Special 4th of July President’s Message

On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 to the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, 

Independence Day is one of four (4) national holidays that are celebrated on the actual day along with Veterans’ Day, Christmas and New Years Day.  


Some more fun facts … George Washington issued double rations of rum to all his soldiers to mark the anniversary of independence in 1778, and in 1781, several months before the key American victory at the Battle of Yorktown, Massachusetts became the first state to make July 4th an official state holiday.

The first fireworks were used as early as 200 BC. The tradition of setting off fireworks on the 4th of July began in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777, during the first organized celebration of Independence Day. Ship’s cannon fired a 13-gun salute in honor of the 13 colonies. The Pennsylvania Evening Post reported: “at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks (which began and concluded with thirteen rockets) on the Commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated.” That same night, the Sons of Liberty set off fireworks over Boston Common.

Stay safe and cherish the freedoms we enjoy as a people and nation.  


In compatriotism,

Scott Whitman

May 2021

President’s Message

Dear Compatriots,

I hope all of you are doing well and surviving the pandemic.  We will be again holding a virtual meeting in May as we wait for more members to get vaccinated and the restrictions on social gathering loosen up.  The summer is typically “dark” meaning we don’t meet as a chapter in June, July and August.  So, the next time we meet as a chapter will likely be in September.  If the progress on reducing the risk of COVID continues it looks it will be an in-person meeting,

On Monday, May 31st we recognize Memorial Day.  Memorial Daycommemorates the men and women who died while in the military service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. In other words, the purpose of Memorial Day is to memorialize the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.  Please take a moment and remember those who lost their lives and could not come home, reflecting on their service and why we have the luxury and freedom that we enjoy today.  My uncle, Robert Scott Whitman Jr., went down with his plane in the Battle of Midway and my uncle, S. Arthur Johnson went down with his ship in the Atlantic torpedoed by a German U-boat at the end of WWII. 

The 146th Annual Meeting of the California Society was held on Saturday, April 17th.  I reported out on those items that I thought would interest the membership at the April chapter meeting.  New officers were installed and Brian Stephens is the incoming President.  Brian has attended a number of our chapter meetings.  The chapter won the Col. Richard F. Locke Award for most new members (+6 or 11%) for a small chapter.  Certificates of Appreciation were awarded to Paul Sapp, Steve Steinberg and myself for their efforts to input SAR application data into PRS (Patriot Research System). 

In looking at what important events happened during May of 1775, it was on May 10, 1775, Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold lead a successful attack on Fort Ticonderoga in upstate New York, while the Second Continental Congress assembles in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Congress faced the task of conducting a war already in progress.

Stay safe and stay healthy my fellow compatriots. Hope you can attend the chapter Zoom meeting on May 18th

In patriotism,

R. Scott Whitman

April 2021

President’s Message

Dear Compatriots,

Like you all I’m looking forward to the time when things return to the new normal. This pandemic situation has persisted for way too long. Some of the SAR chapters are meeting in person now. We will be looking at this closely and hope to hold a dinner meeting in May. For this month, April, we will once again go with a virtual Zoom meeting on Tuesday, April 20th at 7pm. We lost our dinner meeting location as Mimi’s in Lake Forest is boarded up and looks to be permanently closed. As you venture out a little more please be on the lookout for a venue to host our chapter meetings. Please also pass on any ideas you may have on a topic to present at the chapter meeting.

Please consider attending the upcoming virtual Zoom chapter meeting. It’s important to maintain synergy, continue to meet as a group and promote the ideals of the Sons of the American Revolution. As noted in prior messages let’s keep doing our part to promote American patriotism in our community.

For this month’s brief history lesson, it was on April 19, 1775 (246 years ago) that the first shots of the Revolutionary War are fired at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts. The news of the bloodshed rockets along the eastern seaboard and thousands of volunteers converge—called “Minute Men”—on Cambridge, Mass. These are the beginnings of the Continental Army.

Looking ahead, the 146th Annual Meeting of the California Society is on Saturday, April 17th from 9am to 12pm. This will be a virtual Zoom meeting. I plan on attending along with Jerry Hereford representing the South Coast chapter.

Stay safe and stay healthy my fellow compatriots.

