Thursday, June 5, 2008

Captain John Parker statue

Statue of Capt. Parker
Lexington Center
Lexington, Mass.

This statue of Captain John Parker (more popularly referred to as the Lexington Minuteman) posed defiantly with his musket at the entrance to Lexington Green, presents an ideal image of those American colonials who first received fire and then returned it full measure against British Regulars in April of 1775. Considered the opening shots of America's War for Independence the events at Lexington and Concord were not the beginning of armed rebellion in the Massachusetts colony. They were just the start of a shooting war.

At the end of the Seven Year's War (known locally as the French and Indian War) Britain was left with a huge war debt. Beginning with the passage of the Stamp Act efforts were made to collect taxes from the thirteen colonies (and Canada) to help pay off the debt. Unfortunately, this had never really been tried before and the Colonials who up until this time had been living relatively unmolested by government fiat did not take kindly to the new taxes.

Further attempts by the King's government ministers and Parliament to rein in the freedom of the colonies met with with even more resistance. Events escalated after the "Boston Massacre" of 1770 and with the "Boston Tea Party", which led to the closing of Boston Harbor. Additional Regiments of British Regulars were sent from Ireland and England to attempt to restore order, which only made matters worse.

By the summer of 1774 the colony of Massachusetts was openly up in arms. The town militias had been reconstituted to create "Minute Man" companies that would be ready at a moments notice to respond to any perceived threat from the Regulars. (The town of Lexington never did create a separate Minute Company, instead keeping to the old ways with its Training Band).
Arms and munitions were being collected and regular drills were being conducted on town commons.

Both the Powder House Alarm of September 1774 and the proposed seating of appointed judges in Worcester were events that could have precipitated armed conflict, but didn't. It was only when the fighting at Lexington and Concord took place on April 19, 1775, that a irresistible force was created that dragged the reluctant citizens of the other colonies into the American Rebellion.

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