So You Say You Want a Revolution?
Lexington Green. Dawn. April 19, 1775. Captain John Parker, commander of the Lexington militia, stood among seventy-some men, many of them kin, all of them neither rich nor poor, awaiting the arrival of the British Regulars.
Facing overwhelming odds, Captain Parker turned to his men and said, "The first man who offers to run shall be shot down. Stand your ground! Don't fire until fired upon! But if they want to have a war, let it begin here!"
Later that morning, on the training field just across the Concord River from the town of Concord, members of the colonial militia watched as smoke began to rise from the town. Lieutenant Joseph Hosmer turned to Colonel James Barrett, overall commander of the Concord militia, and said, "Will you let them burn the town down?" Upon hearing this, Captain Isaac Davis drew his sword and replied, "I haven't a man who is afraid to go."
The day's events unfolded, and eight long, bloody years of war followed. Although in hindsight we know the outcome of this conflict, to these men, the future was uncertain. "Give me liberty or give me death" was more than just a saying.
For those keyboard commandos who have given up on America and are just waiting for a new American Revolutionary War to have a chance to "water the tree of liberty," think about this: Captain Parker did not want to be there. He did not want to see his kin slaughtered in front of him. Neither did young Captain Davis, the first American officer killed in the Revolutionary War, want to leave his wife a widow and his children orphans. However, they knew what the stakes were. In fact, the last thing Captain Davis said to his wife was "Take good care of the children."
These men had only two choices. They could either submit to King George's rule, or they could resist with arms. Thankful for the choice that they made, we have been left with a third option: involvement. The Tenth Amendment is not just about states' rights. It puts the ultimate authority into the hands of the people -- into our hands. Brave men died for this.
By afternoon of that fateful day, more than 14,000 men, under arms, were marching to the sound of the guns with one thing in mind: the defense of liberty. Do you think you can get 14,000 people to defend liberty, risking their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor? How about one thousand? One hundred? Ten? Surely with our cell phones, Twitter, and Facebook, we could do as well as Paul Revere did with his eighteenth-century "phone tree."
Sadly, most of us would be lucky to get a dozen people to get off the couch to pay attention to something besides American Idol. Perhaps Paul Revere had a simple advantage that we seem to have left by the wayside.
Contrary to Longfellow, Revere did not ride through the countryside shouting, "The British are coming!" First of all, they were all British citizens. What he did was stop at communities and speak to their leaders. Clergy, shopkeepers, farmers, and innkeepers -- Revere knew them all. This wasn't his first time down this road. He had cultivated relationships with all of them. They, in turn, alerted their neighbors of the danger to liberty.
So, patriots, here is your homework assignment. Today, step away from the keyboard and pick up a pencil and a piece of paper. Knock on your neighbor's door. Ask him his name. Ask him for his e-mail. Ask him who should be contacted if something happens to him. Find out if he has any special medical conditions that should be taken into consideration, especially if he is elderly. Ask him if he has any special skills, and what his hobbies are. Do this for your entire street or building. Consolidate it and give everyone a copy. Find someone on the next street that will do the same.
Some may not want to participate. That is all right. Many wanted no part of Paul Revere. Most you talk to will want to know why you are doing this. Tell them that you will need to look after each other in case of disaster, natural or otherwise.
If you have not figured this out yet, you are forming a "Committee of Safety," just as our founders did.
Say you get only ten people to go along. Well, that is ten times what you can do alone. You can make ten times the difference. You will also have something that internet forums and chat rooms cannot give you: density. Paul Revere knew the importance of it. Start small, but start now.
While you are knocking on doors, here is something to think about. Many years after the American Revolution, Captain Levi Preston of Danvers was asked by a young reporter, "What made you go to the Concord fight? Was it the Stamp Act? Was it the tea tax?"
"I never saw any stamps, and I always understood that none were ever sold. Tea tax? I never drank a drop of the stuff. Besides, the boys threw it all overboard."
"Well then, what was the matter?"
"Young man, what we meant in going after those Redcoats was this: we had always governed ourselves and we always meant to. They didn't mean we should."
Ebben Raves is a veteran, constitutional conservative activist, and speaker who teaches American history and has been a guest on several talk radio shows. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.