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May 24, 1854: Fugitive Slave Anthony Burns Arrested

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Christmas Celebration Outlawed: December 25, 1659
On this day in 1659, a law was passed by the General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony requiring a five-shilling fine from anyone caught "observing...

Boston Ends Discharge of Sewer Sludge into Harbor: December 24, 1991
On this day in 1991, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority ended an age-old practice of dumping sewer sludge directly into Boston Harbor. Proponents...

Voters Deny Massachusetts Women the Vote: November 2, 1915
On this day in 1915, a referendum to give Massachusetts women the vote failed at the polls. In spite of its leading role in the nineteenth-century woman's...

Senator Edward Brooke Born: October 26, 1919
On this day in 1919, Edward Brooke, III, the only African-American to represent Massachusetts in the U.S. Congress, was born. A decorated veteran, he...

Mashpee Indians Sue for Recognition: October 17, 1978
On this day in 1978, a trial began on Cape Cod to determine whether the Mashpee Indians met the legal definition of a tribe. If they did, they could sue...

Margaret Marshall Appointed to Supreme Judicial Court: October 14, 1999
On this day in 1999, Margaret Marshall became the first woman appointed Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The oldest court in...

Polaroid Wins Patent Suit Against Kodak: September 13, 1985
On this day in 1985, Polaroid won a huge victory in federal court. A judge ruled that Kodak had violated Polaroid's patents for instant photography....

Oliver Wendell Holmes Born in Cambridge: August 29, 1809
On this day in 1809, Oliver Wendell Holmes was born in Cambridge. The man who coined the phrase "Boston Brahmin," he was a true member...

Massachusetts Executes Sacco and Vanzetti: August 23, 1927
On this day in 1927, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were put to death in the state prison in Charlestown. A jury convicted them of murder and robbery...

Jury Decides in Favor of Elizabeth “Mum Bett” Freeman: August 22, 1781
On this day in 1781, a jury in Great Barrington found in favor of "Mum Bett," a black woman who had been a slave in the home of Colonel...

Lizzie Borden’s Father and Stepmother Murdered: August 4, 1892
On this day in 1892, a prosperous banker and his wife were hacked to death with a hatchet in their Fall River home. Suspicion immediately focused on the...

Brookfield Woman Put to Death: July 2, 1778
On this day in 1778, an intelligent and high-spirited beauty from Brookfield became the first woman to be executed in the new American republic. The 32-year-old's...

James Otis, Jr., Enrages Colonial Governor: June 21, 1768
On this day in 1768, James Otis, Jr. gave a characteristically fiery speech to his fellow legislators in Boston. He referred to the British House of Commons...

Massachusetts Approves State Constitution: June 16, 1780
On this day in 1780, the Massachusetts constitution was declared ratified. The previous fall, the world's first constitutional convention had met...

Charles Goodyear Receives Patent for Vulcanized Rubber: June 15, 1844
On this day in 1844, after a decade of hardship and perseverance, Charles Goodyear received a patent for vulcanized rubber. The first boots and clothing...

Police Find First Victim of “Boston Strangler”: June 14, 1962
On this day in 1962, police discovered the body of the first victim of the "Boston Strangler." For the next two years, Boston would...

Firemen and Irish Clash in Boston Riot: June 11, 1837
On this day in 1837, an Irish funeral procession and a company of Yankee volunteer firefighters came face-to-face in the streets of Boston. Over the next...

Vietnam Veterans Arrested on Lexington Green: May 30, 1971
On this day in 1971, over 450 anti-war protesters occupied the historic Lexington Green and refused to leave. The Vietnam Veterans Against the War had...

Massachusetts Bay Colony Bans Catholic Priests: May 26, 1647
On this day in 1647, Massachusetts Bay banned Jesuit priests from the colony on penalty of death. The English Puritans who settled the colony feared the...

