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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Paul Revere and The Liberty Tree

   As another strong squall blew in from the east, on September 21st 1938, my dad bent down and grabbed the cap that had blown off his head; tucked it under his arm, and ran the rest of the way home. Although far out to sea when he went to school, the undetected and untracked hurricane had picked up speed, slamming into the Connecticut coast around 3 o’clock with 115 MPH winds.
The winds were still blowing over 90 MPH as the dangerous quadrant of the storm went through Hartford where my dad lived. His mom, sister and he looking out the window as trees flapped like the neighbors laundry on the line,  my grandmother barely having  time to bring her laundry in.  The Long Island Express it was called, and this unseen hurricane was the strongest storm to ever hit New England in recent memory.

            Just south of Hartford in Wethersfield, where my mother lived, the Great Wethersfield Elm, pictured below, and recognized as the largest in the United States, held onto most of its large branches but was heavily damaged.

           The Latin designation of the American Elm is Ulmus americana. With its downward growing roots and immense shady canopy, it had become Americas' street tree. A disease introduced around 1930 called   “Dutch Elm Disease” ravaged the Elm during the next 25 years, and many boomers remember when they were cut down and replaced. Main streets across America were lined with this stately, tenacious shademaker; and below is a picture of the Great Wethersfield Elm in its heyday.        

              By 1966 the tree was merely a plaque on my paper route, a victim of Dutch Elm Disease and dead by 1954 after suffering  from the stress and slow recovery of the ‘38 Hurricane. The Great Wethersfield Elm it was called and was cited as the all-time largest elm,  east of the Rockies. On the left side of the Giant Elm in the picture, is Broad Street, and also a large park, known as the Wethersfield Green. Further down the road is Ye Anciente Graveyard with graves dating back to 1683, and around the corner from that, the house George Washington stayed in as he planned the Battle of Yorktown in 1783. Comstock Ferre, nearby, is the oldest continuous nursery in the United States, selling plants and seeds for over 200 years and recently purchased by Baker Heirloom seeds.

             Wethersfield is a town rich in tradition, steeped in our American Revolutionary history. During the Revolutionary War, Wethersfield troops were known for their professionalism and were often official escorts for big wigs and those instrumental in planning our liberation from the British Empire.

          To help you understand this story, use July 4th 1776 as your baseline ref      erence. A high recognition date, it is the day the Declaration of Independence was signed, but how did the United States get to that point?  We study the fluff dry, peachy keen version in school and I want to offer a perspective of our revolution, and how it was a tree that connected all the threads of liberty to all patriots. Also missing from history are the many roles women played, but that's a story for another day. Here is a pre revolutionary tale about the tabacco chewing onion maidens of Wethersfield.

          The American Revolution actually started in 1765. Primarily in Boston, but importantly in many other towns, and in the shade of the Wethersfield Elm also.
          From the Village Improvement Association  of Wethersfield Connecticut;  comes the following  quote about the aforementioned Town Green on Broad Street. Also included is a passage I find continually quoted on the internet and that quote is in purple.
                               “The Stamp Act of 1765 threatened Connecticut's tradition of self-government. Connecticut's participation in the War of Independence began right here in Wethersfield, in the shadow of Broad Street's Great Elm, where 500 mounted and armed Sons of Liberty surrounded Stamp Master Jared Ingersol.  According to contemporary sources, Ingersol took refuge in a nearby tavern, presumably the Chester Tavern, at 138 Broad Street. With the crowd clamoring outside, he decided his job as tax agent was not worth dying for, and he resigned.

           "On August 14, 1765, a group of people calling themselves the Sons of Liberty gathered together in Boston under a large elm tree near Hanover Square to protest the hated Stamp Act. The Sons of Liberty concluded their protest by lynching two tax collectors in effigy from the tree and ransacking and burning one of the stamp masters properties and proceeded to stone his house as residents looked on in horror. The Sons of Liberty began as the Loyal Nine and were not associated with Sam Adams and Doc Warren at first, who were agitating for change via legitimate and legislative means.  The small business community along with artisans and craftspeople were the ones who planted the seeds of revolt..
Ten years later, in 1775, as they retreated from Boston Towne, British soldiers defiantly cut down the Boston Liberty tree in Hanover Square, as an act of spite, knowing what it represented to the colonists, and used the tree for firewood. 
             This act further enraged the colonists, and as resistance to the British grew, flags bearing a representation of the Liberty Tree were flown to symbolize the unwavering spirit of liberty. "

