Have you ever wondered what it was like to be a woman in times of revolution? Over the past year, I’ve been involved with the Color Guard, assisting in and observing ceremonies that honor our fallen heroes. This experience has offered many new insights into the personal stories of what our patriots endured… both from the men who fought for liberty and the women who fought for survival.
Across time and around the world, most wars were based on greed. The stories are the same… one group of power-hungry elitists have a desire to capture another’s land, animals, or resources for their own. All to amass power, gain riches, and obtain control. It is really no different today. Is it? My intention is to share some stories told by living historians while delving into this arena of little-known history.
Did you know that there were battles and skirmishes that took place before America’s Revolutionary War and often the issues were not against the King of England? The Westminster Massacre was perpetuated by the New Yorkist elites who attempted to take the land from the simple farmers, the steadfast settlers who had cleared the land in Vermont to establish their own homesteads. Originally Vermont and New Hampshire were one big square state. Settled in the 1730s, the governor of New Hampshire was commissioned to offer land grants to the sturdy settlers who wanted to claim and build communities in what was then considered wilderness. The wide Connecticut River runs diagonally across the two states and was an active shipping route from Canada to New York.
During a time of great westward expansion, the wealthy Yorkers wanted access to the lands along the Connecticut River for their own trade purposes. These New Yorkers petitioned the King for the lands west of the river, which was granted by the King in 1760. The governor of New Hampshire acknowledged the King’s decision and allowed the transfer of the New Hampshire land grants to New York. Everyone thought the original settlers would simply be able to keep their lands, that the land would be grandfathered to them. This was not to happen.
The Yorkers had other ideas. Among a myriad of financial strains brewing among the colonists, over the next ten years, many New Yorkers moved to Vermont and established residency amidst the original New Hampshire land-grant owners. In 1766 the Yorkists Tories levied taxes against the original settlers’ lands that were over fifteen times the original amount paid. The settlers were expected to repurchase their homesteads at this ridiculously inflated price. These mostly 20-to-30-year-old stout townsfolk had put heart and soul into establishing homes and had very little money. There were many disagreements among these colonists who held a wide variety of political opinions, from Liberty Men to Loyalists, to Tories and Whigs. All lived side-by-side with one another, children attending the same school, in a small community with huge differences of opinion. Tensions rose.
In March of 1775, blood was shed at the Westminster Courthouse. A large group of settlers had come for a discussion with the Yorkers, armed only with clubs from a woodpile to potentially defend themselves. They had petitioned the King for the right to keep their land and were requesting legal representation. A meeting was scheduled with the local magistrate the following day. While most went home, some had traveled far and were allowed to sleep in the courthouse overnight until the appointed meeting time. Well, the Tory Yorkers got drunk at a nearby tavern and returned in the middle of the night repeatedly firing their muskets into the unarmed men, exclaiming: “Send them all to hell!”
Locally referred to as the Westminster Massacre, some consider it the first bloodshed of the Revolutionary War. Technically, this incident happened just before the declaration of war. There is much more to the detailed story, including letters written by many of the participants recounted in the book “Revolutionary Westminster” by Jessie Haas.
One month later, on April 19th, tensions escalated leading to the Battle of Lexington and Concord. The Revolutionary War was officially declared against the King of England. That is another story for another day.
So, this initial skirmish was truly not against the King or England… it was against the greedy elitists who attempted to take the land from the hard-working local people. There is so much to learn about our history that is rarely taught in schools. We must remember how our dedicated patriots worked, fought, and died… lest we allow history to repeat itself.
History & Herstory
Recently, I had the distinct privilege to deliver a keynote speech to the Vermont Society, Daughters of the American Revolution. In my research, I discovered this interesting history of my sister state, Vermont. There’s so much more to learn, especially stories from the spirits of women that my team has rescued over the years. Can you imagine what the women went through while their men were fighting for their rights? Think about it… women were left to manage their grief, the homes, the harvest, the children, and their safety while their men were fighting and dying for the family’s freedom. These were strong, determined, and dedicated women. They could fire muskets to protect themselves… and regularly did! Their legacy lives on to this day.
Over the years my team has rescued so many spirits of villagers who were slaughtered by aggressors. From Native American tribes to peaceful townsfolk of Poland, Ireland, Greece, or China… mothers, children, and the elderly were all massacred without knowing why. They were caught unaware by those who would conquer because of a lust for power and greed. Why do we historically venerate conquerors like Alexander the Great, the Roman Empire, Genghis Khan, or others… when their mission was to incite fear, kill, capture, and enslave? What is our modern-day equivalent of these conquerors? Those who amass more money than they need.
Today we continue to face conquest and enslavement by government officials who would wield the power of a pen to spend our money for their profit, send our young to war, take away our lands, and strip people of the right to health, wealth, and happiness. We must make a conscious effort to remove these heartless ones from office and support those who are willing to fight for and with the people… those who stand for truth, honesty, and integrity. We must take our power back and stand up for what is right and just and fair. Just like our ancient forefathers and mothers did.
Always remember those who fought valiantly for the freedom that we may lose if we don’t take notice. We are the new revolutionaries. We must embrace our ancestral determination to bring peace by removing the evil that has enslaved humanity for so long. It is time…