NPS - National Park Service

06/11/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/11/2024 08:01

NPS and Reenactors to Commemorate 250th Anniversary of British Encampment at Salem Maritime National Historic Site

News Release Date:
June 11, 2024

SALEM, Mass. - New England residents and visitors might wonder what it was like to walk the streets of Salem, Massachusetts, during the American Revolution 250 years ago. On June 15 and 16, they won't have to wonder too much.
For those two days, National Park Service staff at Salem Maritime National Historic Site and scores of living history volunteers will host a series of events at the Derby Wharf (160 Derby Street) to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the arrival of British General Thomas Gage in Salem.
The commemoration - which also recognizes the temporary relocation of the Massachusetts capital to Salem - will be highlighted by a weekend-long, historically accurate encampment of some of New England's finest living history practitioners portraying soldiers, officers, and legislators, as well as the loyalist and patriot citizens of Salem.
After the Boston Tea Party, British Parliament passed the Coercive Acts to punish Massachusetts colonists. Known in the colonies as the Intolerable Acts, these acts were hotly debated by residents, leading some Salem citizens to welcome General Gage and others to speak out against his presence. These feelings of conflict, divisiveness, and uncertainty permeated colonial communities in the years before and during the American Revolution.
The commemoration will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 15, and 9 a.m. on Sunday, June 16. During the living history event, visitors will be able to meet volunteers representing differing opinions about the closing of the Port of Boston and the arrival of the British soldiers in Salem. Attendees can expect to learn first-hand how the soldiers lived in the encampment - including chances to watch the soldiers drill, hear military music, and take in the aromas of crackling cooking fires.
Sunday's schedule begins with an 18th century church service at St. Peter's Church (24 St. Peter Street in Salem). As an added commemorative attraction, a volunteer reenacting the role of General Gage will occupy the same pew he used when the general first visited Salem 250 years ago.
Along with living history performances, visitors also can expect various cultural and craft demonstrations. The weekend events are scheduled to wrap up at 4 p.m. on both days.
The weekend of events is scheduled to include:

  • Trade demonstrations, including a schoolmaster, wigmaker, shoemaker, fishmonger, and other merchants
  • British military drill and tactical demonstrations
  • Costume-fitting demonstrations
  • 18th century printing demonstrations
  • Information about Black Salem residents, both free and enslaved, during the 1770s
The weekend of events is being supported by the National Park Service, as well as Revolution 250, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit organization comprised of more than 70 groups that support the commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution.

About Salem Maritime Historic Site:
Established on March 17, 1938, as the first National Historic Site in the United States, Salem Maritime National Historic Site consists of nine acres of land and twelve historic structures along the Salem waterfront, as well as a downtown visitor center. Located in the urban setting of Salem, the park preserves and interprets over 600 years of New England's maritime history and global connections.
About America's 250th:
Over the next several years, the National Park Service joins the nation in commemorating the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. The aspirational vision in the Declaration defines the ideals that - together with the U.S. Constitution - set the nation on a course of continued work toward "a more perfect union." Throughout the commemoration, the National Park Service will serve the American people by embracing its mission to provide opportunities for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The National Park Service will help inspire "a more perfect union" by providing opportunities for celebrating, commemorating, and contemplating the meanings of the words in the Declaration and their relevance to our lives today. The National Park Service welcomes visitors to explore history through parks and programs. More at
About Revolution 250:
Revolution 250 is a 501c3 consortium of more than 70 organizations across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, working together to support the commemoration of the 250th Anniversary of the American Revolution, advocacy for the preservation of historical structures, documents and material culture, and the growth of educational opportunities for students and teachers across the region.