March 20, 1760

Boston Burns

Greater Boston

On this day in 1760, the dreaded cry of "Fire!" roused sleeping Bostonians. Over the next ten hours, the worst fire to strike a colonial American city ravaged the capital of Massachusetts. Beginning in a tavern near the central market, the wind-whipped blaze spread quickly. The flames consumed shops and homes along King and Congress Streets and continued down to the wharves, where ten ships were left in ashes. Faced with staggering losses, Boston sought aid from the King and Parliament. While other colonies took up charitable collections for the city, the British government refused to help. Some historians have suggested that the Crown's indifference to Bostonians' plight after the Great Fire of 1760 was an early spur to the spirit of rebellion.

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