Behind almost every major event in history are the efforts of many ordinary people whose collective efforts bore extraordinary fruit. Such is the case of the Minutemen, who played a key role in the victory of the American Revolution. With this in mind, The Minutemen and their World, a pivotal work on the topic will be examined in this research.
Who Were the Minutemen?
Considering who the Minutemen were, their achievements become even more extraordinary. Perhaps one of the best descriptions of them is the most simply stated: “winter soldiers and springtime farmers” (Gross, 2001, p.3). In other words, these men were not the highly trained soldiers that their opponents in the British army were, nor were they the deadly mercenaries that the British contracted to assist them in regaining control over the American colonies. Rather, these were men who, in addition to farmers, were tradesmen of all types, teachers, lawyers and doctors, on and on, but they surely were not professional or even highly skilled soldiers. What they were in fact, however, were volunteer warriors that were so dedicated to the cause of fighting for freedom that they literally could be counted on to be ready to fight, be it day or night, in a minute’s time- hence, their nickname of Minutemen. What these men lacked in expensive equipment, deadly precision and massive numbers, they more than made up for in determination, bravery, and heart.
What Was Their World Like?
The town of Concord seems to have been destined for a battle of great importance; strategically, Concord represents a key access point to the major port city of Boston, making it a prime target for enemy attack. Also, the British Crown wished to keep Concord under control, as its bustling commerce helped to fatten the tax revenues collected by England from these colonists who only wished to be free. For the people of Concord, Massachusetts in the 1770s, the world was one of change, revolution and ingenuity. To be more precise, this community seems to be farther ahead of the curve in terms of the quest of the fulfillment of liberty and justice for all- even at this early point, slavery did not exist in Concord as a shining example (Gross, 2001). Largely a community of tradesmen, this community became a hub of war production when the call came to fight for independence- implements of war, from weapons to ammunition to uniforms were produced by the people of the town, for the use of their own citizens to dislodge the English from the colonies once and for all. Like other colonial citizens of the time, these were people of a strong religious faith. One prominent Concordant was quoted at the time as saying: “behold, God Himself is with us as our captain” (Gross, 2001, p.77). Once again, the author of the book sums up the tremendous resolve of the Minutemen in a single, succinct passage: “the muster was almost a family reunion” (Gross, 2001, p.76).
Why Did the Minutemen Become Revolutionaries?
At the heart of the conversion of Minutemen into revolutionaries is likewise the driving force behind the American Revolution overall: the sad realization was that “English government had fallen away from virtue, austerity and liberty” (Gross, 2001, p.33). In other words, everything that the British had promised to the colonists turned out to fundamentally be untrue. The people of Concord, as was discussed before, were industrious people who generated a great deal of goods and prosperity. For these people, the right of self government would be the perfect match for their abilities. This was threatened, however, by the imposition of excessive taxation by the British, overly constricting rule, and the refusal to hear the protests and concerns of the c0olonists.
Additionally, the Minutemen realized that if they did not embrace the Revolution, they certainly would be destroyed by it, for without a unified response to the armed aggression of the British, loss of freedom at best and loss of life at worst would be the result.
How Was Their World Changed by the American Revolution?
Obviously, the struggles and deprivations brought about by the American Revolution had at least initially a devastating effect on the community, as there was a sacrifice in terms of bloodshed, financial costs, human misery and the conflicted emotions that come with the consideration of the very real possibility that not only would total freedom not be realized, but also that life may become even more oppressive than it was in the times before the Revolution. Thankfully, for the Minutemen of Concord, the sacrifice made in the course of the American Revolution was not without its rewards. In the decades following the Revolution, it was reported that “money passed over the counters (of merchants) so fast that …even a mediocre merchant’s sales would surely be made”(Gross, 2001, p. 199). Merchants, in fact, were now able, as a result of their newly gained freedom, to quite literally conduct trade with the nations of the world, adding to the prosperity of the area. The proximity of Concord to Boston’s ports, a liability at the time of the Revolution, had become a majorly lucrative asset. By the 1790s, President George Washington could look to Concord as a perfect example of what the Revolution was all about- free trade, free people, and a free future.
How Did the Revolution and its Aftermath Reflect the Fact that the Minutemen had Become Americans?
The Revolution changed the way that the Minutemen thought; initially, it has been said that the fight was “not to promote change, but to stop it” (Gross, 2001, p. 196). Concordants simply wanted to be left alone. When this was not possible, the mindset eventually changed to the realization that a fight for freedom was necessary. At that point, the Minutemen had become Americans.
In Gross’ book, we see a well constructed account of one of the great struggles for freedom in the history of modern people. In the story of the Minutemen themselves, we see a tremendously selfless sacrifice, ultimately translating into a better life for them, and indeed an entire nation to this very day.
Gross, R.A. (2001). The Minutemen and their World. New York: Hill and Wang