American Beginnings: A Quick Refresher

By Wayne DeVaul

Dear All:

Many times I have urged each of you to read, speak, think and write, as John Adams urged us to do as we thought about our citizenship in these United States of America. This being the days before Independence Day I thought that I would show how much I know about our country’s beginning.

Sam, Ben and the Boys

Early on, the Sons of Liberty drove the British nuts in the area around and inside Boston. Among these men there were Samuel Adams and Benedict Arnold. They would erect “liberty trees,” and “liberty poles,” which the Brits would tear down. And teen age boys and young men would harass the British soldiers as they patrolled the streets.

The First

One night as the young men, who were in Boston to compete with the off-duty soldiers for the jobs loading ships and the like, a group of young men confronted a small British  patrol and taunted them with curses and the kind of language common to the young. In a scuffle that began, one young man by the name of Crispus Attuks grabbed the barrel of a soldiers gun which caused it to fire at him, killing him. Crispus, the son of a black man and an American Indian, became the first martyr of the American revolution.

John Adams, a lawyer, successfully defended the soldier in the ensuing court hearings. But the spark had set fire in the hearts of those who wanted to have better relations with the Crown, and began to burn for freedom. Some time passed until the men who wanted to enforce their will against the British army stashed guns and ammunition and powder in Concord, Massachusetts. The Brits found out about it and decided to raid the arsenal.

“Listen, my children, and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. T’was the 18th of April in ’75, hardly a amn is now alive who remembers that famous day and year…”

“By the rude bridge that arched the flood, their flag to April’s breeze unfurled, here once the embattled farmers stood and fired the shot heard ’round the world…”

The Continental Congress, George and Company

Who was planning our resistance? It was the Continental Congress, a group of wealthy men of various businesses. Communications being slow to accomplish, nonetheless the Congress took hold of the matter and by late summer, 1775 they had enacted the laws that created the Continental Army and placed George Washington in the role of Commander in Chief. During these days, the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought and lost by the Americans. But George Washington kept his head and though losing battles with the British army, he planned and executed the battles of Trenton and Princeton at Christmas time in 1775 and ’76.

Things didn’t improve much for the Americans during the ensuing years until the French Navy blocked the British reinforcements for General Cornwallis at Yorktown, forcing Cornwallis to surrender his army to General Washington. The revolutionary war was brought to a close over the next few months. In 1783 the Treaty if Paris was signed.

I learned these things at Ockley Green School in the 1930s. John Paton and I were close friends and studied these things together. Both of us very patriotic, John was the great grandson of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Charles Evans Hughes, and were Boy Scouts, he in Troup 60, and I in Troop 36.

So I have many more memories of our country’s beginnings.

Have a pleasant Independence Day celebration.


P.S. John Paton was a Military Policeman, He survived the North African invasion, the Sicilian invasion, and the D-Day invasion of France. Patriot to the end, John was called up for service in Korea, where he was killed by our own Army in an accident in Korea. He was the best.



Up next: Responsible to Remember and One of the Duke’s Best. Ever.