Category Archives: Revolutionary War

The French Revolution Didn’t Start on Bastille Day: Peter Kropotkin’s “The Great French Revolution”

In the United States, workers have long been taught to believe that the greatest revolution of all times was of course the American Revolution of 1776 which overthrew monarchical rule in favor of the rule of the nascent bourgeoisie and landed slave-owning aristocracy of the thirteen English colonies in the New World.  But as world-historic and impressive as that revolution was, it was almost immediately surpassed by the much more thorough-going revolution it inspired in that King-ruled nation whose military aid to the American colonial rebels was the chief reason why the colonies won the war against Great Britain: France.

The military aid which the French King Louis XVI gave to the Americans essentially won the war for the revolutionaries when the French Navy – some 29 ships strong – appeared in Chesapeake Bay to slam the door shut on any hope Cornwallis had of escaping the trap that had been sprung upon him by George Washington and the numerically superior French troops and their officers at Yorktown in 1781.  There were more French soldiers with artillery present on the battlefield at this “Great American Victory” than there were Americans (up to 8800 French vs 8000 Americans – not counting the decisive 29 French ships of the line and their crews).  The French very magnanimously allowed Washington the honor of accepting Cornwallis’ surrender.

Yet the French aid to the American revolution came at a high cost for the French monarchy whose finances, in a precarious condition even before the American Revolution began, were driven to the breaking point by the war with England that was a result of the French aid to the rebellious colonists.  A series of bad harvests in France further reduced the taxes that could be levied on the people of France and created bread riots in their wake.  The ruthless French monarchy’s response to these uprisings of the starving French peasants for bread led to the collapse of support for the French monarchy which led inexorably to its complete collapse in 1789.

The story of how the economic and political crisis in France grew into one of the world’s greatest revolutions has received perhaps its greatest literary tribute by Russian anarchist Prince Peter Kropotkin in his book “The Great French Revolution”.  This book, which was recommended by none other than Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the even further-reaching Russian Bolshevik Revolution  whose 100th anniversary is being celebrated this year.  It was Lenin’s recommendation that put us on the trail of this book and we are pleased to present a chapter taken from the first volume of “The Great French Revolution” in which Kropotkin shows that the French revolution had roots that went far deeper into the French working class and peasantry than the American Revolution, whose leadership was from the beginning of hostilities dominated by the landed slaveowning aristocracy of the south and the wealthy merchants of the north.  Whenever the spirits of the revolutionary bourgeoisie sagged during the struggle against the counterrevolutionary forces of the deposed aristocracy of France, it was the poor workers – the sans-culottes – and the French peasantry who demanded that the most radical and intransigent revolutionaries be pushed forward into the key positions of leadership of the Revolution.  We hope you enjoy Chapter V – “The Spirit of Revolt: The Riots” from Volume One of Kropotkin’s “The Great French Revolution”.  — IWPCHI

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Excerpt from “The Great French Revolution” by Prince Peter Kropotkin

Chapter V: The Spirit of Revolt – The Riots

As is usual in every new reign, that of Louis XVI. began with some reforms. Two months after his accession Louis XVI. summoned Turgot1 to the ministry, and a month later he appointed him Controller-General of Finance.  He even supported him at first against the violent opposition that Turgot, as an economist, a parsimonious middle-class man and an enemy of the effete aristocracy, was bound to meet with from the Court party.

  Free trade in corn was proclaimed in September 1774,2 and statute labor was abolished in 1776, as well as the old corporations and guilds in the towns, which were no longer of any use except to keep up a kind of industrial autocracy, and by these measures hopes of reform were awakened among the people.  The poor rejoiced to see the breaking down of the toll-gates, which had been put up all over France, and prevented the free circulation of corn, salt and other objects of prime necessity. For them it meant the first breach in the odious privileges of the landowners […]

Finally, in August of 1779, mortmain and personal servitude were suppressed upon the King’s private estates, and the following year it was decided to abolish torture, which was used in the most atrocious forms established by the Ordinance of 1670.4  “Representative Government,” such as was established by the English after their revolution,5 and was advocated in the writings of the contemporary philosophers, also began to be spoken of.  With this end in view, Turgot had even prepared a scheme of provincial assemblies, to be followed later on by representative government for all France in which the propertied classes would have been called upon to constitute a parliament. Louis XVI. shrank from this proposal, and dismissed Turgot; but from that moment all educated France began to talk of a Constitution and national representation.6  However, it was no longer possible to elude the question of national representation, and when Necker7 became minister in July 1777, it came up again for discussion.  Necker, who understood very well the wishes of his master, and tried to bring his autocratic ideas into some accord with the requirements of finance, attempted to manoeuvre by proposing the introduction of provincial assemblies only and relegating the possibility of a national representation to the distant future.  But he, too, was met by a formal refusal on the part of the King. “Would it not be a happy contingency,” wrote the crafty financier, “that your Majesty, having become an intermediary between your estates and your people, your authority should only appear to mark the limits between severity and justice?”  To which Louis replied: “It is of the essence of my authority not to be an intermediary, but to be at the head.” It is well to remember these words in view of the sentimentalities concerning Louis XVI. which have been propagated by historians belonging to the party of reaction. Far from being the careless, inoffensive, good-natured person, interested only in hunting, that they wished to represent him, Louis XVI., for fifteen years, until 1789, managed to resist the necessity, felt and declared, for new political reforms to take the place of royal despotism and the abominations of the old regime.

  The weapon used by Louis XVI., in preference to all others was deceit. Only fear made him yield, and, using always the same weapons, deceit and hypocrisy, he resisted not only up to 1789, but even up to the last moment, to the foot of the scaffold. At any rate, in 1778, at a time when it was already evident to all minds of more or less perspicacity, as it was to Turgot and Necker, that the absolute power of the King had had its day, and that the hour had come for replacing it by some kind of national representation, Louis XVI. could never be
brought to make any but the feeblest concessions. He convened the provincial assemblies of the provinces of Berri and Haute-Guienne (1778 and 1779). But in the face of the opposition shown by the privileged classes, the plan of extending these assemblies to the other provinces was abandoned, and Necker was dismissed in 1781.

  The revolution in America had, meanwhile, helped also to awaken minds,
and to inspire them with a breath of liberty and republican democracy. On July 4, 1776, the English colonies in North America had proclaimed their independence, and the new United States were recognized by France in 1778, which led to a war with England that lasted until 1783.  All historians mention the effect which this war had on men’s minds.  There is, in fact, no doubt that the revolt of the English colonies and the constitution of the United States
exercised a far-reaching influence in France, and helped powerfully in arousing the revolutionary spirit.  We know, too, that the Declaration of Rights, drawn up by the young American States influenced the French revolutionists profoundly, and was taken by them as a model for their declaration.  It might be said also that the war in America, during which France had to build an entire fleet to oppose England’s, completed the financial ruin of the old
regime and
hastened its downfall.  But it is nevertheless certain that this war was also the beginning of those terrible wars which England soon waged against France, and the coalitions which she organised against the Republic.  As soon as England recovered from her defeats and felt that France was weakened by internal struggles, she used every means, open and secret, to bring about the wars which we shall see waged relentlessly from 1793 till 1815.

  All these causes for the Great Revolution8 must be clearly indicated, for like every event of primordial importance, it was the result of many causes, converging at a given moment, and creating the men who in their turn contributed to strengthening the effect of those causes.  But it must be understood that in spite of the events which prepared the Revolution, and in
spite of all the intelligence and ambitions of the middle classes, those ever-prudent people who would have would have gone on a long time waiting for a change if the people had not hastened matters.  The popular revolts, growing and increasing in number and assuming proportions quite unforeseeen, were the new elements which gave the middle class the power of attack which they themselves did not possess.

  The people had patiently endured misery and oppression under Louis XV.,
but as soon as that King died, in 1774, they began to revolt, knowing well that, with a change of masters at the palace, there comes an inevitable slackening of authority.  A continuous series of riots broke out between 1775 and 1777.

  These were the riots of hunger that had been repressed until then only by force. The harvest of 1774 had been bad, and bread was scarce.  Accordingly rioting broke out in April 1775.  At Dijon the people took possession of the homes of the monopolists, destroyed their furniture and smashed up their flour-mills.  It was on this occasion that the governor of the town – one of the superfine gentlemen of whom Taine has written with so much complacence – said to the people those fatal words which were so often to be repeated during the Revolution: “The grass has sprouted, go to the fields and browse on it.”  Auxerre, Amiens, Lille, followed Dijon.  A few days later the “robbers,” for so the majority of historians designate the famished rioters, having assembled at Pontoise, Passy and Saint-Germain with the intention of pillaging the granaries, turned their steps toward Versailles. Louis XVI. wanted to go out on the balcony of the palace to speak to them, to tell them that he would reduce the price of bread; but Turgot, like a true economist, opposed this. The reduction in the price of bread was not made. The “robbers,” in the meantime, entered Paris
and plundered the bakeries, distributing whatever food they could seize among the crowd; but they were dispersed by the troops, and two of the rioters were hanged at the Place de la Greve, and as they were being hanged they cried out that they were dying for the people.  Since that time the legend began to circulate in France about “robbers” overrunning the country – a legend that had such an important effect in 1789, as it furnished the middle classes in the
towns with a pretext for arming themselves.  And from that time also began the placards insulting the King and his ministers which were pasted up at Versailles, containing threats to execute the King the day after his coronation, and even to exterminate the whole of the royal family if bread remained at the same price. Forged governmental edicts, too, began to be circulated throughout the country. One of them asserted that the State Council had reduced the price of wheat
to twelve livres (francs) the measure.

  These riots were of course suppressed, but they had far-reaching consequences. Strife was let loose among the various parties. It rained pamphlets. Some of these accused the minister, while others spoke of a plot of the princes against the King, or made fun of the royal authority.  In short, with men’s minds already in a state of ferment, the popular outbreaks were the sparks which ignited the powder.  Concessions to the people, never dreamed of before, were openly discussed; public works were set on foot; taxes on milling were abolished, and this measure led the people of Rouen to declare that all manorial dues had been abolished, so that they rose in July to protest against ever paying them again.  The malcontents evidently lost no time and profited by the occasion to extend the popular risings.

