In last week’s blog, I referenced two events – the Powder Alarm on September 1st, 1774 and Paul Revere’s ride to Portsmouth during the night of December 13th, 1774. Both took place before the Royal Army headed for Lexington and Concord on April 19th, 1775 and what became the first battle of the American Revolution.
This week’s post touches on the historical context of why the founders of the United States included the 2nd Amendment of our Constitution right after freedom of speech and religion.
Some historians argue the Powder Alarm was a dress rehearsal for Lexington and Concord. At the time, it was illegal to cast cannons, build a factory to make muskets or manufacture gunpowder in “commercial” quantities. When the war started, there was one gunpowder mill in Pennsylvania capable of manufacturing gunpowder in quantity, but could not produce enough to sustain an army or a navy.
Outside the small cities, our forefathers depended on their firearms for food because there wasn’t a local supermarket down the street. Those living on the “frontier” needed them for protection.
So, did the British venture out from Boston to collect taxes imposed by the Intolerable Acts? No.
Was it to make arrests of men and women who were planning a rebellion against British rule? No.
The written order given to Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith by General Thomas Gage who was acting on orders from King George III tells us their intent. Smith’s was instructed not to read his orders until he was on the road with 700 soldiers. His orders state, “You will proceed with utmost expedition and secrecy to Concord where you will seize and destroy all military stores. But you will take care that the soldiers do not plunder the inhabitants or hurt private property.” It is interesting to note that Gage did not order Smith to make any arrests.
Gage’s intent was a raid whose sole purpose was to capture military stores – gunpowder, muskets and musket balls – and disarm British citizens (that is what we all were at the time) so they could not rebel against British rule.
Many signers of the Declaration of Independence and creators of the Constitution witnessed the Powder Alarm and the Battle of Lexington and Concord. They knew it would be nearly impossible to successfully rebel against a government if the population was disarmed.
This is the raison d’être why taking away the means to resist is one of the first steps a government takes if wants to control the actions of its population. It is a lesson that has been learned and relearned throughout history. What happened in Germany in the 1930s and in Venezuela today are just two examples.
By engaging the British in battle along the roads between Lexington and Concord, the founders of our country sowed the seeds of the Second Amendment into our nation’s DNA.