"Revolutionary Majorities" -- Part One
The following essay is distributed
for educational/informational purposes only.
An Essay by L. R. Beam
If citizens of this country ever again enjoy the blessings of liberty and true freedom, it will not be the result of a majority of its citizens having risen up in righteous indignation at govenmental abuse of themselves and their culture. If a restoration of the Constitution of our forebearers occurs - with all that this implies - it will probably not be because a plurality of citizens fought for it, supported it, or cared one way or another. If lawful government is reestablished it will come about because a revolutionary majority makes it happen.
Within the American historical experience a revolutionary majority may be defined as any number of citizens sufficient to initiate general hostilities against a destructive government. The American Revolution of 1776 defines the term, sets the precedent and provides the example for patriots of today.
Throughout most of the Revolutionary War, those patriots who were seeking to overthrow the government lacked support of over two-thirds of their fellow citizens. John Adams, one of the "radicals" in favor of the Revolution and who was later to become the second President of the United States, stated that depending on how the war was going, those fighting for freedom had the opposition of from a third to two thirds of the people. Others like Pennsylvania delegate to the Continental Congress Joseph Galloway was sure that four-fifths of the people "were or wanted to be, loyal to the King." (Galloway eventually sided with the Loyalists, as those who supported the King's government were called.) Colonel London Carter, a member of the Virginia aristocracy and a strong patriot, stated in his diary in March of 1776 (but a bare three months before the signing of the Declaration of Independence) that an observer of events in the Northern colonies was sure "nine-tenths of the people are violently against it" (independence).
The exact number of "the friends of government", as the patriots disparingly refered to those who opposed the Revolution, cannot be stated with accuracy. As John Adams indicated, the number was in a constant state of flux, depending on political events and who was winning in the armed conflict. One thing is certain, however; the American Revolution was anything but a broad-based popular uprising of a disaffected people. Rather, it was a very unpopular rebellion of a politically radical minority who, because they posessed a clear understanding of the rights of man coupled with a deep concern for the state of relative personal freedom, were able to perceive the shackles of tyranny prior to their being presented for fastening. This discernment of tyranny at a distance not only set them apart from their fellow man but constrained them to rebel.
The radical political leaders of the Revolution such as John Adams, Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Richard Henry Lee, John Hancock, and Joseph Warren, to name but a few of the more well known, had to conduct their struggle for freedom in the face of disapprobation and rejection by their peers before the time of actual armed conflict, and after its commencement to charges and cries of "incendiaries and traitors." Indeed "the friends of government" knew little restraint when it came to condemning the Republic's Founders. The Loyalists called Washington, among other things; a liar, perjurer, murderer, blasphemer, criminal, traitor, patron of villainy, and a villain's chief. The other Founders faired little better and were variously refered to as being dregs, illiberal (sic!) and violent men, dispicable wretches, bandits, rude, and depraved. While thus labeled by "respectable citizens," these men led the country toward rebellion.
Correspondingly, the Founders had an analogous movement among the common people which, although the objective of overthrowing the government was the same, the methods were those resorted to by people in every age when faced with overpowering force of all-powerful government, namely, mob action, riots, uprisings, midnight forays, and harassment, intimidation, or terroristic acts directed against governmental supporters. All of these and other acts came under the single heading of patriotism so far as their perpetrators were concerned.
After a review of non-battlefield hostilities, it becomes apparent that the American Revolution was won more by mob action than by armed conflict! Thus, any idea that the Revolution was won in an ordeal of battle is out of place in view of the facts.
During the entire length of the armed conflict from 1775 to 1781, the King's armies lost only 1,512 men killed in battle; this seven-year, battle-death casuality rate was exceeded by Union forces at Cold Harbor in 1864 during the first eight minutes of a single engagement. The King's armies had previously lost far larger numbers of men in the Seven Years War (French and Indian Wars) yet pressed on to victory. An adequate explanation then of the patriots' final triumph over the government must be provided by other than a military victory.
An answer, in great part, lies in the violence and vigilante action carried on by the patriots against the government and its supporters! Though most Americans today are familiar with the Boston Tea Party, few know much about the secret organization that conducted it, the Sons of Liberty. Led by Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Dr. Warren ("the greatest incendiary of them all"), and Paul Revere, they met in secret, dressed in disguises, and carried out vigilante actions under the cover of darkness. This revolutionary Ku Klux Klan was as much dreaded by "the friends of government" as its ideological offspring, the Klan, ever was by unruly Blacks. The Sons of Liberty and other similar groups were responsible, during the course of the conflict for independence, for causing tens of thousands of Loyalist to flee the country (the Klan was usually satisfied with merely running undesirables out of the county).
The means were simple and effective. Terror and intimidation were directed against the Loyalists. Methods used to create these twin scourges of "the friends of government" included, but were not limited to, whippings, coats of tar and feathers, banishment, church burnings (if run by a Loyalist preacher or used for a Loyalist meeting place), confiscation of property, and wherever deemed necessary - death of any one of several reliable methods.
Other patriotic groups of a sy formed throughout the thirteen colonies to carry on a relentless persecution of "the friends of government." Each organization operated independently of the other though often exchanged information on Loyalists.