  We have not the necessary documents for giving a full account of the popular insurrections during the reign of Louis XVI. – the historians did not trouble about them; the archives have not been examined, and it is only by accident that we learn that in such-and-such a place there were “disorders”.  Thus, there were riots of a somewhat serious nature in Paris, after the abolition of the trade-guilds in 17769 – and all over France, in the course of the same year – as a result of the false reports respecting the abolition of all obligations in
the matter of statute labor10 and dues claimed by the landowners.  But, according to the printed documents, it would appear also that there was a decrease in rioting in the years 1777 to 1783, the American war having perhaps something to do with this.

  However, in 1782 and 1783, the riots recommenced and from that time went on increasing until the Revolution. Poitiers revolted in 1782; in 1786 it was Vizille’s turn; from 1783 to 1789 rioting broke out in the Cevennes, the Vivarais and the Gevaudan. The malcontents, who were nicknamed mascarats, wanting
to punish the “practitioners” who sowed dissension among the peasants to incite them to go to law, broke into the law courts and into the houses of the notaries and attorneys and burned all the deeds and contracts. Three of the leaders were hanged, others were sent to penal servitude, but the disorders broke out afresh, as soon as the closing of the
parlements (Courts of Justice) furnished them with a new precedent11.  In 1786 it was Lyons that revolted12.
The silk-weavers went on strike; they were promised an increase of wages, but troops were called out, whereupon there was a fight and three of the leaders were hanged.  From that moment, up to the Revolution, Lyons became a hotbed of revolt, and in 1789 it was the rioters of 1786 who were chosen as electors.

  Sometimes these risings had a religious character; sometimes they were to
resist military enlistment – every levy of soldiers led to a riot, says Turgot; or it might be the salt tax against which the people rebelled, or the exactions of the tithes.  But revolts went on without intermission, and it was in the east, south-east and north-east – future hotbeds of the Revolution – that these revolts broke out in the greatest number.  They went on steadily growing in importance, and at last, in 1788, after the dissolution of the Courts of Justice,
which were called
parlements and were replaced by “Plenary Courts,” insurrections broke out in every part of France.

  It is evident that for the mass of the people there was not much to choose between a parlement and a “Plenary Court.”  If the parlements had refused sometimes to register edicts made by the King and his minister, they had on the other hand displayed no solicitude for the people. But the parlements had
shown opposition to the Court, that was enough; and when emissaries of the middle classes sought popular support for rioting, they were given it willingly, because it was a way of demonstrating against the Court and the rich.

  In the June of 1787 the Paris parlement had made itself very popular by refusing a grant of money to the Court.  The law of the country was that the edicts of the King should be registered by the parlement, and the Paris parlement unhesitatingly registered certain edicts concerning the corn trade, the convocation of provincial assemblies and statute labor.  But it refused to
register the edict which was to establish fresh taxes – a new “territorial subvention,” and a new stamp duty. Upon this the King convoked what was called a “Bed of Justice,” and compelled his edicts to be registered.  The
parlement protested, and so won the sympathy of the middle classes and the people.  There were crowds round the Courts at every sitting; clerks, curious idlers and common men collected there to applaud the members.  To stop this,
the King banished the
parlement to Troyes, and then riotous demonstrations began in Paris.  The popular hatred was then being directed against the princes chiefly, especially against the Duke d’Artois and the Queen, who was nicknamed “Madame Deficit”.

  The Exchequer Court of Paris (Cour des Aides), supported by the popular outburst, as well as by the provincial parlements and the Court of Justice, protested against this act of royal power, and, as the agitation was growing, the King was compelled to recall the exiled parlement.  This was done on September 9, and evoked fresh demonstrations in Paris, during which the minister Calonne13 was burnt in effigy.

  These disturbances were chiefly confined to the lower middle classes.
But in other localities they assumed a more popular character.

  In 1788 insurrections broke out in Brittany.  When the military commander
of Rennes and the Governor of the province went to the Breton
parlement to
announce the edict by which that body was abolished, the whole town turned out immediately.  The crowd insulted and hustled the two functionaries.  The people in their hearts hated the Governor, Bertrand de Moleville, and the middle classes profited by this to spread a rumor that the edict was all owing to the Governor.  “He is a monster that deserves to be strangled,” said one of the leaflets distributed among the crowd.  When he came out of the palace, therefore, they pelted him with stones, and after several attempts some one threw a cord with a slip-knot over him.  Fighting was about to begin – the young men in the crowd breaking through the ranks of soldiers – when an officer threw down his sword and fraternised with the people.

  By degrees troubles of the same kind broke out in several other towns in
Brittany, and the peasants rose in their turn when grain was being shipped at Quimper, Saint-Brieuc, Morlaix, Pont-l’Abbe, Lamballe and other places.  It is interesting to note the active part taken in these disorders by the students at Rennes, who from that time fraternised with the rioters14.  In Dauphine, especially at Grenoble, the insurrection assumed a still more serious character. As soon as the military commander, Clermont-Tonnerre, had promulgated the edict which dissolved the
parlement the people of Grenoble rose.  The tocsin was rung, and the alarm spreading quickly to the neighboring villages, the peasants hastened in crowds to the town.  There was a sanguinary affray and many were killed.  The commander’s guard was helpless and his palace was sacked.  Clermont-Tonnerre, with an axe held over his head, had to revoke the
royal edict.

  It was the people, and chiefly the women, who acted on this occasion.  As
to the members of the
parlement, the people had a good deal of trouble to find them.  They hid themselves, and wrote to Paris that the people had risen against their will, and when the people laid hands on them they were kept
prisoners – their presence giving an air of legality to the insurrection.  The women mounted guard over these arrested members, unwilling to trust them even to the men, lest they should be allowed to escape.

  The middle classes of Grenoble were in a state of terror.  During the night they organized a militia of citizens that took possession of the town gates as well as of some military posts, which they yielded to the troops soon after.  Cannon were trained on the rebels, while the parlement took advantage of the darkness to disappear.  From June 9 to 14 reaction triumphed, but on the 14th news came that there had been a rising at Besancon and that the Swiss soldiers had refused to fire on the people.  Upon this the people’s spirit revived, and it was proposed to convoke the Estates of the province.  But fresh reinforcements of troops having been sent from Paris the disturbance subsided by degrees.  The
agitation, however, kept up chiefly by the women, lasted some time longer15.

  Besides these two risings mentioned by the majority of the historians, many others broke out at the same time in Provence, Languedoc, Rousillon, Bearn, Flanders, Franche-Comte and Burgundy.  Even where no serious riots occurred advantage was taken of the prevailing excitement to keep up the discontent and to make demonstrations.

  At Paris, after the dismissal of the Archbishop of Sens, there were numerous demonstrations.  The Pont Neuf was guarded by troops, and several conflicts occurred between them and the people, of whom the leaders were, as Bertrand de Moleville remarks16, “those who later on took part in all the popular movements of the Revolution.”  Marie-Antoinette’s letter to the Count de Mercy should also be read in this connection.  It is dated August 24, 1788, and in it she tells him of her fears, and announces the retirement of the Archbishop of Sens and the steps she had taken to recall Necker; the effect produced on the Court by those riotous crowds can therefore be understood.  The Queen foresaw that this recall of Necker would lessen the King’s authority; she feared “that they may be compelled to nominate a prime minister,” but “the moment is pressing. It is very essential that Necker should accept.”171819

  Three weeks later, September 14, 1788, when the retirement of Lamoignon
became known, the riotings were renewed.  The mob rushed to set fire to the houses of the two ministers, Lamoignon and Brienne, as well as to that of Dubois.  The troops were called out, and in the Rue Melee and the Rue de Grenelle there was a horrible slaughter of people who could not defend themselves.  Dubois fled from Paris.  “The people themselves would execute justice,” said
Les deux amis de la liberte.  Later, still, in October 1788, when the parlement that had been banished to Troyes was recalled, “the clerks and the
populace” illuminated the Place Dauphine for several evenings in succession. They demanded money from the passers-by to expend on fireworks, and forced gentlemen to alight from their carriages to salute the statue of Henri Quatre20.
Figures representing Calonne, Breteuil21 and the Duchess de Polignac22
were burned.  It was also proposed to burn the Queen in effigy.  These riotous assemblies gradually spread to other quarters, and troops were sent to disperse them.  Blood was shed and many were killed in the Place de la Greve.  Those who were arrested, however, were tried by the
parlement judges, who let them off with light penalties.

  In this way the revolutionary spirit awoke and developed in the van of
the Great Revolution23.  The initiative came from the middle classes certainly – chiefly from the lower middle classes – but, generally speaking, the middle
classes took care not to compromise themselves, and the number of them who opposed the Court, more or less openly, before the convoking of the States-General was very limited.  If there had only been their few attempts at resistance France might have waited many years for the overthrow of royal despotism.  Fortunately a thousand circumstances impelled the masses to revolt.  And in spite of the fact that after every outbreak there were summary hangings, wholesale arrests and even torture for those arrested, the people did revolt, pressed on one side by their desperate misery, and spurred on by the
vague hopes of which the old woman spoke to Arthur Young24.  They rose in numbers against the Governors of provinces, tax-collectors, salt-tax agents and even against the troops, and by so doing completely disorganized the governmental machine.

  From 1788 the peasant risings became so general that it was impossible to provide for the expenses of the State, and Louis XVI., after having refused for fourteen years to convoke the representatives of the nation, lest his Kingly authority should suffer, at last found himself compelled to convoke, first the two Assemblies of Notables, and finally the States-General.

Source:
Prince Peter Kropotkin, “The Great French Revolution” Volume I,
Vanguard Press, May 1929 (2 volumes). Transcription by IWPCHI.

