Revolution 250 Podcast

Revolutionary Spaces, Public History and Graphic Storytelling with Matthew Wilding

November 14, 2023 Matthew Wilding Season 4 Episode 44
Revolution 250 Podcast
Revolutionary Spaces, Public History and Graphic Storytelling with Matthew Wilding
Show Notes Transcript

Matthew Wilding is the Director of Education & Interpretation at Revolutionary Spaces, the caretaker for two of Boston's most historic buildings, the Old State House and Old South Meeting House.  We talk about their new interpretive ventures--plays, immersive games,  walking tours, and exhibits, and about public history in Boston.  Matt Wilding discusses new ways to interpret history, including immersive games and comics, such as the "Free Hands" series he has created based on the Golden Age of Piracy.   

 00:01.271 --> 00:01.951
 Hello, everyone.
 00:02.052 --> 00:04.373
 Welcome to the Revolution 250 podcast.
 00:04.433 --> 00:05.294
 I'm Bob Allison.
 00:05.354 --> 00:07.275
 I chair the Revolution 250 advisory group.
 00:07.775 --> 00:15.540
 We are a collaboration among 70 or so organizations in Massachusetts looking at ways to commemorate the beginnings of American independence.
 00:15.700 --> 00:27.228
 And our guest today is a 20-year veteran of the world of Boston tourism and public history, Matthew Wilding, who is the Director of Education and Interpretation at Revolutionary Spaces.
 00:27.628 --> 00:28.389
 Great to see you, Matt.
 00:29.169 --> 00:30.170
 Thanks so much for having me, Bob.
 00:31.820 --> 00:36.824
 So, Revolutionary Spaces has a lot of interesting programs you're doing, commemorating things.
 00:36.844 --> 00:42.087
 You have this new exhibit, Impassioned Destruction on Politics, Vandalism, and the Boston Tea Party.
 00:42.107 --> 00:43.088
 Maybe we can start with that.
 00:43.828 --> 00:45.049
 Yeah, I would love to start with that.
 00:45.109 --> 00:49.091
 So, our new exhibit, as you just mentioned, is called Impassioned Destruction.
 00:49.892 --> 00:54.655
 We decided to take kind of a new spin on telling the Boston Tea Party story.
 00:55.596 --> 00:58.718
 There are, you know, there are and have been dozens of
 00:59.638 --> 01:02.763
 exhibits and interpretations of the Boston Tea Party throughout the city.
 01:03.904 --> 01:14.157
 And they usually are about the rebellion over the Tea Act and how it leads to the American Revolution, which is an important story to tell.
 01:14.978 --> 01:25.826
 We decided to talk about it through kind of a more modern framing about the act of vandalism and particularly the act of property destruction as a way of protesting things.
 01:26.446 --> 01:30.569
 So we tell the story of the Boston Tea Party as it unfolds in its immediate aftermath.
 01:31.429 --> 01:37.794
 For some listeners who may not know, it was not super well received in the immediate aftermath, people like.
 01:38.588 --> 01:42.551
 Ben Franklin and George Washington are publicly denouncing it.
 01:43.471 --> 01:47.394
 And it remains something of an embarrassment for a number of years until really the 1830s.
 01:47.434 --> 01:50.496
 It's kind of rebranded as the Boston Tea Party.
 01:50.516 --> 01:53.318
 Yeah, it was called the Destruction of the Tea before that.
 01:53.338 --> 01:54.859
 It wasn't this happy event.
 01:55.179 --> 01:56.500
 We all agree it was a great thing.
 01:56.520 --> 01:56.720
 01:57.560 --> 02:00.523
 Right, and yeah, then you just kind of hit the main point, right?
 02:01.023 --> 02:08.149
 Is our decision to agree that it was a great thing comes 40, 50 years, 60 years after the fact.
 02:09.130 --> 02:13.594
 And with that framing in mind, we decided to explore with the other half of the exhibit,
 02:13.994 --> 02:24.003
 some other instances of property destruction in the name of protest, some of which are not well received or well remembered, and some of which are just kind of completely forgotten.
 02:24.664 --> 02:36.194
 So we have instances like the Stamp Act riot of 1765 here in Boston, the Ursuline Convent fire, which is when a group of men in the 1830s raided the Ursuline Convent.
 02:36.274 --> 02:37.555
 Charlestown and burned it down.
 02:38.596 --> 02:41.038
 The Weather Underground's bombing of Gulf Tower in 1974.
 02:41.338 --> 02:48.905
 The Reading Railroad strike in the late 19th century in Reading, Pennsylvania.
 02:49.365 --> 02:54.790
 And of course, we end it with January 6th, which really in a lot of ways was the kind of
 02:55.550 --> 02:56.571
 seed of the exhibit.
 02:56.631 --> 03:03.655
 And you and I actually talked about it when I was working on this exhibit, because I wasn't totally sure how to frame it.
 03:03.695 --> 03:06.377
 And I got to say, you were instrumental in my choices.
 03:08.658 --> 03:11.059
 Well, yeah, because I think it's important.
 03:11.099 --> 03:13.541
 And you're not saying, boy, the Tea Party was a good idea.
 03:13.561 --> 03:14.942
 All of these things were good ideas.
 03:14.962 --> 03:17.103
 You're just looking at this as a means of protest.
 03:18.334 --> 03:19.815
 Absolutely, yeah.
 03:19.935 --> 03:22.996
 We actively did not take a side on any of it.
 03:23.836 --> 03:27.038
 And we tried to be as politically broad as we could.
 03:27.058 --> 03:35.041
 The Weather Underground is arguably the most successful radical leftist organization in American history.
 03:35.861 --> 03:40.003
 Of course, the January 6th incident leans conservative or right wing.
 03:41.063 --> 03:46.247
 The Ursuline Convent fire is at its core a nativist and anti-Catholic action.