  In 1765 the “despicable rabble” began the revolutionary war, and in 2014, the American people; who have been misled at the ballot, and ill served by the lawyer-politicians, are fundamentally eager to restructure the future and defend the Constitution against coercive elements  of corporatism. 
Our agrarian libertarian founding revolutionaries were the progenitors of Progressivism. The Progressive Era, 1890-1920, was also a revolt against corporate over reach. Children were taken out of factories and put in schools. Food safety became a priority among many other reforms. Finally in 1920 women were "allowed" to vote. Today, Progressives needs a third wave of reform to help bring America and the World into a peaceful, compassionate, industrious future, based on equality for all people and the value of every human life.  The end of animal cruelty and the restoration of ecosystems and watersheds are among other reforms that are needed.

The American Revolution was not originally fomented by  aristocratic Virginians as you'll see. Give the farmers from Georgia some credit perhaps, but the revolution was not all about white people coming home from church.
 The effigy hangin’, gun totin’, rock throwin,’  club wavin' people who created the path to the Declaration of Independence, counted among their numbers; freed slaves, atheists, gang members, wharf rats and at least one of the little people.
Women were not all home doing laundry during this time period and have been erased by traditional historians who always viewed women as crumpet servers and tea fetchers. More research needs to be done to discover their behind the scenes role.
          The primary architect and designer of Washington D.C. was a flamboyant gay dude, and that is something you don't hear much about, but is completely true.  He and George Washington over looking the hills near the Potomac River where buildings would be placed. No different than when the pyramids were going to be built. 

The Republican Revisionists are simply lying to you about American History while the Tea Party has undeservedly absconded with most of the symbols.  Trillion dollar wars should be treason, not revealing documents about American surveilance as Edward Snowden has done.
          Glennbeck would be hung in effigy for his monstrous deceptions  
of The American Revolution by the 1776 Revolutionaries. The Tea Party would be regarded with the utmost contempt for their moral high ground hypocrisy. Sam Adams would be outraged that Teahadists stole all the symbols of the revolution. The one below is the one I have been trying to popularize with Progressives.

          This is the story of the real tea party and the events that led up to the revolution of 1776 and the crucial role the Liberty Tree played in nearly every large town. 
It was the roughnecks, the visionaries, the apprentice helpers, and hard drinking lower middle class that became heroes in the initial fight for American Liberty, not the glennbecks of the day with their chalk boards and half-truths, and not your  preachers either with their clean fingernails and collection baskets. In fact, in my research, I find  very few references concerning  patriot preachers during the Revolutionary Struggle, in fact they seem conspicuously absent, except for Israel Putnam.
             The tea dumping, mock lynching, stone throwing, riotous revolutionaries of 1765 to 1775 did not allow religious bugaboo to cloud the clarity of their vision.  

         Trumbull, "This great ease of gaining a farm renders the lower class of people very industrious: which, with the high price of labor, banishes everything that has the least appearance of begging which we see so common in England. "
              Arthur Young, the agricultural writer   once remarked on its quality. ‘They who emigrate are, from the nature of circumstances, the most active, hardy, daring, bold and resolute spirits, and probably the most mischievous also. The most visionary, the most impatient and restive under authority, the most easily alienated, the most desperate and cranky, and were the most ready to leave the old lands, giving at least the initial population of the American Colonies a strong bias towards a dislike of authority.”
                The Stamp Act in 1765, required all legal documents, permits, commercial contracts, newspapers, pamphlets, and even playing cards in the American colonies, to carry a tax stamp. The Act applied to advertisements, and other publications and legal documents, such as marriage certificates, and it was viewed by the colonists as a means of censorship, or a "knowledge tax," on the rights of the colonists to write and read freely, hence our eventual first amendment. 
              Occupy Wall Street are the direct descendants of the sons of liberty. The tea party, to me, are patriot poseurs and corporate puppets. In 1765,  anger at the stamp tax was how the revolutionary engine got started  and the authentic Tea Party of 1773 was more an anti corporate act because the British Empire was the enforcement arm  for British Corporate Wealth mongers. As the Imperialist United States government is today which spends as much on its military as the next ten countries combined.



