Early Boston aeronauts used balloons to perform scientific experiments, cross the English channel, take the first aerial photographs, and provide public entertainment. Whether by hot air or hydrogen, these pioneers made their way into the air, and into the history books.
Your humble hosts are traveling this week, trying to see the first total eclipse of our lifetimes. While we’re gone, listen to the story of the 1806 eclipse, the first total eclipse seen in Boston after European colonization.
In this episode, we continue our tale of Boston in the Golden Age of Piracy, picking up at the end of the War of The Spanish Succession. We’ll learn about some of the most fearsome and notorious pirates in history, as well as one of the most ineffective. We’ll see how one of these pirates gave a founding father his start in public life, which US president’s great grandfather bought a former pirate as a slave, and what other president’s great grandfather decapitated a pirate with an axe.
Shiver me timbers! This is the first in a two-part series about Boston’s role in the Golden Age of Piracy, from 1650 to 1726. A few pirates set sail from our city, some preyed on the shipping coming in and out of our port, and even more met their ends on the gallows in Boston. We’ll hear stories of daring raids and buried treasures, of mutiny, jailbreak, and double crossing.
Dr. Joseph Warren was the greatest Patriot leader you’ve never heard of. His many accomplishments led the royal governor of Massachusetts, General Thomas Gage, to remark that “The death of Joseph Warren is akin to the death of five hundred Patriots.” He was so in demand that his body was moved three times after his death at the Battle of Bunker Hill.
Boston, today a city rich with world-class hospitals and medical schools, has a long history of medical innovation. This week, we take a look at the characters who laid the foundation for these advancements – Resurrection Men. What founding father was a member of a secret grave robbing club? What were the steps to pulling off the perfect heist? Tune in this week to find out!
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.
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!
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.
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!