In patriotism,
R. Scott Whitman

April 20 Chapter Zoom Meeting

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic we will be conducting our monthly meetings using Zoom teleconferencing for a while.  Our next meeting is on the third Tuesday, April 20 at 7:00 PM. 

Members will be emailed a meeting link, meeting ID and passcode.

Upcoming Dates and Events.

Patriots’ Day Observed – Monday, April 19:  Patriots’ Day, sometimes spelled Patriot’s Day, is an annual civic holiday, celebrated in Massachusetts, Maine, and Wisconsin, that commemorates the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord that occurred on April 19th, 1775.  The Battles of Lexington and Concord were the first battles of the Revolutionary War in the United States.  Patriots’ Day is celebrated every year on the third Monday in April.

The Boston Marathon is held every year in Boston, Massachusetts, United States on Patriots’ Day.  However, this year the Boston Marathon is delayed until fall and scheduled to be run on Monday, October 11, due to COVID.

Mother’s Day-Sunday, May 9

Dinner Meeting – Tuesday, May 18: Hopefully it will be possible to conduct a live meeting at a restaurant or other venue.

———–

Ralph Waldo Emerson

CONCORD HYMN:

SUNG AT THE COMPLETION OF THE CONCORD MONUMENT,

April 19, 1836.

———–

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
⁠Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
⁠And fired the shot heard round the world.


The foe long since in silence slept;
⁠Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
⁠Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.


On this green bank, by this soft stream,
⁠We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
⁠When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
⁠To die, or leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
⁠The shaft we raise to them and thee.

———–


The Battles of Lexington and Concord

Contributed by Kevin Forrest

On April 19th 1775, the American Revolution began with the Battles of Lexington and Concord. After years of building tensions between the 13 Colonies, particularly in Massachusetts, and the British authorities, the escalation to an armed conflict began.

On the night of April 18, 1775, hundreds of British troops marched from Boston to nearby Concord in order to seize a cache of arms and ammunition, as well as rebellion leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock. Paul Revere and other riders sounded the alarm, and colonial militiamen began mobilizing to intercept the “Redcoat” column. An initial confrontation on the Lexington Town Green started the fighting, and after a larger battle at the North Bridge in Concord, the British retreated to their garrison in Boston under constant attack from the local Militia

Lead-Up to the Battles of Lexington and Concord

Beginning in 1764, the British Parliament enacted a series of revenue raising measures on the American colonies. Many of those measures, including the Sugar Act, Stamp Act and Townshend Acts, generated fierce resentment among the colonists who protested against “taxation without representation.” Boston, the site of the 1770 Boston Massacre and the 1773 Boston Tea Party, was one of the main points of resistance and this resulted in King George III of Britain ramped up the military presence there, and in June 1774 the city’s harbor was shut down until colonists paid for tea dumped overboard the previous year. Soon after, the British Parliament declared that Massachusetts was in open rebellion.

On April 18, 1775, Dr. Joseph Warren, a member of the Sons of Liberty, learned from a source inside the British high command that Redcoat troops would march that night on Concord. Two couriers, Boston silversmith Paul Revere and tanner William Dawes, to alert residents of the news. They went by separate routes in case one of them was captured. Revere crossed the Charles River by boat to get to Charlestown, where fellow patriots were waiting for a signal about the movement of British troops. They had been instructed to look at the steeple of Boston’s Old North Church. If there was one lantern hanging in the steeple, the British were arriving by land. If there were two, the British were coming by sea. Two lanterns were set out, and the covert signal was memorialized in American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride,” in which he wrote:

“One, if by land, and two, if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.”

As Revere carried out his mission in Charlestown, Dawes left Boston and traveled along the Boston Neck peninsula. The two met up in Lexington, a few miles east of Concord, where revolutionary leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock had temporarily holed up. Having persuaded those two to flee, as a weary Revere and Dawes then set out again. On the road, they met a third rider, Samuel Prescott, who alone made it all the way to Concord. Revere was soon captured by a British patrol, while Dawes was thrown from his horse and forced to proceed back to Lexington on foot.

