The Newsletter about America's Founding
by Revolutionary War and Beyond
Let us aspire to the greatness our Founding Fathers imagined for us.
Issue #3 - May 1, 2012
This is our 3rd issue of "American Beginnings." Many people have already subscribed and we hope you find it informative and interesting!
As you may know by now, Revolutionary War and Beyond released its first book, Understand Your Rights Because You're About to Lose Them! last month. The book has received positive reviews so far!
It covers the history and purpose of each of the first ten amendments in the Bill of Rights and shows how they are at risk today by a growing central government. Several people have commented on how they understand issues in the news better after reading the book. It's pretty amazing how these writings from so long ago are so relevant to issues in the news today!
The ebook is now available on Amazon.com. We hoped to have the print version available by the end of April, but a few snags came up. Now we hope to have it available some time in May.
You can learn more about Understand Your Rights on our site and order a copy if you like there.
Our American History Book Club also launched in the middle of April. Quite a few people are reading Paul Revere's Ride and Stories of Faith and Courage from the Revolutionary War along with us.
If you are not aware, our Book Club is an opportunity for you to read along with us as we learn about American history from current books and authors. There is no cost and we post our book reading notes as we go. Several chapters are now online for each book and we add more each week. You can learn more about the books we are currently reading and order a copy here:
Paul Revere's Ride
Stories of Faith and Courage from the Revolutionary War
If you know of someone you believe would enjoy our newsletter, please forward it to them. If you haven't already subscribed to this newsletter, you can subscribe here - American Beginnings Newsletter.
As always, thanks for reading with us...
Quote of the Week
Since we talk about James Madison quite a bit in our new book, Understand Your Rights Because You're About to Lose Them!, we decided to use a quote from Madison for our Quote of the Week:
"All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree." - James Madison from a Speech at the Constitutional Convention, July 11, 1787
Some thoughts about the quote...
Why should people in power be viewed with suspicion?
Does this mean that ALL people in positions of power are corrupt?
If there is a widespread problem in our society with people in power being corrupt, what is the solution?
Share your comments and answers to these specific questions on our Facebook page here.
You can learn more about Madison at our James Madison Facts page.
American History Facts
Since we are reading the book Paul Revere's Ride for our American History Book Club, we thought we would share some interesting facts about Paul Revere that we have gleaned from the book.
Most Americans have at least heard of Paul Revere, but, as David Hackett Fischer points out, he remains mostly a mysterious figure, often pictured riding off the into the night with a long waving cloak covering him up. No one has a good picture of the REAL Paul Revere.
Hackett talks about an interesting study where lists of the members of 7 different patriotic political groups in Boston are compared. 255 men appear on the 7 lists. Of all these men, no one appeared on all seven. No one even appeared on at least six of the lists. Only TWO men appeared on five of them - Dr. Joseph Warren and Paul Revere. Five men appeared on four of the lists and seven appeared on three.
This tells us that Paul Revere was EXTREMELY well connected with the movers and shakers of patriotic thought in Boston. He was not merely a messenger. He was intricately involved with the anti-British efforts as an organizer and leader.
Why is this fact not more well-known? There are two very good reasons. First, Paul Revere was well connected and influential among the leaders of the patriotic movement and would have been well-known in Boston, but since he was not a politician, he was not as well-known. Those who held political office, such as John Hancock and John Adams, would have received much more press and attention, even in those days.
Second, Paul Revere was an active member of the Revolutionary movement, but he was not a writer or public speaker. John Adams, Samuel Adams and James Otis wrote letters to the editor, essays, books and gave speeches about their political views. This naturally made them more prominent because their works were reproduced and distributed around the colonies. People heard their names - they didn't hear the name of Paul Revere.
Another very interesting subplot of the Paul Revere story is the tale of Dr. Warren's spy. Mr. Fischer contrasts Paul Revere's life with that of General Thomas Gage in order to show the differences between colonial vs. British thought, upbringing and heritage to help the reader better understand the clash of values that was occurring during the war.
