The year 2000 marks the 225th anniversary of the beginning of the American Revolution, an event rooted deeply in Massachussetts history. Boston was the center of colonial protest and escalating British responses for a decade preceding the eventual military clashes between patriots and the British at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775 and again in the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775. Among other events to mark these anniversaries, Boston National Historical Park will be co-sponsoring a public symposium entitled "Changing Meanings of Freedom".
This symposium will probe the legacy and changing meanings of freedom in the United States. We will examine what historian Eric Foner calls the "contradictions between the ideal of universal liberty and the reality of a society beset with inequalities" which characterized American public life during the Revolution and remains true to the present day. We will explore how freedom from the time of the Revolution has been contested terrain, subject to multiple and competing interpretations, its meaning constantly created and recreated. We will see how freedom, according to Foner, is a "tale of debates, disagreements, and struggles rather than a set of timeless categories or an evolutionary narrative toward a preordained goal."
The symposium will be held from June 2-3, 2000 and will be free and open to the public (although preregistration is mandatory). It will be held at Suffolk University Law School on Tremont St. Featured speakers include distinguished historians such as David McCullough, Eric Foner, Pauline Maier, Edward Countryman, Joseph J. Ellis, Linda Kerber, Gary Nash, James O. Horton, Byron Rushing, Alfred Young, David Hackett Fischer, and Barbara Clark Smith. David McCullough, historian and host of "The American Experience", will give the opening address and Eric Foner, author of The Story of American Freedom, will give the plenary address.
Suffolk University Law School will host a special exhibit in conjunction with the symposium. On June 3 only, this exhibit will include two rare documents from the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. The first is one of the 23 known copies of the first printing of the Declaration of Independence. The second is Elbridge Gerry's annotated copy of the first printed draft of the U.S. Constitution. This exhibit is free and open to the public. The special exhibit at Suffolk Law School does not require registration and can be viewed at any time during regular business hours, from June 3, 2000 - July 15, 2000.
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