History of Concord
Concord, originally known as "Musketaquid", Algonquian for "grassy plain" is where Native Americans grew crops and fished at the confluence of the Sudbury and Assabet rivers. In 1635, a group of British settlers led by Rev. Peter Bulkley and Major Simon Willard purchased the land from the remnant of Native Americans who survived the devastation of smallpox brought by Europeans. The new residents named the town Concord because they acquired the land peacefully.
On April 19, 1775, colonists pre-warned by Paul Revere, began the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the initial conflict in the American Revolutionary War. The British, routed at the Old North Bridge, retreated. The battle is recorded in works like the "Concord Hymn and "Paul Revere's Ride". That event began the battle for what would become our free and democratic society.
Concord's rich literary history includes transcendental proponent, philosopher, lecturer, and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson who moved to town in 1834. Emerson became the central figure in a group who strongly believed in individualism and self-reliance apart from government and religion. That group included author Nathaniel Hawthorne, philosopher Bronson Alcott and his daughter, author Louisa May Alcott.
Another member, Henry David Thoreau, lived in a small cabin near Walden Pond while writing Walden in 1854. As a protest against slavery and the Mexican-American War Thoreau, a native-born Concordian refused to pay his taxes. As a result, he served jail time and wrote the essay commonly known as "Civil Disobedience". Thoreau and his friends put action behind their beliefs and served as station masters and agents on the Underground Railroad. Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne and the Alcott's are buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord in the area known as Authors Ridge.
Within the community of Concord's 17,000 people, there are 27 listings on the National Listings of Historic Places. The original Concord grapevine still grows at the historic home of Ephraim Bull where he developed it in 1849. Today, Concord is a vibrant residential community with thriving commercial centers, farms and residential homes. However, the residents are dedicated to the preservation of historic sites and points of interest as well as the environmental integrity of those sites.
For those who find themselves drawn to the brilliant literary masters who called Concord home in the mid-nineteenth century, a short drive to Lexington Road will bring you to the well-preserved "Concord School of Philosophy". With a vision shared by Bronson Alcott and other Transcendentalists, the door to the school officially opened in the summer of 1879. During that period, lectures and readings on philosophical topics were given until Mr. Alcott's passing in 1888. In spite of the uncertainty of the school's ability to succeed from some, it went on to become one of the most prolific adult education centers in the United States. Today, the building carries on the tradition by presenting poetry readings, historical reenactments, youth programs, as well as other special events.