My historical novels Rebel Puritan and The Reputed Wife, Herodias (Long) Hicks Gardner Porter, colonial New England, travels, and whatever else seizes my fancy...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Puritans: From Concord and Lexington to the Boston Marathon

On Sunday evening, April 14, I finished Paul Revere’s Ride by David Hackett Fischer. I can’t remember when I relished a book more. I even devoured all the appendices and notes, and was sorry to see the book end. Mr. Fischer’s 1995 riveting history is about Paul Revere, but also the disastrous British attack on Concord and Lexington, Massachusetts, about twenty-four road miles from Boston.

Twenty-four miles, and the British army covered that distance in about
Battle of Lexington April 19, 1775
six hours as they retreated from the American militia. The men who defeated professional British soldiers and marines may have been farmers, lawyers, and tradesmen, but they knew how to fight. All able bodied men between sixteen and sixty were required to train with the militia, and New England's militias had been fighting Indians and French for generations. They were well-prepared to turn out against the British that day.

Now, I could spiral off into saying “that’s why we need guns.” All I’m going to say is I don’t have one. I don’t say that the law-abiding and capable shouldn’t have one. But I don’t think that all of the armaments available now should be on the market.

My thoughts turn more to those twenty-four miles. Runners traveled twenty-six for the Boston Marathon yesterday. I’m tempted to search out some cosmic conjunction in those distances. However, I’ll focus on why those miles were traveled. 

Boston Tea Party Dec. 16, 1773
The British went to Lexington because they heard that John Hancock and Samuel Adams were there. They would arrest those Sons of Liberty for raising opposition to Parliamentary acts and taxes. The Boston Tea Party was the most famous of many acts of resistance.

Then the 700-man army would hasten to a few miles down the road to Concord to seize gunpowder the colonials were storing there. They didn’t expect much resistance, but some 250 colonials drove them out of Concord. Alerted by word of mouth and messengers on horseback – Paul Revere wasn’t the only one – militias streamed in from as far as Connecticut (though the Nutmeggers didn’t arrive until the battle was long over). A British brigade reinforced the embattled army by another thousand men. Nearly two thousand militiamen harried the British to the outskirts of Boston. I won’t discuss how many casualties there were, but there were hundreds, and they were horrific.

The British were defeated. They wanted to nab Hancock and Adams, but they failed, and they didn’t get that colonial gunpowder.

We all know what happened yesterday. One or more cruel, destructive people created bombs, and while I’m not speculating on their motives, they wreaked death, destruction, and fear at the Boston Marathon - a race where people challenge themselves to triumph over fatigue and pain.

Minuteman statue at Lexington
Yesterday was Patriot’s Day, celebrating the April 19 anniversary of Concord and Lexington. The bomber(s) chose that day. The bomber chose a race dedicated to the dead at Newtown, Connecticut. And that twenty-six mile race is a distance honoring a runner who died bringing news of a Greek victory at Marathon. The day and the month are rich with symbolism.

There will be all sorts of calls for more security, and there may be proposals which put our hard-won liberties to the test. I don’t think I’ll change how I look at the world, any more than I did after 9/11. But I do have to remember a couple of things.

I’ve had a lot to say about Puritans in my two historical novels and in blogposts, especially the Puritans who settled in Massachusetts. However, Mary Dyer and Anne Hutchinson were Puritans before they were cast out by their own for radical views. Even Herodias Long, whom I revere, may once have been a Puritan. The Minutemen and other militia members who defeated the finest army in the world were only a generation or two removed from Puritans.

I am proud to say that I’m a descendant of Puritans, even though I deplore some of their acts. The Puritans who crossed the Atlantic to build homes in the American wilderness were tough people. They risked everything for their beliefs and they were stalwart, even when they thought they faced Satan during the witchcraft trials.

The 17th century Puritans were doing their best in a new world. They believed in hard work, but they shared it. They loved their families (though they didn’t spare the rod to prevent spoiling the child). The Puritans believed they were a 'city upon a hill' with the world's eyes upon it, and they strove to provide the world with an example of a Godly society.

Now Boston is once more the ‘city upon a hill,’ and they will triumph over those who would make us all despair. Yesterday Bostonians ran to help the wounded and opened their homes and hearts. Humanity is capable of harsh acts, but I must remember that it is also capable of greatness.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Sunshine Award

Sunshine Award
 A few days ago Christy English gave me the Sunshine Award for those “who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” As I write on this gloomy and sunless day in upstate NY, I thank Christy for this dose of Sunshine. My good friend lights up my life with her unwavering joy, and with her blog, A Writer's Life: Working with the Muse at:

And now, to paraphrase Monty Python, She who receives the Sunshine Award must answer me these questions three, ere the other side she see.  OK, it's nine questions, but Sir Galahad had trouble counting too:

Ride 'em, Jo Ann!
Favorite Color: Sky blue. It's a color I crave even more than chocolate, especially between November and May.
Favorite Animal: I love them all, but I don't remember an age when I wasn't in love with horses.
Favorite Number: 5. I can't tell you why, but the answer is probably at my fingertips.
Favorite Non-alcoholic Drink: Tea - hot, cold, or any other temperature.
Facebook or Twitter?: Facebook. I love birds and birdsong, but Twitter hasn't grabbed me.
Rebel Puritan and The Reputed Wife
Your Passion: Herodias Long. I've spent ten years writing about that woman's bravery and persistence, and hope that she has passed those traits down to me, her 8th great-granddaughter.

Giving or getting presents: There is nothing like a present to brighten the day!
Favorite Day: Monday, believe it or not. Nothing on my schedule and all things are possible.
Favorite Flowers: Hyacinths. Winter really is over when they appear, and they smell divine!
 And now, to announce the next winners of the Sunshine Award:
Ginger Myrick, author of the amazing historical fiction novels WELSH HEALER and EL REY
Deborah Swift, author of THE GILDED LILY and THE LADY'S SLIPPER, and her wonderful blog:
Francine Howarth, author of numerous historical romances, including
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