 03:47.047 --> 03:49.008
 The Reading Railroad strike is a labor action.
 03:49.669 --> 03:53.371
 And the Stamp Act, very similarly to the Tea Act, is a protest on taxes.
 03:53.451 --> 03:55.173
 So we took a broad brush.
 03:55.833 --> 03:58.875
 And to your point, we really didn't want to say, this is good.
 03:59.215 --> 04:03.298
 What we wanted to say is, maybe you should consider whether or not you think the Tea Party is good.
 04:04.345 --> 04:21.023
 Yeah, it does seem like early on in the summer of 1773, when Jonathan Clark comes back, there's an attack on the Clark house, which looks very much like the Stamp Act riots, where they demolished Hutchinson's house, Oliver's warehouse, and so on.
 04:21.584 --> 04:24.207
 And it almost seems like after that, they're tearing...
 04:25.200 --> 04:29.503
 the shingles off the house, someone fires a gun from inside the house and that disperses them up.
 04:29.903 --> 04:41.592
 It seems like after that, the proponents of it decide to take a step back and not do that kind of destruction of property that they had done before to turn these guys into martyrs.
 04:41.652 --> 04:47.616
 That is not taking that step, even though, as you said afterwards, Franklin Washington say, hey, this was really a bad idea.
 04:48.717 --> 04:49.657
 Yeah, no, absolutely.
 04:49.977 --> 04:51.479
 The question as to whether or not
 04:52.563 --> 05:03.995
 protest in the form of any kind of violence, whether it be against property or against human beings, is a really intensely contested one throughout American history, right from the beginning.
 05:04.535 --> 05:11.643
 And, you know, we have another exhibit that opened a few months prior that has a more traditional and socially acceptable form of protest.
 05:12.143 --> 05:13.364
 It's a history of petitions.
 05:14.005 --> 05:15.467
 Right, yeah, the humble petitioner, yeah.
 05:16.109 --> 05:16.369
 05:16.769 --> 05:22.173
 And the humble petitioner is kind of another option of like, well, these people didn't have the right to vote.
 05:22.273 --> 05:28.397
 It's Black folks, women, non-property-owning men, and Indigenous people.
 05:29.017 --> 05:32.319
 And so they used this tool that was legally at their disposal.
 05:33.340 --> 05:44.266
 But the question of what do I do when my voice is not heard broadens itself pretty dramatically if you use all of the tools that you have at your disposal that are legal.
 05:44.326 --> 05:44.967
 Certainly there are
 05:45.707 --> 05:53.838
 dozens of examples of petitions and letters and requests to Parliament to stop what is being perceived as unjust here in the colonies.
 05:54.799 --> 05:55.019
 05:55.279 --> 05:55.460
 05:56.060 --> 05:57.703
 And it comes up in the Declaration.
 05:57.723 --> 06:01.748
 We also, I think, discussed the tearing down of a baseball stadium.
 06:01.888 --> 06:03.890
 That is the ritual destruction.
 06:03.930 --> 06:04.171
 06:05.154 --> 06:05.414
 06:05.454 --> 06:16.187
 In Pennsylvania, there's a, there's a destruction of a park, um, after I believe it's after the athletics leave Philadelphia, but it may, it may be, it may be the Phillies moving to a new stadium.
 06:16.547 --> 06:20.112
 We looked into it a little bit and we just couldn't, we couldn't find enough, uh,
 06:20.808 --> 06:24.871
 like clear evidence of it being kind of planned.
 06:24.952 --> 06:30.496
 But yeah, it appears that, you know, people showed up at the stadium with tools and dismantled it in protest.
 06:30.516 --> 06:33.018
 06:33.098 --> 06:34.980
 I know I first heard about this.
 06:35.040 --> 06:43.007
 There was a presentation at the Mass Historical Society on this ritual house destruction in the 1760s, very learned paper.
 06:43.507 --> 06:47.130
 And at the end of it, Mary Maples Dunn, who was a very distinguished scholar,
 06:52.564 --> 06:53.371
 80s were there.
 06:53.876 --> 06:53.997
 06:54.537 --> 06:59.821
 I remember Mary Maple Stunt said, well, Richard and I participated in something very much like this.
 07:00.201 --> 07:01.942
 And they had gone to that game.
 07:02.082 --> 07:06.725
 And then she said by the eighth and ninth inning, people were bringing out screwdrivers and things.
 07:06.785 --> 07:08.647
 And so her husband did not come.
 07:08.947 --> 07:11.188
 They were graduate students at the time, I guess at Penn.
 07:11.709 --> 07:12.249
 He did not come.
 07:12.409 --> 07:15.952
 Someone loaned him a screwdriver so he could get one of these chairs out.
 07:16.132 --> 07:17.933
 She said it was his hatred about the owner.
 07:18.393 --> 07:22.916
 And so this dismantling of the stadium, she saw in this tradition of the –
 07:23.817 --> 07:25.100
 protests of the 1760s.
 07:25.220 --> 07:33.354
 I guess you couldn't car and feather whoever the owner of the A's was, but you could do something else.
 07:34.232 --> 07:43.077
 Yeah, you know, and I think you just hit on the kind of opposite point I'd made earlier about, you know, there's this long history of controversy about property destruction.
 07:43.478 --> 07:45.159
 But there's also, it's truly a tradition.
 07:45.359 --> 07:50.842
 And, you know, it goes beyond something as simple as a specific political worldview.
 07:51.262 --> 07:56.285
 And in many cases, like in this instance in the baseball park, it even kind of jumps past politics.
 07:56.365 --> 07:58.267
 It's just a social action.
 07:59.227 --> 08:00.208
 Yeah, yeah.
 08:00.228 --> 08:02.669
 A lot of politics is a social action.
 08:02.729 --> 08:03.930
 It was at one time.
