Battles of Lexington and Concord, in 1775, marked the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. About 700 British troops were marching toward Lexington and Concord to destroy military supplies. Approximately 70 Minutemen met the redcoats in Lexington. Records do not indicate clearly who fired the first shot, but eight Minutemen died. Ten more Minutemen were injured. One British soldier was wounded. The British continued on to Concord and then turned back toward Boston. Along the way, patriots shot at the redcoats. British casualties came to 250, and American casualties numbered 90.
USS Constitution began its maiden voyage in 1798. Nicknamed Old Ironsides, the three-masted, wooden ship was named by President George Washington. She was most active in the War of 1812, and in 1907 she became a museum. Today she is the world’s oldest active vessel. Berthed in the Charlestown Naval Yard in Boston, Massachusetts, she sports a crew of 60 and provides historical perspectives and tours for visitors. Children can learn more at: USS Constitution.
Camel first appeared in the United States in Boston in 1721. It stood seven feet high and twelve feet long.
Iron lung was used for the first time in 1928 in a Boston hospital. During the 1940’s and 1950’s, when polio outbreaks were at their worst, some children with polio could not breathe on their own. They were put into iron lungs, and the apparatus used negative pressure to help them breathe. Over 1,200 people needed to use an iron lung. In 1954 mass polio inoculations began to take place. Fewer and fewer people contracted polio, and the need for iron lungs decreased. Today the United States is just about polio free. Also, newer inventions help people breathe easier and with more mobility. The iron lung is seldom used today.
Boston Tea Party was a protest against a duty placed on imported tea. In 1773 over one hundred men, dressed as Indians and led by Samuel Adams, boarded three English ships moored in Boston’s harbor. They dumped at least three hundred chests of tea overboard. They did not wish to pay the tax for the tea. The British retaliated by imposing the Intolerable Acts on the colonists. These acts led to further opposition on the part of the colonists and eventually the meeting of the First Continental Congress. Children could read The Boston Tea Party, by Russell Freedman. Were the patriots right in what they did?
Boston Molasses Disaster occurred in 1919. No, this is not a hoax; this was a terrible disaster. On this day in 1919 a huge tank holding about 2,300,000 gallons of molasses ruptured, sending a tsunami of molasses into the streets of the North End part of Boston. Moving at 35 miles per hour, the molasses wave leveled buildings, trapped people, and even hurled a truck into Boston Harbor. About 21 people died, and 150 more were injured. Children could read The Great Molasses Flood by Deborah Kops. They could also watch a very interesting video at: Boston Molasses Disaster.
Polar bear was put on display in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1733. Idea: Children could discuss why this would be a very big event for that time period. Carnivores, polar bears are becoming rare. Today scientists estimate 20,000 to 25,000 polar bear exist. Experts believe that by 2050 that number will be cut in half. Children can learn more about polar bears and see some great photos at: Polar Bear. Interesting coincidence – Raymond Briggs, born on January 18th, wrote a book in 1994 about a polar bear called The Bear. It was made into a short animated video.