Dr. Warren was one of the chief political leaders in Boston. He was the person who actually gave Paul Revere the order to ride to Lexington on the evening of April 18, 1775. Dr. Warren had a spy close in the inner circle of General Gage that could give EXTREMELY accurate information to Warren when called upon.
Margaret Kemble Gage
Historians have never identified the spy with certainty, but most believe the spy was Gage's wife, Margaret Kemble Gage. Mrs. Gage was an American married to a British general - the general who was the highest ranking officer in Boston at the outbreak of the Revolution.
Margaret expressed her inner turmoil to friends on several occasions, hoping that her husband would not be involved in the bloodshed of her countrymen.
Dr. Warren sent an urgent message on April 18 to his spy asking for information about the upcoming mission to Lexington and Concord. The reply came giving the exact details of the mission. This led Dr. Warren to send Paul Revere and William Dawes to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams that they were the target of the mission and to Concord for the protection of colonial arms.
The evidence for Mrs. Gage being the spy is circumstantial. Just after the mission to Concord ended, Gage banished his wife and put her on a ship to England. He remained in the colonies for another year. After returning to England, they were estranged from one another for the rest of their lives. Historians put all the pieces together and believe he found out she was the spy.
One last interesting fact from the book. You may have heard about the lanterns being placed in the Old North Church to tell the patriots which way the British were going on their way to Lexington and Concord.
The Old North Church,
The young man who was charged with putting the lanterns in the church was a Robert Newman, who was sexton (basically a janitor) at the church. Newman was supposed to meet Paul Revere at Newman's house late on April 18 so Revere could tell him how many lanterns to put up in the church.
The only problem was that Newman and his mother lived in a large house where they boarded British soldiers. On April 18, the soldiers happened to stay up very late in the front room playing cards. Robert couldn't get out of the house without arousing their suspicion by going out late at night.
Instead, Robert pretended to go to bed early in his upstairs bedroom. Once there, he climbed out the window and down the side of the house to wait for Revere!
When Paul Revere arrived at the house that evening, he looked in the front window and was alarmed to see so many British soldiers awake. He went around the back of the house, only to have Newman come out from hiding in the shadows. The two lanterns were put up in the church and the rest is history!
You can learn lots more about Paul Revere at our Paul Revere Facts page.
Question of the Week
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The first Congress passed TWELVE amendments, not ten. The states then ratified TEN of them, which became what we know as the Bill of Rights. What were the two amendments about that the states did not ratify?
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You can find the answer at our Twelve Amendments page.
Share your answer with us here on Facebook or Twitter...
And look for the answer to the question here in the next issue!
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Last week's question was: Which British flag were most (though not all) of the early American flags based on?
The answer? The British Red Ensign - You can learn more about the British Red Ensign here.
Our First Book is Finally Here!
We are proud to announce that our first book is finally out! Understand Your Rights Because You're About to Lose Them! teaches about the basic rights guaranteed to all Americans in the Bill of Rights. We go through each of the first ten amendments to the Constitution and explain their history and why each of them were important to the Founding Fathers. We also show how many of these rights are under fire today.
The Founders designed a system where the federal government had a small list of defined powers in the Constitution and all other powers were left to individuals and to the states. Today we have the opposite. We have a gigantic federal government and an all powerful Supreme Court that believe their role is to tell the rest of us how we ought to live.
Understand Your Rights shows how this change occurred gradually over the years and more importantly, what we can do to reverse this trend and return things to the design of the Founders - with a small federal government that is the servant of the states and of the people.
Right now Understand Your Rights is available in ebook format only. We have it available in many different formats, such as mobi, epub and pdf, so it is viewable on most e-reading platforms such as the Kindle, Nook, iPad and on your personal computer.
Understand Your Rights will also be available in print soon.
If you would like to learn more about the book or think you would like to order one, please go to Understand Your Rights on our website.