 08:09.807 --> 08:15.011
 It's a communal activity and you're building a base and doing these other things.
 08:16.453 --> 08:23.799
 So I know Revolutionary Spaces, you've managed two sites, the old South Meeting House and the old State House in Boston.
 08:23.879 --> 08:31.145
 And you've also launched a number of new tours of the surrounding area to kind of give a new perspective on what's happening outside.
 08:32.250 --> 08:35.872
 Yeah, so our tour season is done for the year, but we'll be back in the spring.
 08:36.532 --> 08:43.795
 We have two tours currently running that I think are really exciting kind of re-evaluations of downtown Boston.
 08:44.636 --> 08:47.277
 The first one we launched is called Massacre in Memory.
 08:48.017 --> 09:00.783
 And we really lean into the subject of one of our previous exhibits, which is still available online, Reflecting Addicts, that Christmas Addicts is one of the five victims of the Boston Massacre.
 09:01.818 --> 09:07.705
 Also, of course, the first Black and Indigenous man to die in the American Revolutionary, what becomes the American Revolutionary Movement.
 09:09.387 --> 09:20.320
 And that framing becomes an important narrative in the abolitionist movement in the 19th century, particularly as it's led by William Cooper Nell here in Boston.
 09:20.980 --> 09:29.067
 And as it turns out, the geography immediately surrounding our building lends itself to telling both of those stories kind of simultaneously.
 09:29.087 --> 09:36.592
 Um, you know, the massacre happens outside the old state house, the orations and commemorations of the Boston massacre happened inside the old South meeting house.
 09:36.953 --> 09:47.661
 The, um, the revival of those orations, uh, by William Cooper now in the 19th century, uh, happens in Faneuil hall, uh, the sold both the soldiers and, um,
 09:48.501 --> 09:55.263
 people who are being prosecuted under the Fugitive Slave Act are held in the same jail that used to be on the other side of Old State House.
 09:55.523 --> 09:59.144
 They were tried in the same court right next to the Old State House.
 09:59.164 --> 09:59.784
 It's incredible.
 10:00.304 --> 10:09.027
 So getting to explore this downtown and not the Freedom Trail packaging, but through a clearer narrative that's hooked onto one thing was really fun.
 10:10.027 --> 10:19.310
 Um, the other, uh, the other, the other tour, uh, Boston Reconsidered, uh, explores the historical narrative of Boston past the revolution.
 10:19.990 --> 10:29.232
 Uh, we get to talk about, you know, the, the, both the abolitionist movement, gay, uh, the gay rights movement, um, anarchist movements, all kinds of movements that all have roots in Boston.
 10:29.392 --> 10:30.473
 So they're great tours.
 10:30.553 --> 10:31.253
 I recommend them both.
 10:32.173 --> 10:32.313
 10:32.333 --> 10:34.054
 It's a really such a great location.
 10:34.114 --> 10:35.774
 One of the great things about Boston is you can
 10:37.318 --> 10:38.519
 these layers of history around.
 10:39.739 --> 10:46.762
 Yeah, I mean, and really at a level that I think is not true in any other city in America.
 10:46.782 --> 11:02.450
 I mean, Philadelphia makes a reasonable claim to it, but the sheer volume of historical impact that happens within a square mile in downtown Boston with architecture that in many cases still exists is just incredible.
 11:03.791 --> 11:09.815
 And even for some of the architecture that doesn't exist, you get to talk about why it doesn't exist anymore.
 11:09.955 --> 11:12.157
 And that in itself is fascinating.
 11:12.177 --> 11:18.882
 I mean, that there used to be a Hutchinson Street over in your post office square, and then there wasn't anymore.
 11:18.922 --> 11:19.923
 And why is that?
 11:20.363 --> 11:21.824
 It's just as interesting a story.
 11:22.165 --> 11:28.610
 That's actually been one of, for me, the most exciting parts about coming to Revolutionary Spaces and doing the work here is that
 11:29.250 --> 11:31.692
 For a long time, I came from the Freedom Trail Foundation.
 11:32.533 --> 11:39.560
 As you know, I was a tour guide there, and then I was content director, and then I worked at the Kennedy Institute in Dorchester, among other places.
 11:40.400 --> 11:50.369
 But when I came back to Rev Spaces, the interest among the general historical tourism public changed pretty dramatically.
 11:51.531 --> 11:55.094
 And a lot of visitors wanted to talk about things that weren't here anymore.
 11:55.114 --> 12:02.861
 And the great hook for a walking tour historically is have something to point at, right?
 12:02.881 --> 12:05.263
 Whether it's a plaque or a building, have something to point at.
 12:06.090 --> 12:19.920
 But the new framing of having something that's missing to point at and then talking about why it's not there anymore, that's been a really fun and kind of refreshing way to talk about things.
 12:19.940 --> 12:26.304
 And I think Hutchinson Street is such a great example of that, is when people bring their hands about tearing down monuments.
 12:26.424 --> 12:32.048
 And I was just at a family event where family members were talking about tearing down monuments.
 12:32.088 --> 12:33.069
 And I was like, you know what?
 12:33.769 --> 12:37.992
 We've been tearing down monuments since the beginning.
 12:38.052 --> 12:43.515
 I mean, we tore down all memory of Thomas Hutchinson in public eye after the American Revolution.
 12:43.535 --> 12:45.916
 There was a town named after him that's now called Barrie.
 12:46.616 --> 12:50.178
 That's right, named for Isaac Barrie, who comes up with the name Sons of Liberty.
 12:51.779 --> 12:52.000
 12:52.240 --> 12:58.123
 Meanwhile, we erased the native political figure who we named the town after 11 years prior.
 13:00.080 --> 13:00.461
 That's right.
 13:00.601 --> 13:01.081
 That's right.
 13:01.141 --> 13:01.302
 13:01.742 --> 13:02.984
 The son of Massachusetts.
