“In Congress, July 4, 1776” (Updated)

This is a document that I believe every American should read at least once a year. I think with all the turmoil in the streets, the cancel culture, and the pernicious Maoist attack on history, it becomes an imperative. It sets forth in very elegant language why our founding fathers decided to become citizens rather than to stay subjects of the British Empire.

I think to today’s social justice warriors. They are probably appalled by the language of this wondrous document which speaks of “merciless Indian Savages” and makes an appeal to the “Supreme Judge of world.” I say this knowing that not a one of today’s social justice warriors would have had the spine to do what the men whose signatures were affixed to this document did. That is to pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor and to be willing to suffer the consequences of their actions. Thus, they contrive to tear down statutes dedicated to these patriots.

It gets even worse. A Texas newspaper, The Liberty County Vindicator, had been publishing the entire Declaration of Independence a few paragraphs at a time as a way to encourage historical literacy. Last year, they also posted these to their Facebook page. The first nine parts went fine but the tenth did not. Facebook’s algorithm for “hate speech” obviously was designed by the social justice warriors because it flagged it for a violation of the policy. The editor said he thought it was probably paragraph 31 which did speak of the “merciless Indian Savages.” After the news went public is when Facebook realized that they had a problem on their hands and reversed themselves.

And finally, the City of Charlottesville, Virginia is ended it commemoration of Jefferson’s birthday. It will be replaced by the Orwellian sounding Liberation and Freedom Day to be celebrated on March 3rd. That was the day in 1865 when Union troops arrived in Virginia near the end of the Civil War.

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America


When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.


He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.


He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.


He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.


He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.


He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.


He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.


He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.


He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.


He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.


He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.


He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.


He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.


He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:


For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:


For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:


For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:


For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:


For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:


For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:


For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies


For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:


For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.


He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.


He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.


He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.


He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.


He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.


In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.


Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.


We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.


— John Hancock


New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton


Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry


Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery


Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott


New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris


New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark


Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross


Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean


Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton


Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton


North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn


South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton


Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

The Mecklenburg Declaration and Resolves (Reposted)

I originally posted this on July 4th of 2010 and have reposted every year since then. I am reposting it to recognize these early North Carolina patriots from Mecklenburg County. Despite all the changes in the Queen City since then, there are still many there or from there who continue the fight for liberty and especially our Second Amendment rights.

Before there was a Declaration of Independence of 1776, there were the Mecklenburg Declaration of May 20, 1775 and the Mecklenburg Resolves of May 31, 1775. While there is significant controversy over the authenticity of the former, there is none regarding the latter. There is controversy about the Mecklenburg Declaration because the original copy is reputed to have been destroyed in a fire and mention of it then only comes to light in 1819. Nonetheless, May 20, 1775 is the date enshrined on both the Great Seal of the State of North Carolina and the State Flag.

Both the Declaration and the Resolves were adopted in Charlotte Town in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Charlotte Town is now known as Charlotte. The area had been settled by the heavily Presbyterian immigrants from Northern Ireland and Scotland known as the Scotch-Irish. Upon hearing of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, they had been outraged and the Declaration was the result.

The Mecklenburg Declaration

  1. That whosoever directly or indirectly abetted or in any way, form or manner countenanced to unchartered & dangerous invasion of our rights as claimed by G. Britain is an enemy to this County – to America & to the inherent & inaliable rights of man.
  2. We the Citizens of Mecklenburg County do hereby desolve the political bands which have connected us to the Mother Country & hereby absolve ourselves from all allegiance to the British crown & abjure all political connection, contract or association with that nation who have wantonly trampled on our rights & liberties & inhumanely shed the innocent blood of American patriots at Lexington.
  3. We do hereby declare ourselves a free and independent people – are & of right ought to be a sovereign & self-governing association, under the controul of no power other than that of our God & the general government of the congress, to the maintainence of which independence civil & religious we solemnly pledge to each other our mutual cooperation, our lives, our fortunes & our most sacred honor.
  4. As we now acknowledge the existence & controul of no law or legal officers, civil or military, within this County, we do hereby ordain & adopt as a rule of life, all, each & every of our former laws – wherein nevertheless the crown of great britain never can be considered as holding rights, privileges, immunities, or authority therein.
  5. It is also further decreed that all, each & every military officer in this County is hereby reinstated in his former command & authority, he acting conformably to these regulations. And that every member present of this delegation shall henceforth be a civil officer, viz. a Justice of the peace in the character of a ‘Committee-man’ to issue process, hear & determine all matters of controversy according to sd. adopted laws – to preserve peace, union & harmony in sd. County & to use every exertion to spread the love of country & fire of freedom throughout America until a more general & organized government be established in this province. A selection from the members present shall constitute a Committee of public safety for sd. County.
  6. That a copy of these resolutions be transmitted by express to the President of the Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia, to be laid before that body.
    Ephraim Brevard
    Hezekiah J. Balch
    John Phifer
    James Harris
    William Kennon
    John Foard
    Richard Barry
    Henry Downs
    Ezra Alexander
    Charles Alexander
    Zaccheus Wilson
    Waightstill Avery
    Benjamin PattonMatthew McClure
    Neil Morrison
    Robert Irwin
    John Flennegin
    David Reese
    William Graham
    John Queary
    Hezekiah Alexander
    Adam Alexander
    John Davidson
    Richard Harris
    Thomas Polk
    Abraham AlexanderJohn McKnitt Alexander

