Tearing Down King George: The Monumental Summer of 1776


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EPISODE 333 In New York City, during the tumultuous summer of 1776, the King of England lost his head.

Two hundred and fifty years ago, Colonial New York received a monumental statue of King George III on horseback, an ostentatious and rather awkward display which once sat in Bowling Green park at the tip of Manhattan.

On July 9, 1776, angry New Yorkers violently tore down that statue of King George and, as the story goes, rendered his body into bullets used in the battles of the Revolutionary War.

Flash forward to 2020 — cities across the United States today are reevaluating the meaning of their own public monuments. Critics say that removing memorials to the Confederacy, for instance, work to ‘erase history’.

But a monument itself is not history lesson, but a time capsule of the motivations of the culture who created them.

And that’s why this story from 1776 resonates so strongly today. Public statues do have meaning. And for New Yorkers — in the run up to American independence — one statue represented oppression, servitude and annihilation.

In this episode, take a trip back to the city right before the war, when New York was split into those sympathetic to the Tories and those to the Sons of Liberty, an early organization dedicated to the liberty of the American colonies.

PLUS: The story lives on! Find out where you can locate artifacts from this story throughout the city today.

FEATURING A young Alexander Hamilton, that rascal Cadwallader Colden and an unsung hero named William Pitt


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356 episodes