 13:03.024 --> 13:05.307
 Sometimes you see in a book, he was a British governor.
 13:05.347 --> 13:06.188
 He was from here.
 13:06.328 --> 13:07.991
 His family had been here since the 1630s.
 13:08.031 --> 13:12.276
 There's a statue of his great great grandmother in front of the state house.
 13:14.099 --> 13:17.924
 So we're talking with Matt Wilding, who is the director of education and interpretation
 13:19.414 --> 13:23.898
 a long veteran of Boston's world of tourism public history.
 13:23.918 --> 13:31.964
 Now, you mentioned being on the Freedom Trail, and there you portrayed one of these great characters who also was erased at one time, Ebenezer McIntosh.
 13:32.625 --> 13:40.170
 Yeah, yeah, I got to play Ebenezer McIntosh for a long time on the Freedom Trail, one of my favorite historical figures.
 13:41.572 --> 13:54.122
 For those who don't know, McIntosh was the leader of the South End gang who led riots on what we called Pope Day, November 5th, for all you B for Vendetta fans.
 13:55.844 --> 13:57.225
 There's still B for Vendetta fans, right?
 13:57.265 --> 13:57.905
 That's still a thing.
 13:59.347 --> 14:05.152
 But McIntosh led these gangs that built these effigies that had the Pope and political figures on them.
 14:05.752 --> 14:10.918
 And then they essentially fought members of the North End for victory.
 14:11.659 --> 14:13.902
 And those two gangs- These guys are all the same, too, right?
 14:13.922 --> 14:18.687
 It's all these demographically, politically- Yeah, they're mostly working class kids, yeah.
 14:19.128 --> 14:19.368
 14:19.768 --> 14:22.531
 And they're fighting each other to prove, really to prove which neighborhood's better.
 14:23.352 --> 14:33.656
 And my understanding of those fights, which I'm sure you have some thoughts on too, but my understanding is that it's essentially sanctioned by the town so that they won't do it all the time, right?
 14:33.716 --> 14:40.038
 It's like, there's no police here, so they just need to let them let off steam and they give them a day a year.
 14:40.058 --> 14:41.779
 Once a year they do this, yeah.
 14:43.699 --> 14:52.861
 But then the redeployment of those gangs and particularly of Macintosh, then the records of this are all so shoddy because it's all secret society stuff, right?
 14:52.901 --> 14:55.461
 It's all Sons of Liberty information.
 14:55.501 --> 15:04.303
 But what it appears to have happened is that somebody figures out a way to get these two gangs who have been fighting each other for years to march together.
 15:05.063 --> 15:08.064
 And they march behind Ebenezer Macintosh.
 15:08.944 --> 15:18.772
 And, and ultimately they, you know, they lead the stand back riots in August of 1765, but they continue marching together, you know, well into the 17, the late 1760s.
 15:18.892 --> 15:31.863
 It's, it's a really miraculous series of events where someone, you know, probably Samuel Adams, but someone figures out a way to get to broker a peace between these two gangs for political means.
 15:32.283 --> 15:37.387
 And they already essentially have military experience because they've been fighting each other for three years.
 15:37.407 --> 15:37.708
 15:38.288 --> 15:38.528
 15:38.928 --> 15:40.369
 I mean, they're not in the Corps of Cadets.
 15:40.389 --> 15:42.891
 These are guys out in the street brawling with each other.
 15:43.491 --> 15:44.472
 15:44.552 --> 15:46.193
 And they know the neighborhoods.
 15:46.233 --> 15:47.153
 They know their neighbors.
 15:47.173 --> 15:52.096
 There's this great story about McIntosh when he's arrested after the Stamp Act riots.
 15:52.877 --> 15:54.118
 He's held in the local jail.
 15:54.678 --> 16:01.722
 And I believe it's Sheriff Greenleaf tells protesters who show up to disperse or he'll call out the militia.
 16:02.222 --> 16:03.984
 And the people essentially say, we are the militia.
 16:04.024 --> 16:04.224
 16:07.659 --> 16:10.380
 Yeah, it really is a shift of power.
 16:10.400 --> 16:16.263
 I mean, the Greenleaf always has trouble then enforcing the law because the law is shifting.
 16:17.344 --> 16:28.109
 Yeah, and it really does highlight the viscousness of power, right?
 16:28.229 --> 16:34.873
 The ability of someone like a sheriff to enforce the law has to do with whether or not he has anybody willing to enforce it
 16:35.753 --> 16:40.195
 at a level that can beat the public outcry against it.
 16:40.455 --> 16:41.835
 And I guess we still see that, right?
 16:41.875 --> 16:55.240
 I mean, again, with January 6th, the willingness of the government to suppress what is perceived at the moment as a semi-popular protest, it was on full display.
 16:55.280 --> 17:00.501
 It was really hard to figure out whether or not police should be deployed to stop it.
 17:03.583 --> 17:03.763
 17:04.263 --> 17:12.747
 Now McIntosh, within a week, it seems, of the destruction of the T, he is exiled, or he goes off to exile in New Hampshire.
 17:13.808 --> 17:14.448
 17:14.808 --> 17:15.269
 17:15.949 --> 17:21.472
 It's hard to say whether or not he was forced to leave, or if he was just sort of priced out of the market.
 17:21.852 --> 17:23.673
 He ends up floating around all over the place.
 17:23.733 --> 17:26.394
 I believe he ends up walking to Ohio at one point, too.
 17:26.454 --> 17:27.775
 At one time, yeah.
 17:27.835 --> 17:29.596
 He has a son out in Ohio.
 17:29.636 --> 17:30.597
 He walks out there.
 17:30.657 --> 17:30.917
 This is
 17:31.457 --> 17:37.101
 when he's in his 60s, just taking that long walk out to Ohio and back.
 17:37.361 --> 17:43.665
 Yeah, there's actually a plaque to the colony in Ohio right across the street from the State House on State Street.
