samuel Adams, Radical Puritan, Longman, 1997.

Franklin, Benjamin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Dover Publications, New York, 1996 edition. Published posthumously in 1867.

Gundersen, Joan R., To Be Useful to the World, Women in Revolutionary American, 1740-1790. Twayne Publishers, 1996.

Hinkle, Alice, Prince Estabrook, Slave and Soldier, Pleasant Mountain Press, 2001.

Humphrey, Carol Sue, This Popular Engine: New England Newspapers During the American Revolution, 1775-1789, University of Delaware Press, 1992..

Humphrey, Carol Sue, The Revolutionary Era: Primary Documents on Events from 1776 to 1800. Greenwood Press, 2003.

Kerber, Linda. Toward an Intellectual History of Women, University of North Carolina Press, 1997.

Kerber, Linda. Women of the Republic: Intellect & Ideology in Revolutionary America, University of North Carolina Press, 1980.

Kaplan, Sidney & Emma Nogrady, The Black Presence in the Era of the American Revolution, Univ. of Mass. Press, 1989.

Ketchum, Richard M., Decisive Day- The Battle of Bunker Hill, Holt & Co. 1962.

Langguth, A.J. Patriots, Simon & Schuster, 1988.

Martineau, Harriet, Retrospect of Western Travel, (1834-1835 first-hand account of United States from 19th century English author and traveler), M.E. Sharpe, new edition, 2000.

McCullough, David, John Adams, Simon & Schuster, 2001.

McCullough, David, 1776, Simon & Schuster, 2005.

Moore, Christopher, The Loyalists, McClelland & Stewart, 1984.

Norton, Mary Beth, The British-Americans, The Loyalist Exiles in England, 1774-1789. Little, Brown & Co., 1972.

Norton, Mary Beth, Liberty's Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750-1800. Little & Brown, 1980.

Norton, Mary Beth, "Eighteenth-Century American Women in Peace and War: The case of the Loyalists," William and Mary Quarterly, Volume 33, 1976.

Old South Meeting House, Slave to Poet: Phillis Wheatley curriculum packet, Old South Association.

Old South Meeting House, Tea is Brewing curriculum packet, Old South Association.

Old State House, Prisoners of the Bar, What Really Happened on King Street on the Night of March 5, 1770, curriculum packet, Bostonian Society, 2000.

Paul Revere House, Paul Revere: The Man Behind the Myth, curriculum packet, Paul Revere Memorial Association, 1990.

Paul Revere House, The Revere Children and the Siege of Boston, curriculum packet,Paul Revere Memorial Association, 1998.

Robinson, William Henry, Ph.D. Phillis Wheatley. Boston, MA: Old South Association, 1990.

Quintal, George, Jr. Patriots of Color 'A Peculiar Beauty and Merit', African Americans and Native Americans at Battle Road & Bunker Hill, U.S. Government Printing Office, 2004. Preface by noted historian Alfred F. Young, Senior Research Fellow, Newberry Library, Chicago. Includes short biographical narratives of African Americans and Native Americans who fought at either at Battle of Lexington & Concord or Battle of Bunker Hill. Order online: http://bookstore, # 024-005-01231-1,

Sloan, William David & Julie Hedgepeth William, The Early American Press, 1690 - 1783, Greenwood Press, 1994.

Unger, Harlow Giles, John Hancock, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2000.

Young, Alfred, The Shoemaker and the Boston Tea Party, Beacon Press, 1999.

Highly recommended book by a noted historian about George Robert Twelve Hewes who was a shoemaker in Boston and participated in the Boston Tea Party.

BostonNational Historical Park

Site Resources

Boston African American National Historic Site, 14 Beacon Street, Room 506, Boston, MA 02108-4025. Supervisory Park Ranger Bernadette Williams, (617) 742-5415.

BostonNational Historical Park, 15 State Street, Boston, MA 02109, Education Specialist Sheila Cooke-Kayser, (617) 242-5688.

Bostonian Society, 206 Washington St., Boston, MA 02109, (617) 720-1713. Manages the Old State House and a research library on Boston's history. Museum Educator Sue Goganian.

Old South Meeting House, 310 Washington St., Boston, MA 02108, (617) 482-6439. Education Director Michelle LeBlanc.

Paul Revere House, 19 North Square, Boston, MA 02113, (617) 523-1676. Education Director Gretchen Adams.

U.S.S.Constitution Museum, Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, MA 02109, (617) 426-1812. Education Coordinator, Andrea West,

Other Teacher Research Sources

Bodley Library, Oxford, England. Presently establishing an internet library of their early journals from 18th and 19th centuries. Great resource for 18th century newspapers that include articles on colonies and revolutionary events for multiple perspectives.

