For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.
Today, our nation is in as grave a crisis as our distant ancestor’s colonies were. Almost every issue that they were concerned about, we, too, are concerned with.
Let’s start with the main issue that inflamed colonists: taxation. They argued that they were being unfairly taxed by a distant government. The Stamp Act required stamps on almost everything.
Passed in 1765 but repealed the following year, it was used by the colonists almost ten years later as one of the grievances. The Stamp Act inspired the formation of the Sons of Liberty.
In 1767 the Stamp Act was replaced by the Townsend Act, a series of five laws whose purpose was to raise revenue in the colonies to pay the salaries of governors and judges so that they would remain loyal to Great Britain.
Eventually, the laws were repealed except for the tax on tea. And you know where that led.
Today we have an 80,000 page tax code that taxes almost everything that we consume. We have a system of multi-level taxation whose only purpose is to pay for the current, massive, government infrastructure.
The colonists, particularly those in Boston, took exception with the quartering of British troops in their homes. At the time of Revere’s ride about 3,000 British troops were stationed in Boston, the most rebellious American city.
How different is this practice than the NSA’s collection of phone and internet data today? In pre-revolutionary America Britain invaded our homes and privacy at will. This practice led to the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Are we secure against unreasonable searches and seizures? Not when the NSA and other government security agencies can vacuum up all of our private information under the scantiest of pretexts.
The American colonists were extremely conscious of their right to own and bear arms. They felt that their rights came from their English ancestors who were required to practice archery weekly by the crown. Where did you think the English got those thousands of archers that they used to decimate the French?
The American colonists needed weapons to defend themselves against the Native Americans who in some cases were paid by, you guessed it, the very-same French.
The main objective of Revere’s Ride was to warned the outlying villages and towns that the British Regulars were coming to seize their gunpowder.
Seizing the colonists’ gunpowder had been of overriding concern to General Thomas Gage, commander of British forces in North America and Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
In fact, during the winter of 1774-1775, Gage had sent several raiding parties far and wide to seize the colonists’ gunpowder stores. The raid on Lexington and Concord was the only one that sparked armed conflict and casualties.
Today, we have anti-gun advocates attempting to disarm American by every means at their disposal. These means range from millions of dollars in anti-gun ads to supporting anti-gun politicians.
I have no doubt that many gun owners see the attempts by government to infringe on their Second Amendment rights the same way that colonists viewed the sizing of the gunpowder: an attempt to disarm and control them.
So we have three major issues that we have in common with our ancestors: excessive taxation, surveillance of our citizens and gun control. Are you surprised that these issues that originated in the 1760′s are still being debated? I’m not.
Governments always wants more money. They always need to know everything that is going on. And they want to be able to carry out their programs without any armed interference.
Where are the modern-day Paul Revere’s warning us about overbearing government? Why, they’re right here. They’re you and I.