 17:44.845 --> 17:47.327
 These people just essentially can't afford to live here anymore.
 17:48.388 --> 17:51.529
 It's another problem we can all identify with, right?
 17:51.570 --> 17:52.930
 Can't afford to live in Boston anymore.
 17:52.950 --> 17:54.451
 So they moved to Ohio.
 17:54.491 --> 17:56.873
 Because he's one of the guys who is on the list to the
 18:03.302 --> 18:29.302
 Monroe and Macintosh the ones that the order comes maybe these guys should be arrested and uh he's spirit and it's unclear again as he said these are murky records these are secret societies we don't have anyone saying what's going to happen but here is Ebenezer Macintosh's uh is it you know the Patriot side or the loyalist side that tells him you know that it would be better if he didn't come back or is it just as he could be priced out because he's a poor guy
 18:30.393 --> 18:40.116
 Right, well, yeah, I mean, certainly it's not safe for him to live here during the occupation, but it appears that he leaves before the second occupation of Boston.
 18:41.376 --> 18:48.819
 And yeah, he also doesn't seem particularly welcome by the 1770s by people like John Hancock and Samuel Adams.
 18:49.499 --> 18:57.562
 He'll go on to brag and suggest that he was deeply involved in things like the Boston Tea Party, even though he very clearly is not here anymore by 1773.
 18:59.864 --> 19:00.464
 Yeah, yeah.
 19:00.945 --> 19:02.386
 So, interesting character.
 19:02.406 --> 19:08.830
 I think the Tea Party Fips Museum says they just marked his grave up in, I think, Haverhill, New Hampshire, where he's buried.
 19:08.850 --> 19:10.331
 But it's the wrong name on the grave.
 19:10.351 --> 19:11.652
 It says Philip McIntosh.
 19:13.893 --> 19:15.555
 Is there another grave?
 19:16.275 --> 19:22.139
 I may be wrong about this, but I think there may also be another grave in Vermont that some people think is his.
 19:23.280 --> 19:27.282
 Because the Haverhill, Newbury, up on the upper Connecticut were kind of twin towns.
 19:34.085 --> 19:53.645
 yeah i was just gonna say i hadn't i haven't looked into the the the most recent scholarship on where everybody died yeah you've been doing other things and you were more interested in ebenezer mcintosh live today
 19:54.963 --> 20:10.351
 Yeah, yeah, as a rioter, a fascinating figure and just one who, you know, in the modern world, thinking about what it would be like to live in a town that is, you know, being, you know, put under siege by an angry mob.
 20:10.391 --> 20:17.354
 I've gotten to really explore a lot of emotions with him as a 20-year-old and then again as a 40-year-old.
 20:18.615 --> 20:22.377
 Now that you're a property owner in Boston, you probably look at this much differently.
 20:23.058 --> 20:25.198
 Right, yeah, I absolutely do.
 20:25.258 --> 20:34.620
 And I'm sure, you know, we haven't mentioned yet, but I was a student of yours years and years ago, and I was always a loud mouth radical in your class.
 20:34.701 --> 20:42.022
 And you always said you'd win me over and I'd calm down as I got older.
 20:42.042 --> 20:42.742
 And you were right.
 20:42.762 --> 20:47.503
 Well, you know, when I was your age, then I was also a loud mouth radical.
 20:47.563 --> 20:49.844
 So I didn't know how things often go.
 20:49.864 --> 20:50.724
 So anyway.
 20:52.213 --> 21:01.730
 You've also, by the way, in addition to doing interpretation and doing these exhibits, you also created a couple of comic series, or I guess they're called graphic novels, so freehand.
 21:01.750 --> 21:02.933
 Oh, I call them comics.
 21:03.554 --> 21:04.155
 Okay, thank you.
 21:05.410 --> 21:05.790
 That's great.
 21:05.830 --> 21:06.971
 It's a crazy rebranding.
 21:07.791 --> 21:08.911
 Comics aren't embarrassing.
 21:09.672 --> 21:25.818
 Yeah, I'm currently writing a pirate series based on the history of piracy in Boston called Freehands, which was really deeply influenced by a class I actually took at Southern University with Stephen O'Neill on piracy.
 21:26.458 --> 21:49.859
 But I just got really interested in the relationship between a pirate named William Fly, who was executed in Boston in the early 18th century, and Cotton Mather, who is a prominent preacher here in Boston and also in Salem, involved in the Salem Witch Trials, seemed to get a taste for executing pirates when he came back to Boston in the early 18th century.
 21:50.519 --> 22:08.439
 And William Fly is this fascinating character at the very end of the golden age of piracy who appears to get on a ship in one of the Carolinas and then oversee a mutiny and take over this ship and break all of the rules, the accepted rules of piracy.
 22:08.459 --> 22:11.522
 You know, pirates at their core
 22:13.083 --> 22:19.729
 in their most idealistic versions, as seen by people like Black Bart Roberts, have these codes, right?
 22:19.769 --> 22:24.693
 There are pirate codes and there's rules because these men are trying to be free in an oppressive world.
 22:25.234 --> 22:27.536
 And one of those rules is you don't impress sailors.
 22:30.758 --> 22:51.981
 uh because the idea is that pirates are free uh one of one of those the other reasons for that though is a practical one uh some sailors particularly ones with specific skills like navigators uh can really put you in a in a bad place if they're not um if they're out there of their own free will and uh fly impresses a navigator who brings him into boston harbor
 22:52.721 --> 22:56.362
 and subsequently his entire crew is executed for piracy.
 22:57.043 --> 23:04.745
 But Fly refuses to repent when he's dragged in front of Mather's congregation.
 23:05.345 --> 23:13.328
 And so this kind of dance between the two of them goes on for months where Fly refuses to repent so his soul isn't saved and so he can't be executed.
