Boston History Introduction

Join us for this 8-part introduction to Boston history.

Lesson One: Introduction  Here we will begin our exploration of Boston at the time the Europeans arrived, disrupting the lives of the Massachuseck and other Native people.  Who were the Massachuseck?  What happened after the Europeans arrived?

Meet Jim Peters and Ross Miller  We visit Boston Common, and Jim Peters, the secretary to the Commonwealth’s Commission on Indian Affairs, and Ross Miller, a Boston artist, tell us about Native life and show us a recreated fish weir.

Welcome Puritans!  Welcoming the Puritans to Boston–what happens on their arrival?

Lesson One: Puritans and Indians More on the relationship between the Native people and the Puritans.

John Winthrop We meet John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony, and in many ways the founder of Boston.

The Puritans Journey to America  How did the Puritans get here?

Why did the Puritans come here?  We visit the Blake House, the oldest house in the City of Boston (it is actually in Dorchester), built by the first generation of Puritans in Massachusetts.

Puritans and Dissenters The Puritans dissented from the prevailing religious orthodoxy.  One problem with a society of dissenters–they have already dissented, and by encouraging each individual to think for him or herself, it encouraged them also to dissent from the orthodoxy the Puritans created.  Confused?  It gets more interesting thanks to people like Roger Williams, Anne Hutchinson, and Robert Keayne.

Boston vs. New York  Ever wonder why Boston and New York have a fierce rivalry?  Well, if you are in New York you might not have noticed this.  But in Boston the real trouble began when Governor Edmund Andros, formerly governor of New York, arrived to make Boston into one small part of the Dominion of New England–which would have its capital in New York.  It did not go well.

King’s Chapel  One thing Governor Andros tried to do was establish an Anglican Church in Boston–King’s Chapel.  We go inside to find out what happened.

Andros and his downfall  What happened to Governor Andros?  He was arrested and sent back to England.

Increase Mather goes to England  Increase Mather went to England and helped get a new charter–fortunately.  The new government would last, formally, until 1776.

Cotton Mather, Boston’s Conscience  Mather  was one of the leading intellectual figures in Boston–the first real historian, and a fellow of the Royal Society, the English-speaking world’s leading scientific organization.  Find out about his influence on Boston and beyond

Witchcraft in Boston  No one was better than Increase Mather in predicting bad things after they had happened.  But in 1684, he predicted that Boston would soon be visited by witches–and it was.  He was in England, but his son Cotton was in town to deal with this calamity.

Samuel Sewall’s Apology  One of the judges in the Witchcraft trial, Samuel Sewall, thought they had made a mistake.  He apologized publicly at Old South Meeting House.

Cotton Mather took steps to spare Boston from the ravages of a small-pox epidemic, but ran into opposition from Boston’s doctors, and an upstart newspaper called the New England Courant, published by James Franklin and his brother, an apprentice named Benjamin.

Boston’s Greatest Native Son?  Out of the world of Puritan orthodoxy, Boston gave birth to one of the most influential men of the era, Benjamin Franklin.  He ran away at the age of 16, but the legacy Boston had on him, and he has had on us, is still profound.

Lesson One: Conclusion