In 1775, Boston was smaller than Atascadero in both land and people. The British had suspended their civil rights, landed troops to replace civil authority and abused the civil population.
On April 19, a column of British troops marched on Lexington and Concord, confronting 71 “Minutemen” on Lexington Green, and opened fire, killing eight colonials and wounding many more. One of the fallen was Isaac Davis, 30, leaving behind a wife and four children. Marching on to Concord, the British were confronted by a militia company at the Old North Bridge, where both British and colonials fell.
Harassing the British withdrawal, colonials would approach within 10 yards of British soldiers before firing, facing certain death by bayonet. The British retaliated, invading homes searching for militia, killing everyone inside. One militiaman entering a home described a scene of carnage after the British killed all the civilian occupants within. Marching back to Boston, the British suffered 73 killed with over 200 wounded or missing; the colonials suffered about 100 dead and wounded militiamen in the daylong battle.
In the ensuing two months, an outraged army of 16,000 citizen-soldiers surrounded the British garrison in Boston and placed it under siege. They weren’t fighting their government, but a “foreign invader” determined to destroy their liberty.
On June 17, 1775, another battle took place when colonials fortified heights overlooking Boston Harbor. The British landed several thousand troops, burned the town of Charleston and attacked the colonial fortifications at Bunker Hill. The Colonials fought fiercely until their ammunition ran out and left hundreds of British dead on the field to their front. News travelled slowly, but over the course of several months all 37 colonial newspapers became aware of the fight in New England. After Bunker Hill, George Washington, newly minted commander of Colonial troops by the Continental Congress, arrived to take command. In March 1776, the British withdrew from Boston as “moderate” attempts to negotiate reconciliation with the Crown failed.
In June, 1776, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin led a committee in Philadelphia to write up a Declaration of Independence. The effort was passionately opposed by some, but after 17 days of debate a resolution was passed on July 2, 1776. It was formally adopted by the whole congress on July 4, and first read to the public on July 8.
All signers of the Declaration faced death for treason, forfeiture of lands, and imprisonment or exile for families. Of the 56 signers, some lost everything, including their families imprisoned in British ships, many of whom died during long years of captivity. British revenge could be cruel; ‘signers’ horses not seized for British use were killed, even the foals.
For 237 years, Americans have defended liberties hard-fought to preserve; take a moment today to reflect upon the sacrifices made by the Founders and their successors to provide you the freedom you enjoy today.
For the complete article see the 07-04-2012 issue.
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