On September 6, 1774, 4,622 militiamen from 37 towns marched into Worcester, shiretown for the county, closed the Royal courts, and forced each court official to resign. Forming two lines, they forced each court official, hat in hand, to disavow the recent Massachusetts Government Act, which revoked the Province’s charter and disenfranchised its citizens. With this dramatic action, all British authority vanished from Worcester County, never to return. While the actual war for American independence started in Lexington and Concord, the revolution – the actual transfer of political and military authority – occurred here in Worcester nine months earlier.
Now, AAS has joined a coalition of individuals and organizations to commemorate this historic event with a series of public programs culminating in a reenactment of the event on September 7, 2014. The project, called The Worcester Revolution of 1774, is planning a region-wide celebration that will include activities across the cultural and historical organizations of Worcester and the 37 towns that participated in 1774. The project has received funding from the Greater Worcester Community Foundation, the Worcester Arts Council, and Mass Humanities.
The Society’s collections contain the key evidence of this historical event, including the diary entry of the Reverend Ebenezer Parkman, which recorded the event and listed each of the towns and the place their militia stood along the “gauntlet” to hear the recantations of the court officials.
The short film below (or here) promotes the project and features Timothy Bigelow, a local blacksmith and leader in the Whig movement. Bigelow assisted AAS founder Isaiah Thomas in taking his press out of Boston on the night of April 16, 1775. They set the press up in the basement of Bigelow’s home and it was here that Thomas printed his famous May 3, 1775 issue with his eyewitness accounts of the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
The Society is participating in this project by sponsoring workshops and lectures and providing digital facsimiles of AAS collection materials. Additionally, I have been commissioned to write a play about this event that will be the centerpiece of the September 7, 2014, celebration. For more information see http://www.revolution1774.org/.