While there still exists much controversy on the authenticity of the Declaration, none exists with regard to the Resolves adopted on May 31, 1775. Captain James Jack of Charlotte was sent with a copy of the resolves and a letter to the North Carolina delegates to the Continental Congress requesting their approval by Congress.

The Mecklenburg Resolves

This day the Committee of this County met, and passed the following Resolves:
WHEREAS by an Address presented to his Majesty by both Houses of Parliament in February last, the American Colonies are declared to be in a state of actual rebellion, we conceive that all Laws and Commissions confirmed by, or derived from the Authority of the king or Parliament, are annulled and vacated, and the former civil Constitution of
these Colonies for the present wholly suspended. To provide in some Degree for the Exigencies of the County in the present alarming Period, we deem it proper and
necessary to pass the following resolves, viz.
1. That all Commissions, civil and military, heretofore granted by the Crown, to be exercised in these Colonies, are null and void, and the Constitution of each particular Colony wholly suspended.
2. That the Provincial Congress of each Province, under the Direction of the Great Continental Congress, is invested with all legislative and executive Powers within their respective Provinces; and that no other Legislative or Executive does or can exist, at this Time, in any of these Colonies.
3. As all former Laws are now suspended in this Province, and the Congress have not yet provided others, we judge it necessary, for the better Preservation of good Order, to form certain Rules and Regulations for the internal Government of this County, until Laws shall be provided for us by the Congress.
4. That the Inhabitants of this Country do meet on a certain Day appointed by this Committee, and having formed themselves into nine Companies, to wit, eight for the County, and one for the Town of Charlotte, do choose a Colonel, and other military Officers, who shall hold and exercise their several Powers by Virtue of this Choice, and independent of Great-Britain, and former Constitution of this Province.
5. That for the better Preservation of the Peace, and Administration of Justice, each of these Companies do choose from their own Body two discreet Freeholders, who shall be impowered each by himself, and singly, to decide and determine all Matters of Controversy arising within the said Company under the Sum of Twenty Shillings, and jointly and together all Controversies under the Sum of Forty Shillings, yet so as their Decisions may admit of Appeals to the Convention of the Select Men of the whole County; and also, that any one of these shall have power to examine, and commit to
Confinement , Persons accused of Petit Larceny.
6. That those two Select Men, thus chosen, do, jointly and together, choose from the
Body of their particular Company two Persons, properly qualified to serve as Constables, who may assist them in the execution of their Office.
7. That upon the Complaint of any Person to either of these Select men, he do issue his Warrant, directed to the Constable, commanding him to bring the Aggressor before him or them to answer the said Complaint.
8. That these Eighteen Select Men, thus appointed, do meet every third Tuesday in January, April, and October, at the Court-House in Charlotte to hear and determine all Matters of Controversy of Sums exceeding Forty Shillings; also Appeals: And in Cases of Felony, to commit the Person or Persons convicted thereof to close Confinement, until the Provincial Congress shall provide and establish Laws and Modes of Proceeding in Such Cases.
9. That these Eighteen Select Men, thus convened, do choose a Clerk to record the Transactions of the said Convention; and that the said Clerk, upon the Application of any Person or Persons aggrieved, do issue his Warrant to one of the Constables, to summons and warn the said Offender to appear before the convention at their next sitting, to answer the aforesaid Complaint.
10. That any Person making Complaint upon Oath to the Clerk, or any Member of the Convention, that he has Reason to suspect that any Person or Persons indebted to him in a Sum above Forty Shillings, do intend clandestinely to withdraw from the County without paying such Debt; the Clerk, or such Member, shall issue his Warrant to the Constable, commanding him to take the said Person or Persons into safe Custody, until the next
