Generation Z. Cruising in an RV.: OLA: Finding the Center of Two Revolutions Concord, Ma

Monday, July 2, 2012

OLA: Finding the Center of Two Revolutions Concord, Ma


the lower level crypt at the First Unitarian Church in Quincy, Massachusetts
where the tombs of John Adams and John Quincy Adams are together with their wives
Doug and Audrey treating us out to dinner
at historic  Colonial Inn in Concord, Massachusetts
We are fortunate that Doug (one of Bill’s HS bffs) and Audrey invited us to their beautiful home in Concord, Massachusetts. It was not part of our itinerary. They saw to it that not only did we have time to visit with them but also the chance to explore the city. Doug showed us how it became the center of two great American revolutions, the political revolution that resulted in American independence in 1776 and the literary revolution that influenced the mindset of the mid-1800s leading to the Civil War.

Doug and Bill at the Lexington marker
The Political Revolution

The Minutemen National Historical Park links the cities of Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts on a trail of significant events surrounding the start of the American Revolution. From our walk on the Boston Freedom Trail (please see last post) I learned that Paul Revere took a ride on the midnight of April 18, 1775 to warn the Concord militia of the impending arrival of British troops. The signal lantern from the Old North Church would tell what route the British troops will take: ‘one if by land, two if by sea’.

at the North bridge, where the 'shot heard round the world'
was fired on April 19, 1775
The British troops, numbering 700, proceeded to Lexington from Boston. Their mission was to retrieve the cannons purportedly being held in Concord.  At Lexington they quickly scuttled the rag-tag militia of the colonists. But around 400 minutemen (in a minute they can be ready for battle) were ready in Concord, having been warned by Paul Revere. At the North Bridge between the two cities, the ‘shot heard round the world’ was fired on April 19. 1775. The American Revolution had begun.

in honor of the minutemen at the North Bridge
The news quickly spread to the surrounding towns and the colonists’ ranks swelled to 20,000 in number. They quickly drove the British back to Boston and hounded them on their trail back. More than 250 British soldiers and less than 100 colonists lost their lives. The fighting then resumed in Boston and on June 1775, The Battle of Bunker Hill gave the colonists an astounding victory, pushing the British further back south. The cannons were not found for the colonists had moved them to another town.

First Unitarian Church in Quincy, Massachusetts
And we discovered that the Adams National Historic Site was at the Quincy Center Station of the Red Line, two stops before Braintree. The tombs of John Adams, second president and the one who took over from George Washington, and John Quincy Adams, the sixth president, together with their wives were lined up together at the lower level crypt of the First Unitarian Church in Quincy, Massachusetts.  They were the first father-son tandem who became presidents. Their orderly assumption of the powers to govern the USA after George Washington solidified the success of the Revolution.

at Author's Ridge, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
where Emerson, Thoreau, Alcott, and Hawthorne lie together 
The Literary Revolution

The political revolution was significant enough but after the victory, the newly independent Americans went through a renaissance. Concord, with Cambridge, to the southeast, and Salem, to the east, became the seat of excellence in education and literary works in the mid-1800s. The Author’s Ridge at Concord’s Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is where five great American writers lie together in eternal peace, next to each other. Visiting their homes also evoked wondrous feelings in the fledgling author that is me.

The following friends and neighbors were the Concord Quartet: Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, An American Scholar, Nature), the great essayist and philosopher, Henry David Thoreau (1817-1863, Walden, Civil Disobedience), the philosopher and naturalist, Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888), the educator, and Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864, The Scarlet Letter, House of 7 Gables), the novelist. Together, they fanned the ideals of individual liberty and equality, heavily influencing the abolitionist sentiment in the North. They also greatly influenced Amos’ daughter Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888, Little Women) towards becoming a great author herself.

Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts
where Thoreau spent 2 years living in utmost simplicity and about which he wrote his classic Walden
house of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
also Washington's Headquarters during the American Revolution
In Cambridge, we visited Harvard University, an Ivy League school established in 1636. It was named after its first benefactor, John Harvard, who gave the school his entire collection of 400 books. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) served as a professor there until he retired into fulltime writing. He was very happy that he was able to own and live in the House that Washington used as headquarters during the initial stages of the war. He made Paul Revere an icon with his poem, ‘Paul Revere’s Ride’.

The house is right beside the campus of Radcliffe, formerly a renowned university for women and now part of Harvard. I wanted to see the campus, just like Bill wanting to see Yale, because I had an undergraduate scholarship there, after completing, with honors, my HS scholarship from American School in the Philippines.  However, my mother could not raise enough funds for living expenses and felt it was just too far away. I went on to a scholarship in the University of the Philippines instead. 
 
House of Seven Gables in Salem, Massachusetts,
Hawthorne's inspiration for his classic of the same title
birthplace of Hawthorne in Salem, Massachusetts
In Salem, we were surprised to see not just museums, statues, and memorials of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. We were also able to see Nathaniel Hawthorne’s birthplace in Salem which was relocated to a spot near the only living colonial home in North America, the House of Seven Gables. The house was also Hawthorne’s inspiration for his classic novel of the same name. The house is now listed under the National Register of Historic Places.

Doug, Audrey, and Mika with Bill and me at their Concord home

Our visit with the Millers turned out to be much more than a visit to an old friend. Doug drove us around, showing us how the city was really the center of the two revolutions, the political and the literary. Meanwhile Audrey kept us fully satisfied with the delicious Asian dishes she prepared from her lovely kitchen, showing me some great cooking tips.  We also had the opportunity to meet their lovely daughter, Mika who will give them their first grandson in a few weeks. Thank you, Doug and Audrey.