The Shot Heard Round The World

237 years ago today, that shot was heard round the world as soon-to-be Americans stood their ground against British soldiers who sought to seize their arms and ammo, thus their ability to defend themselves against governmental oppression.

I was going to write a longer post about the event, but knew someone else would come forward having done a better job.

As expected, Miss Western Rose, over at The Little Adventures of Wester Rose, put up a post today quoting a letter written last year by The Arctic Blogger to Captain John Parker.  I will simply link to it here, since it speaks volumes of the tough decisions and extreme sacrifice made by those early Americans as they took a stand and created a nation.

You can find the post and the letter by CLICKING HERE.  I encourage you to take the time to read it.

For more information on this day in history, visit the Texas Appleseed facebook page.

God bless America!

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“Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death!”

On March 23rd, 1775 – 237 years ago today – Patrick Henry gave his famous speech before the third Virginia convention, held in St. John’s Church in Richmond.  If you have never read it in full, I believe it is worth the time.

“No man, Mr. President, thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very honourable gentlemen who have just addressed this House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful of those worthy gentlemen if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The question before this House is one of awful moment to the country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom, or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I should wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the members of this House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies?

No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne! In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope.

If we wish to be free — if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending — if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained — we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us.

Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable–and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death!”

Dangerous Women Series – Prudence Cummings Wright

This Dangerous Women series will highlight women throughout the history of the United States, who have risked or given their lives for the cause of freedom.  They were wives and mothers, dangerous only to the foes they opposed, and not nearly as well-known as the men they fought beside.

Much has been written about famous women of Revolutionary War times such as Molly Pitcher (Mary Hays McCauly), Betsy Ross, and Martha Washington, but not as much about women who actually fought and served in the war effort, or who otherwise aided the cause of liberty with direct and personal involvement.

One such woman was Prudence Cummings Wright.  Only a month after her eight-month-old son, Liberty’s, death, Prudence pulled herself out of her grief and came to the aid of a nation that did not yet exist.  While visiting her mother’s home in the neighboring town of Hollis, New Hampshire, Prudence overheard her brothers, Samuel and Thomas, talking of riders who were to take word of the colonial rebellion to the British.  The Cummings family was split in their allegiance, brothers to the British crown, and sister to the new nation.

Mrs. Wright quickly and discretely returned home to Pepperell Parish, where her husband, David, a Minuteman, had likely already been dispatched to Concord to assist the Revolutionary cause under the command of Colonel Prescott.

Prudence knew that something had to be done, and that she and the other women of the town must do whatever necessary to assist the men in their mission.  She gathered with 30-40 other townswomen, all dressed in their husband’s clothes and carrying whatever weapons they could find, to intercept Tories (those supporting the King) at Jewett’s bridge.

The women hid in the woods alongside the road and ambushed two riders as they approached the town.  However, as the Captain of the Guard began shouting orders, one rider quickly recognized the voice as that of his sister, Prudence.  Thomas Cummings is later to have said, “I recognized Prude’s voice and she would wade through blood for the rebel cause.”

It is not certain whether Thomas escaped at that point, or if he was released later; but it is said that he left the area with haste and never returned.  The other rider was taken into town and turned over to the Committee of Safety, his communiques confiscated.

Regardless of their political polarity, Thomas’ disappearance caused further grief to Prudence, as he was her favored brother.  After losing her youngest child only a month prior, and then left with the lifelong estrangement of her beloved brother, it is certain that Prudence Wright continued to grieve for her losses, but thus was the sacrifice of those dedicated to the cause of liberty in 1775.

The band of women, later known as “Mrs. David Wright’s Guard,” assisted in the birth of a nation; and Prudence Cummings Wright was a leader among them.

Many thanks to Project Appleseed instructors, who keep the legacy of Prudence Wright alive by telling her tale throughout the nation.

“Well-behaved women rarely make history.”