Read these 33 History Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Boston tips and hundreds of other topics.
The Boston Tea Party was on December 16, 1773. Most people at the time drank tea, and the British taxed it heavily. The people of Massachusetts became furious that they were paying such high taxes to a country that didn't seem to care about them. When ships bearing tea arrived in Boston Harbor, Samuel Adams lead a nighttime sneak attack and, dressed as Indians, they poured all of the tea into the harbour.
When the Mayflower first landed in Massachusetts, the pilgrims were met by the native Wampanoag Indians. They lived in small villages along the coastline of both Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The Indian which helped them the most was "Squanto", who had visited England before and knew how to speak English and work with these visitors.
The Wampanoag Indians normally ate sitting on the ground, on furs. For this special occasion, they sat at the tables with the Pilgrims. The Indian women and men both ate together. Pilgrim women didn't have this equal status though - they had to stand behind their menfolk, dutifully waiting until the men were done and full before they were allowed to eat anything.
This huge highway project actually was first talked about in the 1950s, when traffic began to be a big problem for Boston. Over the years more proposals were offered. Funding officially began in 1987 with the Transportation Authority Bill, passed by US Congress despite President Reagan's veto.
By the 1700s, the strictly religious settlers in Massachusetts had done without 'silliness' like Christmas for over 100 years, and were quite content without it. Diaries and records from these times show December 25th being just another normal wintery day. While others in Europe might celebrate with pagan-inspired rituals, the Massachusetts settlers felt they had brought religion back to a pure state.
On June 21, 1974, US District Judge W. Arthur Garrity Jr. ruled that Boston had to start bussing students in order to have its schools be more racially diverse. There was a lot of violence when the bussing began, as whites fought to prevent it, and blacks fought to protect themselves and their children.
The Great Molasses Flood took place in Boston on January 15, 1919. At the time, Molasses was used in most baking to provide sweetness, and there were huge vats and tanks of it around Boston.
The tank that burst was 50' tall and held 2.5 million gallons. The wall of molasses was 20' high or more, and moved at 30 miles an hour while it was flowing. 21 people were killed.
The Battle of Bunker Hill is famous for the phrase, "Don't Fire until you see the Whites of their Eyes", said by Colonel William Prescott. The battle was fought on June 17, 1775. The existing monument was placed on the spot in 1842 to commemorate the battle.
Bunker Hill Monument
The pilgrims invited their two key Indian helpers, Squanto, Samoset, plus Chief Massasoit, to share in their Thanksgiving since they had been so instrumental in the pilgrims' successes that summer. The Indians brought their families, numbering over 90 people. The pilgrims were overwhelmed, and didn't have enough food, so the Indians brought along their own supplies for the feast.
This landmark case began when Sarah Roberts had to walk past five "white" schools in order to reach her own "colored" school. The case actually ended in finding that it was OK for her to have to do so, but public sentiment had been aroused and legislation passed on April 28, 1855 barring segregation.
The early settlers of Massachusetts thought Christmas Day not much more than a pagan holiday that had been taken over (which in many ways is true). In order to strip down religion to its true and religious meanings, they did not celebrate Christmas. Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony even said in 1621 that on "the day called Christmas Day," that everybody should keep working. For those few that tried to take the day off, "he would spare them until they were better informed." Some of those few tried to celebrate outside anyway, and he sent them into their homes.
Until the early 1830s, the strict religious teachings of Massachusetts had not celebrated Christmas as a way of purifying the church. However, around this time Dutch and English began coming over in larger and larger numbers, and bringing with them decadent celebrations with lots of presents, mulled wine, decorations and parties. The Dutch brought with them the tradition of St. Nicholas. While the locals tried to resist, they began to get drawn into these displays. By the 1880s, Massachusetts was pretty wide-spread in its Christmas celebrations.
This act was passed by British parliament in 1765. It meant that every single legal document in Massachusetts had to be stamped, and a tax paid, in order for it to truly be legal. Massachusetts citizens were furious because they were now being taxed by a government that didn't ask them if they wanted the tax, and the taxes were being used to pay for the soldiers that were punishing them.
The ship had a bell in its center that was used to keep time. It was rung every half hour. The first time it was rung once, then twice, and so on until at 3 1/2 hours it rang 8 times. Then they began again with one ring.
The bell was also used to warn the ship's passengers of an emergency.
When the Pilgrims first landed in Massachusetts, they were met by the native Wampanoag Indians. They lived in small villages along the coastline of both Massachusetts and Rhode Island. They fished, farmed, and were generally peaceful and friendly. They lived in wigwams, and wore deerskin outfits.
Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco were accused of shooting a guard in South Braintree. After a trial which many feel was very biased against the two Italians, they were electrocuted to death on August 23, 1927. For many years, this helped Italians and other immigrants feel that Boston City Hall was not a friend of theirs.
Reverend William Blaxton (also spelled Blackstone) was the first European to settle in what is now Boston. He first arrived in 1625 and made his home on Boston Common and Beacon Hill. However, it was not long before he was sharing the central land of the Shawmut Peninsula with the Puritans. Their settlement north of Boston was not working for them, so William invited them to stay near him. Unfortunately for William, the Puritans were more strict in their spiritual beliefs than he was. Reverend Blaxton quickly moved out of Boston to the south so he could avoid Puritan tyranny.
Rumor has it that the Puritans disagreed so strongly with the Anglican Reverend that they had his house burned down. Blaxton sold them his property before heading south. It worked out to his advantage in terms of legacy. Reverend Blaxton went on to become the first European settler of what is now Rhode Island within five years of inviting the Puritans to share the Shawmut Peninsula with him.
The oldest house on record in Boston is the James Blake house in the Dorchester section of the city. Blake built the house, located at 735 Columbia Road, in about 1648. He later became a prominent Bostonian, serving at various times as selectman, deputy and constable.
The Blake house is of particular significance in the history of American architecture, and is often studied by architecture students because it is believed to be the only house in the United States built using a distinct country framing technique common in West England. The house is two stories with a central chimney, a gable roof and it has a heavy timber frame.
The Blake House is also an excellent candidate for your next trivia showdown - it is thought to be the first American house ever moved from its original site in order to rescue it from demolition. The move took place in 1895 and was the first major project taken on by the newly-formed Dorchester Historical Society.
On September 9, 1919, 1117 Boston policemen all went on strike due to labor issues with the city. For the next two days there was violence and looting in the city, as criminal elements took advantage of the lack of police coverage. Governor Coolidge is famous for saying, ""there is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time."
By December 13th, the government had hired enough new policemen to make up for those that had striked, and the policemen had to try to find new jobs.