1Anne
Robert Jacques Turgot (1727-1781) – Known colloquially as “Turgot”
– French “progressive” economist and statesman. Appointed
Controller-General of Finance by Louis XVI, he proposed reforms to
the French system of government that would have created a
parliamentary system under a constitutional monarchy – and was
dismissed by Louis XVI as a result. Though he generally supported
its political ideals he unsuccessfully opposed French financial
support for the American revolutionary war “on grounds of
economy”. He ruthlessly suppressed the ‘guerre des farines’
(literally, ‘war of flour’ translated into English as ‘bread
riots’) that took place throughout France in May of 1775 as a
direct result of Turgot’s laissez-faire economic reforms of the
grain markets which led (then and now) to commodities speculators
buying up and hoarding grain in order to drive up prices (Turgot was
thus forced to abandon his own economic principles and restore state
control of the grain market). As an economist he was (is?)
considered to be an adherent to the “physiocratic” school of
economic theory in which agrarian, rural modes of production were
extolled as being morally superior to the pre-capitalist
manufacturing that was beginning to take place in major cities and
towns. This philosophy was perfectly suited to its time and the
predominance of agricultural over pre-industrial production under
late feudal period of European history. The Physiocrats proposed an
early form of laissez-faire economics that was based on rural
agriculture and on the idea that what motivated economic actors to
produce goods was primarily their pursuit of their own personal
interests; they imagined that by simply allowing free trade to exist
a balance would be achieved between the producers and their
exploiters (owners of land and merchants) which would allow everyone
to prosper. This completely discredited idea that free trade leads
to a more perfect and fair balance of trade between workers and
their exploiters is still one of the fundamental – and weakest –
‘principles’ of economics extolled by capitalist economists in
the 21st century. Turgot was one of the co-discoverers of
a fundamental truth of economic theory – the “law of diminishing
returns” – in which “successive applications of the variable
input will cause the product to grow, first at an increasing rate,
later at a diminishing rate until it reaches a maximum.” By
appointing Turgot as Controller -General Louis XVI was signalling
his own openness to progressive reforms of the French monarchical
system. The representatives sent to France by the 13 British
colonies that were to become the United States were so completely
taken in by this apparent openness to modern political and economic
ideas expressed by Louis XVI that they were tricked into believing
that he was a supporter of the revolutionary political ideals
espoused by the American revolutionaries of the late 1700s (which he
most definitely was not, as he would prove by his dismissal of
Turgot for his promotion of political ideas that ran parallel to
those of the leading American revolutionary political theorists).
[Note by IWPCHI. Sources: Wikipedia articles on “Anne Robert
Jacques Turgot”, “Physiocrats”, “Jacques Necker” and
“Flour War”.]

2Before
that the farmer could not sell his corn for three months after the
harvest, the lord of the manor alone being entitled to do that. It
was one of the feudal privileges, which enabled the lord to sell it
at a high price.

3Mortmain
(literally meaning ‘dead hand’) was a means by which landowners
could avoid honoring any feudal duties he was obligated to pay to
the King, by donating land to the Church and then recovering use of
the land by becoming a tenant of the Church. The monarchy was
thereby denied any income or tribute they would have been entitled
to had the land remained in private hands. Also, once land was
“donated” to the Church, it would remain in Church hands
forever. This practise resulted in the loss of a tremendous amount
of income and personal service due to the monarchy. It also over
time threatened to tremendously increase the wealth in land and
therefore the balance of power between the “three estates” that
existed in medieval European feudal society: mortmain benefitted the
ecclesiastical order in relation to the nobility and the peasantry.
– IWPCHI]

4Statute
of August 24, 1780. Breaking on the wheel existed still in 1785. The
parliaments, in spite of the Voltaireianism, and the general
refinement in the conception of life, enthusiastically defended the
use of torture, which was abolished definitely only by the National
Assembly. It is interesting to find (E. Seligman, La
justice en France pendant la Revolution,
p.
97) that Brissot, Marat and Robespierre by their writings
contributed to the agitation for the reform of the penal code.

5Kropotkin
refers to England’s anti-Catholic “Glorious Revolution” of
1688. [Note by IWPCHI]

6The
arguments upon which Louis XVI. took his stand are of the highest
interest. I sum them up here according to E. Samichon’s Les
Reformes sous Louis XVI.: assemblees provinciales et parlements.
The
King found Turgot’s schemes
dangerous,
and wrote: “Though coming from a man who has good ideas, his
constitution would overthrow the existing state.” And again,
further on: “The system of a rent-paying electorate would tend to
make malcontents of the non-propertied classes, and if these were
allowed to assemble they would form a hot-bed of disorder. … The
transition from the abolished system to the system M. Turgot now
proposes ought to be considered: we see well enough what is, but
only in our thoughts do we see what does not yet exist,
and
we must not make dangerous experiments if we do not see where they
will end.” Vide
also,
in Samichon’s Appendix A, the very interesting list of the chief
laws under Louis XVI. between 1774 and 1789.

7Jacques
Necker (1732- 1804) Swiss banker who became a French statesman and
finance minister for Louis XVI.

8N.B.:
Kropotkin refers here, of course to the Great French Revolution of
1789 which is the subject of this book. – IWPCHI

9This
cursory mention by Kropotkin of an event that was a serious blow
against the feudal version of the trade union movement and which
must have given an enormous impetus to petit-bourgeois and
proletarian support for political ideas involving the curtailing of
the power of the absolute monarchy is itself worthy of a book. If
you know of any on the subject please send the information to us. –
IWPCHI

10Statute
labor was (and is) compulsory unpaid labor required by the state or
(in feudal Europe, as in this example) by the landlord from
lower-class citizens (particularly from peasants). It exists in the
US today in an only slightly attenuated form as “workfare” and
prison labor programs in which refusal to perform the work required
can result in total loss of social benefits and/or a prison term or
(for people already imprisoned) an extension of their prison
sentence. – IWPCHI

11C.
de Vic and J. de Vaisette, Histoire generale du Languedoc,
continued by du Mege, 10 vols., 1840-1846

12Chassin,
Genie de la Revolution.

13Charles
Alexandre, vicomte de Calonne (1734-1802) Born into an upper-class
family, he was a lawyer considered to be “a man with notable
business abilities and an entrepreneurial spirit, while generally
unscrupulous in his political actions.” Louis XVI appointed him to
be “Controller-General of Finances” in the autumn of 1783 in
order to deal with the deteriorating financial crisis his monarchy
was faced with as a result of Louis’ monumental waste of funds on
luxurious living as well as rapidly mounting costs relating to the
war with England and with the rapidly deteriorating internal
political situation sweeping France. Almost every policy instituted
or attempted to be instituted by Calonne exacerbated the tensions
between the citizens of France and the monarchy. He was dismissed by
Louis in 1787 and exiled to Lorraine – and later on he exiled
himself to France’s bitter enemy Great Britain. He tried to make a
political comeback with the convocation of the Estates-General in
1789 but was refused entry to France. After the Revolution Calonne
joined the monarchist counterrevolutionaries assembling at Coblenz;
when they were defeated by the revolutionary French army under
Napoleon he returned to Great Britain. In 1802 his petition for
permission to return to France was granted by Napoleon; he died in
France a month after his return. – Note by IWPCHI Source: Wikipedia
article “Charles Alexandre de Calonne”

14Du
Chatelier, Histoire de la Revolution dans les departements de
l’ancienne Bretagne,
6
vols., 1836: vol. Ii pp. 60-70, 161, &c.

15Vic
and Vaissete, vol. x. p. 637.

16Vic
and Vaissete, p.136.

17J.
Feuillet de Conches, Lettres de Louis XVI., Marie-Antoinette
at Madame Elizabeth (Paris,
1864), vol. I. pp. 214-216:
The
Abbe has
written to you this evening, sir, and has notified my wish to you,”
wrote the Queen. “I think more than ever that the moment is
pressing, and that it is very essential that he (Necker) should
accept. The King fully agrees with me, and has just brought me a
paper with his own hand containing his ideas, of which I send you a
copy.” The next day she wrote again: “We must no longer
hesitate. If he can get to work tomorrow all the better. It is most
urgent. I fear that we may be compelled to nominate a prime
minister.”

18Many
of Marie-Antoinette’s letters sent during the revolutionary

period
were sent with enciphered text written in white ink; it is not known
if this technique was used in this particular letter, but at least
one of her letters to de Mercy were enciphered and written in this
type of invisible ink (Source:

cryptiana.web.fc2.com/code/fersen.htm.
Note by IWPCHI.)

19Necker
was recalled to the post of Controller-General of Finance on 25
August 1788. He was not appointed as Prime Minister until 16 July
1789 – two days after the storming of the Bastille. (Note by
IWPCHI sourced from Wikipedia article “Jacques Necker”.)

20Henri
Quatre – King Henry IV of France (1553-1610; ruled from 1589-1610;
assassinated by fanatic Catholic Francois Ravaillac . Known as
“Henry of Navarre” and “Good King Henry” he was fondly
remembered by the workers and peasants of France for his relatively
friendly attitude towards the poor. He is credited with the
statement “If God keeps me, I will make sure that no peasant in my
realm will lack the means to have a chicken in the pot on Sunday!”
The statue in Kropotkin’s reference to Henri Quatre was erected by
Henry IV and placed on the Pont-Neuf, which he also built, and which
stands in Paris to this day. – Note by IWPCHI Source: Wikipedia
article “Henry IV of France”.

21Louis
Auguste Le Tonnelier de Breteuil (1730-1807) Baron de Breteuil – a
French aristocrat, diplomat, statesman and politician. At the time
this incident occurred Breteuil was the Secretary of State of the
Maison du Roi. He was serving the King and Queen Marie-Antoinette in
this role when the sordid tale known as “The Affair of the
Necklace” came to light. Popular support for the monarchy in
general and for Marie-Antoinette in particular was severely damaged
by the “Affair”; Breteuil’s defense of Marie-Antoinette in the
affair made him very unpopular. He was appointed to succeed Jacques
Necker as Prime Minister on 12 July 1789 – which was one of the
events that led to the storming of the Bastille prison just two days
later. After the Revolution, many aristocrats fled France one step
ahead of the executioner; Breteuil was appointed by King Louis XVI
(at the request of Marie) to be their Prime Minister-in-exile while
they were being held prisoners in France by the revolutionaries.
Breteuil was responsible for the plan for the failed escape of the
King and Queen from France in 1791. After the executions of Louis
and Marie and the death of the last heir to the Bourbon throne
Breteuil retired to a location near Hamburg. He was allowed by
Napoleon I to return to France in 1802; he died in France in 1807.
Note by IWPCHI sourced from Wikipedia article “Louis Auguste Le
Tonnelier de Breteuil”.

22Yolande
Martine Gabrielle de Polastron, Duchess of Polignac (1749-1783)
Wikipedia describes her as being of the “ultra-monarchist”
faction of the French nobility. Stunningly beautiful in her
portraits, she was hated by the poor of France for her extravagant
lifestyle and for her alleged lesbian relationship with
Marie-Antoinette (which was reportedly not true). She was hated by
many in the aristocracy for the favoritism shown to her and her
family by the King and Queen which was seen as breaching social
etiquette of the time; it was widely resented that she obtained an
appointment as “Governess of the Children of France” which gave
her the important responsibility to oversee the education and
general upbringing of the children of the King and Queen. She and
her family went into exile in Switzerland shortly after the storming
of the Bastille prison. She died in Austria shortly after the
execution of Marie Antoinette in December of 1793.

