New Historian

Samuel Adam's Time Capsule Discovered in Boston

Samuel Adams

<![CDATA[After many hours of painstaking excavation work, a copper box was recently removed from a cornerstone of the Massachusetts State House in Boston. Historians say it was placed there in 1795 by Revolutionary-era patriots Samuel Adams and Paul Revere. From contemporary historical accounts, we know that Samuel Adams, Paul Revere and William Scollay placed a variety of items in a time capsule in 1795. This was done as part of a ceremony which began in downtown Boston and finished at the State House, then under construction. Located atop Beacon Hill, the State House was completed in 1798. It replaced the Old State House on Court Street as the home of the Massachusetts state government. In October of this year, a great deal of excitement surrounded the Old State House, after a 113-year-old container was discovered there. The container had been encased in the head of a golden lion which adorned the top of the building. Inside were sealed letters, photographs and newspaper articles, all in near-perfect condition. Now, it seems the new State House has yielded a similarly fascinating discovery. The capsule placed by Revere and Adams was originally removed from its cornerstone in 1855, during essential repairs to the new State House. Its contents were transferred from their original cowhide container to a copper box, which was then replaced in the cornerstone. Since then the capsule had remained unseen by human eyes, until last week. Workers were repairing a water leak at the new State House when they spotted the time capsule. They called the Boston Museum of Fine Arts for guidance on how to proceed. One of the museum's conservators, Pam Hatchfield, then spent over six hours removing the copper box. As Hatchfield chipped away at the block, coins, most of which appeared to be silver, fell out of the plaster which encased the time capsule. Public officials had thrown in loose change for good luck during the capsule's reburial in 1855. Eventually, the capsule was revealed. The corroded copper container box is smaller than a cigar box, but could contain a wealth of invaluable information. It has since been transferred, under police guard, to the Museum of Fine Arts. Conservators plan to X-ray the capsule to determine its contents. It was announced in the Boston Globe that state officials expect the box to contain a variety of items, including a collection of silver and copper coins, the earliest of which could date back to 1650. Based on documentary evidence, they also expect there to be a silver plate fashioned by Revere, a renowned silversmith, and newspapers from the time. Several important documents may also be held within, such as a title page from the Massachusetts Colony Records. Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin told the Globe that there is concern that some of the coins may have been damaged. In a misguided attempt to preserve them, the coins could have been washed in acid before the box was reburied in 1855. The box will be opened this week to examine the contents thoroughly. Afterwards, it will be placed back inside the State House cornerstone for future generations to find. Officials have yet to decide whether they will add modern items to the time capsule, to further add to the box's history. ]]>

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