by Howard Clemens
For students reading about the Revolutionary War in social studies or history classes, Boston, Massachusetts is a great choice as a destination for active learning. Visits to select destinations bring the early days of the Revolutionary War alive for student travel groups. Student trips headed for Boston, Mass. will learn about the Revolutionary War from multiple perspectives, with some sites offering living history programs.
Leading men who fought for freedom from England during the time period include: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Paul Revere. These are just a few of the well-known figures of the Revolutionary War who come alive on a student tour. Countless farmers and families who mustered as Minute Men and defended their properties while under attack by British troops supported these leading figures.
The Boston Massacre occurred in 1770 in downtown Boston, just outside the Old State House at the corner of Devonshire and State Streets. British soldiers had occupied Boston for nearly two years and tension between the colonists and soldiers reached a peak. An agitated crowd began to complain loudly to soldiers and one of the British fired into the crowd, killing five people that day. This event was widely publicized and well documented. John Adams, a lawyer then, defended Captain Preston and six of his troops were acquitted, while two men were found guilty of manslaughter and discharged from the army. The first patriot to die was a freed slave who worked on whale ships: Crispus Attucks.
John Adams: Roles in Revolutionary War History
John Adams was at one time a lawyer, and he actually defended Captain Preston in the case of the Boston Massacre. Despite his beginnings, he became one of the most esteemed figures of the Revolutionary War period. Adams gifted his extensive collection of books to the town of Quincy, Massachusetts in 1822 at the age of 86. Today, parts of this collection are being digitized for easier public access. The collection as well as Adams’ papers is housed in the Boston Public Library Copley Square Rare Books and Manuscripts Department. Student trips may tour this part of the library to gain an understanding about the life of one of the influential figures in drafting and signing the Declaration of Independence. Adams was the first Vice President and the second President of the United States. He also served as a diplomat to Paris and Holland. Though he and his wife Abigail lived frugally on a public servant’s salary, Adams invested a huge sum in books, which is evident from visiting the library. Teachers and students may access special educational materials from the John Adam’s library at http://www.johnadamslibrary.org/explore/teachersandstudents/.
John Quincy Adams
The son of John Adams, John Quincy became a capable diplomat and linguist. Long before he became the 6th President, John Quincy Adams held many distinguished governmental roles, including Secretary of State for James Monroe, where he was instrumental in drafting the Monroe Doctrine. John Quincy can be studied in depth at the Adams National Historical Park. Student travel groups may tour the Visitor Center. With reservations, the student group may also take a Ranger guided tour of the Old House and the Presidential birthplaces. Historical narratives by costumed interpreters John and Abigail Adams and Thomas Jefferson are also presented in season. Check with your student travel agency to see if there will be any living history performances while a student group is on tour.
Lexington and Concord
On any student trip to Boston to study the Revolutionary War, a trip to the Minute Man National Historical Park, which spans the Lexington and Concord battlefields, is a must. Here is where the first battle of the Revolutionary War was fought by the Minute Men or troops from the New England countryside. For groups with time, a 3 ? hour battle road trail walk gives the entire perspective of the beginning of the Revolutionary War. Student groups may also visit the Minute Man Visitor Center and watch the film and visit the exhibits. At Hartwell Tavern, Rangers demonstrate firing muskets from an authentic early American rifle. Or, students may want to add a visit to The Wayside, where Nathaniel Hawthorne and Louisa May Alcott both wrote. The Lexington and Concord Museum ranger programs and historical sites draw upon information from the Concord writers of the Revolutionary War period. Teachers who would like to prepare a curriculum for the student trip may visit http://www.nps.gov/mima/forteachers/index.htm.
Walking Tour of Boston
The Freedom Trail is a fun, healthy way to see Boston through the lens of the Revolutionary War period. This walk may take several hours so students are encouraged to dress accordingly, wear comfortable shoes and bring some drinking water. The Freedom Trail begins at Boston Common and includes Beacon Hill, The Union Oyster House (for lunch) and a visit to Paul Revere’s home, a two-story clapboard house across from North Square. Groups also stop at Old North Church, where the first bells of the British Colonies were rung in North America. The Freedom Trail ends with the USS Constitution and the Bunker Hill Monument. The USS Constitution has been nicknamed “Old Ironsides” as a result of engagements with the British in the War of 1812. Student groups love to take The Freedom Trail tour because it is mostly outdoors and a wonderful way for a group to see Boston in the spring or fall.
Educational travel can be a great way to get students excited about periods in American history. Boston is a city where student travelers can experience Early American architecture, artifacts, politics and art and it should not be overlooked as a worthwhile student travel destination. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for information about a student tour of Boston or Request a Quote.