Boston Chronology (Timeline)


King James I of England, claimed the land from Halifax Nova Scotia to Charleston South Carolina. The land was divided in half, and named North and South Virginia.


Captain John Smith, of the Plymouth Company, explores North Virginia from central Maine to Cape Cod, and names the area New England.


The Robert Gorges Expedition arrived at Weymouth Massachusetts from England (Wessagusset Colony). The expedition had problems, and most returned. William Blaxton remained in the New World and moved to Boston in 1625, and is recognized as the first English settler at Boston.


Boston was originally called Tri-Mountain by the first English settlers due to its topography. The current Beacon Hill once had three peaks: Beacon Hill (at the State House), Mount Vernon, (at Louisburg Square), and Pemberton Hill (at Pemberton Square). In June and July, a great number of English immigrants arrived at Massachusetts, with John Winthrop, the first Governor, establishing his residence at Charlestown. Charlestown was governed by the Sachem Wonohaquaham, whom received the English with great kindness. In September, Tri-Mountain was named Boston by the Court of Assistants. In October, the first General Court was held and 108 people were made freepersons.


In December, many Native Americans died of smallpox, including Wonohaquaham.


On March 4th, the Representative system was established, with three individuals representing the town of Boston in the Massachusetts court. On September 1st, the first town Selectmen were picked, with John Winthrop being one of ten individuals.


On February 9th, every able Englishman was allowed 2 acres, and each able youth 1 acre, for planting crops. On May 6th, a Beacon was built on top of Sentry Hill (Beacon Hill), with a man stationed there to light in case of danger. The Boston Latin School also opened, the first public school in America.


In April and May, Boston and other Massachusetts men were sent against the Pequot tribe.


The Liberty Tree was planted at Washington and Essex streets. Later, this location was a meeting place for the Patriots just before the American Revolution.


Margaret Jones was hanged at Boston for being a witch, the first execution in Boston for such an offense. Anne Hibbons was hanged in 1656.


A mint was established at Boston, for the purpose for coining silver. John Hull was appointed mint-master, and it is believed the first shillings were made at his house on Sheaf Street. Joseph Jenks is believed to be the first die engraver, an employee of the Saugus Iron Works.


William Leddra and Mary Dyer, Quakers, were hanged at Boston Neck.


The first Proclamation of War was read at Boston, by England against the Dutch.


John Foster set up the first printing press in Boston.


King Philip's War, against southern New England Native American tribes, commenced.


The first paper money was introduced. The first paper money in American history.


Captain William Kidd, the infamous pirate, was arrested at Boston and sent to England.


The Representatives of Boston, were instructed by the town, to endeavor the abolishment of slavery in Massachusetts.


The first newspaper in Boston, The Boston News-Letter, was established.


A fort was built on Castle Island, and called Castle William. The tidal flat to Castle Island was eventually filled in, and the island is now part of South Boston.


On January 6th, Benjamin Franklin was born at Milk Street, in a house opposite the Old South Meeting House.


Six pirates were executed at Boston.


The smallpox raged and eight hundred forty four persons died.


On May 20th, English troops set sail from Boston to battle the French and Indians. In July, the British were defeated under General Braddock at Fort Duquesne, near Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Colonel George Washington was present at this important battle. The Treaty of Paris in 1763 ceded French Canada to Great Britain. The war was expensive, and was one of the reasons for increased taxes, a cause of the American Revolution.


James Otis, Jr. gave an impassioned speech at the Old State House against the Writs of Assistance [seizure warrant for customs duties].


On March 22nd the Stamp Act was passed by the British Parliament, requiring a tax be paid on publications and legal documents. The tax was purportedly to defer the cost of protecting the colonies. The American colonists considered this "Taxation Without Representation." In June, the Massachusetts legislature invited the other colonies to a Congress in New York in Autumn. Nine colonies sent delegates, and a Declaration of Rights was sent to the British government requesting the Stamp Act be repealed. In Boston, on August 14th, the effigies of stamp distributors were hung on the Liberty Tree. On August 26th, Lt. Governor Hutchinson's house on Fleet Street was plundered by a mob. On November 1st, the Stamp Act went into effect, and the tolling of the bells occurred in Boston in protest.


On March 18th, the Stamp Act was repealed.


British troops were sent to Boston for the first time.


On February 22nd, Ebenezer Richardson, a loyalist informer [of import tax evaders], incited a mob and was driven to his house by this mob. He fired shots at random from his window. Christopher Snider, a school-boy, was killed. On March 5th, The Boston Massacre occurred. A chance encounter between a sentry and some youths quickly developed into an attack with stones, clubs, and snowballs, which led to retaliation by the soldiers, and resulted in the death of five individuals.


The town of Boston chose a Committee of Correspondence, to state their rights. Samuel Adams made the motion, seconded by Joseph Warren. A report was published on November 20th, outlining the rights of the colonists.


