Battle of Lexington
Battle of Lexington
by Paul Engel
- While most of us have learned about “The shot heard ‘round the world”, do you know what led to that battle?
- How do the actions of a British Lord resemble not only the federal government, but several state governments as well?
- Will the American people learn from their history, or be doomed to repeat it?
On the morning of April 19th, 1775 the actions of a few would have an impact that would resound throughout history. Most of us were taught about “The shot heard ’round the world”, but have you learned what led up to that event? Let’s take the 246th anniversary of this famous event to remind ourselves how we got here.
Last year, I wrote the book Fighting for Liberty. The idea for the book came from my research into the the actions of one militiaman in the battle of Lexington. What concerns me is how much we are repeating the history that led not only to these battles, but to a war between the states and their former central government.
Prelude to War
September 1st, 1774, Charlestown, South Carolina. General Thomas Gage ordered 260 Redcoats to seize the gunpowder from the powder house. This act incensed the colonists, becoming known as the “Powder Alarm”. By the end of the day, 20,000 militiamen had mobilized and started marching toward Boston. If the British could seize arms or powder from colonists in South Carolina, they would be willing to seize them from all the colonists. The colonists viewed this not as just another infringement on their rights, but as an act of war.
Five days later, the people of Worcester and Suffolk counties, Massachusetts, replaced the Royal Governor’s militia officers with their own. In other words, the colonists took control of the state militias. How did General Gage respond? By directing his Redcoats to begin general warrantless searches for arms and ammunition.
On December 3rd, General Gage received a letter from Lord Dartmouth, the Secretary of State for America. In this letter, Lord Dartmouth suggested that the only way to prevent further violence was to disarm the colonists. General Gage replied that the only way to do what Lord Dartmouth suggested would require the use of force. General Gage’s letter became public when it was read in the British House of Commons.
This was the tinderbox that could lead to war. All it needed was a single spark.
We sometimes act as if “gun control” is something new, as if it didn’t exist before 1934 and the National Firearms Act. However, “gun control” not only existed before the colonies declared their independence from Great Britain, but it was the tinder that would light a fire across all the colonies and lead them to declaring themselves free and independent states. You maybe asking yourself why I put “gun control” in quotes? The answer is simple, and in reading just a few of these paragraphs, you should see that “gun control” is not about controlling guns, but about controlling people.
General Gage did not order the seizing of the powder house in Charlestown because he was concerned about gun violence, but about the growing unease among the colonists. Rather than tamping down the foreshadowed uprising, this act made things worse. Not only were colonists in South Carolina upset, but the citizens of the other colonies were as well. Twenty thousand militia men did not mobilize to protect their hunting rights or even their right to individual self-defense. They saw an evermore tyrannical government attempting to take away their best method of protecting themselves from current and future infringements on their rights.
It doesn’t take much investigating to see the repeated calls by some in politics and the media, for the modern seizing of the powder house. The slightest provocation is met with renewed calls to deny people the right to keep and bear arms, to own the weapons they want, and to restrict the ammunition the can carry. There are two things we need to keep in mind though: First of all, almost none of these proposed regulations, orders, and laws actually prevent, much less punish, those who use their arms for evil. All of the claims of reducing gun violence and making things safer have been proven wrong by simple observation. Murder rates are highest in the cities that have the strictest “gun control” laws. Attacks happen most frequently in so-called “gun free zones”. While General Gage learned of the danger of attempting to disarm a free citizenry, those in governments today have not. So why do they keep pushing these failed attempts at disarming Americans? Because the second thing we need to remember is that “gun control’ is not about controlling guns, but controlling people.
Notice that while Lord Dartmouth thought that disarming the population would reduce violence, he was only concerned with violence against members of the British government in the colonies. In other words, Lord Dartmouth was not so much concerned about the guns, but about the actions of the colonists. It appears he thought that by disarming the colonists he would remove their willingness to fight.
Likewise, today the reaction to the violence is not to punish the criminals or even to increase the severity of the laws against harming or killing others. No, the reaction to violence is to punish the innocent citizen who wishes to exercise his or her rights without infringement from the government. Those calling for new or expanded gun laws are attempting to punish the innocent for the crimes of the guilty. Even in the face of evidence showing the failure of their actions to reach their promised outcomes, the cry from the tyrant is not to punish the guilty, but to disarm the innocent.
General Gage recognized that the only way to accomplish what Lord Dartmouth wanted was by using force. As Sir Isaac Newton had noted though, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. What is true in physics is also true in politics and governance. By seizing the powder house in Charlestown, General Gage started a reaction that brought thousands of armed militia to Boston, where government was seated. What was General Gage to do? Lord Dartmouth was not only an aristocrat, he was the Secretary of State for America, and therefore General Gage’s boss. By following the orders to suppress the people, General Gage was about to throw a match into the tinderbox of the disgruntled colonists.