Elizabeth Murray Project, curriculum materials developed by teachers and Dr. Patricia Cleary, California State University, Long Beach. The website includes 5th grade through high school lesson plans focusing on Elizabeth Murray, an 18th century female entrepreneur living in Boston from 1750s to 1780s. Elizabeth's life represents the conflict most colonists faced during this time. She had family and friends on both sides of the issues that led to the American Revolution. Dr. Cleary's book, Elizabeth Murray, A Woman's Pursuit of Independence in Eighteenth-Century America, is listed in our bibliography list for teachers.

Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. 19 west 44th Street, Suite 500, New York, NY 10036. Excellent resource. Offers free teacher summer seminars, on-line lesson plans and primary sources.

Library of Congresswebsite: Check out the American Memory section. A wealth of primary documents.

Massachusetts Archives, 220 Morrissey Blvd., Boston, MA 02125, (617) 727-2816, Houses colonial and revolutionary records. Collection includes court records, maps, certificates of payment to the Continental Army, muster rolls of the Revolutionary War.

MassachusettsHistorical Society, 1154 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02215, (617) 536-1608. Reference Librarian Nicholas Graham. (collections of 18th century Boston newspapers, John and Abigail Adams' letters, and other primary sources.)

National Archives & Records Administration, Northeast Region, 380 Trapelo Road, Waltham, MA 02452, (781) 663-0121, Director of Archival Operations, Stuart Culy,

National Council for Social Studies. Excellence resource on social studies lesson plans, career development opportunities, etc.

National Park Service, National Park Service's American Revolution website: National Park Service, Exploring the Real Thing, guidebook to educational programs in National Park Service in the Northeast Region which includes Maine to Virginia.

New York Historical Societyhas a great new website on American Revolution that goes beyond the local New York history. Objects from their collection may be viewed and classroom activities are also included.

Patriots of Color 'A Peculiar Beauty and Merit', African Americans and Native Americans at Battle Road & Bunker Hillby George Quintal, Jr., Revolutionary War consultant. Includes a preface by noted historian Alfred F. Young, Senior Research Fellow, Newberry Library, Chicago. This is a definitive Boston National Historical Park and Minute Man National Historical Park research project conducted by Mr. Quintal, Jr. The publication identifies and provides short narratives of 21 African Americans and Native Americans who fought during the Battle of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775 and 103 African Americans and Native Americans who fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775. Available for sale through U.S. Government Printing Office, # 024-005-01231-1, $22.00, online website:

Primary Source has a wonderful website filled with primary sources. They also added new sources on African Americans. For more sources on African Americans:



Boston's link to the sea has always been an integral part of her heritage, economy and culture. It is through the port of Boston that goods and ideas have flowed for centuries. It is the same port that has been defended so fiercely and has inspired so many to stand up for their rights and liberties.


Boston National Historical Park maintains a historical collection that includes:

  1. Shipyard records
  2. 70,000 photographs and negatives
  3. 13,000 architectural drawings plus 18,000 architectural index cards
  4. Records from the First Naval District
  5. Ship history files
  6. Shipyard News (The newspaper of the yard)
  7. USS CASSIN YOUNG photographs, blueprints, manuals, and ship records
  8. Visitor registers for Bunker Hill Monument, as well as documents relating to the monument's history
  9. Documents relating to Faneuil Hall, Dorchester Heights, Old North Church, Old State House, and Old South Meeting House

Dr Joseph Warren

When a person dies suddenly, tragically, especially in the "prime of life", we tend to frame his /her life in those final moments. We can all name such people: John F. Kennedy, Amelia Earhart, the victims of September 11th. These are our heroes. Such a man was Joseph Warren.

Joseph Warren was, undoubtedly, the hero of Bunker Hill and by dying on that hill that June day in 1775; he became the embodiment of the young nation's sacrifice. The question remains; how do we separate the hero from the man? How did Joseph Warren, physician, find himself on that fated hill just six days after his 34th birthday?

Joseph Warren was born in Roxbury, MA on June 11, 1741, the eldest of four sons of Joseph Warren, a farmer, who died after falling out of an apple tree. Joseph, Jr. would attend Harvard, teach briefly at the Latin School and then study to be a physician (as his mother's father had been). He married Elizabeth Hooten on 6 September, 1764. Elizabeth brought as her dowry a considerable fortune she had inherited.

Dr. Warren began his participation in the radical cause in 1767, with the passage of the Townsend Acts. Warren's response was a series of articles in the Boston Gazette under the pseudonym "A True Patriot". These articles so angered the royal governor that he attempted to charge Warren and the publishers of the newspaper with libel, but the grand jury refused to bring forth a true bill.

