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AT ALL LEADING BOOKSTORES
Corrosion, degradation and decay destroy a lot
of history, but Massachusetts officials can thank
the elements for helping uncover the past.
In a damp ceremony of discovery last Thursday,
snow-flecked excavators in Boston retrieved a time
capsule whose contents are thought to be almost as
old as the nation, and even older. It was tucked into
a cornerstone of the Massachusetts State House in
Founding Fathers Samuel Adams and Paul Revere
took part in the original ceremony, when a cowhide
capsule was placed as the state moved from its old
statehouse to its new one across from the Boston
The contents are thought to include a collection
of coins dating from 1652 to 1855, when the cowhide
capsule was replaced with a metal box. An engraved
silver plate, newspapers, the seal of the Common-
wealth, cards and the title page of the Massachusetts
Colony Records are also believed to be inside.
The copper or tin box was mortared into the cor-
nerstone, which officials recently decided to remove
while trying to prevent water from seeping into the
"It's exciting," Massachusetts secretary of state
Bill Galvin said in an interview.
"The history of Massachusetts is the history of
America, in many respects."
After a day of labour, workers removed the box
from the cornerstone, with the assistance of a con-
servator from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Offi-
cials hope to X-ray it over the weekend and potentially
open it next week.
Oddly enough, this isn't the first time capsule
recovered from a Massachusetts statehouse building
Less than half a mile away stands the Old State
House, the oldest surviving public building in Boston,
built in 1713. A time capsule was recovered there
three months ago. Like the Massachusetts State
House, the Old State House's walls have cradled
crucial moments of early American history.
In 1770, just outside the Old State House's walls,
British troops killed five Colonists in what would
become known as the Boston Massacre.
Not long after, on July 18, 1776, the first Massa-
chusetts reading of the Declaration of Independence
occurred on the Old State House's balcony, as the
public gathered on the street below.
Lion and unicorn statues on the building as a sym-
bol of British rule were torn down and destroyed in
a fire, said Heather Leet, director of development at
the Bostonian Society, which was founded to restore
the Old State House.
The society replaced the statues with wooden ones
But the harsh harbour winds whipping down State
Street forced officials to replace the replacements in
1901, with a silver-enameled unicorn and a gold-
enameled lion, both made of copper, Leet said.
Those statues had to be restored after decades of
punishment from those same New England winds,
A time capsule hidden in the lion had been forgotten
until 2011, when a descendant of the artist who
created it notified the society of its existence.
The statues were removed on September 14, and
with the help of a fibreoptic camera officials discovered
a copper shoebox-sized capsule in the head of the
The box contained slightly more modern treasures:
a wooden piece of the original lion statue, photographs
of public officials and workers, and memorabilia from
Boston-area newspapers---including an envelope
titled, "A message to posterity from the daily news-
papers at City Hall," which was found to be impishly
empty after being carefully opened with steam.
"There was nothing in the envelope---no letter for
posterity, which we think was a joke from the city
hall journalists," Leet said.
Found in the box was a hardback book titled,
Foreign Relations of the United States, 1896.
The book is actually part of a
US State Department series, still
in print, that's considered to be
"the official documentary histor-
ical record of major US foreign
policy decisions and significant
diplomatic activity," according to
the US government printing office.
The Bostonian Society took
suggestions from the city and
beyond, then created a new
Boston-centric time capsule for
2014. Items included a 2013 Boston
Marathon medal, an Apple iPhone
5, Red Sox tickets and a fragment
of a 1713 brick from the building.
It also includes the latest avail-
able version of Foreign Relations
of the United States, a contribution
from the Government Printing
Office, Leet said.
The capsule was then placed
back into the head of the king of
beasts and returned to the top of
the Old State House on Nov ember
23, to await its next encounter
---Los Angeles Times
Time capsule from 1795 found in Boston statehouse
Officials work to remove a time capsule in the cornerstone of
the Statehouse in Boston, last Thursday. AP PHOTO
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