Country Did We Fight in the Revolutionary War?
Brother Sam is Dead begins in April of 1775. Sam Meeker returns
home from college in uniform and full of excitement. "We've
beaten the British in Massachusetts" are the first
words out of his mouth. This comes as a surprise to his father,
mother, brother, minister and other locals in the taproom
of the Meeker's tavern; they are unaware of the rebellion
brewing in Boston.
of what Sam Meeker is so excited about:
1775: a provincial congress was held in Cambridge, Massachusetts
during which John Hancock and Joseph Warren begin defensive
preparations for a state of war.
1775: the English Parliament declares Massachusetts to
be in a state of rebellion.
1775: Patrick Henry delivers a speech in Virginia against
British rule, stating, "Give me liberty or give me death!".
1775: the New England Restraining Act is endorsed by King
George the Third, requiring New England Colonies to trade
exclusively with England and bans fishing in the North
1775: Massachusetts Governor Thomas Gage is ordered to
enforce the Coercive Acts and suppress "open rebellion"
among the colonists by all necessary force.
1775: Gage orders 700 British soldiers to Concord to destroy
the colonists' weapons depot. That night Paul Revere makes
his famous ride reaching Lexington around midnight to
warn Sam Adams and John Hancock of the British plan.
1775: 70 rebels face off against the British on Lexington
Green. An unordered shot is fired and results in musket
volleys and a bayonet charge which leaves 8 Americans
dead and 10 injured. The British proceed to Concord, destroy
the colonists' weapon depot, yet are surprised by the
rebels on a bridge in Concord and suffer 14 casualties.
They are continually attacked on their retreat back to
Boston by the rebels and lose over 250 men.
- News of these
events spread like wildfire through the Colonies. Sam Meeker
portrays one example of how this news was delivered and
with England was a frightful thought, below are some
Army was powerful and experienced. Many men, 40 years
of age or older, had fought along side the British soldiers
in the French and Indian War. They had experienced, first-hand,
the skill and tenacity of the enemy.
Land to the
West of the Appalachian Mountains was occupied by Indians,
England, the Spanish and the French, not Americans. Would
the colonists be able to defend themselves from attacks
from any one of them without the assistance of the British
businesses and merchants worried that if America split
from England they would be at risk of losing their prosperity.
Tobacco farmers are an example of those who actually did
suffer as a result of the American Revolution.
plan for self-government in place how would the colonies
- For families
that attended Anglican Churches their religion was directly
tied to England and a split from England would surely threaten
North America in 1775
Tim Meeker: "What
kept confusing me about it was that the argument didn't have
two sides the way an argument should, but about six sides."
Tim is speaking of "opinions" people had of the British government's
policies following the French and Indian War. These new policies
hampered America's economic and geographical growth via:
- Trade restrictions
- The Presence
of British troops in America (and cost of having them here)
- British efforts
to prevent westward expansion of the colonies
- The Political
corruption of Royal Governors
The anger over
these policies had reached a boiling point and as Tim states:
"..it wasn't going to be just arguments anymore." The reason
Tim's comment is so important is that the debate over rebellion
was a complex topic with many sides that needed to be examined
and decided on by the American colonists prior to a rebellion.
Issues like: economics, government, religion, and safety in
the American Colonies should they gain Independence from Great
Britain were very important questions that really did not
have answers before the events at Lexington and Concord thrust
the American citizens into war with the British.
To know people
in your country (including your own son) planned on engaging
in military skirmishes with the intention of Independence
from imperial rule without a strategic plan of action nor
a solid political agenda was quite alarming. Life Meeker's
thoughts echoed many in the American Colonies at the outbreak
of the war:
whole argument is over a few taxes that hardly amount to anything
for most people. What's the use of principles if you have
to be dead to keep them? We're Englishmen, Timmy. Of course
there are injustices, there are always injustices, that's
the way of God's world. But you never get rid of injustices
by fighting. Look at Europe, they've had one war after another
for hundreds of years, and show me where anything ever got
any better for them…"
He was absolutely
right, one war after another had plunged England into such
a financial deficit that it had to turn to its colonies to
help pay for war debts. The reaction to these taxes and trade
restrictions paved the way to the Revolution, so England didn't
have anything better because of war and it was about to get
But the debating
was over now, the war had begun and from this point forward
all anyone wanted to know was "what side are you on?". As
Anglican church members is was tough to be on the side of
the Patriots (rebels) when your minister Mr. Beach made loyalty
to the King the subject of his Sunday sermon.
said that our first duty was to God but that our Lord Jesus
Christ had said, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things
which are Caesar's" and that meant we were supposed to be
loyal Englishmen. He said that hot-tempered young men who
listened not to the voices of their elders would bring a wrathy
God down on their own heads. He said that the Bible commanded
youth to honor their fathers, which made me pretty nervous
for Sam, because it was a sin to shout at your father the
way he had done, and maybe God would punish him…between being
worried about that (God getting Sam) and being confused over
which side was right I couldn't concentrate on church much.
I just wanted to get out of there. But Mr. Beach always preached
at least an hour and being fired up about the Lexington battle
he went on longer."
in chapter two distinguish him as a metaphoric symbol of one
third of the American population during the war. He portrays
the American that is uncertain which side is right and does
not wish to choose a side until forced to, sometimes referred
to as "fence-sitters". Sam and Life are examples of the other
two thirds: the rebel/patriot and the loyalist. While there
were obviously more than three positions regarding the war
it is easiest to group them in this fashion.