sitting of the Convention.
11. That when a Debtor for a Sum below Forty Shillings shall abscond and leave the County, the Warrant granted as aforesaid shall extend to any Goods or Chattels of the said Debtor as may be found, and such Goods or Chattels be seized and held in Custody by the Constable for the space of Thirty Days; in which Term if the Debtor fails to return and discharge the Debt, the Constable shall return the Warranty to one of the Select Men of the Company where the Goods and Chattels were found, who shall issue Orders to the Constable to sell such a part of the said Goods as shall amount to the Sum due; that when
the Debt exceeds Forty Shillings, the Return shall be made to the Convention, who shall issue the Orders for Sale.
12. That Receivers and Collectors for Quitrents, Public and County Taxes, do pay the same into the Hands of the Chairman of this Committee, to be by them disbursed as the public Exigencies may require. And that such Receivers and Collectors proceed no farther in their Office until they be approved of by, and have given to this Committee good and sufficient Security for a faithful return of such Monies when collected.
13. That the Committee be accountable to the County for the Application of all Monies received from such Officers.
14. That all these Officers hold their Commissions during the Pleasure of their
respective Constituents.
15. That this Committee will sustain all Damages that may ever hereafter accrue to all or any of these Officers thus appointed, and thus acting, on Account of their Obedience and Conformity to these Resolves.
16. That whatever Person shall hereafter receive a Commission from the Crown, or
attempt to exercise any such Commission heretofore received, shall be deemed an Enemy to his Country; and upon Information being made to the Captain of the Company where he resides the said Captain shall cause him to be apprehended, and conveyed before the two Select Men of the said Company, who, upon Proof of the Fact, shall commit him the said Offender into safe Custody, until the next sitting of the Convention, who shall deal with him as Prudence may direct.
17. That any Person refusing to yield Obedience to the above Resolves shall be deemed equally criminal, and liable to the same Punishments as the Offenders above last
mentioned.
18. That these Resolves be in full Force and Virtue, until Instructions from the General Congress of this Province, regulating the Jurisprudence of this Province, shall provide otherwise, or the Legislative Body of Great-Britain resign its unjust and arbitrary Pretentions with Respect to America.
19. That the several Militia Companies in this county do provide themselves with proper arms and accoutrements, and hold themselves in constant Readiness to execute the commands and Directions of the Provincial Congress, and of this committee.
20. That this committee do appoint Colonel Thomas Polk, and Doctor Joseph Kennedy, to purchase 300 lb. of Powder, 600 lb. of Lead, and 1000 Flints; and deposit the same in some safe place, hereafter to be appointed by the committee.

Eph. Brevard, Clerk of the Committee.
Singed by Order of the Committee.

This document was printed in the North Carolina Gazette on June 16, 1775,
and the Cape-Fear Mercury on June 23, 1775. There was a slight variation in wording in the two newspapers.

 So on this day as we honor the Nation’s Founders and the Declaration of Independence of 1776, let us also honor these men from a provincial North Carolina backwater who recognized that our future lay in independence from Great Britain.

Concord Hymn

NPS Digital Archives

On July 4, 1837, the residents of Concord, Massachusetts dedicated a monument obelisk on the eastern side of the Old North Bridge to commemorate the second battle of the American Revolution. That battle took place 245 years ago today.

The monument which was erected in 1836 had this inscription:

HERE On the 19 of April, 1775, was made the first forcible resistance to British aggression[.] On the opposite Bank stood the American Militia[.] Here stood the Invading Army and on this spot the first of the Enemy fell in the War of that Revolution which gave Independence to these United States[.] In gratitude to GOD and In the love of Freedom this Monument was erected AD. 1836.

The dedication ceremony had speeches and a hymn written for the occasion by noted Concord resident Ralph Waldo Emerson. That hymn, Concord Hymn, became better known as one of the great poems in American history.

