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Guns keeping America relatively free since 1775
Guns keeping America relatively free since 1775

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The morning of April 19, 1775, did not begin quietly. For most of the night men had been moving about – the British in their long march from Boston, while the yankee farmers and tradesmen took up their guns and crossed fields and creeks to go meet them. The British were on their way to Concord, Massachusetts, having heard that Americans were storing cannon and gunpowder there, and fancied themselves ready to pounce on the unsuspecting town and seize its arms. Unfortunately, the commanding officer, Lt. Colonel Francis Smith, had vastly underestimated his enemy. Paul Revere’s network of spies had already raised the alarm. Just past dawn, the British troops found their way blocked at the tiny village of Lexington, by a volunteer militia only a fraction of their size. Nothing but military force, they made it very plain, would persuade them to move.

Nobody will ever know who it was, Briton or Yankee, that fired the first shot on the green that day. But there is no doubt that it was a loud shot indeed, loud enough to be heard around the world. It triggered the first military battle of the American Revolution, a rebellion built upon the fresh and exciting idea that men could rule themselves and had no need of a king. It was a war that would change the world forever. And though the Lexington militia was easily defeated, the British soldiers quickly found out what a terrible idea it is to anger men who are so well-armed. Furious yankees swarmed around the British columns all the way to Concord and then all the way back to Boston, picking off soldiers with unerring aim, and taking a terrible toll of life. The tattered remains of Smith’s force was lucky to make it back to Boston at all. Throughout the course of the long war for independence, for all its ups and downs, no British force ever marched into the Massachusetts countryside again.