Sons of Liberty

No 2

June 30, 1994

"The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican form of Government," reads Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution for the United States of America. Today, however, we see virtually no application of the Republican form of Government that is mentioned.

Back in the 1760"s every community had a Committee, or a Committee of Safety, which usually comprised every male adult member of the community, unless to old to get involved, or be concerned with the events of the day. In turn, each community had a militia comprised of every able bodied adult (adult varied from fourteen to sixteen years among the communities) male. The Committee was the political arm of the community, and by sending representatives to attend meetings in larger groupings of communities, or even to the colony, to represent the interests of the respective communities. Different individuals might be sent to meetings of a different nature based upon experience or knowledge. This is the form of republican government that was intended by the Constitution, and practiced throughout the colonies. Town meetings were the forum, and direct representation was the government. In turn, the militia was subordinate to the Committee and would respond on demand.

As the oppression increased, taxes expanded, rules tightened and desires for independence began to swell in the hearts of the colonists, the militia began to develop into active participants in dealing with the tyranny and oppression. Within a Committee, or militia, there may have been some who were more reluctance to "take matters into hand." Those that were not so reluctant might begin operating as Sons of Liberty which was somewhat of a covert operation of the militia. Decisions made by the Committee might easily become manifest in the hands of the Sons. If it was decided by the Committee that tea should not be purchased, the Sons would print and circulate handbills throughout the community, and frequently into neighboring communities. Frequently this was done at great risk because of the consequences if caught by the British, or turned in by a Loyalist (Tory).

As the abuses of the Crown became greater, the response by the Sons also increased. If the Committee, in meeting, determined that a certain tax collector, magistrate, constable, or other person were acting not in the best interest of the colonists, he would be identified as such by the Committee. Generally the Committee avoided making any recommendation as to dealing with the matter, except if a simple boycott was sufficient. The militia was charged with protecting the community first and then the colony. The Sons, however, acting in a more aggressive capacity, might decide among themselves that more severe action was warranted. This action could be tarring and feathering (which, occasionally resulted in death), destruction of a business or home, or burning them to the ground (which sometimes resulted in death), or on rare occasion direct execution of an individual. These actions were never condoned by the Committee, and probably, frequently, were beyond what some of the members might consider reasonable. The system, however, worked well in discouraging all but the bravest of Loyalists from imposing too much authority over the community.

Today we have militia developing all across the country. Counties, in some states, are chartering the militia, and occasionally a state will charter one. Within these militia, however, and probably because of the number of Loyalists (say government agents or informants) many are reluctant to join openly. As a result, many militia are developing a two tiered structure. There is the card carrying militia which meets openly and regularly. Then there are those that stand ready and will respond when the need arises, but otherwise remain silent members of the community. There are other members who become a part of both functions. One by day, and one by night, so to speak.

Those that might best fit the mold of the Sons of Liberty would be those that carry on by night, perhaps also carrying on by day. The need for security is greater, as it was two hundred years ago, for then, as now, the storage of supplies was to be kept secret. In many cases back then the need for secrecy was not fully understood. The result, on April 19, 1775 was the British armies effort to secure those weapons and ammunition stored in Concord, Massachusetts.

Today those that deal with supplies recognize the constant intrusion by government into the Second Amendment. It seems that the government has a problem understanding what "infringement" means. For the security of the whole, the security of the supplies is absolutely necessary. A number of caches with just a few knowing the locations of each.

By the same token, the need for secrecy exists for those who might be preparing pamphlets or handbills. Who knows what law might be passed tomorrow which might subject these participants to imprisonment for violation of laws inconsistent with the First Amendment. There is no reason not to be safe in your dealings, if for no other reason than for the practice in the event that the need becomes a necessity.

Perhaps the tarring and feathering might be revived as the Committee identifies tax collectors (IRS?), magistrates (those who ignore the Constitution in the administration of justice?) and constables (law enforcement officers who have no respect for the rights inherent in the citizenry?). There might even come a time when the destruction of buildings would serve as notice to those who might participate in these un-American activities. It is difficult to imagine, however, that things have come to the point that might warrant the burning of a carriage by destruction of a vial of flammable liquid with flame attached. There are no magistrates (or judges) in Waco, or anywhere else that would, by design, deny us justice. But, the time may come, so it is time to begin learning our history and our heritage.

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