Evacuation Day is commemorated every year on March 17 and is a public holiday in Suffolk County, Massachusetts. It celebrates the day in 1176 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.
This day is not to be confused with Evacuation Day in New York, which happened on November 25, 1783, when the last of the British Troops left the United States, marking the end of the Revolutionary War.
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. On March 5, 1770, people attacked British soldiers by throwing them clams and other objects, which prompted the British to fire into the crowd, killing five people and injuring others, in what became known as the Boston Massacre.
It was then on March 4, 1776, that General John Thomas, acting under orders from George Washington, led 2,000 soldiers and workers to fortify Dorchester Heights with cannons, surrounding the British troops. 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 chose 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.
Evacuation Day Holiday
Celebrations for Evacuation Day began taking place in 1901 when interest in local history started building up among the population. 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 commemorated with an annual parade and a politician’s breakfast. As Evacuation Day falls on the same day as St. Patrick’s Day and 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.