LEXINGTON GREEN, APRIL 19, 2009
By Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Ph.D., J.D.
May 5, 2009
What follows is an address, delivered in my absence by Tom Moor, at the Committees of Safety rally held at Lexington Green on 19 April 2009. I have also appended an afterword.
Ladies and gentlemen:
Lexington Green does not merely recall an historic event. More importantly, it also teaches a profound lesson in the philosophy and practice of popular self-government.
Observe the statue standing there at the head of the green. And recall the statue at the North Bridge in Concord. Each of them depicts but a single individual. Yet, in each case, that one individual represents many more than himself alone: A single Minuteman, representing all of the Minutemen.
Even more importantly, the Minutemen were no happenstance bunch of individuals some of whom accidentally gravitated to Lexington Green and the North Bridge on the 19th of April in 1775. They were no mere crowd of farmers, artisans, and tradesmen who stumbled together with no coherence, no general self-consciousness, no collective purpose or resolve.
To the contrary: They were members of an organization which included all free adult able-bodied men throughout Massachusetts, with like organizations in each of the other twelve American Colonies. An organization which had existed in Massachusetts herself for almost 150 years. An organization with legal—indeed, governmental—authority: The Militia of Massachusetts.
And they assembled here, not to break the law, but to witness to it, to defend it, and if possible to enforce it against British troops who were, they rightly believed, breaking the laws of Massachusetts, abridging the Colonists’ rights as Englishmen, and flouting what the Declaration of Independence later called “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”.
Here at Lexington, the Militiamen did not at first intend to fight—they meant only to demonstrate their disapproval of the incursion into their town by General Gage’s troops, to embody in their own persons on this green their legal authority, and to present a living remonstrance through a muster of physical—but even more importantly, of legal and moral—strength, rather than an act of outright forcible resistance. [more]