This Week @MHS

Take a look at the programs planned at the MHS this week:

On Tuesday, 3 March, at 5:15 PM: The 1621 Massasoit-Plymouth Agreement & the Genesis of American Indian Constitutionalism with Daniel R. Mandell, Truman State University, and comment by Linford Fisher, Brown University. On 22 March 1621, Wampanoag sachem Massasoit agreed to a pact of mutual sovereignty and defense with Plymouth. At the same time, Massasoit promised to send his people who injured Englishmen to stand trial in their courts. While apparently contradictory, Plymouth’s acknowledgment of Wampanoag sovereignty and claim of the right to judge such conflicts reflected emerging international law and English legal norms, and created a constitution for Native-English relations that held for decades. Although King Philip’s War destroyed this agreement, similar political and jurisdictional arrangements continued to dominate British America and were reflected in U.S. Indian policy through the 1820s. This is part of the Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar* series. Seminars are free and open to the public.

On Wednesday, 4 March, at 6:00 PM: The Boston Massacre: A Family History with Serena Zabin, Carleton College. The story of the Boston Massacre is familiar to generations. But from the very beginning, most accounts have obscured a fascinating truth: the Massacre arose from conflicts that were as personal as they were political. Serena Zabin draws on original sources and lively stories to follow British troops as they are dispatched from Ireland to Boston in 1768 to subdue the increasingly rebellious colonists. She reveals a forgotten world hidden in plain sight: the many regimental wives and children who accompanied the armies. We see these families jostling with Bostonians for living space, finding common cause in the search for a lost child, trading barbs, and sharing baptisms. Becoming, in other words, neighbors. When soldiers shot unarmed citizens in the street, it was these intensely human and now broken bonds that fueled what quickly became a bitterly fought American Revolution. A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30 PM; the speaking program begins at 6:00 PM. There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members, EBT or ConnectorCare cardholders). 

On Saturday, 7 March, at 10:00 AM: The History & Collections of the MHS. This is a 90-minute docent-led walk through of our public rooms. The tour is free and open to the public. If you would like to bring a larger party (8 or more), please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley at 617-646-0508 or

*Our seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper. After brief remarks from the author and an assigned commentator, the discussion is opened to the floor. All are encourage to ask questions, provide feedback on the circulated essay, and discuss the topic at hand. Discussion is followed by a reception of light refreshments. The sessions are free and open to everyone.

Fire! Voices from the Boston Massacre
On the evening of March 5, 1770, soldiers occupying the town of Boston shot into a crowd, killing or fatally wounding five civilians. In the aftermath of what soon became known as the Boston  Massacre, questions about the command to “Fire!” became crucial. Who yelled it? When and why? Because the answers would determine the guilt or innocence of the soldiers, defense counsel John Adams insisted that “Facts are stubborn things.” But what are the facts? The evidence, often contradictory, drew upon testimony from dozens of witnesses. Through a selection of artifacts, eyewitness accounts, and trial testimony—the voices of ordinary men and women—Fire! Voice from the Boston Massacre explores how this flashpoint changed American history. The exhibition is on display at the MHS through 30 June 2020, Monday and Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and Tuesday from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM.