To my Fellow Citizens, Al Verhoeven.
April 19th and the High Cost of Freedom and Progress
(based on an article written by Bob Johnson)
Most people seem to believe the American Revolution started on July 4, 1776. However, they are wrong. It started April 19, 1775.
On that date the legally established government, the British Crown, sent troops from Boston to Concord to enforce gun control. Their mission was to confiscate arms and ammunition that may be used against the government. When the British troops reached Lexington they came under fire as the revolutionary Minutemen took physical action to resist. The troops returned fire and killed several Minutemen. The government troops then continued on to Concord and destroyed whatever weapons they could find. However, they were attacked again by the Minutemen at Concord. A few more Minutemen were wounded and killed, but the troops were forced to leave Concord and return to Boston. All along their retreat back to Boston the Minutemen badgered them, sniping at them until the total number of government troops killed was over 200.
If the people in America did not take that violent action against the government troops, you and I would probably not be allowed to be open Deists. The British government did all it could to counter freethought in religious and spiritual matters. They even, after the American Revolution, had a book-seller in London put in prison for blasphemy for selling Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason.
The cost of progress is high. America's founders risked everything they had to wage war against their government and to create a more progressive Republic. Many of our founders were wealthy established leaders in society. Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington were all very well off, were enjoying successful careers and were financially secure in 1775 and 1776. By today's standards, they'd be considered to be on the lunatic fringe. They had everything they needed under the established system, yet, they wanted to destroy that system and replace it with a progressive one whose benefits touched the lives of many more people. They wanted a Republic where reason was king and people were free to use their reason as they saw fit. By waging war against the government, they not only risked losing all of their income and wealth, they risked losing their very lives. If they failed they would at best be hung as traitors to the government, at worst, they would be hung until close to death and then drawn and quartered. Not many people in today's money driven society would chose all those risks over material comfort and a successful career, but, thankfully the founders did.
It wasn't only the famous and wealthy people like Jefferson, Washington, Adams, etc., that paid a very high price for liberty and its progress. Thousands of new Americans paid a very heavy price for their ideals and desire to make a better world. And it wasn't just the soldiers and Minutemen who paid. Living in today's society, it's difficult to realize the support women of that time gave to the cause of freedom and progress. One moving example is found in the writings of a Mrs. Davis who was the wife of a Minuteman by the name of Isaac Davis. Her words can be found in the book The Revolutionary War, written by Bart McDowell for the National Geographic Society. Isaac took part in the fight against British troops who were ordered to destroy the weapons the citizens and anti-government rebels had at Concord, Massachusetts. This was the first time rebels fired on government troops.
Mrs. Davis wrote, "Isaac Davis was my husband. He was then thirty years of age. We had four children; the youngest about fifteen months old. They were all unwell when he left me, in the morning; some of them with the canker-rash.
"The alarm was given early in the morning, and my husband lost no time in making ready to go to Concord with his company. My husband said but little that morning. He seemed serious and thoughtful; but never seemed to hesitate. He only said, 'Take good care of the children,' and was soon out of sight.
"In the afternoon he was brought home a corpse. He was placed in my bedroom till the funeral."
What an exceptional woman! She loved the ideals of liberty and progress so much, she was willing to sacrifice her family life for them. She and her husband were capable of seeing the big picture and would not let anything stand in their way that would prevent them from fighting for it. To me, this is true patriotism of the highest order, and well placed. It was not placed in the government, as people tend to do today. Instead, it was placed where it belongs and can do the most good - in ideals.
As United State Citizens, we owe all of these people for the actions they took which allow us today to follow our God-given reason and convictions . Every day, but particularly on Monday, April 19th, we should all take a moment and reflect on just how much our freedom to be living under a Deist framed Constitution and Bill of Rights cost. We know for certain that part of the price was the life of a young husband and father of four children.
(The above article ran in the April 2010 edition of the Deist monthly Deistic Thought & Action!. If you'd like to subscribe to Deistic Thought & Action!, please click here.)