Reenactment of the Stamp Act Riot

    Improve listing Presented by

Join historic reenactors in period costume in a raucous march through the streets of Boston to the Old State House to protest the coming Stamp Act. Can the stamp distributor be compelled to resign his post? This event is co-sponsored by the Bostonian Society and Revolution250.

The historical context

From a recent post by J.L. Bell, author of Boston 1775:

After night fell on 14 Aug 1765, the crowd made their anger toward stamp agent Andrew Oliver clearer. One might think that hanging him in effigy during the daytime would be clear enough, but that evening they also demolished the small building he was expected to use as his stamp office, tore down his fence, and tried to steal his carriage before gentlemen intervened. They burned all the wood they took away in a bonfire. Twelve days later, a crowd attacked the mansion of Lt. Gov. Thomas Hutchinson in the North End, demolishing (or stealing) his windows, furniture, clothing, and papers.

On Saturday, 15 August, at 4:00 P.M., the Bostonian Society and Revolution 250 are sponsoring a “Reenactment of the Stamp Act Riot.” No actual mansions will be harmed in this event, but reenactors in period costume are invited to march raucously from the corner of Washington and Winter Street (near the Downtown Crossing T Station) to the Old State House, calling for Oliver’s resignation.

To me these twin events on Friday and Saturday, the lantern ceremony and the march, represent the two sides of the town’s August 1765 anti-Stamp disturbances. Back then town fathers recoiled from the violent destruction of Hutchinson’s house and started to emphasize civil protest and steely unity; likewise, the Friday lantern ceremony promotes community and liberty over political or personal conflict. Yet Boston’s attacks on the property of Stamp Act officials and their supporters, repeated in other American towns, were probably just as important in keeping the new law from going into effect.

Ironically, our civic ceremony will take place at night (the better to see the lantern illumination), and our riot reenactment will take place in the day.