Read the following accounts of the skirmish at the Lexington Common on April 19, 1775 and answer the following questions:
1. Do you detect differences in the events recounted?
2. Why do you think these differences do or do not exist?
3. Which account do you believe is most accurately describes what actually occurred on April 19, 1775?
• From the Annals of the Second Continental Congress: “In April of 1775, general Gage, who in the course of the last year had taken possession of the town of Boston, in the province of MassachusettsBay, and still occupied it a garrison, on the 19th day of April, sent out from that place a large detachment of his army, who made an unprovoked assault on the inhabitants of the said province, at the town of Lexington, as appears by the affidavits of a great number of persons, some of whom were officers and soldiers of that detachment, murdered eight of the inhabitants, and wounded many others. From thence the troops proceeded in warlike array to the town of Concord, where they set upon another party of the inhabitants of the same province, killing several and wounding more, until compelled to retreat by the country people suddenly assembled to repel this cruel aggression.”
• From Colonel Smith, a British soldier to General Gage, governor of Massachusetts Bay: “[As we approached the Lexington Green] a body of country people drawn up in military order, with arms and accoutrements, and, as appeared after, loaded; and that they had posted some men in a dwelling and Meeting-house. Our troops advanced towards them, without any intention of injuring them, further than to inquire the reason of their being thus assembled… [when] one of them fired…and three or four more jumped over a wall and fired from behind it among the soldiers; on which the troops returned it, and killed several of them.”
• What did the Americans mean by “no taxation without representation”? On what experiences did they base this idea? Why did the British Parliament have a hard time understanding this concept?
• Why did the colonists believe that it was all right for Parliament to impose taxes to regulate trade, but not to raise revenues?