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
   Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
   And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
   Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
   Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
   We set today a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
   When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
   To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
   The shaft we raise to them and thee.

Lines such as “the rude bridge that arched the flood” and “the shot heard around the world” have since passed into the lexicon of American history. Whether such history is still taught in schools is up for debate. If I had to hazard a guess, it has been supplanted by grievance studies telling how unjust, how racist, how whatever America is and always was.

Sigh.

The Midnight Ride Of Paul Revere

245 years ago tonight Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Dr. Samuel Prescott left on their journey to warn the Minutemen that British regulars were marching to seize the colony’s stores of arms, powder, and shot. The next morning, the American Revolution began.

Ironically enough, Gov. Charlie Baker (R-MA) is acting more like General Gage than the early patriots with his orders that firearm dealers remain closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. For his troubles, Baker is being sued in Federal court by a coalition of groups including Commonwealth Second Amendment, Gun Owners Action League, Second Amendment Foundation, and Firearms Policy Coalition in McCarthy v. Baker seeking to have stores reopened. The Pink Pistols have filed a motion to be allowed to file an amicus brief in the case.

While the real story of that midnight ride is here, most Americans know the more fictionalized account popularized by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The poem below was meant to unify the North on the eve of the War Between the States and to remind that history favors the courageous.

Just like when Longfellow wrote Paul Revere’s Ride, we are facing a time of danger. The danger is not just from COVID-19. The more critical danger is that civil liberties are being trampled upon by public officials with their proclamations, emergency orders, etc. Whether it is police in Greenville, Mississippi interfering with a drive-in church, police in Raleigh saying people don’t have the right to assemble even if keeping their social distance, or Gov. Baker’s order on gun stores, the First and Second Amendments are being spit upon by small men with big egos and a misguided sense of their own importance.

It is time for that to stop.

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five:
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry-arch
Of the North-Church-tower, as a signal-light,—
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country-folk to be up and to arm.”

Then he said “Good night!” and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war:
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon, like a prison-bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street
Wanders and watches with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed to the tower of the church,
Up the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry-chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,—
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town,
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night-encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel’s tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, “All is well!”
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,—
A line of black, that bends and floats
On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride,
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse’s side,
Now gazed on the landscape far and near,
Then impetuous stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle-girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry-tower of the old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry’s height,
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns!

A hurry of hoofs in a village-street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed that flies fearless and fleet:
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.

He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders, that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer’s dog,
And felt the damp of the river-fog,
That rises when the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When be came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadows brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket-ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read,
How the British Regulars fired and fled,—
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard-wall,
Chasing the red-coats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,—
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

April 19, 1775

Two hundred thirty-nine years ago today, an effort at gun confiscation by General Thomas Gage was the spark that started a revolution.

Sylvanus Wood was a Minuteman from Woburn, Massachusetts who responded to the call of the Lexington bell. Later in that fateful day, he is credited with being the first man to capture a British Regular during the American Revolution. Below is his sworn recollection of the battle on Lexington Green.

“I, Sylvanus Wood, of Woburn, in the county of Middlesex, and commonwealth of Massachusetts, aged seventy-four years, do testify and say that on the morning of the 19th of April, 1775, I was an inhabitant of Woburn, living with Deacon Obadiah Kendall; that about an hour before the break of day on said morning, I heard the Lexington bell ring, and fearing there was difficulty there, I immediately arose, took my gun and, with Robert Douglass, went in haste to Lexington, which was about three miles distant.

When I arrived there, I inquired of Captain Parker, the commander of the Lexington company, what was the news. Parker told me he did not know what to believe, for a man had come up about half an hour before and informed him that the British troops were not on the road. But while we were talking, a messenger came up and told the captain that the British troops were within half a mile. Parker immediately turned to his drummer, William Diman, and ordered him to beat to arms, which was done. Captain Parker then asked me if I would parade with his company. I told him I would. Parker then asked me if the young man with me would parade. I spoke to Douglass, and he said he would follow the captain and me.

