Boston Grapples with Faneuil Hall, named for a slaveholder

(Photo credit National Park Service)

By Katharine Q. Seelye, nytimes

The national wave of renamings of statues, monuments and parks that recall the days of slavery is lapping at Faneuil Hall, the historic Georgian brick meetinghouse in downtown Boston that is synonymous with revolutionary fervor and among the country’s most visited tourist attractions.

Since the 1740s, rabble-rousers — rebellious colonists, abolitionists and suffragists among them — have met in the building’s Great Hall. Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass and John F. Kennedy have all spoken from its stage, and political rallies, debates and civic events still take place within its walls, making Faneuil Hall — pronounced “FAN-yul” — a living monument.

But its namesake, Peter Faneuil, one of the richest merchants in 18th century New England, was a slave owner. And he traded not only in sugar, molasses and timber, but in humans.


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