April 19, 1775: Lexington and Concord-Why They Fought

Wednesday, April 19, AD 2017

 

 

In 1843 twenty two year old Mellen Chamberlain, who would later be a legislator, a judge and chief librarian of Boston, interviewed 86 year old Captain Levi Preston, last surviving veteran of the battle of Concord:

Question:  “Captain Preston, what made you go  to the Concord fight?

Answer:  “What did I go for?”

Question:  “Yes, my histories tell me that you men of the Revolution took up arms against intolerable oppressions.  What were they?”

Answer:  “Oppressions?  I didn’t feel them.”

Question: “What, were you not oppressed by the Stamp Act?”

Answer:  No, I never saw one of those stamps, and always understood that Governor Bernard put them all in Castle William. I am certain I never paid a penny for one of them.

Question:  “Well, what about the tea tax?”

Answer: “Tea tax!  I never drank a drop of the stuff:   the boys threw it all overboard.”

Question: “I suppose you had been reading Harrington, Sidney, and Locke about the eternal principle of liberty?”

Answer:  “Never heard of ’em. The only books we had were the Bible, the Catechism, Watts’ Psalms, and Hymns and the Almanac.”

Question:  “Well, then, what was the matter?”

Answer:  “Young man, what we meant in going for those Redcoats was this: we always had governed ourselves, and we always meant to. They didn’t mean we should.”

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18 Responses to April 19, 1775: Lexington and Concord-Why They Fought

  • Interesting.

    Not oppressed. Not taxed “without representation”. Ignorant of any the philosophical schools.

    Just simply rebelling against authority.

    non serviam.

  • Cassandra: Our Fifth Amendment may be found in Isaiah 50: 9. Do read our Constitution. Self-governance is an innate human civil right that inheres in the sovereign personhood of the human being. Being “owned” by George III made subjects of us all. Abraham Lincoln said: “One man cannot own another man. FREEDOM

  • “Just simply rebelling against authority.”

    You flew right by that whole right to rule ourselves section.

    “But there is still behind a third consideration concerning this object, which serves to determine my opinion on the sort of policy which ought to be pursued in the management of America, even more than its population and its commerce—I mean its temper and character. In this character of the Americans a love of freedom is the predominating feature, which marks and distinguishes the whole; and, as an ardent is always a jealous affection, your Colonies become suspicious, restive, and untractable, whenever they see the least attempt to wrest from them by force, or shuffle from them by chicane, what they think the only advantage worth living for. This fierce spirit of liberty is stronger in the English Colonies, probably, than in any other people of the earth, and this from a variety of powerful causes, which, to understand the true temper of their minds, and the direction which this spirit takes, it will not be amiss to lay open somewhat more largely.
    First, the people of the Colonies are descendants of Englishmen. England, sir, is a nation which still, I hope, respects, and formerly adored her freedom. The Colonists emigrated from you when this part of your character was most predominant; and they took this bias and direction the moment they parted from your hands. They are, therefore, not only devoted to liberty, but to liberty according to English ideas and on English principles. Abstract liberty, like other mere abstractions, is not to be found. Liberty inheres in some sensible object; and every nation has formed to itself some favorite point which, by way of eminence, becomes the criterion of their happiness. It happened, you know, sir, that the great contests for freedom in this country were, from the earliest times chiefly upon the question of taxing.”

    Edmund Burke, On Conciliation With America, March 22, 1775

  • I’m with Cassandra on this one. The Colonies rebelled against their legal authority that supported them while they were gestating and very vulnerable to attacks from the native populations, the French, and the Spanish. They ginned-up an oppression narrative because the Crown had the gall to ask them to help defer the costs of defending them. It’s ironic that at the same time the British were incubating a revolution in the salons of France that their own would turn on them, but let’s be real: the American revolt was a further move away from Logos to a secular world of Obama’s, Trumps, and Bergoglios.

  • Laughable. The idea that the British Crown had a legitimate power to do away with colonial legislatures, close ports, transport defendants across the sea for trial in England, occupy American cities with garrisons of British troops, not for defense, but to impose autocratic rule, and other abuses flies in the face of any concept of traditional English liberty. The colonists had every right to rebel.

    “The temper and character which prevail in our Colonies are, I am afraid, unalterable by any human art. We can not, I fear, falsify the pedigree of this fierce people, and persuade them that they are not sprung from a nation in whose veins the blood of freedom circulates. The language in which they would hear you tell them this tale would detect the imposition. Your speech would betray you. An Englishman is the unfittest person on earth to argue another Englishman into slavery.”

    Edmund Burke, On Conciliation With America, March 22, 1775

  • One of the first things the American government did was murder its own war heroes who rightly saw the Whiskey Tax (to pay of bankers and swindlers) as the same damn-ed thing they had just fought against. If Britain was so harsh and unfair, why did 2/3 of Americans not want a revolution? If what you say is the case, then why did Canada not follow that lead? And lastly, I’m sure you know what all these wonderful American Revolutionary leaders thought of Catholics. Do you know what the Quebec Act of 1774 was about?