By this time many of the company had gathered around the captain at the hearing of the drum, where we stood, which was about half way between the meetinghouse and Buckman’s tavern. Parker says to his men, ‘Every man of you, who is equipped, follow me; and those of you who are not equipped, go into the meeting-house and furnish yourselves from the magazine, and immediately join the company.’ Parker led those of us who were equipped to the north end of Lexington Common, near the Bedford Road, and formed us in single file. I was stationed about in the centre of the company. While we were standing, I left my place and went from one end of the company to the other and counted every man who was paraded, and the whole number was thirty-eight, and no more.

Just as I had finished and got back to my place, I perceived the British troops had arrived on the spot between the meeting-house and Bucknian’s, near where Captain Parker stood when he first led off his men. The British troops immediately wheeled so as to cut off those who had gone into the meeting-house. The British troops approached us rapidly in platoons, with a general officer on horseback at their head. The officer came up to within about two rods of the centre of the company, where I stood, the first platoon being about three rods distant. They there halted. The officer then swung his sword, and said, ‘Lay down your arms, you damned rebels, or you are all dead men. Fire!’ Some guns were fired by the British at us from the first platoon, but no person was killed or hurt, being probably charged only with powder.

Just at this time, Captain Parker ordered every man to take care of himself. The company immediately dispersed; and while the company was dispersing and leaping over the wall, the second platoon of the British fired and killed some of our men. There was not a gun fired by any of Captain Parker’s company, within my knowledge. I was so situated that I must have known it, had any thing of the kind taken place before a total dispersion of our company. I have been intimately acquainted with the inhabitants of Lexington, and particularly with those of Captain Parker’s company, and, with one exception, I have never heard any of them say or pretend that there was any firing at the British from Parker’s company, or any individual in it until within a year or two. One member of the company told me, many years since, that, after Parker’s company had dispersed, and he was at some distance, he gave them ‘the guts of his gun.'”

BY The Rude Bridge That Arched The Flood

While I might be accused of being an insurrectionist for remembering that today is the 237th anniversary of the stand that our forefathers took at the Lexington Green and the Concord Bridge, I think it is worth remembering their stand and the ultimate sacrifice paid by militiamen of Massachusetts.

One of the better ways of remembering them is to participate in the Appleseed Project of the Revolutionary War Veterans Association. For those that are unfamiliar with the Appleseed Project, it is dedicated to teaching both riflery and history. According to those who have participated such as Bob Owens and Sean Sorrentino, the experience is well worth the effort. As Bob notes, it is “affordable, enjoyable and empowering.”

To learn more about the Revolutionary War Veterans Association and the Appleseed Project, go here.

I saw a couple of their billboards in Illinois while attending the NRA Annual Meeting last week. One was at the base of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Bridge and was co-sponsored by ISRA. The other was on Interstate 57 near Rend Lake. It was a pleasure to see both of them in a state which seeks to put up as many roadblocks to lawful firearm ownership as does Illinois.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, philosopher and writer, commemorated the event with his poem Concord Hymn. Unlike many modern day intellectuals, Emerson was not ashamed to show his patriotism. The poem was first read on July 4th, 1837 to mark the erection of the Concord Monument.

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

Mecklenburg Declaration and Mecklenburg Resolves

Before there was a Declaration of Independence of 1776, there were the Mecklenburg Declaration of May 20, 1775 and the Mecklenburg Resolves of May 31, 1775. While there is significant controversy over the authenticity of the former, there is none regarding the latter. There is controversy about the Mecklenburg Declaration because the original copy is reputed to have been destroyed in a fire and mention of it then only comes to light in 1819. Nonetheless, May 20, 1775 is the date enshrined on both the Great Seal of the State of North Carolina and the State Flag.

Both the Declaration and the Resolves were adopted in Charlotte Town in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Charlotte Town is now known as Charlotte. The area had been settled by the heavily Presbyterian immigrants from Northern Ireland and Scotland known as the Scotch-Irish. Upon hearing of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, they had been outraged and the Declaration was the result.

