The New International Encyclopædia/Lexington (Massachusetts)
LEXINGTON. A town in Middlesex County, Mass., 11 miles northwest of Boston; on the Boston and Maine Railroad (Map: Massachusetts, E 3). Among the points of interest are the Cary Library, with 20,000 volumes, and fine marble statues of John Hancock and Samuel Adams; a statue of Captain Parker; the battleground; the Revolutionary monument, erected in 1799; the Hancock-Clarke house (built in 1698), where Hancock and Samuel Adams slept the night before the battle of 1775, and now the repository of an interesting collection of relics; Monroe Tavern (built in 1695), Earl Percy's headquarters; Buckman Tavern (built 1690), the rendezvous of the minutemen; the old Belfry club-house; the town hall; the high school; the Hancock schoolhouse; and the old burying-ground. The leading industries are farming and dairying, and the manufacture of leather binding. Population, in 1890, 3197; in 1900, 3831. Settled in 1640, Lexington was a part of Cambridge and was known as ‘Cambridge Farms’ until 1691, when it was made into a separate precinct, and given its present name from Lord Lexington. It was incorporated as a town in 1713. It was the birthplace of Theodore Parker.
Lexington is celebrated in American history for having been the scene of the first contest in the Revolutionary War, fought April 19, 1775. On the night of April 18th the Americans discovered the intention of General Gage to send a detachment of British troops to Concord for the purpose of destroying some military stores which had been collected there, and also to seize the persons of John Hancock and Samuel Adams, who were living temporarily in Lexington. Information of this design was spread abroad by Paul Revere, who rode from Charlestown to Lexington warning the farmers along the route. On the same evening General Gage, who commanded the Royal troops in Boston, had picketed the roads in the vicinity and dispatched Lieutenant-Colonel Smith with 800 men on the expedition to Concord. When the advance of the British column reached Lexington in the early morning it was opposed by about 70 militiamen, who had formed on the town common, under command of Capt. John Parker. The British were commanded by Major Pitcairn, who, on observing the preparations made to resist his progress, halted his men to load, and then advanced at double-quick, he himself riding in front and ordering the Americans to lay down their arms and retire. As the militia held their ground. Major Pitcairn fired his pistol at them, and having given the order to his men, the latter discharged their muskets, with the result of killing four and wounding nine of the militiamen. The latter retreated, four being killed while fleeing. A scattering fire from Captain Parker's men wounded three British soldiers, and the militia being dispersed, the British force proceeded to Concord to effect the main object of the expedition. The distance is only about six miles, and the place, which became the second battleground of that day, was reached at about 7:30 o'clock. The country was by this time thoroughly aroused, and as many as 180 militiamen had assembled, who, as the British came into view, fell back and took position on the side of a hill, afterwards crossing the North Bridge over the Concord River by order of Colonel Barrett, who had assumed command. The British, being left in possession of the town, proceeded to the destruction of such arms and provisions as they could find, a detachment being sent to gain control of the North and South bridges. This body was attacked by the militia at the North Bridge, and a brisk fight followed, which resulted in slight losses on both sides. The British, having effected all the damage possible, commenced to retreat, being followed by the Americans, who kept up a galling fire and harassed them. The timely arrival of a large force under Lord Percy prevented a disaster. The news of these encounters thrilled the country and impressed the Americans with a sense of their own capability to contend with the tried regulars of the British Army.