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Contents Of 220-Year-Old Time Capsule Buried By Paul Revere And Sam Adams Revealed

With apologies to Nicholas Cage and the gang, this is what national treasures really look like. America is a young nation compared to much of Europe, but we’ve packed a lot into the past 240 years. And as much as we like to carry on about what the Founding Fathers would think of everything, we’re pretty far removed from their times now. They couldn’t conceive of much of the world we live in. Heck, the Founding Fathers didn’t even know that dinosaurs existed. How sad is that?

Nevertheless, it’s always a treat when we get to touch base with our roots. And it doesn’t get much better than a time capsule buried more than 200 years ago by some of this fledgling nation’s first heroes for that. Think of it: Paul Revere and Samuel Adams chose to save these things for future generations. They wanted us to see them and to know that they had touched them, that they were important. How amazing is that?

Two decades after the start of the Revolutionary War, Paul Revere and Samuel Adams buried a time capsule in the cornerstone of Massachusetts State House in Boston.

And once, sixty years later in 1855, the time capsule was excavated during emergency repairs. Whoever dug it up at the time put the contents in a brass box and re-buried it. The time capsule hasn’t seen the light of day for more than 150 years – until workers fixing a water leak spotted it and called in a team from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
via Museum of Fine Arts, Boston John Singleton Copley

A true testament to craftsmanship, the time capsule took a further seven hours to chisel and dig out.

And yet, after spending centuries in an area apparently prone to leaks, many people worried that the contents would be damaged. So after all that work and understandable anticipation, what did they find inside the box?
via Twitter / @mfaboston

The first things the historians found were newspapers and coins dating back to that first excavation in 1855. But below were more newspapers and coins dating back to Revere and Adams.

In fact, some of the coins had fused with the paper after spending more than two centuries pressed together. The newspapers bore names like The Boston Bee and The Boston Traveller. 
via Jessica Rinaldi / The Boston Globe

Among the coins was a copper medal depicting George Washington with the words “General of the American Army” engraved on it.

At the time, he would have been in his second term as president. 
via Bryan Snyder / Reuters

Among the coins, however, was a special find: a “Pine Tree Shilling” from 1652.

At that time it would have been illegal for Massachusetts to print its own currency, so the coin represents the first stirrings of independence and rebellion against the crown. 
via ABC News Steven Sennel / AP Photo

The last thing to be removed from the box was a silver plate engraved by Paul Revere commemorating the placement of the cornerstone on the 20th anniversary of American independence.

The plate was so well-preserved that there were still fingerprints on it. “This cornerstone of a building intended for the use of the legislative and executive branches of the government of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was laid by his Excellency Samuel Adams, Esquire, governor of the said Commonwealth,” the inscription read. 
via Bryan Snyder / Reuters

After all the contents had been cataloged and inspected and preserved, they went on display at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

It’s expected that they will be re-buried, possibly with new additions, back in the statehouse’s cornerstone.

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