About Old South Meeting House – Boston
Old South Meeting House started life in 1729, when it was built as a Puritan house of worship, with a congregation in which leaders such as Samuel Adams and Benjamin Franklin mingled with artists like the famous African American poet Phillis Wheatley.
A Forum for Dissent
As tensions grew about the British colonial government in the latter half of the eighteenth century, the Old South Meeting House became the home of free speech in Boston. As the largest building in the town, it was often used as an alternative to Faneuil Hall, which was the official town meeting hall. Therefore, in the 1760’s and 1770’s it came to be that the Old South Meeting House was the scene of many spirited protests against the British, their legislation and their stationed redcoats, sent in 1768.
The Boston Tea Party
On 6 March 1770, the day after the Boston Massacre, crowds gathered at the Old South Meeting House to object to the incident where British troops killed five citizens after shooting at a protest group. The culmination of these events and one of the most famous events in American history took place at the Old South Meeting House on 16 December 1773, during a heated debate over the British tea tax. Around 5,000 people had crowded into the hall to participate and, when the debate failed to reach a solution, Samuel Adams led the crowd to throw 342 chests of tea into the harbour at Griffin’s Wharf. This became known as the Boston Tea Party.
American Revolution and Beyond
During the American Revolution, the Old South Meeting Hall suffered devastating destruction when, upon occupying Boston, the British tore down most of the internal parts of the building and used it as a riding school. Since then, the Old South Meeting Hall has survived the 1872 Fire of Boston and escaped demolition, finally being purchased by the Old South Association in 1877. It now operates as a museum commemorating free speech and an audio tour which brings the dramatic pre-revolution meetings to life.