23For
fuller information, see Felix Roquain, L’esprit revolutionnaire
avant la Revolution.

24The
reference is to a story Kropotkin relates in Chapter III of Vol. I
of this book (p.11). It comes from Arthur Young’s Travels in
France
which
relate anecdotes from a trip through France which Young undertook
shortly before the French Revolution got underway. “’Something
has to be done by some great folk for such poor ones’” Young
quotes the old woman as saying in reference to the ruling
aristocracy and monarchy of France. “She did not know who or how;
‘but God send us better’”.

 

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Cast of ‘Hamilton’ Present Meek Plea to Trump Flunky Pence – Transcript

We publish here our transcription of the post-performance address given on behalf of the cast and writers of ‘Hamilton: An American Musical’ to Vice President-elect Mike Pence on 18 November 2016.  We produced it from the New York Times video copy of the event.  Though it appears that actor Brandon Victor Dixon, who gave the address on behalf of the cast and writers of the show, made somewhat more extensive remarks, the video ends before he appears to finish his statement.  We have been unable to find a copy of the video which shows the entire event through to the cast walking off the stage.

Many people on the Internet are decrying the fact that actors would dare to break the “fourth wall” between the audience and the performers in a stage performance in this manner and act as if this has never been done before.  Actually it has happened on many occasions, particularly before and after performances.  Also there have been commentators who seem to believe that the address to Pence was some kind of rude political attack intended to embarrass or humiliate Pence.  In reality, Mr. Dixon took great pains to stop any booing of Pence at the beginning of the address and delivered the address in a very respectful if direct manner.  The video shows that if anyone objected to the cast addressing Pence so directly they were in the minority: the vast majority of the audience cheers loudly in favor of the political points that are made.

The political points made by Dixon on behalf of the cast simply consist of pathetic appeals to a man who has been appointed Vice-President by the new President-elect Trump who is busy assembling the whitest, most male-dominated Presidential cabinet in almost 40 years!  “We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new Administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents – or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir ” said Dixon.

What a fine example of the impotent method of political shucking and jiving (preferred by US liberals) of “speaking truth to power” in the manner of an obedient if somewhat uppity servant who first declares his respect for the person he is addressing and then makes a pathetic plea to the King’s representative for compassion and understanding of the hopes and dreams of the downtrodden and dispossessed – just as it would have been done during the historic period in which ‘Hamilton’ is set!   The US working class is almost 200 million strong… yet once again we see a de facto representative of the US working class approaching his “social betters” – the capitalist class representative Pence, representing a mere 10% of the US population at best! – hat in hand, pathetically begging our “masters” to treat us kindly… rather than taking the revolutionary road of standing up and overthrowing the racist ruling capitalist class of the USA that Trump and Pence represent!  The numerically tiny US capitalist class who fantasize about returning the USA to the “Good Old Days(TM)” of genocide against the Native Americans and the theft of their lands, white supremacy, total subordination of women to “the menfolk”, slavery and child labor and the ruthless crushing of every attempt of the workers and slaves to fight for their “inalienable rights” that existed – then and now – only on paper!   The fact is that the integrated US working class in 2016 and our immigrant sisters and brothers have no rights that the capitalist class is “bound to respect”; and the fact that the US capitalist class has seen fit to allow Donald Trump and his gang of white supremacist scum to occupy the highest office in the land proves this point beyond doubt!  Anyone who can’t see this is either willfully blind or an imbecile.

What the US working class needs is not shameful “representatives” who present shamefully weak petitions to the “rightful rulers” of the capitalist class but heroic revolutionaries like Lenin’s Bolsheviks who presented their petitions to the Tsar and his hangmen on the ends of bayonets!  These scum who want to impose a racist, capitalist, white supremacist pig like Trump as President of the United States are throwing down a gauntlet to the working classes of the US and the world!  “If you don’t like living in our racist, white supremacist, anti-union America you can get the hell out of ‘our’ country!” they declare!  And they are preparing to unleash their fascist shock troops to intimidate and terrorize those who dare to oppose them!  The rising US fascist threat must be crushed in the egg; it will take a militant, Trotskyist-led workers movement to do it – and the US working class have barely begun that tremendous work!  Don’t you think it’s high time you got off your knees and started to fight for your rights, sister and brother workers instead of begging your mortal enemies to love you and respect you?

This is no time for presenting timid petitions to King Drumpf I, but for organizing a revolutionary Trotskyist workers party that will fight for an egalitarian socialist workers republic to replace this deeply corrupt, senile, revanchist, racist dinosaur US capitalist class and its rotten economic system that is threatening to destroy the unity of the world’s working classes and even the entire planet!  You want your rights as citizens to be defended now and forever more?  Then stop begging your enemies to do it for you and prepare to create a revolutionary workers government under which your “inalienable rights” – which exist only on paper under capitalism – to become full and permanent under a workers’ republican government!  When we say that “Capitalism must die so that the working class may live!” we are not just spouting a slogan: we are stating a harsh fact, one which you had better come to understand before it’s too late.  To limit the US working class – 200 million strong – to the pathetic role of merely “speaking truth to power” – the alleged “power” of at most 30 million greedhead capitalists – is to accept the status of loyal slaves and to make it a permanent fact of our political lives!  What could be more cowardly?  We don’t want to petition “King Trump” or merely to “speak truth to power” to his flunky ministers like Pence: we want to overthrow the despotic racist regime itself:  Trump and his entire rotten class and their capitalist system.   If the revolutionaries of 1776 had stupidly limited their struggle to merely “speaking truth to power” we’d still be living under a monarchy!  But they were NOT cowards; they were not content to “keep their place” as loyal subjects of the King, being forced to accede to his every decree and command like stupid slaves!  We need to build a political party of the working class that is energised by the same kind of revolutionary spirit that animated the likes of immigrant political theoretician Thomas Paine, Daniel Shays, John Brown, Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass and the communist men and women who fought to build the US trade unions and the civil rights movement in the 1930s!

“Workers of the World, Unite!”

— IWPCHI

********************************************************

NY Times Video – Cast of ‘Hamilton’ Present Meek Plea to Trump Flunky Pence

Cast of ‘Hamilton’ Addresses VP Elect Mike Pence After Performance – Complete transcript by IWPCHI, with notes in brackets by IWPCHI.

[Transcribed by IWPCHI from NY Times video of event. Speech delivered by actor Brandon Victor Dixon]

[Cast on stage taking final bows. Wild applause and cheering. Pence not visible during video.]

“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us tonight. You know, we had a guest in the audience this evening [light laughter throughout audience] And Vice President-elect Pence, I see you walking out but I hope you will hear us just a few more moments [one or two people boo, and apparently derisive comments anticipating tenor of speech can be heard] … there’s nothing to boo here ladies and gentlemen; there’s nothing to boo here [light applause] we’re all here sharing a story of love. We have a little message for you sir [Dixon reaches for prepared address in his pocket] and we hope that you will hear us out. [Opens up paper with prepared address and prepares to read it] … and I encourage everybody to pull out your phones and Tweet and post because this message needs to be spread far and wide, O.K.? [Reads: audience completely silent] ‘Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you and we truly thank you for joining us here at “Hamilton: An American Musical”. We really do. We, sir – we – are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new Administration will not protect us [applause and cheering, some boos] our planet, our children, our parents – or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. [Audience silent again]. But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of *all* of us. [Cheering] *All* of us. [Loud, sustained applause and cheering from audience. No booing. Dixon continues through loud applause:] Again we truly thank you for sharing this show: this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds and orientations. [Loud applause and cheering. Video ends.]

IWPCHI

 

Patriots’ Day 2016: The Battle of Menotomy, 19 April 1775

Patriots' Grave, Old Burying Ground, Arlington, Massachusetts. Burial place of nine of the eleven American colonials killed in the battle at the Jason Russell House during the first day of the American Revolution (April 19, 1775). This battle was the bloodiest skirmish of that first day. The graveyard is behind the Unitarian Church at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Pleasant Street. By Daderot at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18003465

Patriots’ Grave, Old Burying Ground, Arlington, Massachusetts. Burial place of nine of the eleven American colonials killed in the battle at the Jason Russell House during the first day of the American Revolution (April 19, 1775). This battle was the bloodiest skirmish of that first day. The graveyard is behind the Unitarian Church at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Pleasant Street. Photo by Daderot at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18003465

Of course everyone who has read anything about the American Revolution knows about the Battles of Lexington and Concord which took place on 19 April 1775.  But what fewer people are aware of is the fact that after the British troops had finished their bloody work in Lexington and Concord, they had to march all the way back to Boston – a distance of 10 miles.  In getting to Concord these redcoats had already made that hike once on that day; now they would have to do it all over again.  They were tired and hungry and highly stressed out as you can imagine: what had once been a peaceful colonial possession of Great Britain in which British troops were looked upon with respect and honor by the colonists was now transformed into a seething insurrectionary province in which a large percentage of the population saw the British Army as enemies and oppressors.

The British Army in 1775 was the equivalent of the US Army today: the world’s most powerful fighting force.  Equipped with the most modern weaponry and led by the best-trained officers in the world at that time, taking up arms against the British was no trifling matter.  The British generals were supremely confident that they would quickly put an end to the insolent uprising of the rabble-rousing rebels in Boston.  They intended to capture the leaders of the rebellion and hang them as the traitors to the Crown they were.

The British commanders carried out their mission on April 19th with the usual savage professionalism and ruthless efficiency the British Army was known for by its many victims worldwide.  Opposing them was an unprofessional colonial militia loosely organized, poorly armed and led and for the most part by men untrained in the “arts” of 18th century warfare.  This state of affairs had all the hallmarks of a disastrous and foolhardy enterprise on the side of the traitorous rebels.  How could they possibly expect to prevail over the mighty British Army?

As the redcoats who had skirmished with the rebels at Lexington and Concord rested, ate and were relieved by fresh troops from Boston who had been sent to reinforce them for their long march back through rebel territory, the traitorous militia (remember – in 1775 the term “patriot” was not the usual appellation affixed to those who dared to rebel against the lawful authority of the King and his colonial representatives) prepared to obstruct and harass the British troops as they headed back to Boston along the same road (at that time the only direct route to take) which they had come up on earlier.  Minutemen from all over Massachusetts took up positions in houses and behind the low fieldstone walls that ran along property lines between the farms along the route.

