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Concord, Massachusetts

CONCORD, MASSACHUSETTS, a township of Middlesex county, Massachusetts, U.S.A., about 20 m. N.W. of Boston. Pop. (1900) 5652; (1910, U.S. census) 6421. Area 25 sq. m. It is traversed by the Boston & Maine railway. Where the Sudbury and Assabet unite to form the beautiful little Concord river, celebrated by Thoreau, is the village of Concord, straggling, placid and beautiful, full of associations with the opening of the War of Independence and with American literature. Of particular interest is the "Old Manse," built in 1765 for Rev. William Emerson, in which his grandson R. W. Emerson wrote Nature, and Hawthorne his Mosses from an Old Manse, containing a charming description of the building and its associations. At Concord there is a state reformatory, whose inmates, about 800 in number, are employed in manufacturing various articles, but otherwise the town has only minor business and industrial interests. The introduction of the "Concord" grape, first produced here by Ephraim Bull in 1853, is said to have marked the beginning of the profitable commercial cultivation of table grapes in the United States. Concord was settled and incorporated as a township in 1635, and was (with Dedham) the first settlement in Massachusetts back from the sea-coast. A county convention at Concord village in August 1774 recommended the calling of the first Provincial Congress of Massachusetts - one of the first independent legislatures of America - which assembled here on the 11th of October 1774, and again in March and April 1775. The village became thereafter a storehouse of provisions and munitions of war, and hence became the objective of the British expedition that on the 19th of April 1775 opened with the armed conflict at Lexington (q.v.) the American War of Independence. As the British proceeded to Concord the whole country was rising, and at Concord about 500 minute-men confronted the British regulars who were holding the village and searching for arms and stores. Volleys were exchanged, the British retreated, the minute-men hung on their flanks and from the hillsides shot them down, driving their columns on Lexington. A granite obelisk, erected in 1837, when Emerson wrote his ode on the battle, marks the spot where the first British soldiers fell; while across the stream a fine bionze "Minute-Man" (1875) by D. C. French (a native of Concord) marks the spot where once "the embattled farmers stood and fired the shot heard round the world" (Emerson). Concord was long one of the shire-townships of Middlesex county, losing this honour in 1867. The village is famous as the home of R. W. Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry D. Thoreau, Louisa M. Alcott and her father, A. Bronson Alcott, who maintained here from 1879 to 1888 (in a building still standing) the Concord school of philosophy, which counted Benjamin Peirce, W. T. Harris, Mrs J. W. Howe, T. W. Higginson, Professor William James and Emerson among its lecturers. Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau and the Alcotts are buried here in the beautiful Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Of the various orations (among others one by Edward Everett in 1825) that have been delivered at Concord anniversaries perhaps the finest is that of George William Curtis, delivered in 1875.

See A. S. Hudson, The History of Concord, vol. i. (Concord, 1904); G. B. Bartlett, Concord: Historic, Literary and Picturesque (Boston, 1885); and Mrs J. L. Swayne, Story of Concord (Boston, 1907).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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