A view of the south Part of Lexington during the battles in 1775, by artist Amos Doolittle. (GHI/Universal History Archive/Getty Images)   Fighting Breaks Out in Lexington and Concord

At dawn on April 19, some 700 British troops arrived in Lexington and came upon 77 militiamen gathered on the town green. The British Major yelled, “Throw down your arms! Ye villains, ye rebels.” The heavily outnumbered militiamen had just been ordered by their commander to disperse when a shot rang out. To this day, no one knows which side fired first, but several British volleys were subsequently unleashed before order could be restored. When the smoke cleared, eight militiamen were killed and nine were wounded, while only one British Regular was injured.

The British Regulars then continued into Concord to search for arms, not realizing that the vast majority had already been removed. They decided to burn what little they found, and the fire got slightly out of control. Hundreds of militiamen occupying the high ground outside of Concord incorrectly thought the whole town would be torched. The militiamen hustled to Concord’s North Bridge, which was being defended by a contingent of British soldiers. The British fired first but fell back when the colonists returned the volley. This was the “shot heard ‘round the world” later immortalized by poet Ralph Waldo Emerson.

After searching Concord for about four hours, the British prepared to return to Boston, located 18 miles away. By that time, almost 2,000 militiamen, known as minutemen, had descended to the area, and more were constantly arriving. At first, the militiamen simply followed the British column. Fighting started again soon after, however, with the militiamen firing at the British from behind trees, stone walls, houses and sheds. Soon, British troops were abandoning weapons, clothing and equipment in order to retreat faster.

When the British column reached Lexington, it ran into an entire brigade of fresh Regulars that had answered a call for reinforcements. However, that did not stop the colonists from resuming their attack all the way through Menotomy (now Arlington) and Cambridge. The British, for their part, tried to keep the colonists at bay with flanking parties and canon fire. In the evening, a contingent of newly arrived minutemen from Salem and Marblehead, Massachusetts, purportedly had a chance to cut off the British forces and perhaps finish them off. Instead, their commander ordered them not to attack, and the British were able to reach the safety of Charlestown Neck, where they had naval support.

The Engagement of the North Bridge in Concord, by Amos Doolittle. (GHI/Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

Effects of Lexington and Concord

The colonists did not show great marksmanship that day. As many as 3,500 militiamen firing constantly for 18 miles only killed or wounded roughly 250 British soldiers, compared to about 90 killed and wounded on their side. Nevertheless, the relatively low casualties of the Battles of Lexington and Concord proved they could stand up to one of the most powerful armies in the world. News of the battle quickly spread, reaching London on May 28. A few months later, the British narrowly defeated the Americans in Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775, the low number of casualties once again showing the strength of patriot forces. By the following summer, a full-scale war of independence had broken out, paving the way for the creation of the United States of America.

March 2021

President’s Message

Dear Compatriots,

Orange County is very close to getting promoted to the COVID red tier. Restaurants may reopen indoor dining areas, and several other sectors including gyms and movie theaters are permitted to reopen for indoor operations.   The significance to our chapter is at long last we may be able to meet as a group in April or May. Hope all of you are healthy and have remained safe throughout this ordeal. My wife and I have had the first vaccine shot and are due to get the booster the 2nd week of March.

In looking at significant events that happened in March during the American Revolution the Boston Massacre occurred on March 5, 1770 (251 years ago).  A small British army detachment that was threatened by mob harassment opened fire and killed five people, an incident soon known as the Boston Massacre. The soldiers were charged with murder and were given a civilian trial, in which John Adams conducted a successful defense.  The Boston Massacre helped spark the colonists’ desire for American independence, while the dead rioters became martyrs for liberty.

This month the chapter is still refraining from social gathering which means that the monthly chapter meeting will once again be virtual using the Zoom app on Tuesday, March 16th at 7pm.  As in prior months it is my hope that you can find the time to connect to the virtual meeting.  It’s important that we try to maintain synergy as a chapter as we work through the restrictions on meeting in person.  Let’s keep doing our part to promote American patriotism.

Stay safe and stay healthy my fellow compatriots.

In patriotism,

R. Scott Whitman

March 16 Chapter Zoom Meeting

Tuesday, March 16 at 7:00 PM

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic we will be conducting our monthly meetings using Zoom teleconferencing for a while.  Our next meeting is on the third Tuesday, March 16 at 7:00 PM. 

Members will be emailed a meeting link, meeting ID and passcode.


