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The American Revolution and the Insignificance of Lexington and Concord

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Grant Miller

on 20 September 2016

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Transcript of The American Revolution and the Insignificance of Lexington and Concord

The American Revolution
and the
Insignificance of
Lexington and Concord

As a result of the fabeled line, "the shot heard 'round the world" in Emerson's 1837 poem, textbooks have signified the events that took place in Lexington and Concord in 1775 as the starting point of the American Revolution.
But why did the revolution begin there? Let's look at the evidence.
Title: The United States: Story of a Free People
Author: Samuel Steinberg
Year Published: 1963
Publisher: Allyn and Bacon

The Battle of Lexington

In April 1775, General Gage, the military governor of Massachusetts, sent out a body of troops to take possession of military stores at Concord, a short distance from Boston. At Lexington, a handful of "embattled farmers," who had been tipped off by Paul Revere, barred the way. The "rebels" were ordered to disperse. They stood their ground. The English fired a volley of shots that killed eight patriots. It was not long before the swift-riding Paul Revere spread the news of this new atrocity to the neighboring colonies. The patriots of all of New England, although still a handful, were now ready to fight the English.
1960s American Textbook Excerpt
Artist: W. B. Woolen
Title: The Battle of Lexington
Year created: 1886
Type: American Painting
1880s American Painting
Artist: Thomas Doolittle
Title: Battle of Lexington
Year Created: 1775
Type: American Etching
1775 Colonist Etching
Author Salem Gazette
Date: April 25, 1775
Type: Colonist Newspaper

The troops came in sight just before sunrise...the Commanding Officer accosted the militia in words to this effect: "Disperse, you rebels, damn you, throw down your arms and disperse;" upon which the troops huzzaed, and immediately one or two officers discharged their pistols, which were instantaneously followed by the firing of four or five of the soldiers, and then there seemed to be a general discharge from the whole body. Eight of our men were killed and nine wounded.
1775 Colonist Newspaper
Author: London Gazette
Date: June 10, 1775
Type: British Newspaper

Lieutenant Nunn, of the Navy arrived this morning at Lord Dartmouth's and brought letters from General Gage, Lord Percy, and Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, containing the following particulars of what passed on the nineteenth of April last between a detachment of the King's Troops in the Province of Massachusetts-Bay and several parties of rebel provincials .... Lieutenant-Colonel Smith finding, after he had advanced some miles on his march, that the country had been alarmed by the firing of guns and ringing of bells, dispatched six companies of light-infantry, in order to secure two bridges on different roads beyond Concord, who, upon their arrival at Lexington, found a body of the country people under arms, on a green close to the road; and upon the King's Troops marching up to them, in order to inquire the reason of their being so assembled, they went off in great confusion, and several guns were fired upon the King's troops from behind a stone wall, and also from the meeting-house and other houses, by which one man was wounded, and Major Pitcairn's horse shot in two places. In consequence of this attack by the rebels, the troops returned the fire and killed several of them. After which the detachment marched on to Concord without any thing further happening.
1775 British Newspaper
Acts of Rebellion?
Response to 1774 Government Act
August 16
Great Barrington, MA
1,500 citizens
blocked courthouse

September 2
Cambridge, MA
4,000 citizens
marched with muskets in protest

September 6
Worcester, MA (population 300)
4,600 citizens
forced British officials to surrender govt. building

Other locations where citizens closed down government buildings:
Salem, Concord, Barnstable, Taunton, & Plymouth
Ray Raphael (2004). Founding Myths. New York: The New Press
"We [are] fearful of our own revolution" (p. 82)
Questions for our investigation:

Who was the victim?
Who was the aggressor?
Discussion Questions:

Is Lexington in 1775 an "attractive" starting point for the revolution because the colonists can be viewed as the victims?

What is so "unattractive" about the colonists being the aggressors in 1774?
Created by Grant R. Miller, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Ray Raphael (2004). Founding Myths. New York: The New Press
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