After the publishing of the articles, Warren's star began to rise in the radical circles. His friendship with Samuel Adams as well as family ties with James Otis (his brother-in-law) and Masonic connection with Paul Revere and other rebel luminaries would put him in the thick of the separatist movement. Warren would become chairman of the Committee of Safety after the "Boston Massacre" of 1770 and would deliver two of the famous orations on the anniversaries of that event.

While Samuel Adams was away in Philadelphia in 1774, attending to the business of the Continental Congress, Joseph Warren assumed Adam's leadership role in Boston and became involved with the raising of militias and procurement of arms and powder. A few months later Adams and John Hancock would return to Massachusetts to find the Crown had placed a price on their heads. It was Joseph Warren, who would direct Paul Revere and William Dawes to warn the two leaders that British soldiers were heading toward their sanctuary in Lexington, MA to arrest them on 18 April, 1775.

The news of the skirmishes at Lexington and Concord would cause Warren to leave his patients in the care of his assistant, William Eustis and ride toward the scene of battle. He would spend the next six weeks readying the militia for the inevitable battles to come. For his efforts, he was elected second general in command of the Massachusetts forces by the Provincial congress on 14 June, 1775.

After meeting with the committee of safety at General Artemas Ward's headquarters on Cambridge common on the morning of 17 June, Warren learned that British forces had landed at Charlestown. About noon, he rode over to the American fortifications on Breed's Hill. The rest is the stuff of legends: Warren refused to take command, instead going into the line as a regular volunteer. On the third and final British assault near the redoubt, while attempting to rally the militia, Warren was instantly killed by a ball between the eyes. The men that Warren had rallied in those last moments were a spectrum of Massachusetts society: merchants, farmers, mechanics, laborers; red men, black men, white men, both slave and free; all fighting for their freedom. How ironic that the leader was a slave owner.

The British forces, upon taking the field, placed Warren's body in a common mass grave. His remains were later identified by Paul Revere, who identified him by the set of false teeth he had fashioned for him.

Joseph Warren became an instant hero. His death was immortalized in John Trumbull's painting; "The Death of General Warren" King Solomon's Lodge honored their Grand Master with the first Bunker Hill Monument, which now resides in the base of the present monument. In New England, every state has a town named in his honor. In death he was a hero, his life cut tragically short, and his potential unknown.

He left four small children orphaned (their mother had died in April, 1773), whose welfare remained in dire straits until 1778, when General Benedict Arnold (who had befriended Warren at Cambridge) gave $500 for their education and petitioned Congress for the amount of a major -general's half pay for their welfare until the youngest reached majority.

In the course of just a decade, Dr. Joseph Warren married, fathered four children, furthered the revolutionary movement in Boston and died a hero's death. Perhaps, Edna St. Vincent Millay could have been speaking of Joseph Warren when she wrote, "My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes and oh, my friends, it gives a lovely light!"

Cassin Young, Capt., USN

Captain Cassin Young, USN 
Destroyers in the U.S. Navy are generally named for Navy and Marine Corps personnel who have distinguished themselves in the service of their country. USS Cassin Young bears the name of a navy commander awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Commander Young was in command of the repair ship USS Vestal which was moored alongside battleship USS Arizona. When USS Arizona blew up, he was blown overboard along with many members of his crew. With USS Vestal taking on water from several hits and set afire from the blazing inferno that had been USS Arizona, the remaining crew began to abandon ship.   
Just as the first of the crew began to flee "a figure, like some sea creature, rose from the water and stood athwart the gangway. It was Ted Young... 'Where the hell do you think you're going?' he asked the first sailor. 'We're abandoning ship,' the sailor replied. 'Get back aboard,' Young roared, 'You don't abandon ship on me!'" Commander Young got the fires under control, picked up survivors from USS Arizona and managed to move USS Vestal across the harbor where he beached her for later salvage.   
  After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Cassin Young was promoted to captain and given command of the heavy cruiser USS San Francisco. On the night of November 12-13, 1942, during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, Captain Young died amidst an avalanche of shellfire from three Japanese warships. For his conspicuous gallantry in the face of the enemy, he was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. USS Cassin Young (DD793) was commissioned in 1943, honoring this gallant officer.

Town of Churches

It is not surprising that Boston's eighteenth century skyline was dotted with church spires, for its very foundation was an ecclesiastical venture.

John Winthrop and a small group of Puritans formed a Compact at Cambridge, England in 1628 and very skillfully obtained the rights to what was a fledgling commercial venture called the Massachusetts Bay Company. They did not abandon the company's commercial aspects, but their primary motive and inspiration rested in the realm of the divine. What is more, they obtained from King Charles I a Charter in 1629 which guaranteed them the right to establish a colony and govern themselves as they saw fit, as long as their laws did not violate the rights of Englishmen and the laws of England.

