Tag Archive | "Boston Tea Party"

Midnight Riders

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“Listen, my children, and you will hear

Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.”

 

No doubt you have heard or read the opening lines of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem concerning one of our most colorful heroes of the Revolutionary War.  Equally high is the probability that you are not familiar with the entire story of Paul Revere, or that of his brave compatriots.   We are about to rectify this, in order to clarify the contributions of those who helped to forge the United States of America.

Born on December 22, 1734 in Boston, Massachusetts, our hero entered the world as the son of a French Huguenot immigrant, Apollo Rivoire, and a Bostonian mother, Deborah Hichborn.  Apollo, who became a journeyman silversmith, Anglicized the family name to “Revere” and passed his craft on to his sons.  Upon Apollo’s death, Deborah assumed management of the business and their sons, including Paul, performed the actual silver work.

Paul grew up to serve as a Second Lieutenant in an artillery regiment, seeing action in our dawning nation’s French and Indian Wars.   After separating from the army, Paul returned to his hometown, where he became a prominent and prosperous silversmith as well as a member of the secret society of Freemasons.  He settled in North Square, married Sarah Orne, and with her, had six children.

During this time, Paul became actively involved in a political group named The Sons of Liberty.  England, which viewed the budding America possessively as colonies under her rule, levied taxes while denying the colonists a voice in Parliament.  Some of those who disagreed with this “under my thumb” approach formed the Sons of Liberty.  If you can imagine a latter-day Greenpeace, you’ll have a notion as to how this organization got its point across.   They destroyed the symbols of the English gentry, spoke out vocally against the British Crown, and generally became a thorn in England’s side.  Dr. Joseph Warren was a member of this activist group, and became Paul’s friend.

In 1773, Paul’s wife Sarah died.  After remarrying Rachael Walker, Paul added five more children to his family and turned his lucrative silver business over to his son, Paul Jr., to concentrate on removing the British from American soil.  Although history cannot tell us for certain whether or not Paul was present that day, his contributions may have included helping to dump a lot of tea into the Boston Harbor to illustrate that “taxation without representation is tyranny.”

After this original Tea Party in 1773, Paul served as a messenger for the Boston Committee of Public Safety.  In this capacity, he ferried messages to supporters in New York and Philadelphia concerning the political unrest in Boston.

In 1774, the British had had enough of The Sons of Liberty and their brand of insurgence.   They closed the port of Boston and began to house great numbers of soldiers, nicknamed “The Regulars,” around the city.  In 1775, Dr. Warren dispatched Revere to ride to Lexington, Massachusetts, to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the British were coming to arrest them for their part in fomenting the colonies’ independence from England.   Arriving in Lexington at midnight, Revere helped our two forefathers to escape arrest.

Paul’s fellows then rowed him across the Charles River to the city of Charleston.  Here, Paul had already made a connection with the sympathetic deacon of Old North Church in Boston.  Upon word from Revere, the deacon was to hang one or two lanterns in the bell tower of the church to warn of the advancement of the British militia upon Lexington  (“One if by land and two if by sea”).  When Paul arrived with word, the deacon made good on his, thereby warning the surrounding countryside of the British invasion.

At this point, another rider, William (Billy) Dawes appeared on the scene.  Charged with the same mission as Paul, he came from a different route as a hedge against capture. Revere and Dawes then decided to ride together to Concord, Massachusetts, where ammunition and guns were stored, in order to spread the alarm further and enable the colonists to take up arms.  A third rider, Dr. Samuel Prescott, assisted them.

Soon, the courageous trio was arrested by a British patrol.  Dawes and Prescott managed to escape, and after a brief interrogation that satisfied The Crown’s troops, Revere was released.  He returned to Lexington in time to witness the battle on the Lexington Green, in which the Sons of Liberty and their supporters repelled the British.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow immortalized the silversmith-turned-activist in his famous poem, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.”  Longfellow, however, failed to mention Billy Dawes or Dr. Prescott.  Other poems have been written to honor these men.   One of them is: 

Paul Revere’s and Billy Dawes’ Ride

By Marc Stockwell-Moniz

 

Let me tell you about the night in ’75 —

It’s all about Paul Revere’s and Billy Dawes rides.

Off they went with two strong steeds

The Regulars are out, so patriots take heed.

With swift strong steps and scarlet coats

They crossed the Charles, went Paul in his boat.

One by land and two by sea,

His majesty’s boys in Lexington by three.

And off went Billy through the Back Bay,

The lesser known of the two heroes today.

The Charlestown road Paul did take

Through Medford and Metotomy for Adam’s sake.

Dawes arrived first to warn the town:

“The Regulars are coming, they are bound!”

Along the road, Paul met some foes,

Got captured awhile, then laid low.

But the hero broke free and off he fled.

“I must make it to Hancock”, is what he said.

So early in the morning, Paul arrived

To tell Adam’s and Hancock they must hide.

Then the patriot men gathered on the green

Standing tall to greet the British scene.

So off rode the duo in the middle of the night

To help launch a nation’s maiden flight.

