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.
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.” Continue Reading