I have read several different accounts of what happened on the fateful day of April 19, 1775, when the "shot heard 'round the world" was fired and the Revolutionary War officially began. There are arguments about which side fired first, and just what it was that the Militia of Lexington was trying to do that day. Therefore, I think it is important to present a version of the events of that day that I have not seen given wide distribution lately. For what follows I am going to be relying mainly on what I have heard said at patriot rallies by people who were descendants of the men who stood on Lexington Green that day. People whose families passed down the diaries and the stories of those men so that their posterity would know what truly took place. It is important to realize that the British troops that marched on Lexington that day were the duly authorized servants of His Majesty, the King of England and in such capacity represented the legitimate government of the Colonies. The Militia in Lexington knew they were coming and more importantly knew why they were coming. Those men knew that in attempting to seize the arms of the colonists the troops would in fact be exceeding the legitimate authority even of the King himself. Thus, while the troops were duly authorized servants of the legitimate government, what they were about to do that day exceeded their proper authority. So, the question that was posed to the Militia that day was how to properly resist this excessive use of force by the government in such a way that they would still be in accordance with the laws of England and more importantly the laws of God.
As a true Militia force, the men of Lexington were duly authorized by the government to arm themselves and drill upon the green of their own town. They did so. They formed up in ranks at parade rest and awaited the British troops. When the British showed up, they ordered the Militia to disband. The Militia disobeyed that order. They were standing with their weaponry where they had every legal and legitimate right to be that morning. THEY REMAINED STANDING IN RANKS AND PERMITTED THE BRITISH TO FIRE THE FIRST VOLLEY. I will repeat that as it is vitally important to an understanding of what took place that day and how it affected the legitimacy of the government. THE MILITIA OF LEXINGTON REMAINED STANDING IN FORMATION AND PERMITTED THE BRITISH TO FIRE THE FIRST VOLLEY.
You see, until the British fired upon the Militia, the Militia could not legally or morally use lethal force against the British troops who until that moment represented the legitimate interests of the de jure government of the Colonies. However, once they fired upon people who were merely practicing civil disobedience by standing in an area where they had every right to stand bearing equipment that they had every right to possess, the British troops forfeited the legitimacy of the British government, as well as making themselves valid targets for the Militia from that point on. Now, the Militia of Lexington broke and ran after that. Big surprise. They were outnumbered about 100 or so to 1. The British troops were much better trained than the Militia was and could be expected to win an open field set piece battle with no difficulty at all.
The question one has to ask, given that these facts were as well known to the Militia of that day as they are to us is why did the Militia make a stand like that to begin with? The only answer that makes any sense at all was that they were engaging in what they knew to be a risky act of civil disobedience. They had to see if there was anything that they could do at all short of an actual war to resolve the situation peacefully. Given the various different things that had lead up to that action, they had pretty much exhausted all the other peaceful alternatives available to them. Therefore, given a choice between initiating a conflict that they might not have to, and trying to face down British regulars in a battle of nerves, they opted for the battle of nerves. The British fired first and thus lost not only the battle of nerves, but the legitimacy of the government that they represented and ultimately the war and the Colonies. As the Militia of Lexington scattered, they spread the word as far and as fast as they could. By the time the British got to Concord, Militia units from throughout the Colony were converging there. The rest as they say is history.
So, by their actions the Founding Fathers and the
other patriots of that day demonstrated that one must ensure that any and
all peaceful means to resolve conflicts between people and their government
have been tried and proven to be futile. This is so important that it even
warrants the risking of life and limb on the part of patriots to ensure
that there is no doubt in anybody's mind what will happen if the government
continues to push where it does not have the legitimate authority to do
so. In my opinion, while the government has committed some especially violent
and egregious acts, we have not arrived at the point where we are looking
at having to stage a Lexington or a Concord. I think that we may be close,
but we are not there yet. And until we actually find ourselves forced into
that position, then we must continue to pursue all peaceful means of getting
our grievances addressed.
|These are the personal views of Mike Johnson. He is the elected spokesman of the North Central Florida Regional Militia. They are neither endorsed nor supported by Citizens For Better Government. They are presented for informational purposes only.|
Last Revision: September 30, 1997