So forever and ever, they’ll ride again

The all-night ride of America’s men.

Raise Your Voice (America Gave You One)

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Let Your Voice Be Heard

 

When the twisted fiends felled the Twin Towers on 9/11, Internet chatter as well as direct messages seeping like toxic waste out of terrorist camps indicated that they’d accomplished more than they’d hoped for (they had not expected the total obliteration of both structures).  In their wildest and sickest dreams, the terrorists could not have anticipated  the fallout from the blackest day on American soil.

 

This fallout runs deeper than the subsequent crisis on Wall Street, our military’s hunt for Bin Laden in his rat holes, escalation of our forces in Iraq, and the current recession.  For the love of God — and if you don’t love God, then for the love of our country — please read my last statement again, carefully.  Let it go through you like slow ice.  What could possibly be worse than any or all of that?  The dismantling of our tenets underpinning our Constitution is the absolute worst that can happen — and it’s been happening, because in our fear and anger and apathy, we have allowed it to happen.

 

Viewed impartially, the Constitution is nothing more and nothing less than a soul pact.  It’s the pact that our forefathers made with each other, and with all future generations born upon this soil, and those immigrating to this soil to take the oath of citizenry.  It is an agreement that all men, women, and children are born into this world via something greater than themselves, with unalienable rights bestowed upon them by that God.  God is and must remain an essential part of our national equation because without a higher authority, to whom are we accountable as a nation?  And we must be accountable as a nation, to ourselves and to the Constitution.

 

The treatment of confirmed and self-proclaimed terrorists in Gitmo Bay, the Federal edict to try the terrorists in civil rather than military courts, the potentiality of a national healthcare system, jobs going overseas, corporate scum bailed out to the tune of billions on the blood, sweat, and tears of private citizens, the war in Iraq — all of this has plunged us into a socio-political and economic crisis more intense and even more trying that what we had endured in the ’60s’s — and that’s saying a lot. Our President’s acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize with one hand while escalating the war in Afghanistan with the other should not have stunned anyone.  It is perhaps the most glaring example of how torn our nation has become.

 

No matter the winds that buffet us at home and from abroad, we must hold tight to our freedoms as citizens, and honor — not just give lip service to — the principles upon which the Constitution is based.   There must be no double standards here, and since there are, we must work to rectify them.  The world still watches and waits to see what America does; what will we show them?

 

We will show them what we are made of.  We will show them what has kept us intact and what has strengthened us thus far.  This is not the first time that we’ve been tossed upon the churning waters of national flux; not the first time that our envelope was pushed to its limits.

 

Blood ran in our streets in the 1960’s, and for too long (even one day is too long).  Entire families were forever fractured over the long bloody war in Vietnam.  Women emerged as an inarguable and permanent factor in the work force.  Men walked on the moon for the first time in history.  Eastern theosophy rose slowly on America’s shores, illuminating the Golden Rule, as God knows, we needed illumination.  Three of our best and bravest were cut down before our eyes: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President Jack Kennedy, and his brother, U.S. Attorney General Bobby Kennedy.  They did not die in vain but rather, inspired and instituted legislation that solidified the canons stated in our Constitution, far beyond mere rhetoric. These three men and those who supported them strengthened the reality behind the concept that we are all of us in this together (“E pluribus Unum”: “Out of many, One”).

 

Like those who tossed the tea into the Boston Harbor more than two centuries ago, and those who marched on Washington and through local streets forty-plus years ago, you must exercise your rights under the Constitution in order to keep that Constitution alive.   If something troubles you — an elected leader, a corrupt or inhuman and inhumane organization —  speak out.  Now is not the time for burying your head in the sand; nor is it the time for indulging in self-pity.  And nothing that impacted the common good was ever gained through silence and indifference. Much, however, was gained through peaceful organization, the raising of communal voices, unmitigated pressure upon our elected leaders, and the passage of true and lasting change.

Tea, Anyone?

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Boston Tea Party

On July 4, 1776, patriots from the 13 British colonies in North America declared their independence from England and formed the United States of America.  Decrying “taxation without representation,” colonists demonstrated their displeasure with British rule via acts of civil disobedience, the most famous of which was the Boston Tea Party.  233 years later, a new group of self-proclaimed patriots is again expressing its displeasure with the direction of government.  Alarmed by high rates of taxation and plans to further expand the scope of government at all levels, a loose affiliation of groups from around the country have dubbed themselves “Tea Party Patriots.”  This weekend, in concert with Fourth of July festivities, they will conduct 1300 events across the country and anticipate more than 1 million participants.

 

On July 3rd at the “Green” in Summit, New Jersey, several hundred citizens from the general area rallied in support of this nascent movement.  They came to listen to speeches, sign petitions, and voice their general disapproval of the direction of government at all levels.  Many carried flags and signs critical of universal healthcare, pending cap and trade legislation, and current political figures including President Obama and Governor Corzine. One man wore a shirt bearing phrases from the Declaration of Independence.  Many people bore hats or accessories indicating affiliation with military and other organizations.

