Old State House

Boston
MA

Portrait by Artist to Come

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Built in 1713, the Old State House was the seat of Massachusetts government in the 18th century — until it was replaced by the new State House in 1798. It is the oldest surviving public building in Boston and one of the most important public buildings still standing from the original 13 colonies.

Led by Samuel Adams, the freely elected representatives frequently clashed with Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson, whose Council Chamber was also on the second floor of the Old State House (as were the judicial courts). Men like James Otis, John Hancock, and John Adams debated there the future of the North American colonies.

Just outside the building, five men were killed by British soldiers in what would be known as the Boston Massacre.

Two floors of exhibitions tell the story that the Old State House, and Boston, played in the American Revolution.

Part of the Freedom Trail™.

For all their artistic and philosophical brilliance, the Greeks were failures at politics; Hamilton, in the Federalist, expressed horror and disgust at the distractions with which they were agitated. The Romans captured the American imagination because they had done what the Americans themselves hoped to do — sustain an extensive republic over a course of centuries. So the society of Revolutionary War officers called themselves Cincinnati; president, congress, and senate were all Roman terms. But the Roman example was also cautionary, for when they lost their virture, they slid into empire. When Franklin said, in response to a question from Eliza Powel, that the constitutional convention had produced a republic, if you can keep it, he and she would have remembered that the Romans had failed to keep theirs.

Richard Brookhiser
Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington (1996)