“The Federals Are Coming!”

“The Federals Are Coming!” by Jeff Thomas – International Man

Americans were taught about Paul Revere’s ride in school. He was said to have ridden from his home in the North End of Boston, to Lexington and Concord, to warn the people there that Federal troops had landed in Boston Harbour and would soon reach the townships.

Of course, the story was tarted up a bit for the history books. First, it’s unlikely that he shouted, “The British are coming,” since, at the time of the ride, in 1775, he was in fact British – a British colonial – and would have regarded himself as British, as would the townspeople.

It’s also unlikely that he galloped through the towns shouting, “To arms! To arms!” since a major portion of the British colonists, particular those who were older and had a lot to lose, were loyalists, and taking up arms would be treasonous. (At that time, treason was one of only two capital crimes.)

So, what did he shout on his ride… or did he in fact shout anything? It’s more likely that he simply went to the back doors of select sympathisers and asked them to spread the word that the Federal troops were on the way. But, of course, that would have made for a far less colourful story.

It is likely, though, that the ride itself did actually take place and that he did succeed in rousing the townspeople. Amongst them were the minutemen, who later did quite a good job of picking off the Federal troops.

At that time, this practice was looked upon by armies as cowardly. It was considered honourable for columns of troops to march toward each other and fire. Those with the most troops to sacrifice usually won. The colonists could not have prevailed, had they followed this method of battle.

But the colonists’ cause was a laudable one, even if they were far outnumbered and not as well-trained or well-armed as the Federals. Under the circumstances, they succeeded because they swallowed their pride, used their wits and, fighting guerilla style, prevailed against a greater opponent.

In creating the United States, the founding fathers of the US endorsed the concept of a republic – a conglomerate of states in which the individual right was tantamount. They were deeply suspicious of sliding into becoming a democracy. As Thomas Jefferson said,

“Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51percent of the people may take away the rights of the other 49.”

Quite so. And yet, from the very first presidential cabinet, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton pushed for a move away from a republic toward a stronger federal government. (In 1789, he formed the Federalist Party and the contest began.)

Since that time, the US has moved away from being a republic and has become more of a federalist state.

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