Imbalance of Power
April 19th, 1775, Lexington, Massachusetts. A column of British soldiers was marching from Boston to Concord with orders to seize the powder house there and confiscate the colonist’s ammunition. Warned of British troops marching on the town by Paul Revere, Captain John Parker assembled his men from the Massachusetts militia on Lexington Green. When the Redcoats arrived at the Green their commander ordered the militia to disarm and disperse.
In their attempt to disarm the colonists, the British sent soldiers to confiscate their ammunition. Today we see law enforcement not only confiscating our weapons and ammunition, but many are trained to look at an armed citizen with suspicion if not outright assumption of evil intent. Why do you think law enforcement officers train to respond to the word “GUN!”? If you’ve been trained to draw your weapon and defend yourself every time you or someone on your team sees a gun, it’s hard not to think of an armed citizen as a threat. Why else would some states require an armed citizen to announce that fact when they encounter anyone from law enforcement? And when that citizen makes the fact known that he or she is armed, what is the first thing many officers do? They disarm an innocent person for the officer’s safety. So now you have an armed government official dealing with a disarmed citizen for whom they supposedly work. If the officer wants the citizen disarmed for their safety, shouldn’t the citizen want the officer disarmed for the same reason? Not only has law enforcement been indoctrinated with the idea that an armed citizen is inherently dangerous, but many citizens have as well. Just look at the public’s reaction at attempts to allow teachers and even retired law enforcement to be armed in schools or business owners who put up “No Guns” signs at their entrances. Even those who attempt to ban the open carrying of arms in public seem to do so out of an irrational fear of seeing a firearm.
The actions of both General Gage and the legal system today appear to have one goal: To create an imbalance of power between the citizenry and the government officials that supposedly work for them. This goes a long way towards explaining why governments illegally impose restrictions on citizens being armed while in their presence or on public property. They aren’t so much interested in controlling guns, but in who has them.
Captain Parker’s orders? “Stand your ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.” What happened next became known as “the shot heard ‘round the world” and the beginning of the colonists’ war for independence.
When confronted with government officials who want to take our rights from us, any of our rights, we should learn from Captain Parker how to react. It’s just three simple steps.
Stand your ground. John Jay said we should read and study the Constituiton so we would know our rights and be better prepared to defend them. That means standing your ground when government officials attempt to deprive you of it. It also means recognizing that the Constitution of the United States not only supersedes state laws, it also is supreme above state constitutions and even federal laws that contradict it.
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
U.S. Constitution, Article VI, Clause 2
Therefore, it is not disobedient to stand up to a government official who is violating the supreme law of the land. While many people call such things “civil disobedience”, if done properly it’s peaceful non-compliance.
Don’t fire unless fired upon. We should not instigate violence, but we should be prepared to respond to it. Should you instigate violence against a government official, you are wrong and should be tried and punished. However, like General Gage, when government illegally brings violence to your door, are you prepared to not only to stand, but to defend yourself? This is a dangerous place to be, so we should all ask ourselves if we are prepared for the consequences if we respond to government violence.
But if they mean to have a war, let it begin here! Why would someone want the war to begin with them? The answer is simple: So their children and their children’s children will not have to. Are you willing to stand up and defend your rights now or will you condemn your children to live under the tyranny you were unwilling to confront?
Today, the Second Amendment is not only mocked and ridiculed, it’s misrepresented.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
U.S. Constitution, Amendment II
A well regulated militia isn’t necessary to protect you, your home, or even your right to hunt, it’s necessary to insure your state remains free. Rarely, though, do people ask free from whom? The answer is not only simple, it’s also quite obvious. Bambi isn’t going to take away your right to keep and bear arms. Even criminals can’t disarm the population of a state. Only governments can exercise the power to infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms. So the well regulated militia in the Second Amendment is to keep our states free from illegal government actions. Whenever a politician or government official claims to support the Second Amendment while trying to disarm or even regulate innocent citizens from exercising their rights, they are lying. Furthermore they, like Lord Dartmouth, are trying to subjugate an otherwise free people. They are tyrants and need not only to be recognized as such, but need to be called out and stood up against.
Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It appears that not only those in elected office, but many Americans, too, cannot remember the history of the battle of Lexington. For that reason, I am afraid we are condemned to repeat it. Our only hope is to remember our history, stand up to tyrants and, if necessary, let the war begin here.