About Old State House – Boston
The Old State House in Boston played an important role in the American Revolution and is now one of the sites included in the Freedom Trail, a tourist trail made up of sixteen sites relating to the American Revolution against the British.
The Old State House was originally completed in 1713 and served the multiple functions of being a merchant’s hall and the seat of the colonial government. However, a fire in 1747 meant that it had to be rebuilt to a great extent in 1748 and further restoration and changes were made to the Old State House in 1830.
Before and During the American Revolution
In 1761, in part of what is known as Paxton’s Case, the Old State House was the scene of James Otis Junior’s famous speech against Writs of Assistance, British warrants which conferred wide search powers on their beneficiaries. Otis’s speech failed to extinguish these writs, but did add to the increasing dissatisfaction which eventually led to the American Revolution.
The Old State House was also part of the Boston Massacre of 1770, as attested to by a plaque beneath its balcony which indicates that this was the location where British soldiers fired into a group of Bostonians. This balcony was the scene of happier times on 18 July 1776, when Colonel Thomas Crafts read out the Declaration of Independence to the public for the first time.
Today the Old State House is a museum of Boston’s history managed by the Bostonian Society as well as being part of Boston National Historical Park. Guided tours of the Freedom Trail – of which the State House forms a part – are available, but you can also walk it independently. A visit to the Boston’s Old State House tends to take half an hour to an hour.