Evacuation Day

Next Monday, 17 March 2025

Evacuation Day is celebrated every year on March 17 to celebrate the day in 1776 when British Troops evacuated Boston during the American Revolutionary War. 

It is a public holiday in Massachusetts where people get the day off work, and schools and businesses are closed. 

Do not confuse this day with Evacuation Day in New York, which is on November 25, 1783. That is when the last of the British Troops left the United States, marking the end of the Revolutionary War.

Image of Evacuation Day Parade, March 17, 1930
Evacuation Day Parade, March 17, 1930. 
Image Source

History of Evacuation Day

Evacuation Day in Boston was the first big victory of the American Army against British Troops. 

On October 2nd, 1768, the city of Boston was invaded and occupied by 1000 British Soldiers. This occupation lasted for eight years, during which the number of British troops in Boston kept increasing. 

Boston citizens were angry, and tensions between both sides escalated.

The British soldiers were attacked by American citizens on March 5, 1770, with clams and other objects. This prompted the British to fire into the crowd, killing five people and injuring others, in what became known as the Boston Massacre. 

Finally, on March 4, 1776, General John Thomas, led 2,000 soldiers and workers to fortify Dorchester Heights with cannons, surrounding the British troops. The order came directly from George Washington. 

At the same time, Americans were besieging Boston.

British General William Howe found himself and his fleet surrounded by weaponry, indefensible, and had to choose between attacking or retreating.

He decided the latter, wanting to avoid another big battle, and withdrew all of his 11,000 troops from Boston to Nova Scotia, on March 17, 1776. 

People started celebrating Evacuation Day in 1901 as the interest in local history among the natives kept increasing.

This was marked by the construction of the Dorchester Heights Monument. 

It became a public holiday in Suffolk County in 1938, and in 1941 the law was officially signed. 

Traditions and Celebrations

The day is celebrated with an annual parade and a politician's breakfast.

Evacuation Day falls on the same day as St. Patrick's Day.

Since South Boston has a high Irish American population, the parade is known as St. Patrick's and Evacuation Day Parade. 

Some people participate in reenactments of the siege at Dorchester Heights, dressing in traditional American Revolutionary War uniforms. Others choose to pay visits to historical sites. 

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