Episode 27: Burned at the Stake!

Despite what a lot of people think, the victims of the Salem witch trials were hanged, not burned at the stake.  However, in the history of Massachusetts, two women were executed by burning them at the stake, one in 1681 and another in 1755.  If witchcraft was a crime against both the state and God, what crime could be worse in Puritan Boston?  A note about the content this week.  We frankly describe acts of brutal violence, and we at times use the racial language of our 17th and 18th century sources.  If you usually listen with children, you might want to listen to this episode alone first and decide if it’s appropriate for them.

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Episode 26: Isaiah Thomas and the American Oracle of Liberty

This week, we’re going to talk about Isaiah Thomas.  Not the NBA star, but the colonial printer and founder of the Massachusetts Spy, whose office became known by the British as the Sedition Foundry.  He snuck his presses out of Boston on the eve of war, helped Paul Revere spread the news of the British march, and shared first-hand accounts of the battles at Concord and Lexington.  Later, he would spread his business empire across multiple states, and become a historian, founding the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts.  Listen to his story!

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Episode 25: The Court Martial of Paul Revere

This week we celebrate Patriots’ Day, and the anniversary of Paul Revere’s famous ride.  It’s easy to forget that Paul Revere’s story didn’t end on April 18, 1775.  This week, we bring you a less glorious story about Paul Revere, one that’s not shrouded in myth.  In 1779, Revere was among the leaders of a military expedition in Maine that ended with the greatest US Naval defeat prior to Pearl Harbor, and eventually led to his court martial on charges of cowardice and insubordination.

Well, listen children, and you shall hear,
A different story of Paul Revere.
In Maine, the troops fled before a British drive,
Until hardly a man was left alive.
They court martialed Paul in ‘82, I fear.

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Episode 24: The Parkman Murder, Boston’s Celebrity Trial of the (19th) Century

In 1849, Boston was rocked by the crime of the (19th) century when Professor John Webster murdered Dr. George Parkman in his lab at Harvard Medical School. The world was riveted by the investigation and trial that ensued, while the Boston Brahmins were shaken to the core by the scandal in their ranks. The courtroom drama lived up to our modern-day CSI standards, offering one of the earliest uses of forensic evidence and a legal standard still in use today. Listen to the show!

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Episode 23: The Groundbreaking Grimké Sisters

In March 1870, forty-two women marched into their polling place in Hyde Park and illegally cast ballots in the local election.  They were led by local residents and radical activists Sarah and Angelina Grimké.  The Grimké sisters were born into a slave owning family in South Carolina, but then spent their lives fighting for abolition, suffrage, and equal rights.  Listen to their remarkable story!

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Episode 22: Boston in the American Revolution, Author Interview with Brooke Barbier

This week’s episode features a conversation with Brooke Barbier, founder of Ye Olde Tavern Tours and author of the new book Boston in the American Revolution: A Town Versus an Empire.  We talk about a forgotten Revolutionary War story, why the Revolutionary period isn’t as simple as good guys and bad guys, and which Founding Fathers we’d like to have a beer with.  Stick around after the interview to find out what’s coming up this week in Boston history, and how you can win a private tour of the Back Bay with hosts Nikki and Jake.  Listen to the show!

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Episode 21: The Tremont Street Explosion

On March 4, 1897, a giant explosion rocked the corner of Tremont Street and Boylston across from Boston Common.  Ten people were killed, and dozens were injured.  How did construction of America’s first subway lead to this disaster?  And why was it so difficult for survivors to get compensation for their injuries?  Listen to the show to find out!  And be sure to stay tuned to the end, so you can find out how to win a free walking tour with hosts Nikki and Jake.

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Episode 20: John Hancock’s Private Army

When British General Thomas Gage arrived in Boston in 1774, he was met on Long Wharf by the patriot leader John Hancock at the head of an armed militia unit… But not for the reason you think.  Since 1772, Hancock had been the Captain of The Governor’s Independent Company of Cadets, an elite unit that provided ceremonial bodyguards to the Massachusetts governor.  When Gage took over as military governor of the province, sparks flew.  He summarily fired Hancock, and war broke out soon after.  They have been known through the centuries as the Governor’s Cadets, the Independent Company of Cadets, the Boston Independent Company, and the First Corps of Cadets, and they’ve served Massachusetts and the United States in domestic emergencies, and wars from the Revolution to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.  Learn more about this unique unit, and their role in the lead up to the Revolutionary War, in this week’s show!

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