Monday, January 12, 2015

Minute Man National Park + Old Manse

    June 20, 2014 
    The Old Manse and the Minute Man National Historic Park in Concord, Massachusetts are certainly both historic landmarks by anyone’s definition. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that these two places are what define Concord’s legacy the most.
    Old Manse is a gray Georgian home that was built in 1770 along the bank of the Concord River by Reverend William Emerson, grandfather of Ralph Waldo Emerson, America’s great intellectual. Old Manse was the center of Concord’s literary and cultural movements. It was here that Emerson wrote "Nature," an essay that sparked the Transcendental Movement. Nathanial Hawthorne, while a native of Salem, Massachusetts, wrote his collection of short stories, “Mosses from an Old Manse.” Hawthorne put my college city on the map when he set The Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables in Salem.
    Pictured here is a recreation of the vegetable garden Henry David Thoreau planted in 1842. Thoreau was the most famous Transcendentalist and his book Walden has made Concord one of the top places in the world to study climate change because it has one of the best-documented floras in the country.

    On April 19, 1775, family members of the Emerson clan witnessed the “the shot heard round” that started the American Revolution. It is because of this day people from Massachusetts celebrate Patriot’s Day on the third Monday of every April. Waldo Emerson wrote the poem “The Concord Hymn” in 1837 to immortalize the event and David Chester French’s “Minute Man” serves as the site’s monument. You might know Chester French as the sculptor who constructed the Lincoln Memorial, easily one of the biggest symbols of Americana.

    The most striking thing about the statue is its attention to detail. His clothes are exquisitely wrinkled, his grasp on his musket is tense and firm, and the expression of his face is a mixture of anger and determination. This statue does a phenomenal job capturing the spirit of a minute man from the day when seven hundred British soldiers descended into Concord for the first battle of the American Revolutionary War, fearless in the face of fear.
    That day it was a bloodbath as both troops fought for control over Massachusetts. In the end, the Massachusetts militia had fifty dead, thirty-nine wounded, and five missing and the British, who had marched long and hard from Boston, had seventy-three killed, one hundred seventy-four wounded, and twenty-six missing.

    Thoreau once said, “For the most part, the town has deserved the name it wears. I find our annals marked with a uniform good sense. I find no ridiculous laws, no eavesdropping legislators, no hanging of witches, no whipping of Quakers, no unnatural crimes.” By definition, the term ‘concord’ means an agreement or harmony between groups of people. In the 1770's, Concord was a diverse populace, yet when word spread that the "Red Coats" were on their way to demolish, the colonists put aside their differences to stand up against the injustice. With the motto “victory is always increased by concord” pounding in their hearts, the Massachusetts militia astonishingly defied all odds, crippling the greatest army in the world. For that reason, I like to think of Concord as the town of remembrance because the Battle of Concord was unceremoniously the first event where the “American Spirit” was born.

    Old Manse
    269 Monument Street
    Concord, Massachusetts 01742

    Minute Man National Park
    174 Liberty Street
    Concord, Massachusetts 01742

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