It Started in New York

Monday, November 26, 2007

Well, well, as the saying goes, "You learn something new every day."

The family here was discussing the beginnings of the American Revolution, and The Historian (my daughter) informed us that years before the "shot heard 'round the world" was heard in Lexington and Concord, it was actually rabble-rousing New Yorkers where the first action really began! Ever heard of the "Battle of Golden Hill"? Me neither. Not til now. Here's a quick summary from wikipedia (and I did check with other sources to confirm wikipedia- it's accurate. I include this excerpt because it is so brief and readable):

The Liberty Boys (aka Sons of Liberty in New York State), in New York City, erected several poles with banners to celebrate the repeal of the Stamp Act. The first Liberty pole was put up in City Hall Park in 1767 after the Townshend Duty Act.

On January 17, 1770, British soldiers sawed down a Liberty pole in response to a Sons of Liberty broadside (issued by Alexander McDougall) titled "To the Betrayed Inhabitants of the City and Colony of New York". The redcoats also responded by posting their own handbills which attacked the Sons of Liberty as "the real enemies of society" who "thought their freedom depended on a piece of wood".

On January 19, 1770 (6 weeks before the Boston Massacre), Isaac Sears and others tried to stop some soldiers from posting handbills. Sears captured some of the soldiers and marched his captives towards the mayor's office, while the rest of the British soldiers ran to the barracks to sound the alarm. A crowd of townsfolk arrived along with a score of soldiers. The soldiers were surrounded and badly outnumbered. Another squad of soldiers arrived and the officer gave the order "Soldiers, draw your bayonets and cut your way through them." More soldiers arrived and a group of officers arrived to disperse the soldiers before the situation got totally out of hand.

Several of the soldiers were badly bruised and one a had a serious wound. Some of the townsfolk were wounded and one had been fatally stabbed.

The Battle of Golden Hill or Gouden Bergh (Dutch) was noteworthy because it was the first blood of the American Revolution.

It was said that this event brought a rise in tensions especially for those in Boston. Six weeks later, the "Boston Massacre" occurred.

Another good source is at The Battle for New York site, here.

I'd heard from various "historians" that New York, especially NYC, sympathized with the British, and dragged their feet when it came to liberty. Not so!

A replica of the Liberty Pole stands at what is now known as City Hall Park. There were many such poles erected in New York between 1766-1776. That would be a great place to visit!

1 remarks

Interesting post.

Take it from somebody who was there. ;) Those British were nasty as red hornets -- no blarney there. It's a good thing they didn't recognize my face; it would have been difficult to serve as a Culper spy (I think I can say that now, without endangering my neck)!

Us New-Yorkers slow to accept national independence?! Well, those Tories may have cast large shadows over my fellow patriots and myself, but if anyone was slow to realize independence, it was Congress! ...
But then, why does that surprise me?

9:18 PM  

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