Saturday, May 17, 2008

Patriotic New Englanders


The First Person Who Fell In the War of the Revolution.

Hezekiah Butterworth, in "The Patriotic Schoolmaster," says the first person to fall in the war of the Revolution was not Crispus Attucks, but a boy. If Attucks, who fell by an accidental encounter, merits a monument as the first who fell for liberty, so does this boy.

There were a few merchants in Boston who continued to sell taxed articles. They came to be despised and hated. The boys, in their hasty patriotism, made on a placard a list of the names of those who imported and sold proscribed articles and put it on a pole that bore a wooden head and hand. They set this image up before an importer's door, with the wooden hand pointing toward it, and this made the importer angry, and he fired a musket into the crowd of boys. Christopher Gore, afterward governor of Massachusetts, was slightly wounded.

Little Christopher Snyder, a boy whose mother was a widow, and who had followed the spirit of the times, fell mortally wounded. They took up his form and bore it away, and the whole city wept. Never in America was there a boy's funeral like his. They made for him a patriot's coffin and bore his form to the Liberty Tree, which stood near the present corner of Washington and Essex streets. On the coffin was this motto, "Innocence itself is not safe." The boys of nearly all the schools, some 600 in number, gathered around the body as an escort. The bells tolled, business was closed, and some 1,500 people followed the first martyr to the grave.

As the procession marched not only the bells of Boston, but those of the neighboring towns, were heard tolling. It was almost spring, and there was a mellowness in the air. That procession was a prophecy of events to come, a protest against the injustice of the royal power. The sons of liberty should remember little Snyder's grave.

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