On this day in 1775, Paul Revere makes his famous ride. I am so sorry to tell you that he did not really yell “the British are coming!” as he rode. But he did accomplish his important goal: He warned Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the British were coming, apparently with the intent to arrest them….
Despite my Anglophilic and Royalist / Monarchist sympathies, I cannot let this day – or the next – pass without the recognition they deserve, given their centrality to the birth of my home country.
Let us not forget that, at least initially, the American colonists were contending, not for independence, but for their rights as Englishmen (see Blackstone’s “Commentaries” for a full explication of these) – a fact well-recognized by a number of peers and parliamentarians back in the mother country.
It was only when it became clear that those rights would continue to be denied them that the mood became rebellious, and “liberty” became seen, no longer as the liberty of proper English subjects, but liberty from England and English law / rule itself.
Sadly, the ham-handed way in which the British governments of the Colonies conducted themselves did much to enable and justify this shift, which was not complete but well along its path by April 18th of 1776. And the decision to try to decapitate the incipient rebellion by seizing militia arms and arresting Hancock and Adams was the straw that broke the camel’s back…