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SEIZING MEN, SEIZING LIBERTY: A Forgotten Revolutionary Debate at Old South Meeting House


“The largest Dissenting Meeting House in Town”
Old South Meeting House was the largest meeting hall in colonial Boston in the years leading up to the American Revolution. It was so often the scene of the patriots’ meetings that loyalist Andrew Oliver called it “the largest Dissenting Meeting House in Town.” Today, most people are aware that the meetings that led to the Boston Tea Party took place at Old South Meeting House. But, one of the most interesting protests held there is the lesser-known resistance against the seizure of John Hancock’s ship and the impressment of sailors.




Built in 1729, Boston’s Old South Meeting House has been an important gathering place for nearly three centuries. While the history of this National Historic Landmark is widely celebrated today, the origins of its name are less understood. Why is it called a “meeting house”? What is a meeting house anyway?

The Old South congregation was founded in 1669 as the Third (Puritan) Church of Boston. The congregation descended from the Puritans who founded Massachusetts Bay Colony in the early 17th century.