Soapbox Speakers

New York, Part One: The New York Commons.

Since the early days of the colony, New York Common (Bowling Green Park) had been a gathering place for the people. During the American Revolution (1776 – 1783) ‘The Sons of Liberty’ erected a Liberty Pole on the Common. They gathered beneath the pole to rally supporters for a boycott of British goods. During the British occupation of New York City, the British regularly cut down the Liberty Pole. However, it was promptly re-erected by the ‘Sons of Liberty’.

On evacuation Day (November 25, 1783, the last day of the occupation) British troops nailed a Union Jack to the top of the Liberty Pole and greased the pole. The Jack was removed by the ‘Sons of Liberty’ with considerable difficulty. The scene provoked much mirth from the fleeing British sailors.

During the flour riots of 1837, five thousand poor people protested against the inflated price of flour. The riot was well planned. Starting from the Common, protestors split into groups. One group charged the police while the other group raided the flour mills.

New York Common is now the site of New York City Hall.

Steve Maxwell.


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