As  a 21st Century business executive, I needed to travel to Boston this week, so naturally as someone with a revolutionary spirit and an interest in history, I needed to visit the infamous Green Dragon Tavern as part of my visit.  Yes, finding an Irish Traven in Boston is not a difficult task, and yes, the Green Dragon is not an historically preserved establishment catering to history focused tourist like the City Tavern in Philadelphia but if you know the history of revolutionary Boston, how can you not go? 

This is not a posh North Boston establishment.  That much has not changed.  You are more likely to sit next to a longshoreman than a lawyer and despite the fact this we are a mere two blocks from Faneuil Hall and about four blocks from Boston Garden, this is most definitely a blue-collar workingman’s sort of place just like it was in 1765.  Yes, the union’s still meet here just like the North End Caulkers Club[1] did in the 1760’s and the Mechanics Union (who voted to ratify the US Constitution) in the 1780’s.  Of course, the reason we remember the Green Dragon is because it was a favorite hang-out for the British Army in Boston.

Throughout the 1760’s, the Green Dragon was the home of the Son’s of Liberty a secret organization that advanced the rights of the American Colonies in their fight against taxation by the British government.   It is from the Green Dragon that men symbolically dressed as American Indians[2] went to the Boston Harbor, boarded the Beaver, Dartmouth, and Eleanor and tossed their cargo of tea into the harbor.  It was also the Green Dragon where Sam Ballard overheard the plans being made by two British officers to seize the Massachusetts Militia’s ammunition and weapons in Lexington prompting Samuel Prescott, William Dawes and Paul Revere to ride out to warn them of the impending invasion.  Its little wonder that the Green Dragon is known as the unofficial “Headquarters of the Revolution.”  And yet there are none of the tourist From the Revere House or Faneuil Hall here…

The Tavern was built in 1657 and sits BEHIND the Union Oyster House and the Bell in Hand Tavern both of which have long queues of tourist outside who think these 1820’s establishments are in some way related to the American Revolution.  Well, we try to teach history but not everyone listens.  While everyone outside is reveling in their commercial history, its important to remember that in working class bars and taverns like this that the actual work of rebellion occurred.  These are the rooms in which we organized non-Importation agreements, these are the rooms where we smuggled goods and spies into and out of occupied Boston, and these are the rooms where we wrote our speeches to be given in the Meetinghouses and streets.  People don’t come here because the streets outside are narrow winding warrens perfect for spiriting away the snowball pitchers from the Customs House[3], this largely intact part of old Boston was on the waterfront[4] making it an ideal vantage to conduct espionage upon the Crown Forces in Boston.  From here it a short distance to both Cambridge (across the Charles) and the Old North Church from whose steeple is was easy to communicate across the bay[5].  There is even a hidden room in the basement where spies can hide form the ever-present Redcoats.

Yes, this is ground zero for the American Revolution and no trip to Boston is complete without stopping to raise a glass to Samuel Adam, John Adams, Paul Revere, Sam Ballard, Samuel Prescott, William Dawes, Joseph Warren and the Son’s of Liberty who made the Green Dragon their home and sowed the seeds for a rebellion against oppression and taxation that would explode into the creation of our mighty nation.

“May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings, slow to make enemies, quick to make friends; but rich or poor, quick or slow, may you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.  Slainte!”   — John Somer, Proprietor of the Green Dragon 1657


[1] The guild that caulked the seams of sailing ships to make them seaworthy.

[2] Clearly, no one would confuse these men with real Indians.  The purpose of the disguise was to demonstrate that they considered themselves more as Americans than as Europeans.

[3] Pitching snow and ice prompted the British to fire upon unarmed, riotious protesters on March 5, 1770 – a event soon to be know as the Boston Massacre.

[4] The land of Boston has changed dramatically since 1770.  The Boston Neck is largely gone as the Back Bay was filled in and the Charles River is nowhere near the expanse that it was when Gage launched is amphibious assault on Cambridge and Bunker Hill (actually Breeds Hill 😊).

[5] “one if by land and two if by sea…”

Published by Michael Carver

My goal is to bring history alive through interactive portrayal of ordinary American life in the late 18th Century (1750—1799) My persona are: Journeyman Brewer; Cordwainer (leather tradesman but not cobbler), Statesman and Orator; Chandler (candle and soap maker); Gentleman Scientist; and, Soldier in either the British Regular Army, the Centennial Army, or one of the various Militia. Let me help you experience history 1st hand!

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