 

Political candidates consonant with the viewpoint of attendees circulated among those gathered.  Tents and tables were setup to facilitate collection of signatures.  On one end of the “Green” was placed a wall of posterboard and a table with post-it notepads.  Participants wrote and posted messages.  Among the messages were “Legalize Liberty,” “Get Rid of Incumbent Politicians,” “Just Say No to Socialism,” and “Send Illegals Home Now and Save Trillions on Healthcare and Education.”

 

From a podium, a number of speakers shared points of view, among them a self-avowed Presidential candidate, Warren Mosler, who explained monetary policy in some detail and the Libertarian Party Gubernatorial candidate in the upcoming election, Ken Kaplan, who beseeched the audience to consider the possibility that a third-party candidate might actually win this year’s election.

 

The real stars of the show, however, were those ordinary citizens who, without expectation of personal gain, expressed their opinions clearly and persuasively.  One such individual who inspired those in attendance was Barbara Summers of Plainfield, New Jersey.  One of only two minority members in attendance, Barbara, an African-American mother of three, grandmother of four, and a lifelong Democrat, electrified the audience with her personal experiences with public healthcare and her recounting of the failures of government in general.  When asked what motivated her to appear and speak, she stated that she was witnessing “her country fall apart before her eyes” and that “half the country doesn’t know what’s going on.”  In response, she vowed to “keep knocking on doors” and to “stand up for America.”  When asked to what she attributed the lack of African-Americans and other minorities in attendance, Barbara indicated that many people were uninformed.  She further indicated that she was the only member of her family who did not vote for Barack Obama, indicating that she stands with the philosophy of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and judges candidates “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

 

Another such ordinary citizen was Joe Schilp, a video producer and State employee.  Joe gave an impassioned speech detailing the large tax burden endured by the citizens of New Jersey, quoting “53%” as the combined tax rate (federal, state, municipal) paid by the average New Jersey family.  A father of three and lifelong resident, he indicated that the birth of his children motivated him to become more active politically.  He is concerned about the direction of government and doesn’t want to leave his children with a “socialist state where the government controls everything.”  Stressing that he is not a professional politician, he expressed his concern about the growth of government and established goals of “getting liberty back, getting tax money back, and…stopping government from growing so fast.”

 

Regaining liberty and control over government were themes common to both speakers and those in attendance.  Among those in attendance were a young couple John and Nora Brower and their adorable young daughter Angelina.  With a sign saying “You Bankrupted My Future,” the Brower’s message was clearly in tune with that of the speakers and others in the audience.  Tim Adriance, an organizer for NewJerseyTeaPartyCoalition.org from Bergen County, historical restorationist, and historian with no less than fifteen ancestors in the American Revolution, believes it essential that the message “preserve your liberty” be impressed upon every citizen.  He further indicated the Federal government has overstepped its Constitutional bounds, infringing upon the rights of the individual states.  On the Fourth, he and his group will march as a contingent in the Ridgewood, New Jersey Fourth of July Parade to increase public awareness of the current threats to liberty.  Brian Arnesman of Morris County attended because he “felt it was time to stop just speaking with [his] vote and…to do something more”  Travelling by motorcycle with a group of other bikers, Brian relished the opportunity to meet and speak with other like-minded individuals.

 

A common theme among speakers and attendees alike was dissatisfaction with both Democrat and Republican parties.  While no surprise that the more liberal Democrat party would receive low marks from the Tea Party Patriots, the loudest boos were reserved for Republicans considered turncoats by virtue of their abandonment of conservative principles.  New Jersey Congressmen Leonard Lance, Chris Smith, and Frank LoBiondo were pilloried for their alignment with the Democrats in recent House passage of cap and trade legislation.  Even a local Republican candidate criticized Congressman Smith as an example of Republicans who had “compromised their ideology” to gain reelection.  Richard Piatkowski, Republican State Assembly candidate for the 19th Legislative District, shared this and other views while circulating among the event’s attendees.  Pointing to a public works project in Perth Amboy, he tied cost overruns to campaign contributions to the Mayor and his 19th District opponent, flagrant examples of “pay to play” in New Jersey..

 

Perhaps the most unique political perspective was that of Neil McGettigan, President of the Objectivist Party of New Jersey.   Convinced that the upcoming Corzine-Christie race does not provide New Jerseyans with a real choice, McGettigan and his group are promoting a write-in candidate, John Galt, as a protest vote.  Now, if you are wondering who John Galt is, he is not a person at all, but a character from Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.”  In the dystopian novel, Rand depicts a United States that has fallen into socialism.  Tired of the dictates of the government, society’s innovators and producers, led by the mysterious John Galt, progressively disappear from society and start their own, one of absolute freedom.  The Objectivist Party, according to McGettigan, wants to “go back to the Jeffersonian ideal.”  And, by writing in John Galt for governor, you can send that message.

 

Will the Tea Party movement, with well-known supporters including Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, succeed in reversing the course of big government and returning power to “we the people?”  Only time will tell.  But, if the enthusiasm of those attending the Summit Tea Party is any indication, one of their own will be sipping tea in the Oval Office in January 2013.

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