The British undertook to carry out their mission with the customary caution and professionalism of any trained military force at the time.  The main body of their force would march in formation along the road; skirmishers would be sent out into the fields along both sides of the road to protect the British lines, keeping any attackers far enough away from the main body of troops so that any shots they would fire would fall short.  Those flanking parties would also kill or capture any rebels they found in possession of arms along the way.

The Minutemen – led by unprofessional soldiers – were not even aware of the fact that these forces protecting the flanks of the British main force could be expected to be present; so they set up their defense close to the road, leaving their own rear wide open to attack by the flanking parties.

Try to imagine what it must have been like to be a British soldier on that day.  We have actually walked the route taken by the British from Lexington Green along what is called in Massachusetts the “Battle Road”.  It’s a long winding road over low rolling hills and dales with – even to this day – the characteristic stone walls of New England running along it and out across what remains of the farmers’ fields of the 1700s.  Now, much of that terrain is wooded; back in the 1700s it was mostly bereft of trees.  Wearing their trademark bright red coats, the British regulars would have been easy targets as they marched along and over the low rolling dirt road to Boston.

From the time the British troops formed up and began their march until they finally reached Charlestown, the Minutemen intended to obtain their revenge for the blood and lives of the colonials that had been taken in the unprovoked attack by the British in Lexington and Concord.  Hiding behind the stone walls, snipers picked off the redcoats with ease, while the British flanking parties drove the snipers out of hiding and back along the road towards Boston, where they took up new positions and prepared to harass the British again.

As the British entered the town of Menotomy they were faced suddenly with the problem of how to run the gauntlet of houses positioned right on the street on both sides of the road all the way through this town.  Minutemen had taken up positions in the upper floors of these houses and as the British approached they opened fire on the redcoats with deadly accuracy, killing and wounding many.  It turned out that Menotomy – now called Arlington – would be the scene of the most brutal and bloody fighting of the 19th of April.  Enraged by what they perceived to be “cowardly” attacks from cover by the rebels (it was considered to be an improper form of warfare; in the 1700s, massed armies were supposed to meet on an open field of battle and shoot and stab it out bayonet to bayonet) the British stormed into the homes of the rebel colonists, bayonetting and shooting everyone they could find in the buildings – especially those in possession of weapons.  No mercy was shown; men, women and children were viciously bayonetted and shot at point-blank range; many were killed and grievously wounded.

Perhaps the best example of the savagery of the British attack is shown by what happened to heroic rebel patriot Captain Samuel Whittemore.  This aged Menotomy patriarch had been born in England and was a veteran of the British Army who had fought in the French and Indian War on the side of the British as a youth.  But now at age 69 he had “turned traitor” and was armed to defend his fellow citizens from the lawful authority of his native country!  He was no flag-waving worshipper of the status quo such as we see all over the USA today: cowardly nationalists who wrap themselves in the colors of the USA and who attack anyone who dares to oppose the brutal and despotic US government of today which has murdered millions of innocent workers worldwide in its anticommunist wars over the past 1oo years and which has legalized torture and the assassination of US citizens on the President’s orders!  How many of these flag-waving US patriots of today would have been in the ranks of the traitorous rebels of 1775?  Not many!  It is easy to support the American Revolution today; but back then, it took tremendous courage to oppose the lawful governmental authority of Great Britain in words – not to mention opposing it arms in hand!  American Revolutionary leaders claimed after the war was successfully concluded that they never had the stalwart and unwavering support of more than around 30% of the population of the colonies at any time during the revolution.  Of course, the other 70% were either outright supporters of the Crown or were just waiting to see who would come out the winner before they would decide which flag to wrap themselves in.  They probably kept two flags at the ready at all times – one to fly when the British were in the neighborhood and a rebel flag for when the Minutemen were around.  Today’s flag-waving “patriots” in the USA who proclaim the US to be “my country right or wrong” and who tell modern-day US revolutionaries that “if you don’t like the US government, get out of the country!” are the modern equivalent of the hated pro-British Tories of the Revolutionary era.  These knee-jerk flag-waving patriotic worshippers of the US flag and its vicious worker-hating and veteran-abusing government don’t have a rebellious bone in their bodies!

Captain Sam Whittemore was not a knee-jerk patriot; he was a heroic man who dared to put his life on the line against the tyranny of what had once been, in his mind and the minds of his fellow rebels,  “their” government!  Cowards like today’s flag-waving worshippers of the disgusting, racist and murderous US capitalist status quo who lived in British colonial America lie in their graves – unknown to history. This granite monument in Menotomy, Massachusetts to American Revolutionary war hero Captain Sam Whittemore tells of a man who dared to challenge – not worship – despotic government:

Monument to one of the heroic "Old Men of Menotomy" Samuel Whittemore in Menotomy (now Arlington) Massachusetts. By Bhenricksen at English Wikipedia - Own work by the original uploader, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29116756

Monument to one of the heroic “Old Men of Menotomy” Samuel Whittemore in Menotomy (now Arlington) Massachusetts.   Photo by Bhenricksen at English Wikipedia – Own work by the original uploader, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29116756

Sam selected a position that gave him an excellent view of the road from Lexington, and sat down to wait. His fellow minuteman from Menotomy pleaded for him to find a safer position, but he choose to ignore them.

“His fellow minuteman started firing at the oncoming British Grenadiers of the 47th Regiment of Foot, falling back to reload, then firing again. Sam waited. Finally, when the column was directly in front of him, he stood and fired his musket. A grenadier fell dead. He drew his two pistols, firing both at almost point blank range. Another grenadier fell dead, a third fell mortally wounded. The British soldiers were on top of him, he had not the time to reload his musket or pistols, so drawing his sword, he . started flailing away at the bayonet wielding soldiers. A soldier leveled his Brown Bess musket, at point blank range and fired. The .69 calibre ball struck Sam in the cheek, tearing away part of his face and throwing him to the ground. Sam valiantly tried to rise, fending off bayonet thrusts with his sword, but he was overpowered. Struck in the head with a musket butt, he went down again, then was bayoneted thirteen times and left for dead.

Using a door as a makeshift stretcher, Sam was carried to Cooper Tavern, which was being used as a emergency hospital. Doctor Nathaniel Tufts of Medford attended to Sam. He cut off his bloody clothes, and exposed the gaping bayonet wounds. Sam’s face was horribly injured. Doctor Tufts knew the injuries were fatal, stating it wouldn’t do any good to even dress the wounds. Sam’s family and friends insisted and Dr. Tufts did the best he could. He tried to make the old man as comfortable as possible. After his wounds were attended to Sam was carried to his home, to die surrounded by his family. To everyone’s utter amazement Captain Sam Whittemore lived! He recovered and remained active for the next eighteen years. He was terribly scarred, but always was proud of what he had done for his adopted country. He is quoted as having stated that he would take the same chances again.”  [Source: ““Never Too Old: The Story of Captain Samuel Whittemore” by Donald N. Moran]

By the time the British had fought their way through Menotomy, they had the bodies of an additional 40 dead and eighty wounded redcoats to add to their burden from Lexington and Concord to carry back to their ships in Boston Harbor.

When the workers socialist revolution in the United States finally gets underway to overthrow OUR despotic and ruthless government, it will be led not by today’s cowardly flag-waving worshippers of the powerful and wealthy; it will be led by man and women like Captain Samuel Whittemore who have the courage to fight to the death if necessary against tyranny – especially when it comes from “our own” government!

— IWPCHI

 

240th Anniversary of the ‘Shot Heard ‘Round the World’ – Start of the New American Revolution – Patriot’s Day

In honor of the 240th anniversary of the beginning of the American Revolution – which began on this day, April 19, 1775 at the Battles of Lexington and Concord – we present a newspaper article that appeared in the Essex (Massachusetts) Gazette of 25 April 1775 – a compendium made by the Gazette’s editor of the events that took place on that day.

It might seem strange that our organization, which is dedicated to the overthrow of the US capitalist class of 2015 (many of whom have ancestors who fought and died in the American Revolution) would celebrate the victory of the then-emerging US capitalist class over the British royalists.  But we recognize that the American Revolution was a major step forward on the road to the emancipation of the working class internationally.  Even though the US revolution was led by a coalition of rather conservative mercantile capitalists and slave-owning aristocrats, the principles that were promulgated by the US revolutionaries broke new legal and philosophical ground that would lead inevitably to the development of the theory of the class struggle and the socialist ideas of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.  In other words, the socialist movement owes a great debt to the revolutionary thinkers – and actors – of the US revolution – men and women like John Parker, Prince Estabrook, Mercy Otis Warren, Thomas Paine, Deborah Sampson, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, and the thousands of unsung heroic brave working men and women.  They risked their lives and their fortunes in what, at the time, seemed as impossible a struggle against what was then the world’s most powerful military as does our fight today to topple the ruling class of the USA, whose military juggernaut frightens the most cowardly among us.  In fact, it is the audacity and the boldness of the American revolutionaries of 1775 who we look to for proof that “for brave men and women, there is always a remedy for oppression”.  No military, no King, no ruling class is too powerful to be brought down by the united power of the working class!  The British found this out in 1775; time and again the modern US capitalist class has been forced to submit to the strength of the insurrectionary working class as they took on the most powerful military in the world – that of the United States – and won.  In the USSR, China, Korea, Vietnam, and Cuba, the United States was unable to prevail against the united forces of the workers and peasants of countries who no one believed could ever win against the military might of the USA.  The US working class, too, will someday prove the naysayers wrong, following the trail blazed by the heroes of 1776, 1789, 1871, 1917, 1949, 1953, 1959 and 1975.
Today’s US capitalist class, by  re-legalizing torture and legalizing the assassination of U.S. citizens, has forever and irrevocably forfeited its “right” to rule over the working class of the USA.  It is the duty of every decent member of the US working class to dedicate their lives and fortunes to the overthrow of this savage ruling class, responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of our sister and brother workers all across the globe and the continuing torture and murder of our brothers and sisters right here in the US via the US national security police state and its prison-industrial system.

