Men in Early America: An Early Example of the American Patriot
“Today our country seems to be lacking courageous people, and given the many horrible events that have happened throughout the world in recent times, there has never been better a time to stand up for Biblical values, your family, or your nation.” Matthew Kasinec, Class of 2019 Bloomfield Christian School (This article was originally published on http://goodguyswag.com)
I hope Matthew’s article encourages other young men and women of faith to get out there and share their voices because they are tomorrow’s leaders. —Kris Wolfe, Founder/Editor http://goodguyswag.com
Men in Early America: An Early Example of the American Patriot
by Matthew Kasinec
Bloomfield Christian School Class of 2019
The United States as we know it has existed for around two hundred and forty years, but the U.S. has experienced a past that is in my opinion unequaled. In the short span of a few centuries, America has evolved from a handful of mercantilistic colonies, meant to profit kings sitting comfortably across the Atlantic, to one of the largest nations in existence, with territories and influence spread throughout the globe. Throughout the years, one thing about the American people has always remained consistent. American’s have always loved symbols: The Stars and Bars of the South (also known as the Confederate flag), the bald eagle, Smith & Wesson, Superman, great grandpa’s cattle brand; anything and everything has the ability to become immortal in the minds of the American people. Most of these such symbols have many years of history behind them, with significant meaning when put into context with the rest of the story.
People came to colonial America to be free. Many people know this, but few people realize is that the reason early exploration was encouraged was to profit the empires backing the colonies. Most of America’s colonists had their own reasons for traveling to the new world. For instance, in the late sixteenth century and onward, colonists were usually either businessmen, who had invested in companies such as the East India Company, or people seeking religious freedom, although some came for other reasons. Later, during the Great Migration (c1630-40), when America’s population rose greatly, people came for profit, once again, as well as both religious reasons, or personnel reasons. Among those that came for their own purposes were indentured servants, who pledged to pay their way to the New World by working as slaves for a handful of years after their voyage.
Many of America’s later settlers were also prisoners. While the Northern colonies did not have the problem, colonies in the south, such as Florida and Georgia quickly became dumping grounds for Europe’s prisons. In 1751, a man by the name of Benjamin Franklin published a satirical piece on sending rattlesnakes to England, as payment for the criminals being sent to the colonies (Leepson 12). During the French and Indian wars, Franklin once again published one of his snake related ideas in the Gazette. This time Franklin drew a cartoon of a snake, divided into eight pieces (one for each of the English colonies included in the Albany plan). Franklin’s cartoon is captioned “Join or Die,” suggesting the colonies unite as one force to defeat the French and Indian’s military alliance. After joining together, and forming a single army, the English colonists were able to drive the French from the new world, although today many Canadians can still trace their lineage to their land’s original French settlers. Franklin’s paper once again published this well-known image of a dissected rattlesnake just before the Revolutionary War’s beginning.
Franklin’s idea of a snake was also used by a man in another colony, who had an important part in America’s revolt against England. Christopher Gadsden inherited his father’s estate and started his own importing and exporting business, acting as the early Amazon (Atlantic) Prime of Charleston. Gadsden was one of only three importers in his colony, but the town’s merchants greatly outnumbered the importers. In short, Gadsden attempted to prevent the selling of English tea in Charleston, after hearing that the largely discounted tea had experienced a rise in taxes. He and his competitors joined together and agreed they would not order any more tea, or receive any new shipments of the taxed produce. After 21 days of waiting in the harbor, tea was unloaded from The London, against the wishes of the colonists, and locked up before could it could be destroyed. This tea was never sold, though through a loophole the tea the colony already had was still sold by merchants who would rather profit than undermine the British regime (Cummins 83-88).
Gadsden was absolutely crushed when he read, in Franklin’s paper, about the many other “tea-parties” that had been largely influenced by that which was planned by Gadsden and his local Sons of Liberty chapter. Gadsden wrote about his disappointments to close friend Samuel Adams. While the Charlestonians hadn’t purchased the tea, their colony was the only one that had allowed the taxed tea to touch American soil (Cummins 87-88).
In 1773 England passed the Intolerable Acts, which reached the New World in 1774. These acts were directed at Boston, as punishment for their famous tea party, in which all of the tea was split overboard by colonists dressed as Indians. These acts allowed the British to blockade Boston’s harbor, and put an embargo on trade in the same colony. Gadsden may have been discouraged by his colony’s earlier failure, but as soon as he heard about Boston’s lack of food, he personally began coordinating relief efforts for Boston, from multiple colonies, and sent it to the starving people of Boston, by land, while writing Adams, “We depend on your [f]irmness, and that you will not pay for an ounce of the damn’d Tea.” (Cummins 85-89).
Gadsden never gave up, he continued working to undermine the corrupt British tyranny with all his strength. His fellow colonists noticed this zeal and elected him as the South Carolina representative of the 1775 Continental Congress. The famous John Quincy also picked up on his boldness, and wrote Gadsden was “Plain, blunt, hot, and incorrect, and very sensible. Meekness was not one of his Christian virtues.”
As one of America’s earliest patriots, Gadsden stood up for his beliefs, and his fellow Americans. He was by no means afraid to show his true colors. Perhaps this is why the famous Gadsden flag is a solid, bright yellow. This flag is Gadsden’s take on Franklin’s snake metaphor, depicting a coiled snake on a yellow field, with the warning “DONT[sic] TREAD ON ME” printed below it. Mr. Gadsden created this purely American icon to be used by the first American navy, which he not only supported, but also paid for. Gadsden’s actions and beliefs were two great driving forces of the American Revolution, and the navy only added to the strength of the Continental army. Gadsden’s flag was later adopted by Virginia’s Culpeper minutemen, who added the phrase “Liberty or Death” to the flag, while printing it on a plain white field (gadsdenandculpeper.com/cumifl.html).
Today Gadsden’s flag seems to be making a comeback. The modern Tea Party has adopted it, second amendment activists practically use it as a blanket, and where I live it is flown from tailgates everywhere. Why is Gadsden’s flag so popular? The motto of the flag says it all, in a single, patriotic statement. There is no opinion contained in the Gadsden flag’s message, there is no way to wrongly interpret its meaning, it is simply an all-inclusive banner, stating ‘Step on us, and you’ll regret it.’ Upon looking to the life of its creator, the banner only gains weight, becoming a symbol representing standing up for what is right. Just like the poison of the rattlesnake might, the will to unite, and fight for just causes, such as entering world conflicts, has spread throughout America’s entire body.
Gadsden succeeded in capturing the very spirit of American patriotism. Today our country seems to be lacking courageous people, and given the many horrible events that have happened throughout the world in recent times, there has never been better a time to stand up for Biblical values, your family, or your nation. Everyone can learn something from Gadsden; to cause positive change, you must be willing to do whatever it takes. Everything from quitting an addiction, to keeping a corrupt politician out of office*, to raising awareness on a moral issue, requires guts, strength, and willpower. If something really is important to you, try doing things the way our fathers would have; with integrity, with transparency, and the perseverance of a patriot.
Remember to D.I.Y.
DO IT YELLOW
Article posted on http://goodguyswag.com/history-of-the-dont-tread-on-me-flag/.
The author does not suggest, or encourage in any way, violating a person’s right to life.