image of barnstable county courthouse

Barnstable County Recognizes September 27th as Barnstable County Independence Day

Tales of Cape Cod, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and disseminating Cape Cod’s history initially proposed recognition of Barnstable County Independence Day. They estimate that as many as 1,500 ordinary citizens from across Cape Cod gathered in front of Barnstable’s Olde Colonial Courthouse on September 27, 1774 – nearly two years earlier than when America declared independence from Great Britain – to protest the Intolerable Acts decreed by the British to punish Colonists for the Boston Tea Party. Until then the Province of Massachusetts enjoyed nearly complete local autonomy under its 1691 royal charter. The Intolerable Acts changed this by taking away the colonists’ rights to elect their government officials, choose jurors locally and hold town meetings.

Counties across Massachusetts moved to shut down their courthouses before the new Crown-controlled courts could sit for the fall session in 1774. In Barnstable County, protesters demanded that the County cease from all government business until “the mind of the continental, or of a provincial, Congress shall be obtained” and ended with County officials signing a document that conceded to the cancellation of the court’s fall session.

By the end of that week in September, Cape Cod was in every respect rid of British control, and by the end of that year, British control had ended in all of Massachusetts except Boston. In response, the next April, British dispatched troops to Concord to secure munitions stored there — and with the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the Revolutionary War began.

Barnstable County Independence Day is Official
The first Barnstable County Independence Day will be celebrated on September 27, 2018, when the Barnstable County Commissioners will convene for their regular weekly meeting (read full AGENDA), open to the public, at the Olde Colonial Courthouse, 3046 Main St., at 4:00 PM. A reconstructed document listing the 13 original signatories will be signed by the three County Commissioners, with plans to later circulate the scroll to every town on Cape Cod to add official signatures.  A reception will immediately follow and is also open to the public.

Renowned American Revolution Scholar to Speak
Historian Ray Raphael, who has written extensively on Massachusetts’ Revolution of 1774, will discuss the circumstances and significance of Barnstable’s September 27th protest. Raphael has written that “By designating September 27th as Cape Cod Independence Day, marking the anniversary of the consequential court closure in 1774, Barnstable County would elevate Cape Cod to its rightful place as one of the key birthplaces of the American Revolution.”

Yarmouth Minutemen to Reenact Negotiations Between County Officials and Barnstable County Citizens from September 27, 1774
Yarmouth Minutemen will perform a reenactment of the negotiations between County officials and Barnstable County citizens resulting in Judge James Otis signing a declaration that he would not enforce the “Intolerable Acts,” measures to punish colonialists for the Boston Tea Party. The reenactment will take place at the regular County Commissioners’ meeting at 4:00 PM. The County Commissioners will then sign a reconstructed document that had been destroyed by fire in the early 1800’s, symbolically reaffirming this act of protest taken by ordinary citizens of Barnstable County on September 27, 1774.

Ceremonial Ringing of the Bell Will Take Place at the First Church UCC in Sandwich
In conjunction with the celebration of Barnstable County Independence Day, a ceremonial ringing of the original bell rung at the courthouse on September 27, 1774, will take place at the First Church UCC located at 136 Main Street, Sandwich. This bell ringing ceremony will occur to coincide with the opening of the Barnstable County Commissioner’s meeting which will take place in Barnstable Village.
According to the Sandwich representative to the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates Jim Killion, this will be an opportunity for the community to see an essential piece of not just Barnstable County history but American history as well. “The public is invited to this unique and historic event. It is very likely that this is the first time that this storied bell has been rung to celebrate independence since it was rung on that day in 1774. I am truly honored to participate in recognition of such a significant historical event.”
The event is scheduled to begin at 4:00 PM on September 27, 2018. The bell which is currently on display in the church lobby will be moved inside for the bell ringing ceremony.

Barnstable County Commissioner Leo Cakounes says, “Commemorating September 27th as Barnstable County Independence Day is important because it raises awareness of the role our region played leading up to American Independence. It is yet another reason to be proud of where we live.”
The County Commissioners expressly invite descendants of the 13 original signatories to this event. Original signatories are James Otis, Thomas Smith, Joseph Otis, Nymphas Marston, Shearjashub Bourne, David Thacher, Daniel Davis, Melatiah Bourne, Edward Bacon, Isaac Hinkley, Solo Otis, Kenelm Winslow, and Richard Bourne.

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