An act by Parliament imposing a tax on tea was passed. Large public meetings occurred in November and December, and it was resolved that the tea would not be allowed to land. On the night of December 16th, a party of citizens disguised as Native Americans, rushed to the ships lying at Griffin's Wharf, and threw the tea overboard in protest of the tea tax—The Boston Tea Party.


On March 31st, the Boston Port Bill was passed by Parliament, shutting down Boston Harbor and suspending the Massachusetts Legislature. On May 14th, the town voted to discontinue commerce with Great Britain. On June 1st, the harbor was closed, causing great distress. The first Continental Congress met on September 4th in Philadelphia.


The Battle of Lexington and Concord occurred on April 19th. In August, the Liberty Tree was destroyed by British Soldiers. On June 17th, the Battle of Bunker Hill occurred.


The British forces evacuated Boston on March 17th. Castle William was destroyed by the British, and subsequently rebuilt by the Americans. On July 18th, the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed from the Old State House.


Massachusetts formally abolishes slavery. In September, the Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the American Revolution.


President Adams visits Castle William, and gave it the name Fort Independence. The frigate U.S.S. Constitution is completed at Boston and commissioned.


On June 18th, the United States declares war against Great Britain.


The Treaty of Ghent was signed on December 24th, ending the war between the U.S. and Great Britain.


Boston is incorporated as a city.


William Lloyd Garrison first began publishing the anti-slavery newspaper, The Liberator.


William Lloyd Garrison helped organize the New England Anti-Slavery Society at the African Meeting House on Beacon Hill. This is believed to be the first organization in the U.S. advocating immediate and complete emancipation.


In May, the horse drawn omnibus stage coach Governor Brooks, commenced operating hourly from the Chelsea Ferry Dock to the Norfolk House in Roxbury.


Boston & Worcester Railroad commences operation on April 4th from Boston to Newton. About nine miles of track had been laid and the locomotive traveled at the then brisk speed of 20 miles per hour.


In May, Anthony Burns, a Virginian slave who had taken refuge in Boston, was arrested and imprisoned at the court house, while the arrangements were made to return him to his owner under the Fugitive Slave Act. At Faneuil Hall, Wendell Phillips and Theodore Parker stirred up public resistance in favor of Burns, and two men stormed the court house in an attempt to free him. The assailants were quickly overcome by the marshals. Burns was returned to Virginia. This event increased public sentiment in Boston for the complete abolishment of slavery in the United States.


School segregation officially ends in Boston, although the Boston neighborhoods remained relatively segregated for another 125 years, like many other large cities in the United States.


In September, the Metropolitan Horse Railroad Company commenced operating horse drawn street cars from Boylston Street Boston to Guild Row Roxbury.


In May, assembly of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw's 54th Massachusetts Colored Regiment was completed. The 54th was the first unit in the Union Army made up of free black soldiers in the Civil War. In July, the 54th was defeated at Fort Wagner in Charleston, South Carolina. The regiment stormed the fort up a steep sand embankment, with Shaw at the head of his troops. Colonel Shaw was shot in the heart and killed. He was stripped and buried with his fallen troops in a trench outside the fort, which his family considered a great honor.


The Great Boston Fire occurred, burning hundreds of buildings east of Washington Street.


Hugh O'Brien becomes Mayor of Boston, the first non-American elected mayor. O'Brien was born in Ireland, and was re-elected 3 times.


The first Boston Marathon, America's first, took place on Patriot's Day April 19th 1897. The Tremont Street Subway was opened on September 1st, the first subway in North America. The MBTA Green Line travels through this original section from Haymarket Square to Boylston Street.


The Custom House Tower was completed over the original building, and remained the tallest building in Boston until 1965. It is now a vacation time share hotel.


A huge fire occurred at the Cocoanut Grove Night Club on Piedmont Street in Boston. 492 people perished.


The Central Artery elevated highway system is constructed which dissects Boston's downtown from the waterfront. The Big Dig, or tunnel system started in the 1990s, replaced the Central Artery elevated structure in 2003.


Boston's West End, is demolished in an urban renewal project.


Many old buildings in the downtown area are demolished to build skyscrapers.


Quincy Market is renovated, creating Faneuil Hall Marketplace, a huge tourist attraction. This urban renewal project is used as a model by many other cities in the United States.


On February 6th and 7th, a then record 27.1 inches of snow falls in Boston. This storm quickly became known as the Blizzard of '78. Official recordkeeping of snow accumulation for Boston began in 1892.


The Exchange Place glass tower is completed at State and Congress Streets. The tower rests behind the facade of the old Boston Stock Exchange Building, ingeniously preserving the look of State Street while modernizing the area. Since then, other buildings have been built in a similar fashion for historic preservation purposes.


The Big Dig north and south tunnels of the new Central Artery are opened. On February 17th and 18th, 27.5 inches of snow falls in Boston, eclipsing the record of 1978.


The people elect Deval Patrick, first Governor in the history of Massachusetts of African-American descent. A historic event, symbolizing a new beginning of understanding between diverse population groups in the Commonwealth.

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