It was another spring, the night of March 5, 1770, in Boston, which was already a hotbed of unrest against a government which many felt was oppressive. The media is fanning the flames, and when an agent of the government kills an eleven year old boy, tensions escalated.
That night in Boston, a private citizen taunts a soldier, and the soldier overreacts, whacking the man up the side of his head. The soldier was angered by being disrespected, the mob hated him and he was a long, long way from his home.
A crowd forms, the soldier is joined by more soldiers. One man in particular is egging on the crowd, a man by the name of Crispus Attucks.
Attucks was half black, half native American and was the first to die in the Boston Massacre.
John Adams, our second president defended the soldiers in court, and called the protestors “a motley rabble of saucy boys, negros and molattoes, Irish teagues and outlandish Jack Tarrs.” He singled out Attucks as the one most responsible.
The court didn’t agree and two of the soldiers were found guilty of manslaughter and were branded on their thumbs to avoid hanging. The other four walked.
Attucks was buried as a hero and found immortality in Paul Revere’s art print. Except in later reproductions, his brown skin, and the skin of all the other people of color in that print was colored white.
A bit later, in another protest, colonists dumped $1.5 million dollars worth of tea belonging to a private corporation into the harbor. It’s true, the government got the taxes from the tea, but the tea was privately owned. They continued to loot over the coming months, destroying all the tea they could find which bore tea stamps. Some small shop keepers, who did nothing except obey the law found their shops smashed in and stock destroyed.
The colonists were divided because of their love of country, a desire for law and order, and the longing of some to be free from a government which they felt treated them differently than other citizens.
The protests continued. As the government tightened the noose, the mob became increasingly violent. One of the trademarks of the resistance was tarring and feathering those who collected taxes. These were common people, doing their job, and it happened in places like Norfolk, Salem and Boston, as the unrest grew across the country.
The harsher the response by the government, the more people sided with the idea of rebellion.
The King clamped down “very, very strong”, in an attempt to “dominate” the cities and the colonies. They believed the greatest, most well equipped army in the world would show the angry people their ability to “completely dominate” them. And out of fear, the rebels would stand down.
The group of people who instigated the resistance did so for a variety of reasons. Some did it because of taxation. Some did it because they felt as small businessmen, they were at a disadvantage over the larger ones with government connections. Some abhorred the military presence in their cities. They lacked unity of cause, and then the government gave them their cause on a lead platter.
On April 19, 1775, another black man and several others took a musket ball from the British on Lexington Green.
And that boys and girls, is how America was born.
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