As in the US Revolution, where the Sons of Liberty, the Committees of Correspondence and the Provincial Congresses constituted the leading vanguard of the revolution in their day, today we need to create political parties capable of taking power from the ruling class and of taking the responsibility of running this country in the interests of the working class.  A Leninist-Trotskyist vanguard workers party is the modern-day equivalent – for the workers – that the Sons of Liberty and the Montagnards were for the emerging bourgeoisie.  Without a revolutionary socialist vanguard party to lead the working class in struggle, there can be no victory for the workers.  EVERY successful revolution, from 1776 to today, has been led by a vanguard party of some kind.  Those activists who oppose the formation of revolutionary vanguard parties are not revolutionaries but mere reformists, who seek to saddle the workers to the political dead-end of begging our “rightful rulers” to toss us a few crumbs from time to time to keep us happy.  This form of struggle that relegates itself to “speaking truth to power” does not believe that it can prevail against the “oh so powerful” ruling capitalist class – so it settles for the position of “disloyal opposition”.  By doing so, rather than putting a final end to capitalism, which is a system by which a tiny minority of wealthy people exploit the working class of the whole world, ends up keeping this decrepit system on life support.  We say: PULL THE PLUG ON CAPITALISM NOW!  We don’t want to SAVE it; we do not wish to prolong its existence for another minute!: we want to DESTROY it!  In its place we will build an egalitarian, democratic workers government where the exploitation of man by man will cease to exist.  It’s up to todays workers to make the new American Workers Revolution happen!  Join us!

Workers of the World, Unite!

Independent Workers Party of Chicago

[Editor’s Note: The article below was transcribed by us from the copy of the newspaper available on line at the Massachusetts Historical Society.  We have kept the original spellings and punctuation as well as the original newspaper column format of the text; we have for ease of reading replaced the “f”s used in place of “s”s. – IWPCHI]

DeCosta_English_Lexington_Concord_Siege_of_Boston_1775

Essex (Massachusetts) Gazette, 25 April, 1775

Page 3, Column 2

SALEM, April 25.

Last Wednesday, the 19th of April, the Troops
of his Brittanick Majesty commenced Hostilities
upon the People of this Province, attended with
Circumstances of Cruelty not less brutal than
what our venerable Ancestors received from the
vilest Savages of the Wilderness. The Particu-
lars relative to this interesting Event, by which
we are involved in all the Horrors of a civil War,
we have endeavoured to collect as well as the pre-
sent confused State of Affairs will admit.
On Tuesday Evening a Detachment from the
Army, consisting, it is said, of 8 or 900 Men,
commanded by Lieut. Col. Smith, embarked at
the Bottom of the Common in Boston, on board
a Number of Boats, and landed at Phips’s Farm,
a little Way up Charles River, from whence they
proceeded with Silence and Expedition, on their
Way to Concord, about 18 Miles from Boston.
The People were soon alarmed, and began to as-
semble, in several Towns, before Day-Light, in
order to watch the Motion of the Troops. At
Lexington, 6 Miles below Concord, a Company
of Militia, of about 100 Men, mustered near the
Meeting House ; the Troops came in Sight of
them just before Sun-rise ; and running within
few Rods of them, the Commanding Officer ac-
costed the Militia in Words to this Effect :——
Disperse you Rebels—-Damn you, throw down your
Arms and disperse
:” Upon which the Troops
huzza’d, and immediately one or two Officers dis-
charged their Pistols, which were instantaneously
followed by the Firing of 4 or 5 of the Soldiers,
and then there seemed to be a general Discharge
from the whole Body : Eight of our Men were
killed, and nine wounded. In a few Minutes
after this Action the Enemy renewed their March
for Concord ; at which Place they destroyed se-
veral Carriages, Carriage Wheels, and about 20
Barrels of Flour, all belonging to the Province.
Here about 150 Men going towards a Bridge, of
which the Enemy were in Possession, the latter
fired, and killed 2 of our Men, who then returned
the Fire, and obliged the Enemy to retreat back to
Lexington, where they met Lord Percy, with a
large Reinforcement, with two Pieces of Can-
non. The Enemy now having a Body of about
1800 Men, made a Halt, picked up many of their
Dead, and took Care of their Wounded. At
Menotomy, a few of our Men attacked a Party of
twelve of the Enemy, (carrying Stores and Pro-
visions to the Troops) killed one of them,
wounded several, made the Rest Prisoners, and
took Possession of all their Arms, Stores, Provi-
sions, &c. without any Loss on our Side.—–The
Enemy having halted one or two Hours at Lex-
ington, found it necessary to make a second Re-
treat, carrying with them many of their Dead
and Wounded, who they put into Chaises and
on Horses that they found standing in the Road.
They continued their Retreat from Lexington to
Charlestown with great Precipitation ; and not-
withstanding their Field Pieces, our People con-
tinued the Pursuit, firing at them till they got to
Charlestown Neck, (which they reached a little
after Sunset) over which the Enemy passed, pro-
ceeded up Bunker’s Hill, and soon afterwards
went into the Town, under the Protection of the
Somerset Man of War of 64 Guns.
In Lexington the Enemy set Fire to Deacon
Joseph Loring’s House and Barn, Mrs. Mulliken’s
House and Shop, and Mr. Joshua Bond’s House
and Shop, which were all consumed. They also
set Fire to several other Houses, but our People
extinguished the Flames. They pillaged almost
every House they passed by, breaking and destroy-
ing Doors, Windows, Glasses, &c. and carrying
off Cloathing and other valuable Effects. It ap-
peared to be their Design to burn and destroy all
before them ; and nothing but our vigorous Pur-
suit prevented their infernal Purposes from being
put in Execution. But the savage Barbarity
exercised upon the Bodies of our unfortunate
Brethren who fell, is almost incredible : Not
content with shooting down the unarmed, aged
and infirm, they disregarded the Cries of the
wounded, killing them without Mercy, and
mangling their Bodies in the most shocking
Manner.
We have the Pleasure to say, that notwith-
standing the highest Provocations given by the
Enemy, not one Instance of Cruelty, that we
have heard of, was committed by our victorious
Militia ; but, listening to the merciful Dictates
of the Christian Religion, they “breathed higher
Sentiments of Humanity.”
The Consternation of the People of Charles-
town, when our Enemies were entering the
Town, is inexpressible ; the Troops however be-
haved tolerably civil, and the People have since
nearly all left the Town.
The following is a List of the Provincials who
were killed and wounded.
KILLED.      Messirs. *Robert Munroe, *Jonas
Parker, *Samuel Hadley, *Jonathan Harrington,
*Caleb Harrington, *Isaac Muzzy, *John Brown,
John Raymond, Nathaniel Wyman, and Jedidiah
Munroe, of
Lexington.—-Messirs. Jason Russell,
Jabez Wyman, and Jason Winship, of
Menotomy.
—-Deacon Haynes, and Mr.—— Reed, of Sud-
bury.—-
Capt. James Miles of Concord.—-Captain
Jonathan Willson, of
Bedford.—-Capt. Davis, Mr.
——- Horsmer, and Mr. James Howard, of
Acton.
—-* Mr. Azael Porter, and Mr. Daniel Thompson,
of
Woborn.—-Mr. James Miller, and Capt. Wil-
liam Barber’s Son, aged 14, of
Charlestown.—Isaac
Gardner, Esq of
Brookline.—-Mr John Hicks, of
Cambridge.—-Mr. Henry Putnam of Medford.—-
Messrs. Abednego Ramsdell, Daniel Townsend, Wil-
liam Flint, and Thomas Hadley, of
Lynn.—-Messrs.
Henry Jacobs, Samuel Cook, Ebenezer Goldthwait,
George Southwick, Benjamin Daland, jun. Jotham
Webb, and Perley Putnam, of
Danvers.—-Mr. Ben-
jamin Peirce, of
Salem.
WOUNDED.      Messirs. John Robbins, John Tidd,
Solomon Peirce, Thomas Winship, Nathaniel Farmer,
and Prince Easterbrooks (a Negro-Man) of
Lex-
ington.—-Mr.——– Hemmenway, of Framingham.
—-Mr. John Lane, of Bedford.—-Mr. George Reed,
and Mr. Jacob Bacon, of
Woborn.—-Mr. William
Polly, of
Medford.—-Mr. Joshua Felt, and Mr.
Timothy Munroe, of Lynn.—-Mr. Nathan Putnam,
and Mr. Dennis Wallis, of
Danvers.—-Mr. Na-
thaniel Cleaves,of
Beverly.

MISSING.     Mr. Samuel Frost, and Mr. Seth
Russell of Menotomy.

Those distinguished with this Mark [*]were killed by the first
Fire of the Enemy.

We have seen an Account of the Loss of the
Enemy, said to have come from an Officer of one
of the Men of War ; by which it appears that
63 of the Regulars, and 49 Marines were killed,
and 103 of both wounded : in all 215. Lieut.
Gould of the 4th Regiment, who is wounded, and
Lieut. Potter of the Marines, and about twelve
Soldiers, are Prisoners.
Mr. James Howard and one of the Regulars
discharged their Pieces at the same Instant, and
each killed the other.
Our late Brethren of Danvers, who fell fight-
ing for their Country, were interred, with great
Solemnity and Respect, on Friday last.
The Public most sincerely sympathize with
the Friends and Relations of our deceased Bre-
thren, who gloriously sacrificed their Lives in
fighting for the Liberties of their Country. By
their noble, intrepid Conduct, in helping to de-
feat the Forces of an ungrateful Tyrant, they
have endeared their Memories to the present Ge-
neration, who will transmit their Names to Pos-
terity with the highest Honour.

We suppose a circumstantial Account will be prepared and pub-
lished by Authority. The above is the best we have been able
to obtain. We can only add, that the Town of Boston is now
invested by a vast Army of our brave Countrymen, who have
flown to our Assistance from all Quarters. GOD grant them
Assistance in the Extirpation of our cruel and unnatural Enemies.
Marblehead Harbour is now blocked up by the Lively Man of War.

[END – IWPCHI]

Revolutionary Greetings to the Workers Attending the 56th Annual Chicago Air and Water Show!

If an alien spaceship was to fly over North Avenue Beach this weekend during the Chicago Air and Water Show, undoubtedly some of the crew would laugh at the stupidity of the human race, madly applauding the spectacle of a display of weapons of mass destruction designed for the sole purpose of – destroying the human race. But it would be as likely that one member of their crew, in possession of a finer knowledge of the history of their own civilization, would point out to his comrades that “it wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were struggling to evolve past the nuclear age”.

