Goodreads Profile

All my book reviews and profile can be found here.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Patriots

Barnes and Noble produces an excellent series of lectures similar to The Teaching Company. One, entitled The Patriots, (Joseph Ellis) is an examination of those extraordinary individuals who were responsible for the revolution. It's part hagiography, part myth buster.

We use the term "insurgents" in such a pejorative manner when speaking of the rebels in Iraq, yet that's precisely what the Founding Fathers were. The Sons of Liberty, supported by such icons as Paul Revere and Samuel and John Adams, in their antipathy to the Stamp Act of 1765, decided that recalcitrant citizens who were not eager enough in their support of the anti-monarch movement needed violent persuasion. Although they avoided personal violence, they were not averse to destroying the property of those who opposed them.

John Adams played an unusual role in that he feared mob action, no matter how democratic. In fact, he went out of his way to defend the British officers who had been accused of malfeasance during the so-called Boston Massacre (so named by Samuel Adams who used it as propaganda.) Thomas Preston, the officer in charge, commanded the soldiers not to fire, but they did, five people died, and Adams persuaded the jury that the soldiers had responded with justifiable force given the threats from the crowd.

Interesting sidenote that "Massacre Day," which Adams remarked to be the beginning of the American Revolution, was celebrated for many years until it was replaced by July 4th. Paul Revere's illustration of the event was notable mostly for the errors it contained: it was not during the day and Crispus Attacus, the first American to be killed in the Revolution, was black not white.
Post a Comment