In Colonial Boston, Henry Knox's bookstore on Cornhill Street was a fashionable gathering place for British Army officers and members of the town's Tory elite.
Knox developed an interest in the science and tactics of artillery that he furthered by reading the books he imported from England and carried in his store.
That knowledge would shortly be turned against his customers in the military surprise that led to the events celebrated on Evacuation Day, March 17.
In the early days of the American Revolution, Knox joined the Colonial artillery and convinced General George Washington that he could haul cannons from recently captured Fort Ticonderoga overland to Boston.
Under cover of darkness on the night of March 4, 1776, the cannons were mounted on Dorchester Heights in South Boston, bringing the British garrison and fleet within range of their fire. Within two weeks, the British evacuation of Boston was underway.
Knox, the bookseller-turned-artilleryman, will be the focus of this year's Evacuation Day celebrations in Boston, sponsored by a coalition of community groups.
Already underway in Boston is a citywide writing competition for students in grades 5 to 9 on the subject of Henry Knox. The grand prize is a summer internship at Boston's historic sites with a weekly stipend.
On March 16, Heritage Committee chairman Michael P. Bare said, 500 copies of Richard Strum's biography of Henry Knox will be presented to the city's schools and libraries.
On March 17, there will be a reenactment of the hauling of the cannons from Fort Hill in Roxbury to the South Boston hilltop. Details on the competition and other events are available at evacuationday.com.