 23:14.308 --> 23:33.680
 And then finally, there's this really kind of public, really high public event execution where Fly is finally executed and makes this really fun and brilliant pirate speech where he says that his only regret is that he doesn't have more time to kill more Captain Greens.
 23:33.760 --> 23:35.401
 Captain Green is his captain.
 23:35.922 --> 23:37.463
 And more Cotton Mathers.
 23:38.143 --> 23:39.404
 And then he gets hanged.
 23:40.285 --> 23:44.990
 And my understanding is it's the last time that Cotton Mather oversees a pirate execution.
 23:45.350 --> 23:53.319
 But that story just lends itself to kind of an almost usual suspect-y crime mystery.
 23:53.780 --> 23:56.603
 And so I've created a crime mystery to tell that story.
 23:57.967 --> 23:58.327
 That's great.
 23:58.447 --> 23:59.688
 And how many issues are there?
 24:00.648 --> 24:09.493
 Currently, the second one is actually on its way out this month, and then the next one will be crowdfunded probably in January or February.
 24:10.213 --> 24:15.276
 But you can check out stuff, updates for that at, which is the publisher.
 24:16.156 --> 24:17.877
 Okay, very good,
 24:18.477 --> 24:32.545
 and you uh now do you do the illustrations or do you have no i'm useless in that regard i'm purely a writer uh the art is done by a gentleman named matt roe who is a actually a canadian uh illustrator who i've been working with for a number of years he and i did
 24:33.420 --> 24:46.785
 a book called Nightmare Man a long time ago, which was based on a kind of urban legend about a guy who tried to abduct children when I was a kid in the 90s.
 24:47.486 --> 24:50.247
 And we also did a short story called Little Things
 24:51.187 --> 24:57.809
 which was about another urban legend about a man who was released from an insane asylum in the Massachusetts suburbs in the 1990s.
 24:59.270 --> 25:05.852
 Because Massachusetts in the 1990s is full of great spooky myths about people coming for your children.
 25:07.242 --> 25:07.742
 It is, yeah.
 25:08.062 --> 25:13.165
 And I think, you know, you're also then dealing with a lot of these myths of the time of the revolution, the age of piracy.
 25:13.225 --> 25:15.566
 I mean, there's these great stories we have.
 25:16.567 --> 25:25.031
 So is it a temptation for you as a historical interpreter to embellish or to share the urban legend and say, well, this is what people used to think?
 25:25.051 --> 25:25.371
 25:28.007 --> 25:30.249
 No, I think there's always the temptation, right?
 25:31.530 --> 25:37.875
 I think that's really the difference between the work I did as a tour guide and the work I do now in a museum.
 25:38.795 --> 25:42.238
 Tour guides, in a lot of ways, it's a show, right?
 25:42.398 --> 25:46.641
 You're selling an experience for people who are mostly on vacation.
 25:46.661 --> 25:48.783
 If you've got a school group, it's kind of a different thing.
 25:48.843 --> 25:56.489
 But people are looking to have fun, and so you can throw some qualifiers in and embellish some stories.
 25:57.109 --> 26:24.818
 uh certainly you know the story of cotton mather and william fly has been embellished by many many people uh over the years uh when i'm in when i'm doing museum work i try to you know stick to sources and and not not try to not not put too much of a spin on things um but balancing between them honestly is why i think i end up gravitating towards um the two different fields and and not be able to stick in one of them because you know sometimes you want to explore and have fun
 26:26.419 --> 26:38.236
 In a lot of ways, honestly, I feel like I learned that from you, that telling a story is important and getting the hooks in people to care about history.
 26:38.717 --> 26:40.839
 The way I started caring about history as a young person,
 26:41.420 --> 27:09.427
 wasn't you know a history class uh it wasn't you know it wasn't that i you know read about reconstruction in the ukraine and was like well i gotta know more about this it was he was reading actually he was reading comic books he was reading uh frank miller's 300 uh which is about the battle of thermopylae and uh reading torso by i believe it was uh brian michael bendis which is about the torso murders in cleveland um you know different historic pieces of historical fiction or historical reinterpretation through graphic art
 27:10.167 --> 27:13.749
 And then playing video games like Age of Empires and Civilization.
 27:14.389 --> 27:23.652
 And the starting point of a hook that has a basis in history is, in my experience, how most people start caring about this stuff.
 27:24.033 --> 27:26.173
 And then if they want to know more, they get into the weeds.
 27:26.253 --> 27:34.257
 But there's nothing wrong with starting with the Killer Angels or John Adams by David McCullough.
 27:34.277 --> 27:34.757
 I'm sorry?
 27:34.777 --> 27:35.317
 27:38.666 --> 27:39.387
 McCullough, yeah.
 27:39.847 --> 27:40.608
 Yes, Dave McCullough.
 27:40.948 --> 27:44.050
 Or, you know, the John Adams miniseries on HBO, which is based on that book.
 27:44.871 --> 27:48.393
 Or, you know, getting obsessed with Oppenheimer after you saw the Oppenheimer movie.
 27:49.234 --> 27:52.577
 Or Assassin's Creed, which goes through this building.
 27:52.597 --> 27:54.718
 You can walk around this building in Assassin's Creed.
 27:55.819 --> 27:55.999
 27:56.379 --> 28:04.946
 You know, there is, I mean, I think that's true that we have these hooks or these things that can get people engaged in the story in a lot of different ways.
 28:05.066 --> 28:06.947
 And then, you know, it's up to them.
 28:06.987 --> 28:07.508
 I mean, I
 28:09.119 --> 28:19.229
 I could give a lecture about the revolution, but actually engaging someone in that level is actually a lot more valuable or a lot more visual.
 28:19.749 --> 28:27.296
 Revolutionary spaces, you actually have the opportunity to be in the place where these debates and discussions happened at Old South Meeting House.
