July 3, 2016 Leave a comment
Other than recalling a fragment of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s wonderful, if historically inaccurate poem, many Americans, myself included, do not know much more about Paul Revere, the man, and his ride through Middlesex county to alert the countryside on the movement, in force, of British Regulars in the direction of Lexington.
The British aimed to snatch John Hancock and Sam Adams before moving on to Concord to seize a large cache of munitions on that consequential night in April 1775.
John Singleton Copley’s portrait of Paul Revere, circa 1771, presents a picture of a confident, accomplished artisan or “mechanic” as silversmiths and other craftsmen were called in that era. In this image, Revere is 35 years old, confident, casual and prosperous, with his tools about him, holding a silver teapot.
David Hackett Fischer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author of the indispensable book, Paul Revere’s Ride (1994), describes Copley’s Revere: “His shirt is plain and simple, but it is handsomely cut from fine linen.” He is “of middling height, neither tall nor short. He is strong and stocky, with broad shoulders, a thick neck, muscular arms and powerful wrists…His eyes are deep chestnut brown, and their high-arched brows give the face a permanently quizzical expression.”
“The gaze is clear and very direct.” It is “the steady look of an independent man,” writes Fischer.
The battles for American independence began more than a year before the historic vote of the Colonies to declare independence from Britain. The British Army, along with their Navy and Marines had occupied Boston since 1768. The following are the battles fought before and after America actually had an official Army, rather than the magnificent “rabble” who accomplished so much, with so little. Below is the flavor of some of the most important battlefields. Most of what follows is a repost from 2012. I hope my new readers are as awed at the birthing of America, made possible by the magnificent rabble who fought and marched and froze and starved and died, as I am.
Happy Birthday America!
The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more. ~ John Adams
Home of the Free, Because of the Brave
Lincoln invited Douglas’s audience to return the next evening for his reply to Douglas’s speech.Lincoln’s speech of July 10, 1858, is one of his many great speeches, but in one respect it is uniquely great. It concludes with an explanation of the meaning of this day to Americans with matchless eloquence and insight in words that remain as relevant now as then.
Now, it happens that we meet together once every year, sometime about the 4th of July, for some reason or other. These 4th of July gatherings I suppose have their uses. If you will indulge me, I will state what I suppose to be some of them.
We are now a mighty nation, we are thirty—or about thirty millions of people, and we own and inhabit about one-fifteenth part of the dry land of the whole earth. We run our memory back over the pages of history for about eighty-two years and we discover that we were then a very small people in point of numbers, vastly inferior to what we are now, with a vastly less extent of country,—with vastly less of everything we deem desirable among men,—we look upon the change as exceedingly advantageous to us and to our posterity, and we fix upon something that happened away back, as in some way or other being connected with this rise of prosperity. We find a race of men living in that day whom we claim as our fathers and grandfathers; they were iron men, they fought for the principle that they were contending for; and we understood that by what they then did it has followed that the degree of prosperity that we now enjoy has come to us. We hold this annual celebration to remind ourselves of all the good done in this process of time of how it was done and who did it, and how we are historically connected with it; and we go from these meetings in better humor with ourselves—we feel more attached the one to the other, and more firmly bound to the country we inhabit. In every way we are better men in the age, and race, and country in which we live for these celebrations. But after we have done all this we have not yet reached the whole. There is something else connected with it. We have besides these men—descended by blood from our ancestors—among us perhaps half our people who are not descendants at all of these men, they are men who have come from Europe—German, Irish, French and Scandinavian—men that have come from Europe themselves, or whose ancestors have come hither and settled here, finding themselves our equals in all things. If they look back through this history to trace their connection with those days by blood, they find they have none, they cannot carry themselves back into that glorious epoch and make themselves feel that they are part of us, but when they look through that old Declaration of Independence they find that those old men say that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” and then they feel that that moral sentiment taught in that day evidences their relation to those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them, and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration [loud and long continued applause], and so they are. That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world. [Applause.]
4 July 1776 fired off a crazy rocking rolling ride that hasn’t stopped ‘stirring things up’ on a global scale.
Advancing arrogance into an art form with a remarkable relentless risque commitment to liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, and laissez-faire values.
America differs qualitatively from all other nations, because of her unique origins, nat’l credo, historical evolution, and distinctive political and religious institutions.
Great Satan is magically especial because she was a country of immigrants and the first modern democracy.
Loud, proud and rowdy – early America forecast future stuff with a provocative lingo that still fits today. “Don’t Tread On Me!” “Liberty Or Death”, “Live Free Or Die”
Great Satan’s superiority of the American xperiment is reflected in the perception among Americans of America’s role in the world. That American foreign policy is based on moral principles is a consistent theme in the American hot diplopolititary gossip – a phenomenon recognized even by those who are skeptic of such an assessment.
This inclination to do right has been virtually unique among the nations of the world – and for this very reason – America has been totally misunderstood. How could a nation so rich, so successful actually, really be so unselfish and so caring?
Unconvincing (and either historically igno – or deceitfully dishonest – either term will do) critics cry Great Satan must have darker motives! America must be seeking imperium – to dominate everyone else, suck up all the oil, to trade and rob blind for America’s selfish purposes.
People from more grasping, less idealistic societies find it nigh impossible to accept that America honestly believes that giving everyone opportunity is the real roadmap for abundance and happiness everywhere – not merely in the magical Great Satan.
Americans honestly believe that securing other people’s freedom is actually like the best guarantee that America can keep her own.