The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Massachusetts is one of four states (Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia) to still use the term Commonwealth.

While the term has no legal impact, John Adams included it in their state constitution in the 1700’s, and it stands for the state government being a political community based upon the common good and consent of the people.

The State of Massachusetts is steeped in American history and has many historical sites to visit. We’ll probably be working through the list for years to come.

But on this recent trip with our granddaughter, we spent time in Salem and Quincy.

Since we wanted to maximize our time in Salem, we decided to enjoy a narrated tour on the Salem Trolley. The Trolley stops at the various attractions, and you can hop on and off all day for the price of one ticket.

We stayed on the Tour and enjoyed hearing about the witch trials, George Washington’s visit, Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone, and seeing Dead Horse Beach, the House of the Seven Gables, Salem Witch Museum, Peabody Essex Museum, Winter Island and several other historical stops.

We only had a morning to spend in Salem, but it was enough time to point out to us that we need to go back and check out several attractions including the Peabody Essex Museum.

After a wonderful morning in Salem, we drove on to Quincy with the intention of touring the homes of our second and sixth Presidents, John Adams and John Quincy Adams.

These two homes also happen to be the oldest Presidential birthplaces in the United States. Much to our disappointment, all of the afternoon tours were full.

With some time on our hands, we decided to check out the United First Parish Church a couple of doors down from the Adams Visitor Center.

The Church is absolutely beautiful and for a small donation you can have a narrated tour of the church, hear the history of the John Adams and John Quincy Adams families and can actually sit in the pew they sat in to worship.

The most interesting part of the church tour was beneath the church sanctuary where the historical birth and death records and crypts of John and  Abigail Adams and John Quincy and Louise Adams are located.

You can actually walk right into the room with the four crypts and stand beside the flag-draped resting places of two Presidents. It was an amazing experience.

President John Adams’ crypt is draped with a flag with fifteen stripes because originally they were adding a stripe every time they added a star to the flag. President John Quincy Adams’ crypt is draped with a flag with thirteen stripes which was the number adopted by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777.

Did you also know that Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams are the only two Presidents who chose not to attend the inauguration of their successors, Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson? Narrated tours are always a wealth of historical trivia.

It is humbling to be reminded about what our forefathers went through to establish this Country and how we sometimes take our democracy for granted.

We certainly enjoyed sharing this learning experience with our granddaughter in the form of a family adventure – joining the fun of a family trip with a real-life history lesson. It was a good thing.

Granddaughter (12) saysI thought it was interesting to see all the different sites in Salem and to sit in the Adams’ Family church pew and touch the crypts of two Presidents. 

About Judy @ NewEnglandGardenAndThread

Master Gardener who enjoys gardening, quilting, photography, and traveling.
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7 Responses to The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

  1. Love all the history of my home state! It really brings the revolutionary war and founding of the nation to life when kids see the locations and artifacts!
    Sounds like a day that made a significant impact as well as providing lots of fun!

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  2. The crypt entrance looks so mysterious.

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  3. Grandma Kc says:

    What a wonderful history lesson you and your granddaughter received! There is so much amazing history on the east coast. Someday I am going to get back to there to see it all!

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  4. Joyce says:

    You chose a wonderful place to visit! I love Salem and the sights you mentioned. We took a tour of the House of the Seven Gables. Inside there is a secret stair and room behind the chimney that is thought to be part of the Underground Railroad. The waterfront gardens behind the house are amazing.
    I certainly agree with you – there is so much history packed into that area. You mentioned things that I hadn’t known since we didn’t take the trolley tour or stop to see Quincy.

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  5. Debra says:

    Interesting;especially that old church! 🙂

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  6. so glad you enjoyed your visit here… next time you come I’ll have to meet you to say hi!

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