This small band sailed across the Atlantic with their families in 1629 and thus Massachusetts Bay Colony, with Rev. John Wilson as Pastor of First Church, was planted in Charlestown. This new colony was located at the confluence of the Charles and Mystic Rivers. In the mind of these zealous Puritans only the law of God stood above the law of England. The law of God was certainly good enough for First Church and the laws of the First Church governed the citizens of the Commonwealth, as they called their ecclesiastical society. In the Commonwealth of God, the Common Good was paramount, and nothing served that common good better than unity.

The community could divide itself as First Church did in 1650, when Second Church was formed, as the population increased in the north part of town. The formation of Third Church (Old South) came as a result of a church discipline dispute in 1669. It was quite another thing for an individual to rise up and divide the community as did Anne Hutchinson in 1637. The punishment was swift banishment and death if a return were attempted.

The Puritan experiment met with royal reality in 1686 when the original charter was revoked. Moreover, the Toleration Act was passed in old England in 1689 spelling doom for Puritan exclusivity in New England. Anglicans led the way with King's Chapel in 1686, followed by Quakers, Anabaptist, Scottish Presbyterians and French Huguenots in the next two decades, after significant numbers of merchants and the persecuted found Boston more than a nice place to visit.

Dorchester Heights

Driving the British from Boston had required months of grueling work on the part of colonists in New York and Massachusetts Bay. In November of 1775, Washington had dispatched Bostonian Henry Knox to retrieve badly needed cannon from Fort Ticonderoga, New York. Teamsters with eighty yoke of oxen made the three hundred mile journey, bringing 59 cannon for the colonial army then encircling Boston. Once they neared the city, the rebels faced a new challenge. How would they roll the guns into place without tipping their hand to the British? On the night of March 4, 1776, colonial militia and local volunteers stealthily fortified the summit of Dorchester Heights.

Wrapping their wagon wheels with straw to deaden the sound, they moved the cannon from Roxbury and entrenched them on these hills south of Boston. British General Howe planned an attack, but a violent storm prevented his soldiers from landing. Within a few days, Howe, his troops, and a thousand colonial loyalists set sail for Nova Scotia, abandoning the city to Washington's forces and its jubilant citizens. The army improved the fortifications and again stationed troops on Dorchester Heights during the War of 1812. After 1814, however, the twin hills declined in military importance.

Since Boston had annexed Dorchester Neck in 1804, developers eyed the Heights as a source of raw material for the expanding city. During the second half of the nineteenth century the hills of South Boston underwent the same excavation that lowered Mount Vernon and Pemberton and Beacon Hills, the "tri-mountains" of the Boston peninsula. In 1898, the General Court of Massachusetts commissioned a monument to stand on the remaining hill of the Heights. Designed by the architectural firm of Peabody and Stearns, the white marble Georgian revival tower commemorates the 1776 victory. In 1966 the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service added Dorchester Heights to the National Register of Historic Places. Twelve years later the National Parks and Recreation Act authorized the City of Boston to transfer the site to the National Park Service. At that time, it joined the eight other sites which comprise Boston National Historical Park, established in 1974.

Dorchester Heights adds a valuable dimension to the Park. Its historical significance and the development of the surrounding community vividly reflect the history and growth of the city of Boston. With the fortification of its summit in 1776, Dorchester Heights contributed significantly to one of Boston's major victories and demonstrated the integral connection between the Boston peninsula and her neighboring community. The annexation of Dorchester Neck to Boston in 1804 strengthened that link. Building and landfilling operations cemented the tie by facilitating travel between the two areas.


The people connected to Boston National Historical Park are the famous and almost unknown, but all have contributed in the fight to obtain and retain rights and freedoms.

Many Americans remember American Revolutionary visionaries John and Samuel Adams, but may have forgotten black revolutionary hero Salem Poor or Joseph Warren, who lost his life at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Scores of people flock to Bunker Hill to photograph the monument there, but few realize that Sarah Josepha Hale is largely responsible for raising funds to build the monument.

The people who contributed to the success of the Charlestown Navy Yard included some 50,000 during World War II, including over 8,000 women. Allen Rohan Crite, the renowned African-American painter, worked as a draftsman and technical illustrator for many years in the yard.

All of these people, and countless others, have had a part in shaping our nation's history.

Ship Building in Charlestown

The first ship built by the Navy Yard, the USS Independence was the nation's first ship-of-the-line to enter service. Regarded as somewhat unsuccessful, largely because of the ill-advised modifications made by Capt. William Bainbridge during construction, the ship was taken into Dry Dock 1 and "razed" (cut down) to a large frigate in 1835-36. A much more successful ship thereafter, it was long a fixture at the Mare Island Navy Yard, serving as receving ship there from 1857 to 1912. Plans to converth the venerable ship into a floating restaurant at the Panama-Pacific Exposition fell through, and Independence was finally burned for scrap off Hunter's Point in San Francisco.