Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Trip - Minuteman National Historic Park

We're at my brother's house in Massachusetts. We got here a day earlier than we expected--Thursday instead of Friday--and we spent Friday doing laundry and going to Costco and Target.

Today we went to Minuteman National Historic Park in Concord, Massachusetts, where the British Army and Colonialists first fired on each other, on April 19, 1775. This is the Muster Field, where 400 Colonialist soldiers gathered in a council of war and determined to defend the town against the British. They were not to fire unless the British fired first.

Here, at the North Bridge where the British waited, the first shot of the Revolutionary War was fired. The original bridge was taken down in 1788. This bridge was built in 2005, the fifth bridge at this spot.

This soldier was near the North Bridge, discussing the events of the times and offering different perspectives on the legends we all remember from our US History classes.

He talked about the Quartering Act, which provided the inspiration for the Constitution's Third Amendment, saying the Act prohibited troops from being quartered in occupied homes. And Wikipedia agrees with him. But he also pointed out that if a military leader had to choose between 1) obeying the law and letting his troops freeze to death in an unheated barn, and 2) disobeying the law to keep his men warm by quartering them in an occupied house, he'd probably choose option 2. And that choice would make a lot of colonists angry.

He also discussed the economic realities of the time. He explained that for some businesses, the British troops were moonlighting at jobs for lower pay than the colonists, causing the business owners to fire the colonists in favor of cheaper British-soldier labor. Because a large contingent of British troops was quartered around Boston, this problem stirred up even more anger in the area.

Our soldier-informer was very knowledgeable and eager for a give-and-take with us. We all enjoyed the conversation and were glad we had come on a weekend, when he was there.

Around the Park, we found the Old Manse, the Visitor Center, and the pitiful remains of a vegetable garden.

Scooter came too, but he wasn't as interested in the history as we were.

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