What you are witnessing this weekend is the singular spectacle of allegedly civilized human beings teaching their children to approve of our nation’s annual expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars on weapons systems capable of bringing about the complete extinction of the human race. It’s a snapshot of life in the United States as humanity struggles through our own nuclear age, hopefully to a higher level of civilization – if we don’t kill ourselves first.

We see our fellow workers and their families arrayed on North Avenue Beach in Chicago to celebrate the thrilling technology our nation’s military can use to slaughter our fellow human beings – right in the midst of the City of Chicago, the murder capital of the USA, where the city government is contemplating the deployment of the Illinois National Guard, armed to the teeth, to patrol the city’s streets in order to “prevent violence”. The citizens of this fair city, you see, are so “up in arms” about gun violence taking place in many of the city’s neighborhoods – “senseless violence” they call it – that they are considering overthrowing their own Constitutional protections against the deployment of military forces to quell domestic disturbances by deploying the military (whose own weapons make the pitiful arsenals of the city’s gangs look like a box of water pistols) to “stop the violence”. It makes us wonder if there is to be found anywhere on this planet a nation as dumb as ours is.

“Why are our children killing one another?” we hear our neighbors cry. “Where does this savage impulse to kill come from?” “What can we do to stop the violence that threatens us on our streets, in our schools and in our workplaces?”

Is it so hard to figure out? The violence comes from the class that runs this country – the US capitalist class – that takes our unemployed daughters and sons and gives them jobs as soldiers, pilots and weapons designers, and who deploy our children all over the world to protect their investments overseas, and to slaughter anyone who dares to oppose the robber barons of the US capitalist class. Our children are taught to accept violence – real violence, the military kind – every day in school, where ROTC programs recruit young women and men to join the military and live a life of “adventure” – adventure that consists of rampaging across the face of the Earth killing their fellow human beings in defense of the U.S. capitalist class and their global investment portfolios. The news media tells us that the most heroic of all our citizens are “our” soldiers who are all “heroes” for “defending our nation”. Hollywood churns out movies and TV shows extolling the noble sacrifice of our nation’s armed forces, deployed all over the world to “fight for freedom” and to wage war on “terrorism”. Our children are taught to believe, by the capitalist class’ bought-and-paid-for politicians, that the final solution to every seemingly intractable human problem lies in bombing those recalcitrant people into submission.

But it isn’t just the US capitalist class and its government and media conglomerates that brainwash our children into worshipping the “military solution” to all human problems; it is YOU, fellow workers! who are teaching your children, by taking them to this festival of the weapons of mass murder and showing them how exciting it is, how beautiful the weapons are, how powerful armed women and men are to change the world for the better, that a better life is possible for us all through mass murder! You, who would raise hell if a swimming instructor “inappropriately touched” your son or daughter during a swimming lesson, and who scream “CHILD ABUSE!” when advertisements are mailed to your home showing a beautiful woman’s (almost) naked body, who think nothing at all of bringing your young and even infant children to the Air and Water Show to praise the glory of our nation’s ability to rain death and destruction on our working-class brothers and sisters all over the world!

Why do you, fellow workers, living here in Chiraq – the murder capital of the USA – bring your children to celebrate weapons of mass destruction which are being used – as you sit there on North Avenue Beach, idiotically “oohing” and “aahing” – in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine and a host of other nations to butcher human beings – your fellow workers and their families?

Why do the same disgusting capitalist politicians like the odious Rahm Emanuel, in the middle of such violence taking place on the streets of Chicago, present to the citizens this festival of celebration of the revolting, savage aspect of the human race?

The reason is twofold. One: to dull your innate sense of hatred and revulsion for the weapons of war, to awe you with the power of the ruling class that daily robs you and your family of the necessities of life in order to spend hundreds of billions of dollars of wealth generated through your own sweat and blood and used to slaughter your fellow workers overseas – all in pursuit of the US capitalist class’ insatiable lust for PROFITS; and Two: to scare the hell out of you and your children so you will not dare to fight for your rights against forces poised to be unleashed upon YOU and YOUR FAMILIES should you ever dare to rise up against your exploiters! In the final analysis all this weaponry is designed to defend the filthy rich US capitalist class from “all enemies, foreign and domestic” – including YOU should you dare to fight for higher wages, to defend yourselves from the brutal racist cops rampaging through the streets of our nation armed to the teeth and daily shooting down in cold blood anyone who stands up to their brutality! YOU, brothers and sisters are the source of the fear engendered in the cold hearts of the US capitalist class, who are deploying their weapons of mass destruction throughout the land to protect the 1% from YOU, the working class, who they rob every day of the blood, sweat and tears of your family and its labor in the factories and shops of the capitalist class and whose sons and daughters are sent out to kill and be killed so the US capitalist class can amass even greater fortunes for themselves while you struggle to feed, clothe, shelter, educate and provide basic health care services for yourselves and your families!

These weapons of mass destruction, these highly-trained teams of assassins and murderers the capitalist class and its media hacks teach you to believe to be heroes your children should one day strive to be like, this machinery of mass murder you applaud has, in the final analysis, YOU and YOUR CHILDREN in its sights! Because only YOU have the power to rip the guns out of the hands of the capitalist class and their cops and military – and the capitalists fear your power to do that above all else! It is your children who pull the triggers on the guns and cannon; it is YOUR children who fly the planes, drop the bombs, and kill innocent civilians – families just like yours! Only YOU can put an end to this repulsive national worship of the Pentagon’s tools of mass murder that is the REAL SOURCE of the violence on the streets of our nation!

We are revolutionary socialists – Trotskyists – and it is a principle of our political movement that the working class of the United States – and that of all nations – has no enemies, since we know that all of the people of this planet, of every skin color and every religion and nationality – are descended from common ancestors that lived about 100,000 years ago. Science has proven to us that, as Karl Marx said more than 150 years ago, “All workers are brothers and sisters”. The workers and peasants of China are not our enemies; nor are the workers of Russia, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Iran, Palestine, Pakistan, Yemen or any other nation you can name. All the workers of the world we consider to be our sisters and brothers. We understand that the real enemies of the workers are not our fellow workers overseas whom our national capitalist class tries to get us to hate; our real enemies are the billionaires and millionaires on Wall St. and on Main St., who systematically rob us of the product of our labor every time we go to work, every time we purchase anything and who try to get us to hate our fellow workers overseas so that they can get us to send our sons and daughters into the military where they can be used by the capitalists to defend their hundreds of billions of dollars of foreign investments all over the globe. In Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, all over the world, the US capitalist class is trying to seize the mineral wealth of other nations for their own selfish personal gain; and they teach our children the dark arts of war in order to steal through military conquest what they can not or do not wish to pay for. It is tax money systematically stolen from your paychecks every week that is used to pay for these weapons of mass destruction you are cheering for that enables them to go around the globe raping the environment and slaughtering the human beings that stand between the US capitalist class and the natural resources that they seek to steal in order to feed their unquenchable thirst for more and more money!

You see the Blue Angels? Imagine that those jets were on their way to your neighborhood to drop bombs on your house because you were the head of a political movement trying to organize opposition to the US war machine. Imagine what would happen to your children if those Ospreys were used to attack your family while you were celebrating a wedding in your yard; imagine those Navy Seals attacking your friends’ house next door. Imagine that it was not a T.V. show or a video game, but a real-life massacre like those that have happened repeatedly to families in Afghanistan, Iraq, in Palestine, Vietnam, North Korea and all over the world where the US capitalist class has deployed these very same weapons of mass destruction that you sit there and applaud, with your children joining in – in imitation of you.

You’d better think about it, because, more and more, the police forces of the United States are being given military-grade weapons; helicopters, grenades, machine guns and all the weapons of war necessary to defend the interests of the US capitalist class from what they KNOW is an inevitable struggle by the working class of the US to fight for higher wages and better working and living conditions. They know that, sooner or later, you are going to be forced to fight for your rights at work, and that you will seek to create political parties THAT THEY CAN’T BRIBE OR CONTROL to defend your rights as workers. You don’t realize this yet – but they do. And they are getting ready for you, as you can see every time the workers of Chicago try to oppose the machinations of the US capitalist class. The deployment of heavily armed police forces in military formations, armed with weapons of mass murder in the cities and even the small towns of the United States is not happening by accident. The capitalist class knows what it wants, and it knows how to get it – and it isn’t always going to be by asking nicely first – and then sticking it to you like they did to Chicago’s teachers last year. As the police response you’ve seen this week in Ferguson, Missouri proves (where the entire police force consists of only 53 cops): even in a tiny town like Ferguson, the police possess weapons indistinguishable from those given to US military units overseas – and they’re trained and willing to use them, children! The class war is coming home, and it is headed for your front door, brothers and sisters. The Obama Administration has even gone so far as to obtain from the US Department of Justice the legal authority to order the assassination of US citizens for writing things and for hanging around with people the US capitalist class doesn’t like! And why has the capitalist class given the NSA the green light to spy on every single phone call, Internet search and email you and your family sends to anyone, anywhere? Are they afraid of you, the loyal members of the US working class?

Now that we’ve drawn your attention to the reality of what it means to celebrate the weapons of mass destruction that the US capitalist class and their mass-murdering military, we’d like to put you on the spot and ask you: knowing all that we’ve told you, do you still wish to wave the flag of U.S. imperialism and teach your children to worship the U.S. war machine? If the answer is “yes”, then you – by your support of this war machine that is being unleashed every day against your fellow human beings – declare yourselves to be the enemies of human civilization and have absolutely no right to complain when you, personally, are held accountable for the war crimes being committed every day in your name. By supporting the U.S. war machine you must accept responsibility for the murders of civilians being committed every day, all over the world by the U.S. military and the C.I.A., who use the very same weapons of mass destruction you have bought, paid for (and which you worship) to commit mass murder and the assassination of untold thousands of your fellow workers around the world – and who now are even assassinating your fellow citizens!

Now that you’ve read this article, you know that the real reason why the U.S. military is deployed all over the world is not to “defend your freedom” – neither Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, China, North Korea nor Cuba possess any means of attacking the United States, and the workers of those countries have never attempted to do so – but to defend the current and planned future foreign investments of the U.S. capitalist class in all these nations – investments being made not to improve your lives or the lives of the people where the investments are made, but simply to make the tiny number of U.S. billionaires and millionaires who own half our nation’s wealth – just that much more obscenely wealthy.  Now you know that the very same U.S. capitalist class that uses its war machine to commit mass murder around the world is the same gang of greedheads that robs you and your family blind every time you go to work or purchase anything from toothpicks to land mines – and you support this! 