                   “The Suffolk County Sheriff and the ten constables of Boston were frightened, for they knew they couldn't control the thousands of 'bully boys' of Boston, who every year on November 5th would parade the street carrying clubs and effigies of the Pope and the devil.  This annual celebration of marching, singing and public drinking would inevitably turn nasty when darkness set in. Guy Fawkes Day was much like Halloween is celebrated today, with children in masks and coal blackened faces, going door to door costumed carrying Jack O' Lanterns and trick or treating"

                         A Storm was Brewing along with the Beer 

"Following Bostons example, almost every village and town in New England eventually had a Liberty Tree, and if there was not an appropriate large tree near the center of town, the people erected Liberty Poles. When November 1st 1765 rolled around, dock workers refused to load or unload cargos, shops were closed, church bells rang, and every flag and ship-ensign was flown at half-mast. In Boston the blood red stamps were delivered to Castle Island, but Governor Barnard didn't dare have his customs men bring them into port. In other towns, if the stamps could be confiscated by the Liberty Boys, they were, and burnt in great bonfires.
 In retaliation the government closed all the courts, for the law was that no legal business could be transacted without the stamp. Barnard wrote to his friends in Parliament: "I am at the mercy of the mob. The power and authority of the government is really at an end."  There were no business transactions and little activity that terribly cold winter of 1765-66. Paul Revere, for one, was so deep in debt he almost had to spend the winter in jail.”
               Freedom of Assembly is discussed in the first amendment to the Constitution and its spirit is derived from the tradition of meeting at a tree in the center of town. 
          There is a  Preamble to the Constitution but Republican knuckleheads don't think much of it. "It's not binding," they say, or "Not really part of the Constitution." It goes like this. "We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the General Welfare, and to secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America." Sounds like a mission statement to me.
            Time waits for no man and in 1766 Peter Cahill Ellis writes,“The British Parliament had no option but to repeal the Act. And March 19th was to be the day of celebration, yet many Tories and government officials still feared retaliation from the bully boys and although a couple of effigies of customs officials were hung on the Liberty Tree, and a few house windows were broken, it was a day and night of all out gaiety. Drummers and fluters marched through town and wine flowed like water, houses were lit up with candles and people danced in the streets. The Liberty Tree was decorated with lanterns, 'till its boughs could hold no more' and the Liberty Boys sponsored a fireworks display on the common.  Paul Revere tacked a copper plaque he made to the trunk of the Liberty Tree, it read, "to every lover of liberty-August 14, 1765" being the date 'Olivers house was ransacked.' and the day the Sons of Liberty went viral. That’s a story for another day, one of the first acts of defiance. Open house, banquets everywhere and John Hancock had a Madiera wine party, 'where barrels rolled onto the common for all to partake.' 

          Those patriots did not achieve their revolution coming home from church. They were law breaking, window smashing, effigy hanging, cannon hauling, tavern singing patriots, whose hearts burned with a passion for freedom.

            1767 came along and so did the Townsend Acts. Google this if you like, it’s how the British thought they could stop American smuggling. John Hancocks boat was  seized, but the cargo of Madeira wine was saved, which caused a great celebration. The British ship of evil opposed to the cause of Freedom and our pursuit of good wine, was called ‘The Romney.’ 
          EDITORS NOTE: See the Fox News style of putting 'evil ship Romney' into your brain without you knowing it? Look again. Nit Romney was on a Mormon mission during the Vietnam War. Remember that when you see him speaking in front of a 50 foot flag and talking about his corporate patriotism.

