Painters Of Plenty

An Autumn Harvest of American Still Lifes

The 1831 painting exhibition at the Boston Athenaeum was the cause of much rejoicing on the part of the critic for the prestigious North American Review , with a single salient exception: he had no use for still lifes.Read more »

Boston - Birth And Rebirth

On September 7, three hundred and fifty years ago, a ragged group of Puritans under John Winthrop chose a site on the New England shore and declared it suitable for a new town—one more pinprick of settlement for a land in which they hoped to find the spiritual regeneration that had eluded them in their native England. Read more »

The Great Earthquake

When The Great Earthquake struck New England, learned men blamed everything from God’s wrath to an overabundance of lightning rods in Boston. Two hundred and twenty-five years later, geologists are at last discovering the true causes.

Shortly before dawn the five-inch pine spindle of the Faneuil Hall wind vane snapped, dislodging the thirty-pound gilded cricket that spun ten feet above Boston’s marketplace roof. Early risers first heard the baying of dogs, then the roar. Beneath the autumn moon, fifteen hundred chimneys swiveled and spewed bricks; the gable ends of brick houses that had survived the fire of 1747 collapsed onto cobblestone.Read more »

The Revolution Remembered

Newly Discovered Eyewitness Accounts of the War for Independence

Shortly before the fighting began in 1775 a British officer based in Boston watched the local militia stumble through its paces and wrote home about it. “It is a Masquerade Scene,” he said, “to see grave sober Citizens, Barbers and Tailors, who never looked fierce before in their Lives, but at their Wives, Children or Apprentices, strutting about in their Sunday wigs in stiff Buckles with their Muskets on their Shoulders, struggling to put on a Martial Countenance.Read more »

Mrs. Jack And Her Back Bay Palazzo

Today we would consider her eccentric; in her own time, many proper Bostonians thought that she was scandalous, but her friends were charmed by her free spirit. Henry James, for instance, once wrote to her, “I envy you, who always, even at your worst, loved the game, whatever it might be, and delighted in playing it. “But regardless of any judgment about her character, there is no question that Mrs. Jack Gardner, shown at left in about 1905, bequeathed to America a unique treasure—Fenway Court.Read more »

Paul Revere

The Man, the Myth, and the Midnight Ride

A hurry of hoofs in a village street, A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark, And beneath, from the pebbles, inpassing, a spark Struck out by a steed fying fearless and fleet; That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light The fate of a nation was riding that night.Read more »

The Knave Of Boston


They are all gone now—those vivid, venal characters who for a half century up to World War IIAC moved with insouciant relentlessness across the spotted field of Boston politics.Read more »

Men Of The Revolution: 16. Daniel Morgan

A few months after the shooting began, the besiegers and the beleaguered of Boston became aware of a new presence on the scene. It was a new man, so to speak, with a new weapon; and since there were some fourteen hundred of them—boisterous, cocksure frontiersmen, clothed in fringed buckskin shirts and leggings, given at the slightest encouragement to demonstrating their skill with their deadly-accurate long rifles—it was difficult for anyone in the vicinity of Cambridge, Massachusetts, to ignore them.Read more »

Anne Hutchinson Versus Massachusetts

She was, said Governor Winthrop, an American Jezebel

It would have been no pleasant thing for any defendant to hear John Winthrop, governor of the Massachusetts colony, declaim the serious charges brought against Anne Hutchinson at her trial in 1637. In the Puritan society of early Massachusetts they were among the gravest that could be imagined. As recorded by the court reporter, they seem to evoke the gravity with which John Winthrop must have delivered them: “Mrs. Hutchinson, you are called here as one of those that have troubled the peace of the commonwealth and the churches here.Read more »

The Ordeal Of Thomas Hutchinson


The paradoxical and find tragic story of America’s most prominent Loyalist—a man caught between king and country— is the subject of a new book by Professor Bernard Bailyn of Harvard, who won both the Pulitizer and Bankcroft awards in 1868 for an earlier work on the American Revulotion. The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinsion has just been published by Harvard University Press. Our article is made up of excerpts from the first two chapters subtle and fascinating study. Read more »