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) says: I 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.