Sarah Palin and Paul Revere
About a year ago, newscasters everywhere were going crazy to explain how Sarah Palin had flubbed up some facts about Paul Revere. She was touring some historic sites in Boston and a reporter asked her a question (while she was getting lunch). We get questions about this pretty regularly, so we thought we'd give you the facts.
Palin made a comment about Paul Revere warning the British, apparently in reference to the government taking guns away from people. She was obviously referring to the fact that the British were trying to confiscate the colonial arms during the Lexington and Concord raids. She also made a comment about church bells being rung to arouse the colonists.
Practically every newsperson in the country fell all over themselves to prove how dumb Sarah Palin was since she didn't know that Revere warned the colonists not the British and that the method of communication was not by church bells, but by messengers, such as Paul Revere himself.
The facts are these: Paul Revere was indeed sent to warn Lexington and Concord that the British were coming. After Revere left Lexington, on his way to Concord, he was captured by a British patrol. Many people don't know about this. While in their possession, Revere was asked what he was doing and he told them plainly that he was telling the patriots of their mission and that hundreds of colonists were on the way to stop them.
This was told by Revere in his own words to Jeremy Belknap, founder of the Massachusetts Historical Society. You can read the letter here - Paul Revere's Ride personal account.
You couldn't say that Revere was sent to warn the British. On the other hand, you couldn't say that he didn't warn the British either, because he did, at least the British soldiers that captured him.
Also, in the larger context of Palin's comment, she was saying that the entire mission of the patriot movement was to "warn" the British to back off from their intentions -- that they were not going to have their rights trampled on. So in this sense, Mrs. Palin was also, indeed, correct.
Oh and by the way, church bells were indeed rung in the middle of the night by churches across the countryside in order to wake up the locals to the fact that the British were on the way!
American History Book Club!
Our American History Book Club has now begun! You are invited to join with us as we read books about the Founding Fathers and early American history.
As we read, our notes, comments and reading guide will appear on our website and you are invited, not only to read along with us, but to join in the discussion and place your own comments about the books we're reading on our discussion board.
We are reading these books in real time along with you, so the full reading guide will not be posted all at once. Instead, we will make a post for each chapter as we read. With new chapters being added every few days.
You can read the posts as a guide while you read and leave your own comments and questions about the readings using the Facebook comments on the discussion page. You could post about what you learned from the chapter or how a particular reading affected you personally, for example.
If you have a Facebook account, your comments will appear on our website and on your own Facebook page as well, so your friends can join in the discussion. If you do not use Facebook, don't worry, the comments will still work for you, too.
Once we complete a book, the full notes will be posted and anyone can read the books and join in the discussion at any time.
If you would like to read along with us, please go to our American History Book Club page for more information.
American Revolution Flags
Now that summer is almost here, you may be looking for a new way to display your patriotic pride. Our American Revolution Flag section features the history of 21 different historical flags, along with an order form where you can purchase your own.
Many people are hanging their own Gadsden Flag, Fort Moultrie Flag, Betsy Ross Flag or Grand Union Flag in their own yard as a reminder that our rights are precious and were fought for and secured with the blood of our forefathers.
If you are looking for a unique way to show your American spirit this summer, find a patriotic flag from many sizes and styles that will fit your circumstances best at our American Revolution Flags page.
in this newsletter, and be seen by people interested in the American Revolution - and beyond!
Check out these new and updated pages on our site
Purpose of the Declaration of Independence - What is the purpose of the Declaration of Independence? Learn about the greatest of human documents from the American Revolution, which was written to announce the justifiable reasons for American independence.
10th Amendment - The 10th Amendment was designed to keep the federal government from interfering with rights it was not granted in the Constitution. Learn more about this important amendment to the US Constitution.
Currency Act - The Currency Act, one of the causes of the American Revolution, restricted American colonies from printing their own money to be used as legal tender for debts in an effort to strengthen the depressed economy.
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