Monday, April 19, 2010

Lexington and Concord

Today in Massachusetts is Patriot's Day...the day we commemorate the Battle of Lexington and Concord by giving the day off to our political hacks and by staging the Boston Marathon. Today also forms a big part of our national mythology, one that is retold in our schools and on the Fourth of July, that would be the myth of the American Revolution.

The roots of the American Revolution can be found in another war, referred to in this country as the French and Indian War. This war, caused in no small part by the blunderings of a certain colonel of the Virginia militia, one George Washington, was a war fought on five continents between Great Britain and its allies and France and its allies. Great Britain waged this war for a number of reasons, not the least of which was to defend British subjects in America against attacks from Quebec by the French and their Native American allies.

This war, ending in 1763, cost a lot of money, driving the British government deep into debt. The government in London, expecting that British subjects in America should help pay for a war waged in their defense, enacted a series of taxes intended to help it pay for the war. These taxes involved fees for stamps on legal documents and import duties on among other things, tea, tobacco and sugar. Its no small wonder that the most prominent leaders of the rebellion were Boston lawyers, colonial merchants, and Virginia tobacco planters.

Recent studies of the revolutionary period indicate that only a third of America's population supported the rebellion, a third were indifferent, and a third supported the Crown. That our rebellion...or revolution, was an uprising against a tyrannical and arbitrary government is an important part of nation's story...and frankly is a part of our nation's story that is untrue.

To want to honestly and accurately look at our nation's past does not mean that I love my country any less. To approach history with blinders also means that the present is dealt with in the same manner. History, when done well, its about the search for truth in the historical past. When done poorly, history can become propaganda, and has the effect of warping of not only how we view the past but in also how we interpret the present. Our current heated political climate is in no small part, fueled by a warped interpretation of the past in general, and of the events leading to April 18, 1775 in particular.


  1. A couple years ago we had some English exchange students. They learn that the Revolution was between England and France, only fought on our soil.

    I guess not entirely false, but neither fully true, depending on when you say the war started. That said, they also learn nothing of Twain or Poe, and couldn't name a single American author, so . . . I'll chalk this up to a favorite not wanting to admit losing out to such a overwhelming underdog. Heck, how long did it take Franklin to get the French to fully support us?

  2. took about 14 months for Franklin to win French the way...Franklin was a late comer to the rebel side as he was a big advocate of the Empire...his son by the way...was the Royal Governor of New Jersey...