 More from Robert Cahills book, this time concerning Samuel Adams--'brewer and patriot', “Sam Adams activated his bully boys again, North and South Boston gangs united as the Sons of Liberty. They paraded up and down in front of Governor Barnards house, shouting, whistling and drumming, 'making a great noise and hallooing' wrote Barnard. He complained to the king to send troops to, 'control the mobs that rule this towne.' The Governor now recognized who the ringleader was and he publicly called Sam Adams, 'Chief of this tribe of Mohawks.' Sam took the intended slur with a chuckle, and later would spoof the governor's comment by having his men disguise themselves as Mohawk Indians at the Tea Party.'"
            "'He is a grand incendiary," cried Lieutenant governor Hutchison, "a master of puppets.' To further resist the Townsend Acts, Sam Adams and Joe Warren asked all New Englanders to refuse the importation and consumption of any goods from England, that were taxed, and encouraged their manufacture here in America."
            "One Boston merchant and shop owner, Theophilus Lilly, refused to follow the dictates of his fellow merchants by not only shipping in taxable items from England, but selling them in his downtown shop. One morning Lilly discovered a large canvas head, stuffed with straw, sitting on a pole in front of his shop, and the face was a likeness of himself. There was a large finger and a cartoon of a mans rear end painted on his front door, and a group of boys, wharf rats, gathered outside his shop to taunt him. A neighbor, Ebenezer Richardson, known for his Tory tendencies, taunted the crowd and attempted to get a teamster to run over the boys. The boys started throwing 'filth and stones' at him until he retreated into the house."
            "Richardson grabbed his musket and fired out a second story window, wounding a teenager named Christopher Gore, and killing a twelve year old German boy, Chris Snider. A musket ball was removed from the wounded boys leg and Chris Snider was set in a coffin under the Liberty Tree-- and carved into the coffin were the words, 'innocence itself is not safe.' A funeral procession led by his family was followed by 34 carts, chariots and coaches and 1,500 marchers, including 500 schoolboys. Christopher Gore later became governor of Massachusetts."
Gluttonous profits gave corporations many benefits over the years, advantages such as access to senators and congress"men".  An influence that the independent majority does not have, and these profiteers need to be exorcised out of our system.
The banks and credit card companies fine us with late charges as if they were civil authorities. I'm drowning in late charges from everywhere; kicking us while we are down it seems. But when we get double billed or something gets double posted, $222.00 by my bank one time, they say 'ooops'. The manipulation of markets by big business would make Theodore Roosevelt cringe, and our lack of courage and temerity would make George Washington facepalm himself and say WTF! Why did I even bother!
              Luckily, the actual greatest generation of 1776 were a rowdy contingent of free people and not the feckless phonies of right wing radio. A revolt today would also include women to get us moving on all eight cylinders. The Second American Revolution will have a significant female presence which will overwhelm illegitimate authority and patriarchal chicken hawks will squawk loudly as they run away from truth.    

            The oligarchy is forming to fight the public at large, and goons are being paid off, brainwashed and armed, infiltrating the military and our police departments and interfering with peaceful forums on the internet.  Neocon Trolls. I’m telling you, the corporations have started the war against us and we haven’t started to fight back; yet their agent provocateurs  are embedded.    As the Boomers were busy fighting for equality on many fronts, corporate power snuck in the back door and took over the world.

         In 1773 people in Boston gathered once again at their Liberty Tree. From Riotous Revolutionaries     “Josiah Quincy entertained a crowd with a patriotic speech. 'I see the clouds which now rise thick and fast upon our horizon. The thunder  rolls and the lightning plays, and to that God who rides the whirlwind and directs the storm, I commit my country."  What God is this then that he called upon? Thor, Perun, Boreas or others?  Seriously!  This is "not a Christian nation, but a nation of diversity," as President Obama noted early in his presidency. He was assuring the world the Crusades were over. As Josiah Quincy gave this rousing speech, the local business people had dressed up as Mohawks and were headed for the 300 chests of tea sitting in Boston Harbor. The real Tea Party had begun.
Death of Liberty

Always remember that members of religious congregations were less than 20% of the population at the time preceding the revolution. For more on the period between 1767 and 1774, feel free to research and come to your own conclusions. These are my opinions but if you check my information you will find them factually accurate. Also research the Green Mountain Boys who captured Fort Ticonderoga in 1775 to give more depth to that era. 