 28:27.336 --> 28:32.721
 I mean, you're in this space, and I know that you've been using these for dramatic presentations of things.
 28:33.602 --> 28:40.063
 Yeah, we actually have a play running right now called Phyllis in Boston, which is getting great reviews, and it's a fantastic show.
 28:40.804 --> 28:43.304
 It's in Old South Meeting House.
 28:43.564 --> 28:51.506
 It's running through December 3rd, and it tells the story of Phyllis Wheatley, who was a member of the Old South Meeting House back in the 18th century.
 28:51.526 --> 28:57.427
 She was an enslaved woman who wrote the first published collection of poetry by a Black woman in America.
 28:58.107 --> 29:09.271
 And as it happens, just a fascinating coincidence, the first edition of her book arrives in Boston on the Dartmouth in November of 1773 alongside the tea.
 29:09.731 --> 29:13.493
 And so she has this actual economic and social interest
 29:14.073 --> 29:16.295
 in this ship that is in the midst of this crisis.
 29:16.315 --> 29:17.195
 So it's a great story.
 29:17.215 --> 29:21.798
 Uh, it's, it's, I think the fourth or fifth play, uh, the organization was done.
 29:21.858 --> 29:32.225
 If you include the Bostonian society days, um, yeah, we did blood in the snow, which, which activated the, um, the, the council chamber at old state house in the aftermath of Boston, Boston massacre.
 29:32.245 --> 29:38.689
 Uh, we utilized, uh, a door that was owned by John Hancock, uh, on his house for Kato and Dolly.
 29:39.309 --> 29:43.632
 Uh, we did the petition, which was about, uh, slavery, anti-slavery petitions, uh,
 29:43.872 --> 29:45.353
 and emancipation petitions.
 29:45.673 --> 29:55.861
 There's been really great, again, great embellishments that tell a story better than just the raw documents sometimes do.
 29:56.181 --> 30:00.004
 I had a teacher once who said about
 30:01.865 --> 30:04.007
 Arabian Nights, and it always stuck with me.
 30:04.387 --> 30:10.652
 I learned more about the Middle East reading Arabian Nights than I did spending two years in the Middle East.
 30:11.453 --> 30:12.954
 And that always stuck with me.
 30:13.535 --> 30:19.039
 It wasn't that it wasn't important to go there, but he probably wouldn't have gone there if it wasn't for reading Arabian Nights.
 30:19.219 --> 30:19.680
 That's true.
 30:20.300 --> 30:20.700
 That's true.
 30:21.081 --> 30:25.965
 Yeah, and so the Phyllis in Boston plays by Ade Solanki, who's a playwright based in London.
 30:26.789 --> 30:50.707
 fantastic playwright yeah and she she did another play called phyllis in london uh that caught our eye and so we we commissioned her for an original play and so the world premiere was a couple of weeks ago right here at old south meeting house i can't emphasize enough that folks should come to that play um it's it's on weekends including on on thanksgiving weekend but it's also on wednesday and thursday nights um it's it's a fantastic play we also have uh
 30:51.427 --> 30:55.271
 two school day school day matinees.
 30:55.291 --> 30:58.694
 The first one I believe is sold out and it's tomorrow, but we have another one on the 28th.
 30:58.714 --> 31:04.019
 So if you have students who want to go, you can contact us to bring your class.
 31:05.240 --> 31:05.420
 31:05.660 --> 31:09.804
 We're talking with Matt Wilding, who is the director of education and interpretation.
 31:17.261 --> 31:21.162
 historian of Boston and the revolution and other things.
 31:21.843 --> 31:41.170
 And I mean, you have had an interesting career where you've worked at, you know, you've done consulting work for the Ronald Reagan library and the Ted Kennedy Institute, you know, Ted Kennedy, of course, Senator from Massachusetts, but you dealt with people from a wide range of, you know, political persuasion, a wide range of points on the political spectrum.
 31:41.590 --> 31:44.971
 I wonder how that, how that informs what you do when you're putting an exhibit together.
 31:45.802 --> 31:47.284
 Yeah, it's a really good question.
 31:48.766 --> 31:51.230
 It's the most fun about this work, actually.
 31:51.931 --> 31:59.602
 It was really strange having worked at the Ted Kennedy Institute for four and a half years and then getting picked up by the Reagan.
 32:01.284 --> 32:04.987
 There actually is less difference than I think most people would think.
 32:05.888 --> 32:14.916
 Most educators and most museum professionals don't let political agendas get into their work too much.
 32:14.976 --> 32:18.939
 And we still get accused of it, no matter what we do.
 32:19.880 --> 32:27.587
 But I don't think my approach changed dramatically writing programming for the Kennedy than writing programming for the Reagan.
 32:29.488 --> 32:40.774
 So for context, at the Kennedy Institute, I worked on a game called the Senate Immersion Module, which was a two and a half hour immersive experience for up to 100 students to create legislation.
 32:41.594 --> 32:46.837
 We worked with both Democratic and Republican Senate offices to create that program.
 32:47.658 --> 32:51.340
 And then we also did historical theater pieces called Great Senate Debates.
 32:52.561 --> 33:10.944
 At the Reagan, I worked on a revamping of their immersive education program on presidential leadership, the Discovery Center, and we built it on a historical event, the downing of KAL 007, which was a Korean airline that appears to have been shot down by the Soviet Union.
 33:12.777 --> 33:25.349
 And then I got to actually, I got to make another game here at the Revolutionary Spaces at the Old South Meeting House that is also built around the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party.
 33:26.350 --> 33:30.735
 And I think getting to do work at the Kennedy and at the Reagan
 33:31.195 --> 33:59.561
 really primed me to be able to do a game here where we we we made sure to write perspective the differing political perspectives in the 18th century uh and we included a really broad base of people who aren't usually included so uh you know both free and enslaved black folks women but also for me most importantly british subjects in britain uh because the perspective on on the boston tea party by rank and file people in in england is actually a really important
 34:00.882 --> 34:04.004
 that we never talk about in the States.