Fugitive Slave Anthony Burns Arrested: May 24, 1854
On this day in 1854, Anthony Burns, a fugitive slave from Virginia, was arrested in Boston. His capture enraged black and white abolitionists. Two days...

Sumner Attacked in U.S. Senate: May 22, 1856
On this day in 1856, Preston Brooks, a congressman from South Carolina, viciously attacked Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner on the floor of the United...

Indians in Mashpee Demand Self-Government: May 21, 1833
On this day in 1833, the Mashpee of Cape Cod signed what amounted to an Indian Declaration of Independence. They reminded officials in Boston that "all...

Newburyport Fire Leads to Execution for Arson: May 18, 1820
On this day in 1820, a barn filled with hay burned to the ground in Newburyport. Just three days later, cries of "fire" alarmed the...

Supreme Court Strikes Down “Separate but Equal”: May 17, 1954
On this day in 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the doctrine of separate but equal. "Segregation of children in public schools solely...

Complaint Filed on Toxic Pollution in Woburn: May 14, 1984
On this day in 1984, lawyer Jan Schlichtmann filed the first motion in the case made famous by the book and film "A Civil Action." For...

Jury Finds Mary Parsons Not Guilty of Witchcraft: May 13, 1675
On this day in 1675, a Boston jury reached a verdict in the case of Mary Bliss Parsons of Northampton: they found her not guilty of witchcraft. In seventeenth-century...

“The Birth of a Nation” Sparks Protest: April 26, 1915
On this day in 1915 Boston's African-American community protested the showing of the racist film The Birth of a Nation. When 800 black women gathered...

Massachusetts Passes First Education Law: April 14, 1642
On this day in 1642, Massachusetts Bay Colony passed the first law in the New World requiring that children be taught to read and write. The English Puritans...

Harvard Students Occupy University Hall: April 9, 1969
On this day in 1969, Harvard students took over University Hall, one of the college's oldest buildings. Opposed to the escalating war in Vietnam,...

H.L. Mencken Arrested in Boston: April 5, 1926
On this day in 1926, reporter and literary critic H.L. Mencken was arrested on Boston Common for selling a magazine that had been banned by the New England...

Boston Minister Tried for Inciting a Riot: April 3, 1855
On this day in 1855, the case against Boston minister Theodore Parker came to trial. Charged with inciting an abolitionist riot, he defended himself by...

Dorothea Dix Begins Her Crusade: March 28, 1841
On this day in 1841, Dorothea Dix visited an East Cambridge jail and was appalled to see mentally ill women confined alongside hardened criminals. The...

Legislature Guarantees Access to Public Schools: March 25, 1845
On this day in 1845, the Massachusetts legislature guaranteed that every child in the state would have access to a public school. One source of pressure...

Five Die in Boston Massacre: March 5, 1770
On this day in 1770, Crispus Attucks, a black man from Framingham, and four other civilians were shot dead by British soldiers. Attucks worked on whaling...

First Slaves Arrive in Massachusetts: February 26, 1638
On this day in 1638, a ship returned to Salem from the West Indies after a seven-month voyage. Its cargo included cotton, tobacco and, as far as we know,...

Shadrach Minkins Seized: February 15, 1851
On this day in 1851, a group of outraged black men burst into a courtroom in Boston and rescued Shadrach Minkins, the first escaped slave seized in New...

“Gerrymander” Born in Massachusetts: February 11, 1812
On this day in 1812, a political monster — the "Gerrymander" — was born in the Massachusetts State House. Governor...

Silvio Conte Dies: February 8, 1991
On this day in 1991, Representative Silvio Conte died at age 70. A Republican in a largely Democratic state, more liberal than most members of his party,...

Great Molasses Flood: January 15, 1919
On this day in 1919, people in Boston's North End were startled by a loud rumbling noise. They watched in horror as a five-story tank broke apart,...

Bread and Roses Strike Begins: January 12, 1912
On this day in 1912, the labor protest later known as the "Bread and Roses" strike began in Lawrence. A new state law had reduced the...

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