             Moving ahead to 1775, the scene in Boston Towne was getting ugly. "Since the British troops and the Tory Loyalists of Boston had a gala celebration with banquets and fireworks on January 18, 1775, in honor of the Queens birthday, Adams and Warren decided to do them one better on March 5th commemorating the Boston Massacre. "It is good politics," said Sam Adams, "to put and keep the enemy in the wrong." Parades, speeches, fireworks, banquets and bonfires were planned for that day and night, and a great crowd gathered at the Old South Church and Meeting House that morning, where Joe Warren was to make a keynote speech. Sam Adams, in fact, invited General Gage and all the British officers in town to come and hear Warren, and Sam reserved front row seats in the hall for them "to be sure they heard every word."
            "Paul Revere heard from three of his spies prior to April 14th that the British troops were planning to march into the country to confiscate weapons and ammunition hidden by the Sons of Liberty. Revere and Warren agreed that their destination should be Concord where the Committee of Safety had stored gunpowder, musket balls and a few precious cannons. Revere rode to Concord on the 14th to warn the Minutemen that the British might be heading their way soon in an attempt to destroy these stores.
           "Major Pitcairn, who had been itching for a fight with the rebels for a long time, was chosen by Colonel Smith to lead six companies of Redcoats ahead of the column to secure Concords two bridges, north and south, leading in and out of that town.  It was Dawn as he rode, and his men marched, onto Lexington Green. "We saw a militia company assembled and other spectators milling about," the Major later reported, "and I ordered them to lay down their arms and disperse." 
Captain Parker, leader of the Minutemen, had called his men out of Buckman Tavern and onto the Green, because the tavern had gotten too crowded.  Said Parker, "… not to meddle or mix with the regular troops." Captain Parker told his men, some 77 in number and outnumbered ten to one, "don't fire unless fired on, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here."

                  "Disperse ye rebels, ye villains," Shouted Pitcairn, and a second shot pierced the Majors horse, wounding her, and British Lieutenant Sutherlands horse also bolted. Sutherland later swore that the first shot came from the Rebels, "either from behind a nearby stonewall, or from a window at Buckman Tavern." Captain Parker ordered his men to withdraw as the Redcoats broke rank and began chasing some of the Minutemen. At this moment Colonel Smith with the main body of Redcoats arrived at the scene. Everyone was firing in different directions. Minuteman Jon Harrington, who lived by the Green, was shot in the chest, and crawled to his house to die on the front steps. In what British commanders considered 'a quick skirmish' eight Americans were killed and ten were wounded. Major Pitcairn quickly reorganized his troops, and after three loud "huzzahs" on the Green "for victory," the Redcoats marched off towards Concord." Everything in red is from Riotous Revolutionaries by Thomas Cahill
                 British General William Howe attacked the hill and 600 redcoats were repulsed by, 'old fowling pieces' as Gage called them. 'None of the Americans had bayonets, nothing but fists, clubbed muskets and rocks, but they fought on, more like devils than men.' Salem Prince, a freed slave, with his last round of ammunition shot Major Pitcairn in the chest and killed him. General Gage was so surprised at the outcome that he was heard to say, 'these rebels are not the despicable rabble too many of us have supposed them to be.'
           "With all this heavy intrigue going on in the Cambridge camp, Henry Knox was dragging 58 cannons and mortars from Fort Ticonderoga, some of them weighing 5,000 pounds apiece, 300 miles from upstate New York and over the snowy Berkshire Mountains, using 80 yoke of oxen. He arrived in the Cambridge camp in late February, 1776. By March 2nd, the cannons began blasting the 78 British warships that were anchored in Boston Harbor. General Gage sent 3,000 Redcoats to attack the heights but a wild storm prevented them from even landing.

                 Privateers were capturing British food cargo vessels and the Redcoats were dispirited despite their large numbers. Who would fight against anothers freedom after all?  Meanwhile the hero of Cahills book, 4 foot 4, George Hewes had escaped his captors in the bay near Boston and informed George Washington of the demoralized British troops. By March 20th, General Howe was three days out of Boston as Americans to the tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy, "marched triumphantly into Boston after British Redcoats 'quitted the town' and sailed for Halifax. Before leaving, British soldiers cut down the Liberty Tree and George Hewes was pleased to hear that when the Liberty Tree fell, a limb of it landed on a British soldier, crushing him to death." The 'despicable rabble' had finally stood up.  

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