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Why Is Boston Called the "Cradle of Liberty"?

By Heather Phillips
Updated: May 17, 2024

The city of Boston, in the U.S. state of Massachusetts, is often called the Cradle of Liberty because of the many important historical events, meetings, and revolutionary activities that took place there in the mid- to late-1700s. These events helped form the United States, from what were then British colonies. Some of these include meetings of the Sons of Liberty organization, the formation of the first committee of correspondence, the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, and Paul Revere’s Ride.

As the Cradle of Liberty, Boston was home to many fiery American patriots. Two of these were Sam Adams and Paul Revere, who were members of the Sons of Liberty. This was an organization that fought for change in the way the British government treated its colonists. Sometimes, this fighting was carried out through patriotic speeches. Other times, however, it took the form of actual deeds that protested alleged unfair treatment.

Adams and Revere were also instrumental in forming the first committee of correspondence in Boston. This served as a model for correspondence committees throughout the colonies. Generally, these groups were formed as a way for patriots in differing geographic areas to communicate with each other. They often helped to spread a unified understanding of the colonial protesters’ interpretations of the perceived injustice of British rule.

One of the more pivotal moments in its history was the Boston Massacre. This event, which took place on March 5, 1770, involved British soldiers, who were guarding the customs house where the King’s money was kept, and a crowd of mostly discontented Boston citizens. The British soldiers fired upon the citizens, resulting in five deaths. The soldiers were given a fair trial, but the incident served to further anger those American colonists who wanted to be free from British rule.

Another historic moment that added to the Cradle of Liberty name was the Boston Tea Party. It occurred on the night of December 16, 1773, and was a protest against the Tea Act — a tax on tea by the British government. Protesters dressed as American Indians and boarded boats in Boston Harbor, and then dumped tea from the boats into the water to show their dissatisfaction.

An additional event that bolstered the city’s Cradle of Liberty reputation was Paul Revere’s ride. On April 18, 1775, after seeing two lanterns in Boston's Old North Church tower, Paul Revere knew that British troops were coming across the Charles River toward Lexington. He rode ahead of the troops, to Lexington and Concord, to warn citizens that they were approaching.

America Explained is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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