"Sowing the Seeds of Liberty: Lexington and the American Revolution" to Open at the National Heritage Museum, Patriot's Day, Monday, April 16, 2007

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"Sowing the Seeds of Liberty," the Museum's new cornerstone exhibition on Lexington and the American Revolution, opens Patriot's Day, April 16, 2007. This new long-term installation is designed to stimulate new ways of thinking about the battle at Lexington on April 19, 1775, a conflict that will always spark the American imagination.

The National Heritage Museum will open "Sowing the Seeds of Liberty: Lexington and the American Revolution," its new cornerstone exhibition, on Patriot's Day, April 16, 2007. This long-term installation is designed to stimulate fresh ways of thinking about the battle at Lexington on April 19, 1775, a conflict that will always spark the American imagination. (http://www.nationalheritagemuseum.org)

In addition to describing the battle and events that led up to it, the exhibition will explain why members of this small farming community were willing to take arms against their own government to protect their way of life. Through a highly engaging mix of objects, documents, images, re-creations of historic environments, and interactive elements, people of all ages will be able to learn about the roots of the American Revolution for years to come.

"Sowing the Seeds of Liberty" will replace "Lexington Alarm'd," the Museum's exhibition on colonial life that has been on view since April 19, 1995. In the past decade, historians have uncovered new perspectives on the parts played by ordinary people in shaping the historical events at Lexington's Battle Green, while new user-friendly technologies can tell the story in a more interactive experience.

Much of the exhibition's focus centers on two main Lexington leaders, John Parker and Jonas Clarke. Parker, among his many roles, was the elected captain of the local militia. He was in charge of the men on the town common when the British regiment arrived from Boston. Legend has it that his last order to his men was, "Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here."

The other, Jonas Clarke, was minister of the local church. He was a strong and well-respected voice in favor of independence. "Seeds of Liberty," however, makes clear that the revolution involved more than those that stood on the Green. The entire town was involved. The idea of revolution permeated all facets of life. In the small town of Lexington, everyone was connected, either by family, trade, or church--often by all three. The exhibition's organization reveals the story.


In Lexington ca. 1774, everyone was a farmer. People may have had other jobs, such as blacksmith, cooper, or wheelwright, but all were tied to the land. Every man was also a citizen-soldier. A compelling image in the introduction underscores this theme as a farmer transforms into a soldier and then back again. Images and artifacts relating to farming--especially dairy farming, which was central to the Lexington economy--are on display in this section.

The Loring Kitchen

Visitors are introduced to family life in the 1770s through the Loring family. The Lorings are in their kitchen where the family of five women, two men, and a baby worked and gathered. Visitors will learn about the tasks the Loring girls undertook such as making cheese and butter, cooking, cleaning, and producing wool, all of which contributed to the family economy. How the Loring's world was connected to the larger world of trade with Boston and England is explored.

Taxes, Trade, and Tension

The roots of revolution are revealed here, and visitors learn how tension mounted in the region over several years. Historic, as well as not-so-famous, protests are examined, such as the Boston Tea Party and the lesser-known Lexington Tea Bonfire. A video tells of the gathering storm between 1765-1774 as seen through the eyes of Paul Revere. Known chiefly for his "midnight ride," this famous patriot was also a Freemason, a silversmith, and a political cartoonist, and he maintained strong ties to Lexington.

John Parker: Wheelwright

In addition to his historic role on Lexington Green, John Parker was a local businessman. Primarily a wheelwright, the talented Captain Parker also crafted furniture, barrels, tools, and presses. Through examples of the kind of tools Parker used, several of which visitors can use themselves, the exhibition brings Parker's world to life.

Common Cause: The Role of the Meeting House

Lexington residents discussed political matters and also tended to spiritual matters in the meeting house. The Reverend Jonas Clarke occupied a unique position in Lexington as both a spiritual and a political leader. As tensions built over a period of years, townspeople initiated military preparations at the meeting house. They stockpiled military supplies in the building, including storing gunpowder under the pulpit. Lights and sound are used to transform the meeting house from a place of town business to a house of worship.

Confrontation on the Common

Here visitors learn how the events of April 19, 1775, unfolded. The visitor begins the journey with the march of the British regulars from Boston, to Paul Revere's ride, to the skirmish in Lexington, concluding with the British retreat to Boston. Portraits and military equipment are on view. An interactive computer map demonstrates the progress of the battle over time and space.

An Enduring Symbol

The final area examines the Battle of Lexington as an enduring American symbol. The question "Where are they now?" is answered through epilogues about many of the chief players in the day's drama. Visitors can also share why April 19, 1775, is important to them.

The National Heritage Museum is dedicated to presenting exhibitions on a wide variety of topics in American history and popular culture. The Museum is supported by the Scottish Rite Freemasons in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States. The Museum is located at 33 Marrett Road in Lexington, at the corner of Route 2A and Massachusetts Avenue. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 am-5 pm, and Sunday, noon-5 pm. Admission and parking are free. Heritage Shop and Courtyard Café on site. For further information contact the Museum at (781) 861 6559. For more information, visit our web site at http://www.nationalheritagemuseum.org.


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