    “The Quebec Act angered the Virginia elite, since most of the western lands they claimed were now officially part of Quebec or in the Indian reserve. The act, which Parliament passed at the same time as legislation placing Massachusetts under crown control, also fueled resentment among Calvinist New Englanders, who saw in its autocratic, pro-Catholic provisions further evidence of an imperial conspiracy against colonial liberties.”

  • “One of the first things the American government did was murder its own war heroes who rightly saw the Whiskey Tax (to pay of bankers and swindlers) as the same damn-ed thing they had just fought against.”

    No, the Whiskey Rebellion demonstrated that bullets were no substitute for ballots. After the rebellion was put down, the tax was repealed by Congress during the Jefferson Administration.

    “Do you know what the Quebec Act of 1774 was about?”

    Yes. Do you know that during the Revolution the Brits attempted to use anti-Catholic propaganda, written by Benedict Arnold against the patriots following the French alliance, and that most of the Founding Fathers attended Mass on occasion during the Revolution to show their gratitude for the aid of Catholic France?

    https://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com/2009/11/27/our-oldest-ally/

    As Washington noted to leading Catholics in a letter after he was elected President:

    “As mankind become more liberal they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protection of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations in examples of justice and liberality. And I presume that your fellow-citizens will not forget the patriotic part which you took in the accomplishment of their Revolution, and the establishment of their government; or the important assistance which they received from a nation in which the Roman Catholic faith is professed.”

    Of course your argument is really with Pope Leo XIII who wrote:

    “Nor, perchance did the fact which We now recall take place without some design of divine Providence. Precisely at the epoch when the American colonies, having, with Catholic aid, achieved liberty and independence, coalesced into a constitutional Republic the ecclesiastical hierarchy was happily established amongst you; and at the very time when the popular suffrage placed the great Washington at the helm of the Republic, the first bishop was set by apostolic authority over the American Church. The well-known friendship and familiar intercourse which subsisted between these two men seems to be an evidence that the United States ought to be conjoined in concord and amity with the Catholic Church. And not without cause; for without morality the State cannot endure-a truth which that illustrious citizen of yours, whom We have just mentioned, with a keenness of insight worthy of his genius and statesmanship perceived and proclaimed. But the best and strongest support of morality is religion.”

  • Let me guess: You think America is a “shining city on a hill” don’t you?
    Anyway, I appreciate the forum to express my opinion. Thank you.

  • America in its best moments is a beacon of liberty for the rest of the world:

    “The Founding Fathers of the United States asserted their claim to freedom and independence on the basis of certain “self-evident” truths about the human person: truths which could be discerned in human nature, built into it by “nature’s God.” Thus they meant to bring into being, not just an independent territory, but a great experiment in what George Washington called “ordered liberty”: an experiment in which men and women would enjoy equality of rights and opportunities in the pursuit of happiness and in service to the common good. Reading the founding documents of the United States, one has to be impressed by the concept of freedom they enshrine: a freedom designed to enable people to fulfill their duties and responsibilities toward the family and toward the common good of the community. Their authors clearly understood that there could be no true freedom without moral responsibility and accountability, and no happiness without respect and support for the natural units or groupings through which people exist, develop, and seek the higher purposes of life in concert with others.

    The American democratic experiment has been successful in many ways. Millions of people around the world look to the United States as a model in their search for freedom, dignity, and prosperity. But the continuing success of American democracy depends on the degree to which each new generation, native-born and immigrant, makes its own the moral truths on which the Founding Fathers staked the future of your Republic. Their commitment to build a free society with liberty and justice for all must be constantly renewed if the United States is to fulfill the destiny to which the Founders pledged their “lives . . . fortunes . . . and sacred honor.”

    John Paul II

    “Anyway, I appreciate the forum to express my opinion. Thank you.”

    You are welcome! That is part of why we are here.

  • America as shining beacon. Let me paraphrase what a professor of mine (yeah, a professor) said when I was in college in the 80s: At its worst, America has never been worse than what you’ll find in other times and places throughout the world and throughout history. At its best, we have yet to see its equal.

  • Well said by your Professor and by you Dave!

  • You flew right by that whole right to rule ourselves section.
    Not at all. “Rule ourselves” and non serviam are in the practical sense equivalent.
    “Rule ourselves” led to the civil war. One cannot with consistency defend rebellion against Britain and condemn the succession of the Confederacy. It’s either “consent of the governed” or it’s not.
    “Rule ourselves” is the political application of protestant repudiation of the authority of the Church.

    and that most of the Founding Fathers attended Mass on occasion during the Revolution
    Politically expedient religious displays have never impressed me.

    Interesting that you would quote Leo XIII. You may be interpreting that to suggest that Leo thought the establishment of the secular government was providential to the Church rather than the opposite intention that the establishment of the American see was providential to bring Catholicism to the secular government. Further along you find:

    “6. ….For the Church amongst you, unopposed by the Constitution and government of your nation, fettered by no hostile legislation, protected against violence by the common laws and the impartiality of the tribunals, is free to live and act without hindrance. Yet, though all this is true, it would be very erroneous to draw the conclusion that in America is to be sought the type of the most desirable status of the Church, or that it would be universally lawful or expedient for State and Church to be, as in America, dissevered and divorced. The fact that Catholicity with you is in good condition, nay, is even enjoying a prosperous growth, is by all means to be attributed to the fecundity with which God has endowed His Church, in virtue of which unless men or circumstances interfere, she spontaneously expands and propagates herself; but she would bring forth more abundant fruits if, in addition to liberty, she enjoyed the favor of the laws and the patronage of the public authority.”