The Mecklenburg Declaration

  1. That whosoever directly or indirectly abetted or in any way, form or manner countenanced to unchartered & dangerous invasion of our rights as claimed by G. Britain is an enemy to this County – to America & to the inherent & inaliable rights of man.
  2. We the Citizens of Mecklenburg County do hereby desolve the political bands which have connected us to the Mother Country & hereby absolve ourselves from all allegiance to the British crown & abjure all political connection, contract or association with that nation who have wantonly trampled on our rights & liberties & inhumanely shed the innocent blood of American patriots at Lexington.
  3. We do hereby declare ourselves a free and independent people – are & of right ought to be a sovereign & self-governing association, under the controul of no power other than that of our God & the general government of the congress, to the maintainence of which independence civil & religious we solemnly pledge to each other our mutual cooperation, our lives, our fortunes & our most sacred honor.
  4. As we now acknowledge the existence & controul of no law or legal officers, civil or military, within this County, we do hereby ordain & adopt as a rule of life, all, each & every of our former laws – wherein nevertheless the crown of great britain never can be considered as holding rights, privileges, immunities, or authority therein.
  5. It is also further decreed that all, each & every military officer in this County is hereby reinstated in his former command & authority, he acting conformably to these regulations. And that every member present of this delegation shall henceforth be a civil officer, viz. a Justice of the peace in the character of a ‘Committee-man’ to issue process, hear & determine all matters of controversy according to sd. adopted laws – to preserve peace, union & harmony in sd. County & to use every exertion to spread the love of country & fire of freedom throughout America until a more general & organized government be established in this province. A selection from the members present shall constitute a Committee of public safety for sd. County.
  6. That a copy of these resolutions be transmitted by express to the President of the Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia, to be laid before that body.
    Ephraim Brevard
    Hezekiah J. Balch
    John Phifer
    James Harris
    William Kennon
    John Foard
    Richard Barry
    Henry Downs
    Ezra Alexander
    Charles Alexander
    Zaccheus Wilson
    Waightstill Avery
    Benjamin Patton
    Matthew McClure
    Neil Morrison
    Robert Irwin
    John Flennegin
    David Reese
    William Graham
    John Queary
    Hezekiah Alexander
    Adam Alexander
    John Davidson
    Richard Harris
    Thomas Polk
    Abraham Alexander
    John McKnitt Alexander

While there still exists much controversy on the authenticity of the Declaration, none exists with regard to the Resolves adopted on May 31, 1775. Captain James Jack of Charlotte was sent with a copy of the resolves and a letter to the North Carolina delegates to the Continental Congress requesting their approval by Congress.

