Boston slavery and the Old North Church


The Old North Church receives a half million tourist visitors a year. When it first opened after construction started in 1723, it became the place to be for young merchants, entrepreneurs and ship captains to socialize and worship God. For decades it attracted people who were not as wealthy as people who attended the older Anglican Church, Kings Chapel.

Decades passed by. When British troops began their occupation of Boston, the patriots who were organizing to fight against them used the church for strategic communications. The use of candle-powered lanterns as signals were deployed. In 1775, Paul Revere asked sexton Robert Newman and Captain John Pulling Jr., and Thomas Bernard to put up lanterns in the steeple so the people of Charlestown across the Charles River would know about British Army troop movements.

Members of the church had a significant role in the international commerce that helped make Colonial Boston rich. They traded cacao with African people throughout the Caribbean. For a long time, Old North Church displayed its historic role with Paul Revere but not much was known about its significant role in Boston’s dealings with Africans until recently.

Read the GBH News 2022 article titled “Old North Church, a beacon of freedom, grapples with its own ties to slavery,” for the latest update about the church and its African business activity.