A Final Blow: The Massachusetts Government Act

The Massachusetts Government Act was passed by the Parliament of Great Britain, receiving the royal assent on 20 May 1774. The act effectively abrogated the existing colonial charter of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, and gave its royally-appointed governor wide-ranging powers. The Act is one of the Intolerable Acts (also known as Repressive Acts and Coercive Acts), designed to suppress dissent and restore order in Massachusetts. In the wake of the Boston Tea Party, Parliament launched a legislative offensive against Massachusetts to control its errant behavior. British officials believed that their inability to control Massachusetts was rooted in part in the highly independent nature of its local government.

Most accounts of the revolution consider the beginning of open rebellion to be the skirmishes at Lexington and Concord on April 19th, 1775. But from mid‐August to mid‐September of 1774, the citizens of Berkshire, Springfield, and Worcester Counties, mostly farmers, ended British rule over themselves and on their countryside forever. With no real organization, no official leaders, no fixed institutions, and no bloodshed – they went up against the most powerful empire on earth and won. It was not the Stamp Act, Tea Tax, or the Massachusetts Port Act alone that provoked the actions at Lexington and Concord. Rather it was the series of events, both political and rebellious, that predate it.

The most stunning of these events broke on the morning of September 6th, 1774 when 4,622 militiamen from 37 towns of Worcester County marched to Main Street in Worcester to take the town. An advance party of militia had seized the Worcester courthouse, barricaded themselves inside, and awaited the arrival of 25 Crown appointees. When the court officials arrived, about five thousand militia and citizens lined along Main Street to force the officials to walk the street with hats off to to repeat over and over again, so that all who gathered could easily hear, the disavowal of holding courts under the British laws. Other Tory supporters were also forced to recant their loyalty to the Crown and the Massachusetts Government Act. The British control over Worcester County was thus gone forever - without violence, yet with a humiliating retraction of loyalty to the crown. Following the debacle of September 6th, General Gage had no choice but to admit to Lord Dartmouth that British Civil government was near its end.

The spectacle of the Worcester Revolution sent a shock wave across the Massachusetts colony, all the way to Philadelphia where the First Continental Congress had met for the very first time the day before. Worcester's militiamen had irreversibly set the stage for an inevitable confrontation with the British later. That confrontation freed the remaining parts of Massachusetts left under British rule – notably the British garrison in the city of Boston.

Given the momentous actions on September 6, 1774, it remains a mystery why we have yet to honor or commemorate such an extraordinary day, unique to America's heritage. Unlike Worcester, the towns of Concord, Lexington and their surrounding communities proudly celebrate their revolutionary heritage with painstakingly authentic reenactments, eloquent narratives of the events, and colorful parades in honor of the historic battles fought on April 19, 1775.

A celebration to reestablish the memory of the history and pivotal role of Worcester County in the American Revolution is being held throughout 2014 through a series of workshops, lectures, city walks, publications, and a public fair. We will commemorate the remarkable events of September 6, 1774 to make the story a vital part of the core narrative of the beginnings of the American Revolution, and to develop a sense of pride in the role Worcester County played in the founding of America.

The recognition of Worcester County’s role will run from Fall 2013 to September 7th, 2014. It will include activities across the cultural and historical organizations of Worcester and the 37 towns that participated in 1774. We expect to see workshops on the subject for teachers, visits by re-enactors to classrooms, exhibits of historical artifacts of the period, walking tours of the historical sites, and a series of presentations by authors and academics.



The Worcester Tory Protest

David Rushford, Worcester City Clerk Andy Lacombe, Worcester News Tonight, Channel 3 29 June 2012 The American Revolution did not start on the morning of April 19, 1775. When the British fired upon a small group of hastily assembled patriots on the Lexington Green, they were attempting to regain control of a colony they had

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The Voice of the Patriots: The American Political Society

The "American Political Society" to be serialized on Twitter starting July 1st The American Political Society was established in 1773 in Worcester, Massachusetts, by Col. Timothy Bigelow (1739-1790) as an extension of the Committee of Correspondence. It was a secret society of 71 Worcester Whigs who organized for the purpose of debating "upon ... our

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MassHumanities Featured Grant: Worcester 1774

MassHumanities June 2014 Worcester County stands up for American independence again with countywide reenactments this spring and summer.Lexington and Concord are trumpeted as the birthplace of the American Revolution, but the organizers of Worcester 1774 are out to set the population of Worcester County straight on their own towns' pivotal role in American independence. Months

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Historical Documents


America’s First Declaration of Independence

On October 4, 1774, the town meeting of Worcester, Massachusetts, declared that British rule was over and it was time to form a new government, not answerable to the Crown and Parliament. This act by a public body was twenty-one months before Congress approved its own Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

In the late spring of 1774, Parliament yanked away the Massachusetts Charter of 1691, which had granted people considerable say in their government. In response, on


Worcester’s American Political Party

On January 3, 1774, in the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, thirty-one men from Worcester, solid members of their community but not the wealthy and well-connected, founded the American Political Society (APS), a radical caucus that met in advance of town meetings to plot strategies, determine agendas, and put forward candidates for public office. While the Committee of Correspondence, as a public body, reported back to the town as a whole, the APS, avowedly partisan from the outset, could do and act as it pleased. Within a year, membership in the organization would grow to 71, almost one-third of the enfranchised citizens of the town.

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