We all know that there was a battle at Lexington and a second one at Concord. But why was Concord still so important in 1861?
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The Revolutionary War commenced when British soldiers marched out of Boston, intending to seize the powder and ball stored at Concord, Massachusetts. By the end of that day the first battles had been fought, and the Americans had proven that they could face the British in the field. Seventy-five years later, in 1861, Concord was a village of several thousand people, but it was also the home of many of the leading poets, novelists, and philosophers of the period.
Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Amos Bronson Alcott all lived there, as did at least a score of lesser-known literary figures. The quality of lectures and discussions in Concord was unsurpassed anywhere in the nation, and many people looked on the “Concord sages” as the cornerstone of the nation’s morals. The leaders did not always enjoy this role—Thoreau, for one, much preferred his freedom to any fame—but they saw that they held a great responsibility, and, for the most part, lived up to it. Very likely, the Revolutionary War background served as inspiration to the intellectual leaders of this later generation.