Often these ad hoc associations went by the name of "Committees of Public Safety," though the name as well as the tactics employed varied from place to place. Thus in the colony of New York, the patriots bluntly called themselves "the oppressors of the friends of government" and stated proudly that they tarred and feathered governmental supporters with the "decorum that ought to be preserved in public punishments." Boston had its mysterious "Joyce Junior" who led a group of Knight Riders and enforcers who saw to it that those who did not display the necessary revolutionary mentality were properly punished. The rebel Continental Congress established "associations," whose purpose was to locate the Loyalists and turn their names over to the local vigilante to be dealt within the manner they deemed proper. In every colony, if the accusation was one of giving information to government agents, the traitor to liberty was hanged by the neck or dealt with in some other terminally appropriate manner.
Even religious leaders were not exempt from the patriotic purges that cleansed away supporters of the king. Preachers who failed to support the cause of liberty (or who had forgotten that David slew Goliath rather than turning the other cheek) were run out of town on a rail in the glowing light of the flames from their quickly disappearing church. This was considered leniency, others were forced to flee to England or Canada in fear of their lives.
By the end of the conflict in 1781, for every government Red-Coat killed on the battlefield, seventy Loyalists had been driven from their homes and forced to settle in England or Canada, totaling over one hundred thousand people.
The government and its "friends" accused the revolutionary freedom fighters (whom they often called "the Sons of Anarchy") of "committing the most shocking outrages" and of "daily invasions upon private property" while led by men who were "well known incendiaries and traitors," whose chief purpose in life was to commit "crimes against the Constitutional authority of the State" (historically, government's which have oppressed and abused their citizens justify their actions based on the "law" or "Constitutional authority").
No doubt, had the effort to overthrow the government been unsuccessful, the Founding Fathers and their citizen supporters would have been hanged by "the friends of government," as the very worst sort of traitors and terrorists.
In summary of the American Revolution, while Washington's determined and skillful leadership of the army, no doubt made victory possible, it did not assure it. The Spirit of '76 - a massive campaign of terror directed by patriotic citizens against all those who supported the goverment was the deciding factor that brought freedom to America.
American Constitutional liberty was born in mob pressure, fostered by secret societies, nurtured during seven years of intimidating violence, and institutionalized at the expense of well over a hundred thousand people. With this American history in mind, one who is faithful to the ideas of the Founding Fathers of this nation can have nothing but contempt and suspicion of the motives (or ignorance) of those people both within and without the government who would condemn citizens of today "for taking the law into their own hands" in defense of their rights.
Had those who desired liberty
in 1776 waited until a numerical majority of their fellow citizens were
ready to "wake-up" (as the saying is today) to fight for the
overthrow of the government, or had they hesitated in the use of "illegal"
force and violence (force and violence are never legal except when used
by those in power) against their governmintal enemies, they would have
all died in their old age
Patriots of 1775 considered the sympathies of less than a third of the people sufficient to begin general hostilities against their oppressors. Herein lies the historical context of the American revolutionary majority. It has been wisely said that those who do not know and understand history can repeat its successes.
In America today, the manacles of slavery and destruction once forged in London by the King are now forged in Washington. Acts of tyranny are carried out in the name of the federal government rather than in the name of the Throne. The vicious enforcers of dictatorial policies often call themselves F.B.I. or I.R.S. agents instead of his Royal Majesty's troops or tax collectors of the Realm. Substituting for the Redcoats of the British are the "bluecoats" of the bureaucrats and in far greater numbers. Though babblings for "the divine rights" of kings to rule have ceased, modern fools prattle of "democratic majorities" composed of an illiterate electorate enfranchised for the purpose of dispossessing the descendents of the Founders. While different in nomenclature the end results are exactly the same - the dark, cold, tight chains of slavery.
A numerical majority of today's citizens cannot read these footprints of tyranny nor understand where they lead. In this they are no different than their counterparts of 200 years ago. Modern governments have mass communications to subtly guide the thinking of their subjects; thus is seen the phenomenon of today's citizen rushing forth to place the cuffs of bondage upon his own wrist by irrationally clamoring (as he has been indoctrinated) for more laws and government to solve problems created by an excess of both. This mental inversion, whereby the citizen willfully aids in efforts to subjugate himself, is of no small import for those who treasure their liberty. The implications are many, but the consequences could be singular: a governmentally programed democratic majority may, as they dance along to mental tunes played by an electronic band of orchestrated communication, gleefully drag down (with their self-fastened chains) everyone else in the black hole of oblivion.
Only one thing seems capable of closing the yawning mouth of the pit and that is the formation of a new revolutionary majority coupled with resurrection of the Spirit of '76. Anything short of this seems certain to pass on to today's children an increasingly difficult task of freeing themselves from transistorized chains of governmental control. Such a legacy is the bequeathal of cowards, not free men.
The first American Revolutionists accused those who ruled them of excessive taxation, interference with property rights, illegal search and seizure, not protecting the citizens from incursions by several thousand Indians, policies destructive of the general welfare, and "altering fundamentally the form of our government," among other things.
Today the federal government taxes its subjects for forty percent of their income, instead of the three percent (less than a dollar twenty a year) tax of the King; interferes with the ownership and use of virtually every description of property; authorizes everything from game wardens to I.R.S. agents to search, arrest, or seize property without a warrant. It allows fifteen million aliens to illegally cross its borders in less than a ten-year period; and conducts a policy of systematic extermination of its young men through no-win wars, and subjects the Founders' children to enforced equality. Each of the acts, individually amounts to altering fundamentally the form and purpose for which the federal government was created. Taken as a whole, they are a cry for - nay - a demand for, a new campaign of terror conducted against the government and its friends in the great American tradition of 1776.