The Mecklenburg Resolves

This day the Committee of this County met, and passed the following Resolves:
WHEREAS by an Address presented to his Majesty by both Houses of Parliament in
February last, the American Colonies are declared to be in a state of actual rebellion, we
conceive that all Laws and Commissions confirmed by, or derived from the Authority of
the king or Parliament, are annulled and vacated, and the former civil Constitution of
these Colonies for the present wholly suspended. To provide in some Degree for the
Exigencies of the County in the present alarming Period, we deem it proper and
necessary to pass the following resolves, viz.
1. That all Commissions, civil and military, heretofore granted by the Crown, to be
exercised in these Colonies, are null and void, and the Constitution of each particular
Colony wholly suspended.
2. That the Provincial Congress of each Province, under the Direction of the Great
Continental Congress, is invested with all legislative and executive Powers within their
respective Provinces; and that no other Legislative or Executive does or can exist, at this
Time, in any of these Colonies.
3. As all former Laws are now suspended in this Province, and the Congress have not
yet provided others, we judge it necessary, for the better Preservation of good Order, to
form certain Rules and Regulations for the internal Government of this County, until
Laws shall be provided for us by the Congress.
4. That the Inhabitants of this Country do meet on a certain Day appointed by this
Committee, and having formed themselves into nine Companies, to wit, eight for the
County, and one for the Town of Charlotte, do choose a Colonel, and other military
Officers, who shall hold and exercise their several Powers by Virtue of this Choice, and
independent of Great-Britain, and former Constitution of this Province.
5. That for the better Preservation of the Peace, and Administration of Justice, each of
these Companies do choose from their own Body two discreet Freeholders, who shall be
impowered each by himself, and singly, to decide and determine all Matters of
Controversy arising within the said Company under the Sum of Twenty Shillings, and
jointly and together all Controversies under the Sum of Forty Shillings, yet so as their
Decisions may admit of Appeals to the Convention of the Select Men of the whole
County; and also, that any one of these shall have power to examine, and commit to
Confinement , Persons accused of Petit Larceny.
6. That those two Select Men, thus chosen, do, jointly and together, choose from the
Body of their particular Company two Persons, properly qualified to serve as Constables,
who may assist them in the execution of their Office.
7. That upon the Complaint of any Person to either of these Select men, he do issue his
Warrant, directed to the Constable, commanding him to bring the Aggressor before him
or them to answer the said Complaint.
8. That these Eighteen Select Men, thus appointed, do meet every third Tuesday in
January, April, and October, at the Court-House in Charlotte to hear and determine all
Matters of Controversy of Sums exceeding Forty Shillings; also Appeals: And in Cases
of Felony, to commit the Person or Persons convicted thereof to close Confinement, until
the Provincial Congress shall provide and establish Laws and Modes of Proceeding in
Such Cases.
9. That these Eighteen Select Men, thus convened, do choose a Clerk to record the
Transactions of the said Convention; and that the said Clerk, upon the Application of any
Person or Persons aggrieved, do issue his Warrant to one of the Constables, to summons
and warn the said Offender to appear before the convention at their next sitting, to answer
the aforesaid Complaint.
10. That any Person making Complaint upon Oath to the Clerk, or any Member of the
Convention, that he has Reason to suspect that any Person or Persons indebted to him in a
Sum above Forty Shillings, do intend clandestinely to withdraw from the County without
paying such Debt; the Clerk, or such Member, shall issue his Warrant to the Constable,
commanding him to take the said Person or Persons into safe Custody, until the next
sitting of the Convention.
11. That when a Debtor for a Sum below Forty Shillings shall abscond and leave the
County, the Warrant granted as aforesaid shall extend to any Goods or Chattels of the
said Debtor as may be found, and such Goods or Chattels be seized and held in Custody
by the Constable for the space of Thirty Days; in which Term if the Debtor fails to return
and discharge the Debt, the Constable shall return the Warranty to one of the Select Men
of the Company where the Goods and Chattels were found, who shall issue Orders to the
Constable to sell such a part of the said Goods as shall amount to the Sum due; that when
the Debt exceeds Forty Shillings, the Return shall be made to the Convention, who shall
issue the Orders for Sale.
12. That Receivers and Collectors for Quitrents, Public and County Taxes, do pay the
same into the Hands of the Chairman of this Committee, to be by them disbursed as the
public Exigencies may require. And that such Receivers and Collectors proceed no
farther in their Office until they be approved of by, and have given to this Committee
good and sufficient Security for a faithful return of such Monies when collected.
13. That the Committee be accountable to the County for the Application of all Monies
received from such Officers.
14. That all these Officers hold their Commissions during the Pleasure of their
respective Constituents.
15. That this Committee will sustain all Damages that may ever hereafter accrue to all
or any of these Officers thus appointed, and thus acting, on Account of their Obedience
and Conformity to these Resolves.
16. That whatever Person shall hereafter receive a Commission from the Crown, or
attempt to exercise any such Commission heretofore received, shall be deemed an Enemy
to his Country; and upon Information being made to the Captain of the Company where
he resides the said Captain shall cause him to be apprehended, and conveyed before the
two Select Men of the said Company, who, upon Proof of the Fact, shall commit him the
said Offender into safe Custody, until the next sitting of the Convention, who shall deal
with him as Prudence may direct.
17. That any Person refusing to yield Obedience to the above Resolves shall be deemed
equally criminal, and liable to the same Punishments as the Offenders above last
mentioned.
18. That these Resolves be in full Force and Virtue, until Instructions from the General
Congress of this Province, regulating the Jurisprudence of this Province, shall provide
otherwise, or the Legislative Body of Great-Britain resign its unjust and arbitrary
Pretentions with Respect to America.
19. That the several Militia Companies in this county do provide themselves with
proper arms and accoutrements, and hold themselves in constant Readiness to execute the
commands and Directions of the Provincial Congress, and of this committee.
20. That this committee do appoint Colonel Thomas Polk, and Doctor Joseph Kennedy,
to purchase 300 lb. of Powder, 600 lb. of Lead, and 1000 Flints; and deposit the same in
some safe place, hereafter to be appointed by the committee.
Eph. Brevard, Clerk of the Committee.
Singed by Order of the Committee.

This document was printed in the North Carolina Gazette on June 16, 1775,
and the Cape-Fear Mercury on June 23, 1775. There was a slight variation in wording in
the two newspapers.

 So on this day as we honor the Nation’s Founders and the Declaration of Independence of 1776, let us also honor these men from a provincial North Carolina backwater who recognized that our future lay in independence from Great Britain.