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The park began as the pasture of William Blaxton, an early settler in the area. When the city started growing, Blaxton sold the land to the Boston government for thirty dollars. The government then turned the land into common space.
For the first century or two of Boston's history, Boston Common provided a place for farmers to pasture their cows, officers to drill soldiers, and citizens to attend the occasional public hanging. Part of the British Army camped in the Boston Common during the American Revolutionary War, but fled the city in 1776. Later, public hangings ended in 1817, and farm animals were banned in 1830.