Sons of Liberty

No 3

July 2, 1994

"If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is no resource left but in the exercise of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual State. . ."

Alexander Hamilton, FP No.28

Hamilton must have been speaking of his recent experience when he penned these words on paper. The colonies had, just a decade before, disposed of the yoke of tyranny that had grown extremely burdensome. One of the tactics used throughout the Revolution consisted of the militia, as opposed to the regular army (Army of the Revolution). The militia, even well into the war, was used in a manner inconsistent with the training of the British and Hessian soldiers, and even the Tory militia which had thrown in with the King.

During the entire course of the war the militia continued it"s hit and run tactics, assaults on individual Tories and earned credit for it"s perseverance, even though the militia was likely to pack up and go home at almost any time, but eventually to return and take up the battle. These home soldiers are more recognized by history than the regulars who enlisted in Washington"s army.

Long before May, 1775, when Washington went to Boston to provide relief, the Sons of Liberty began using the techniques that would evolve into the battle tactics of the militia. Whether the act was of tarring and feathering, tearing down a building or an execution, the purpose of their effort was generally tacked onto the person, or near the building which was the object of the attack. In August 1765, a large crowd gathered at Hanover Square, and an effigy of Andrew Oliver was hanged in the elm that would become Boston"s Liberty Tree. Upon the effigy was tacked a note which read:

What greater joy did New England see
Than a stampman hanging on a tree

This practice of identifying the purpose proved very valuable in the years to come. By establishing the righteousness of their act, the Sons of Liberty would keep the sympathies, if not the support, over the greater portion of those that never became fully embroiled in the war.

Today many conclude that acts such as these would bring automatic condemnation from the majority of the people. I think it far more likely that this would be the story provided by the establishment press, but which would not reflect the sympathies of the people. You might say that it is a monster that we create to avoid the reality, and the necessity to take action, and to take it now. We have, you might say, become our greatest enemy. So long as the object of the attack, and the method of attack are within tolerable limits, and justified by fact rather than rumor, the act, itself, would probably develop even stronger support, and more attention to the cause, than is enjoyed currently. This was true then, and this would be true today.

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