The Stamp Act of 1765

The Stamp Act, passed by the British Parliament on March 22, 1765, was one of the major events that triggered the American Revolution.  It required the American colonists to purchase and affix official tax stamps to all sorts of printed materials such as newspapers, magazines and legal documents.

The reason that this tax was imposed by the British is that they felt that the American colonists should share in the expenses from the French and Indian War, fought in 1754 through 1763, that pitted the French and their American Indian allies against the Colonists with significant assistance from the British Army.  The British felt that this tax was justified because of the benefits the colonists received from the blood and treasure they expended (which was decisive in the victory), however, the colonists did not agree.  They felt that they had already paid their share of the war’s expenses.

The Stamp Act was very unpopular among colonists. A majority considered it a violation of their rights as Englishmen to be taxed without their consent—consent that only the colonial legislatures could grant. The colonists believed that the tax imposed by the British was unfair since they had no representatives in the British Parliament and had no say in the nature and amount of the taxes.  This they referred to as “taxation without representation” which became one of the rallying calls of the Revolution ten years hence.  One of the more onerous provisions of the Stamp Act was the requirement that the tax be paid with British money and not colonial paper money.

The reaction of the colonists to the Stamp Act was immediate.  Many refused to pay the tax.  Protests and demonstrations increased.  The tax collectors were hung in effigy, threatened and/or forced to resign from their jobs.  The stamped paper was burned in the streets and British products and merchants were boycotted.  The tax was really never effectively collected. 

Local protest groups established Committees of Correspondence which created a loose coalition from New England to Maryland.  So strong were the feelings against the Stamp Act that a meeting of all of the colonies was called and named the Stamp Act Congress.  It was held in New York City from October 7 to October 25, 1765 and drafted a formal protest of the Stamp Act which was sent to Britain.

The events of this era gave rise to groups of Americans known as Sons of Liberty who protested against the taxes, intimidated the tax collectors, and eventually became driving forces in the American Revolution.

Opposition to the Stamp Act was not limited to the colonies. British merchants and manufacturers pressured Parliament because their exports to the colonies were threatened by boycotts.  Parliament responded to business interests by repealing the Stamp Act on March 18, 1766.  They realized that the Stamp Act was a mistake but they still felt a need to assert their authority to tax the colonies.  On that same day they passed the Declaratory Act in which they declared Parliament’s right to levy taxes and make laws in the colonies.  A series of new taxes and regulations then ensued—likewise opposed by the Americans. This included the Tea Tax which led to the Boston Tea Party.  The Declaratory Act played a major role in defining the 27 colonial grievances that were clearly stated within the text of the Indictment of George III section of the Declaration of Independence, enabling the organized colonial resistance which led to the American Revolution. 


“Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!”

Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775

Patrick Henry’s legacy has become indelibly linked with his oration to the Second Virginia Convention where he proclaimed, “Give me liberty or give me death.” However, Henry did not just give one speech and was not merely an unwavering patriot, Henry was a skilled politician, lawyer, and orator. 

He was originally elected to Virginia’s House of Burgesses in 1765 and he traveled to Williamsburg where the Burgesses were already in session and debating the Stamp Act.  When the Act passed, the burgeoning politician introduced the Stamp Act Resolves. The “Resolves” established that Virginian colonists had the same rights as British citizens and that taxation without representation is tyranny. During this session, Henry also gave an impassioned speech arguing against the Stamp Act. During the speech, the not so tactful orator carefully referenced how tyrants were murdered, never actually mentioning King George; however, the room read his tone, and many decried his statement as treason. Henry famously replied, “If this be treason, make the most of it.”

Henry attended the Virginia Conventions from 1774-1776; these meetings set out a plan for the colony of Virginia and were crucial for the nation’s independence. Utilizing committees of correspondence, the rising Virginian contacted John and Samuel Adams, and together they decided to push their respective colonies to independence. Henry’s defining moment came in the Second Virginia Convention—when he delivered his now famous “Give me Liberty or give me death!” speech. Many future patriots were in the audience, including Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. The address helped drive prominent Virginians to prepare for war. No one in the audience recorded the speech, and later historians pieced the speech together, it is unclear if Henry actually concluded with the famous quote or if that was invented years later to sell books.