 34:04.904 --> 34:21.474
 And honestly, I genuinely think that that came from getting to actually sit down with like John McCain's office when I was in my late twenties and have them spell out their point of view on immigration reform or the farm bill.
 34:22.194 --> 34:28.658
 And then working with conservative Republican historians at the Reagan and getting a point of view that I didn't necessarily see.
 34:30.075 --> 34:31.777
 It's a learning process to answer your question.
 34:32.197 --> 34:36.981
 I don't know everything about most of this stuff.
 34:37.021 --> 34:49.651
 And I actually gravitated towards a lot of conservative historians in college, both in undergrad and grad school, despite my more liberal leanings as an individual.
 34:49.751 --> 34:52.333
 Because they give perspective, right?
 34:52.854 --> 34:55.756
 They make us think about things in ways we don't necessarily think about them.
 34:55.796 --> 34:59.539
 And what is good to study history if not to just think about things a little bit differently?
 35:01.066 --> 35:04.088
 I think one of the most valuable lessons we learn is that we don't know everything.
 35:05.609 --> 35:07.250
 I'm still working on admitting that to myself.
 35:10.391 --> 35:11.011
 Well, take it from me.
 35:16.040 --> 35:21.404
 We've been talking with Matt Wilding, who is the Director of Education and Interpretation at Revolutionary Spaces.
 35:21.444 --> 35:26.969
 I know we could go on all day, but I know you actually do have two museums to oversee.
 35:27.390 --> 35:28.470
 I do.
 35:29.692 --> 35:32.054
 Anything else we should talk about that Rev Spaces is doing?
 35:32.771 --> 35:42.496
 Yeah, I just want to mention the kind of grand finale for our year is, of course, the reenactment of the Boston Tea Party and the meeting of the body of the people.
 35:42.936 --> 35:51.120
 The December 16th event has actually sold out, but we're actually doing another one on the 15th, so the Friday beforehand.
 35:51.160 --> 35:53.061
 There's still a handful of tickets left for that.
 35:53.901 --> 35:59.904
 So if people want to come and celebrate and commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party with us,
 36:00.804 --> 36:03.225
 I can't emphasize enough what a good time it is.
 36:03.265 --> 36:05.085
 I know you've gone a couple of times.
 36:05.105 --> 36:07.366
 Yeah, you want to tell us what it is?
 36:07.446 --> 36:13.388
 I mean, so this is an immersive thing where you're participating in this meeting.
 36:14.108 --> 36:23.070
 Yeah, so we have colonial costumed people really ultimately reenacting the meeting that leads to the Boston Tea Party on December 16th, 1773.
 36:25.531 --> 36:31.817
 Last year we revamped the script a little and we added some characters who are not welcome in the meeting.
 36:32.978 --> 36:37.563
 And I think we did it in a way that didn't feel forced.
 36:37.583 --> 36:41.226
 We clarify why it is they're there and how they're not allowed in the meeting.
 36:41.867 --> 36:49.534
 We made Phillis Wheatley kind of the voice of God narrator throughout it because of her connection to both the books and the building.
 36:50.314 --> 37:16.372
 um but yeah we get to you get to you get to really participate in the town meeting that leads to one of the most important historical events in american history and then at the at the end there are opportunities for people to speak out and take on other characters uh who were involved and we had we had a really good time with that last year people got really engaged in it and then we'll march over to the harbor and and watch the folks at the boston tea party ships dump the tea into the sea
 37:17.392 --> 37:18.433
 So that event's incredible.
 37:18.453 --> 37:19.794
 It's been going on for years.
 37:20.634 --> 37:22.556
 One of Boston's great historical traditions.
 37:23.376 --> 37:26.078
 On the 14th, we'll also have a civic event.
 37:26.658 --> 37:29.640
 We're going to be honoring some people for their civic work.
 37:29.700 --> 37:31.841
 Announcements are going to be going out about that this week.
 37:31.902 --> 37:33.503
 But that's going to be great, too.
 37:33.523 --> 37:34.943
 That's going to be freed up in the public.
 37:36.104 --> 37:36.564
 37:36.604 --> 37:36.965
 Very good.
 37:37.525 --> 37:45.250
 We've been talking with Matt Wilding, Director of Education and Interpretation at Revolutionary Spaces, a longtime Boston cultural leader.
 37:45.942 --> 37:48.504
 a veteran of our tourism public history world.
 37:49.084 --> 37:50.325
 It's been great talking to you, Matt.
 37:51.165 --> 37:51.565
 You as well.
 37:51.585 --> 37:53.046
 It was great to see you, Bob.
 37:53.106 --> 37:53.546
 Yes, thanks.
 37:54.147 --> 37:58.329
 And I want to thank Jonathan Lane, our producer, and our many listeners around the world.
 37:58.349 --> 38:01.651
 You know, Matt, when we started this, we thought, you know, a handful of our friends might tune in.
 38:02.483 --> 38:06.385
 But we have listeners, actually, so every week I thank people in different places.
 38:06.405 --> 38:13.649
 If you're one of these places and want some of our Revolution 250 stuff, Jonathan has just made up a new batch of playing cards, other things.
 38:14.509 --> 38:17.371
 Sent him an email, jlane at
 38:17.471 --> 38:21.873
 So this week, Riverside Park, New Jersey, Long Beach, California.
 38:22.629 --> 38:31.842
 Knoxville in Cordova in the state of Tennessee, and two of the W towns here in Massachusetts, Walpole in Weymouth, and Rishon LeZion in Israel.
 38:31.882 --> 38:34.646
 Thanks all for listening in all places beyond and between.
 38:35.106 --> 38:37.710
 And now we will be piped out on the road to Boston.