And here’s another bit of information for you who worship your own exploiters and their weapons of mass destruction: now that you have read this article, you can no longer pretend to your friends and family that “you didn’t know” the truth about the U.S. capitalist class and what they are really about and what they are really using their military for!  By having read this explanation of precisely what it means to applaud and to teach your innocent children to applaud the murderous, repulsive war machine that the U.S. capitalist class uses to physically destroy every worker in the world who dares to oppose their global thievery – and in spite of this knowledge, still continuing to support the U.S. capitalist class and its war machine – you have become, now, a CONSCIOUS ENEMY OF THE HUMAN RACE!  Congratulations!

One more point we’d like to make before we let you go: you may think that the U.S. war machine can be counted upon to protect you from the very justified wrath of the workers of the world whom you declare to be your enemies by supporting the U.S. capitalists’ war machine that murders them… but know this:  the United States of America represents just 4.5% of the world’s population!  If you believe that there is a future for a nation that represents just 4.5% of the world’s population yet that thinks that it can – through sheer military brutality – force the other 95.5% of the world’s human beings into a state of abject surrender, you are wrong – and you and your nation are doomed to suffer the fate of the last genocidalist capitalist class which dared to attempt such an exercise in futility: the universally-hated German capitalist class that financed Adolf Hitler’s rise to power!

Enjoy the show!

IWPCHI

239th Anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord – the Shot Heard ‘Round the World

Photograph of Lexington Battle Green Monument, erected 1799 on the green in Lexington, Massachusetts, USA. Date March 2007 Source 	Own work Author 	Daderot This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Photograph of Lexington Battle Green Monument, erected 1799 on the green in Lexington, Massachusetts, USA.  Photo taken March 2007 by Daderot.  Licensed under  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Detail of Battle Monument (1799), Lexington Green, Lexington, MA.  Photo taken March 2007 by Daderot.  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

 

Text of monument:

Sacred to Liberty & the Rights of Mankind!!!

The Freedom & Independence of America,

Sealed & defended with the blood of her sons.

 

This Monument is erected

By the inhabitants of Lexington,

Under the patronage. & at the expense, of

the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,

To the memory of their Fellow Citizens,

Ensign Robert Munroe, Messrs. Jonas Parker, Samuel Hadley, Jonathan Harrington Junr, Isaac Muzzy, Caleb Harrington and John Brown

of Lexington, & Asahel Porter of Woburn,

Who fell on this field, the first Victims to the

Sword of British Tyranny & Oppression,

On the morning of the ever memorable

Nineteenth of April, An. Dom. 1775.

The Die Was Cast!!!

The Blood of these Martyrs,

In the Cause of God & their Country,

Was the Cement of the Union of these States, then

Colonies:  & gave the spring to the spirit, Firmness

And resolution of their Fellow Citizens.

They rose as one man, to revenge their brethren’s

Blood and at the point of the sword, to assert &

Defend their native Rights.

They nobly dar’d to be free!!

The contest was long, bloody & affecting:

Righteous Heaven approved the solemn appeal;

Victory crowned their arms; and

The Peace, Liberty & Independence of the United

States of America, was their glorious Reward.

Built in the Year 1799

 

[Transcription by IWPCHI]

 

 

 

 

244th Anniversary of the Boston Massacre – 5 March 1770

Paul Revere - The Boston Massacre - 5 Mar 1770

Paul Revere – The Boston Massacre – 5 Mar 1770

[Source: Library of Congress, World Digital Library http://www.wdl.org]

Text: (top of print): “The BLOODY MASSACRE perpetrated in King-Street BOSTON on March 5th 1770 by a party of the 29th REG’T”

[Note: there is a gun firing into the crowd from inside the second-floor window of the building on the right of the print with a sign on the front of it saying “BUTCHER’S HALL”]

Text (bottom right of print): “Engrav’d Printed & Sold by PAUL REVERE BOSTON”)

[Note: Revere was not afraid to boldly sign this inflammatory piece of revolutionary propaganda, risking prosecution for inciting the citizens of Boston against British soldiers]

Poem (at bottom of print):

Unhappy BOSTON! See thy Sons deplore,

Thy hallow’d Walks besmear’d with guiltless Gore:

While faithless P—– n and his savage Bands, [*]

With murd’rous Rancour stretch their bloody Hands;

Like fierce Barbarians grinning o’er their Prey,

Approve the Carnage, and enjoy the Day.

***********

If scalding drops from Rage from Anguish Wrung,

If speechless Sorrows lab’ring for a Tongue,

Or if a weeping World can ought appease

The plaintive Ghosts of Victims such as these;

The Patriot’s copious Tears for each are shed,

A glorious Tribute which embalms the Dead

***********

But know, FATE summons to that awful Goal,

Where JUSTICE strips the Murd’rer of his Soul:

Should venal C—ts the scandal of the Land, [**]

Snatch the relentless Villain from her Hand,

Keen Execrations on this Plate inscrib’d,

Shall reach a JUDGE who never can be brib’d.

The unhappy Sufferers were Mess’s = SAML GRAY, SAML MAVERICK, JAM CALDWELL, CRISPUS ATTUCKS & PATK CARR/

Killed. Six wounded; two of them (CHRISTR MONK & JOHN CLARK) Mortally ~

[Handwritten at bottom]: “Published in 1770 by Paul Revere

                                                                                                                        Boston”

* “Preston” –   Captain Thomas Preston, who was put on trial for his role as commander of the troops who opened fire on the unarmed victims.

** “Courts” –   reference to the expected acquittal of Preston by the British colonial judge presiding over the trial; among the lawyers defending Preston were John Adams and Josiah Quincy, Jr.

There were two separate trials of the British soldiers and their commander, Captain Thomas Preston: Preston’s trial took place first, and was held  in Boston from 24 October 1770 to 30 October 1770.  The jury was stacked with pro-British Loyalists and the trial resulted (as Revere predicted in his enormously successful propaganda leaflet), in an acquittal.

Revere’s famous “Massacre” broadside was not the only engraving that he contributed to fan the flames of colonial outrage in the wake of the Massacre: he also produced a diagram of the murder scene – and it was presented by the prosecution at the trials.

Paul Revere Boston Massacre crime scene diagram

Paul Revere Boston Massacre crime scene diagram

[Source: Boston Massacre Historical Society,  The Unknown Diagram Made by Paul Revere]  The diagram, very difficult to interpret; shows the location of the five victims and the position of the soldiers at the time of the Massacre.  Attucks and Gray are shown in the lower left in Quaker Lane; Maverick is shown at the right, just in front of the soldiers, who appear to be lined up just in front of the buildings south of [Exchange?] Lane; Caldwell’s or Carr’s body is in the center, marked with a “C”.

After Preston was acquitted, the soldiers’ trial began; it ran from  27 November to 14 December 1770.   Six of the eight soldiers were acquitted outright; two were found guilty of manslaughter and faced the death penalty.  At the sentencing, their defense team requested that the two convicted soldiers be allowed to plead

“the Benefit of the Clergy”, which was a medieval legal device by which one could escape execution if one could prove he or she could read the Bible (which most people at the time – especially poor workers – could not do.  The pro-British judge granted the defense motion, and, after having recited Psalm 51  (known, back in the day – for obvious reasons – as “the neck verse”) they were allowed to avoid execution.  However, to prevent the two convicted soldiers from ever using the “benefit of the Clergy” defense again, they had the letter “M” branded on their thumbs by the Suffolk County Sheriff!  This might have assuaged the anger of the proto-revolutionaries of Boston just a bit, but when all was said and done, if they were not pleased at all with the outcome of the trials of the perpetrators of the Massacre, they were apparently forced by the change of popular opinion over the causes of the Massacre to do their best to conceal the fact.  It would appear that the trials had cast the citizenry who had accosted the British troops in a less than flattering light; instead of firing up the anger of the populace against the British government, as the revolutionaries had hoped, the long, drawn-out process of the trials of Preston and the soldiers had dampened the enthusiasm of the Bostonians for continued agitation against the representatives of the “legitimate authorities”.  Most likely the last words of Massacre victim Patrick Carr, relayed by the doctor who had treated his mortal wounds and introduced at the trial of the British soldiers who had shot him had quelled much of the anger felt by Bostonians:  “He told me…he was a native of Ireland, that he had frequently seen mobs, and soldiers called upon to quell them…he had seen soldiers often fire on the people in Ireland, but had never seen them bear half so much before they fired in his life… About four o’clock in the afternoon, preceding the night on which he died, […] he then particularly said, he forgave the man whoever he was that shot him, he was satisfied he had no malice, but fired to defend himself.” [Source:  Boston Massacre Historical Society,  The Summary of the Boston Massacre Trial, testimony of Dr. John Jeffries (surgeon who attended Patrick Carr at his deathbed)]   That is not the kind of testimony that fires revolutionary ardor in the hearts of those who are accustomed to respect the lawful authorities of the Crown.  The fusillade of shots fired by British soldiers during the Boston Massacre, horrible as it was, and though certainly “heard ’round the world” had  not created the necessary degree of colonial outrage that would be required to ignite the American Revolution.

Using the pseudonym “Vindex”, Samuel Adams wrote in the Boston Gazette of 10 December 1770:  “[W]hatever may be the sentiments of men of the coolest minds abroad, concerning the issue of this trial, we are not to doubt, but the Court, the Jury, the Witnesses, and the Council [sic] on both sides, have
conscienciously acquitted themselves: To be sure, no one in his senses will venture to affirm the contrary.” [Source: Fullbooks, The Writings of Samuel Adams, volume II]

Future second President of the United States John Adams, could, in 1773, write  without regrets about his successful defense of the British troops: “The Part I took in Defense of Captn. Preston and the Soldiers, procured me Anxiety, and Obloquy enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly, and disinterested Actions of my whole Life, and one of the best Pieces of Service I ever rendered my Country. Judgement of Death against those Soldiers would have been as foul a Stain upon this Country as the Execution of the Quakers or Witches, anciently. As the Evidence was, the Verdict of the Jury was exactly right.” [Source: Boston Massacre Historical Society, “The Summary of the Boston Massacre Trial”, quoting Adams’ diary entry for 5 March, 1773]

  The revolutionary tide had not yet come in for the future Americans;  more than four long years would pass before the unquenchable revolutionary sparks would finally be struck at Lexington and Concord.

IWPCHI