    The Church in America—such that it has prospered—did not do so because of the secularism of the government or its ideas about what legitimate liberty meant. It did so out of the Church’s fecundity.

    The problem with discussions like this is the emotion rapped up in criticism of the philosophical errors in the founding of this nation. It is very much like pointing out problems in the papacy. Pointing out problems in the pontificate of JPII or Benedict would bring howls from many of the conservative Catholics suffering from ultramontanism. As painful as it has been, Francis has helped solve that problem. Likewise, pointing out problems in the founding of America still brings howls from those raised in the American mythology. Those errors were arguably smaller than the subsequent errors that produced communism, but they were steps along the way. Of particular importance was the establishment of the first atheist government. Ideas have consequences.

    Let me present this from http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2017/03/de-mattei-shedding-light-on-todays.html

    “1517, 1717, 1917, then, are three symbolic dates, three events that are part of a single process. Pius XII, in his speech to the men of Catholic Action on October 12th 1952, summed it up like this: “Christ yes, Church no; (the Protestant Revolution against the Church); then: God yes, Christ no; (the Masonic Revolution against the central mysteries of Christianity); finally the impious cry: God is dead; rather: God has never existed (the atheistic Communist Revolution). And here – Pius XII concludes – is the attempt to build the structure of the world upon foundations that We do not hesitate in pointing out as, the principals responsible for the danger that threatens mankind”.

    Need I point out the prevalence of Masons and Deists amoung the founding fathers?

    I have no illusion of convincing you of anything.

    But then, Of course your argument is really with Pope Leo XIII, and not with me.

  • “Not at all. “Rule ourselves” and non serviam are in the practical sense equivalent.”

    No they are not.

    “One cannot with consistency defend rebellion against Britain and condemn the succession of the Confederacy. It’s either “consent of the governed” or it’s not.”

    Certainly one can. In the case of the American Revolution the colonists had suffered the long train of abuses set forth magnificently in Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. The South had suffered no such abuses and rebelled purely to safeguard the right to hold other human beings as chattel. There was no right of secession created by the Constitution.

    ““Rule ourselves” is the political application of protestant repudiation of the authority of the Church.”

    You are comparing apples to rock salt. Caesar and Christ are not the same and rebellion in the civil realm is not the same as heresy or schism in the realm of religion.

    “The Church in America—such that it has prospered—did not do so because of the secularism of the government or its ideas about what legitimate liberty meant. It did so out of the Church’s fecundity.”

    You draw from Leo XIII what he did not say. What he was saying is that different conditions of time and place prevent any form of government to be the best in all times and places and history demonstrates that this is manifestly true.

    “Likewise, pointing out problems in the founding of America still brings howls from those raised in the American mythology.”

    This is not a discussion about myths but rather about historical facts, at least on my part.

    “Need I point out the prevalence of Masons and Deists amoung the founding fathers?”

    No, since I know the history of that period well. Are you aware of the differences between American masonry and Continental masonry, the masonry that the fulminations of Pius XII and many of his predecessors were directed against? American masonry never had the anti-Christian rage and tendency to atheism that infected Continental masonry. In America, in the time of Washington, the masons were as subversive and atheist as the Rotary Club is in America today.

    “I have no illusion of convincing you of anything.”

    At last, something we can agree on.

  • “I have no illusion of convincing you of anything.”

    At last, something we can agree on.

    Your other responses are likewise not the least surprising, and not the least convincing.
    Time will ultimately demonstrate the correct position.

  • “Time will ultimately demonstrate the correct position.”

    Time will not ultimately determine the correct position, insofar as any of the matters under discussion can be deemed correct or incorrect, but rather the facts will. I know the historical facts and you obviously do not.

  • Trump used this story in his address to the NRA today.
    Someone on his staff must be reading you.

  • “Then Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people that had desired a king of him, and said, ‘This will be the right of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and put them in his chariots, and will make them his horsemen, and his running footmen to run before his chariots; and he will appoint of them to be his tribunes, and centurions, and to plough his fields, and to reap his corn, and to make him arms and chariots. Your daughters also he will take to make him ointments, and to be his cooks, and bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your best oliveyards, and give them to his servants. Moreover, he will take the tenth of your corn and of the revenues of your vineyards, to give his eunuchs and servants. Your servants also and handmaids, and your goodliest young men, and your asses he will take away, and put them to his work. Your flocks also he will tithe, and you shall be his servants.

    ‘And you shall cry out in that day at the face of the king, whom you have chosen to yourselves. and the Lord will not hear you in that day, because you desired for yourselves a king.'”

    We reversed Israel’s mistake.

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