Monday, June 21, 2010

A misunderstanding and a missed anniversary: The path of building resistance and the Burning of the Gaspee

The burning of the Gaspee.

Regarding COL Martino's point about "going for the head" of the tyrannical system, I wrote this yesterday:

. . .here is the formula of the Founders with a dollop of Michael Collins and a Twenty-First Century 4th Generation Warfare twist:

Government oppression is met by passive resistance, a refusal to obey. This refusal makes the tyrants initially irritated and eventually crazy enough to escalate to the next level — you WILL do what we say or we will kill YOU. Then we continue until they do. After they cross the line, we respond by evading the arms, legs and sinews of their tyrannical beast, and striking directly at the heart, eyes and brains of the monster.

This way requires stoic patience. It requires brilliant planning. It requires trained competence at the art and science of war. It requires the tools to execute all of those things. And most importantly, it requires the moral purpose and indomitable will to bring it about.

Now, because I was imprecise in my language and failed to explicate fully the path of building resistance to tyranny, Jennifer II misunderstood my meaning.

This was fully my error. By using the word "passive" I did not mean Gandhian "passive resistance" (although that too can be used as one tool in a suite of tools from the resistance tool bag) but rather non-shooting versus shooting resistance. Sorry, but I should have made that clearer.

Had I not also missed marking the anniversary of the burning of the Gaspee earlier this month, she might not have misunderstood me. Again, my fault entirely.

The Gaspée Affair was a significant event in the lead-up to the American Revolution. HMS Gaspée, a British revenue schooner that had been enforcing unpopular trade regulations, ran aground in shallow water on June 9, 1772, near what is now known as Gaspee Point in the city of Warwick, Rhode Island, while chasing the packet boat Hannah. In a notorious act of defiance, American patriots led by Abraham Whipple and John Brown, attacked, boarded, looted, and torched the ship.


The customs service in Britain’s North American colonies in the eighteenth-century had a violent history. The Treasury in London did little to correct known problems and Britain itself was at war during much of this period and was not in a strategic position to risk antagonizing its overseas colonies. At the end of the Seven Years' War, following Britain’s decisive victory, several successive ministries implemented reforms in an attempt to achieve more effective administrative control and raise more revenue in the colonies. The revenue was necessary, Parliament believed, to bolster military and naval defensive positions along the borders of their far-flung empire, and to pay the crushing debt incurred in winning the war on behalf of those colonies. Among these reforms was the deputizing of the Royal Navy's Sea Officers to help enforce customs laws in colonial ports. In 1764 Rhode Islanders attacked HMS St. John and in 1769 they burned a customs ship, HMS Liberty, on Goat Island in Newport harbor.

The incident

In early 1772, Lieutenant William Dudingston sailed HMS Gaspée into Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay to aid in the enforcement of customs collection and inspection of cargo. Rhode Island had a reputation for smuggling and trading with the enemy during wartime. Dudingston and his officers quickly antagonized powerful merchant interests in the small colony. On June 9, the Gaspée gave chase to the packet boat Hannah, and ran aground in shallow water on the northwestern side of the bay. Her crew was unable to free her immediately, but the rising tide might have allowed the ship to free herself. A band of Providence members of the Sons of Liberty rowed out to confront the ship's crew before this could happen.

At the break of dawn on June 10, they boarded the ship. The crew put up a feeble resistance, Lieutenant Dudingston was shot and wounded, and the vessel burned to the waterline. The man who fired the shot was Joseph Bucklin:

"JOSEPH BUCKLIN, was well known in Providence and kept a prominent restaurant, or place of resort, in South Main Street, where gentlemen resorted for their suppers. Here, too, they assembled, to discuss politics, and where, possibly, the expedition which destroyed the Gaspee, was discussed, as well as at Mr. Sabin's house, which was near it."


Previous attacks by the colonials on British naval vessels had gone unpunished. In one case, a customs yacht was actually destroyed (also by fire) with no administrative response. But in 1772, the Admiralty would not ignore the destruction of one of its military vessels on station.

The American Department consulted the Solicitor and Attorney Generals, who investigated and advised the Privy Council on the legal and constitutional options available. The Crown turned to a centuries-old institution of investigation, the Royal Commission of Inquiry. This commission would be made up of the chiefs of the supreme courts of Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey, the judge of the vice-admiralty of Boston, and the governor of Rhode Island, Joseph Wanton. The Dockyard Act, passed three months earlier in April, allowed those suspected of burning His Majesty's vessels to be tried in England. But this was not the law that would be used against the Gaspée raiders; they would be charged with treason. The task of the commission was to determine against which colonists there was sufficient evidence for their trial in England. The Commission was unable to obtain sufficient evidence and declared their inability to deal with the case.

Colonial Whigs were alarmed at the prospect of Americans being sent to England for trial. A Committee of Correspondence was formed in Boston to consult on the crisis. In Virginia, the House of Burgesses was so alarmed that they also formed an inter-colonial committee of correspondence to consult in the crisis with other committees.

In Boston, a little-known visiting minister, John Allen, preached a sermon at the Second Baptist Church that utilized the Gaspée affair to warn listeners about greedy monarchs, corrupt judges and conspiracies at high levels in the London government. This sermon was printed seven different times in four colonial cities, becoming one of the most popular pamphlets of Colonial British America. This pamphlet, along with the incendiary rhetoric of numerous colonial newspaper editors, awoke colonial Whigs from a lull of inactivity in 1772, thus inaugurating a series of conflicts that would culminate in the Battles of Lexington and Concord. -- Wikipedia.

In truth, the Gaspee Affair is a little taught incident of our Revolution. Some have this mistaken idea of "the immaculate Revolution," where the studiously upright Founders without preamble or preparation, stood up spontaneously to British Army at Lexington and Concord. Bullshit. The presence of British troops on Lexington Green was the end result of a long process of deliberate Colonial misbehavior on the part of the Founders -- particularly on the part of Sam Adams and the Sons of Liberty -- to manipulate the King of England and his ministers into putting them there.

Resistance is a process. It starts small, almost innocuously, and culminates in the overthrow of the tyranny which generates it -- most often by mass violence. Many patriots today who have never heard of the Gaspee also do not know of the long process of subversion by the Revolutionaries of the existing state militia formations. They did this by gradually purging the officer ranks of Loyalists with campaigns of shunning, blackmail and threats that left vacancies which were filled by Whigs more amenable to the Revolutionary cause. When even this was insufficient to the need, they formed their own town militias without reference to an officialdom. (See the opening chapters of To Shake Their Guns in the Tyrant's Face and Minutemen by GEN John Galvin.)

Also food for thought and study is the Powder Alarm of 1774.

Now, this process was and is tough. It requires more from the armed citizen than just standing in his doorstop and yelling defiance with musket (or M4gery) in hand. Armed resistance begins with unarmed refusal. The arrogant appetites of tyrants can be counted upon to push the process of self-destruction along, as long as we push their buttons in the proper sequence with the appropriate level of intensity.

We are not yet to the point of burning Coast Guard cutters.

Depending upon the appetites of the present regime, we may get there sooner than anyone thinks.

But between now and then, we must all do our jobs -- to prepare for the military requirements of that day while pushing along the political predicates for it.

Note: This will require some appropriate but unseemly misbehavior on our part along the way. Maybe even a Window War or two.

Gandhi might not understand, but Sam Adams, the Sons of Liberty and the burners of the Gaspee will.

And they will be smiling.



Anonymous said...

We are not yet to the point of burning Coast Guard cutters.

Pourquoi non?

Anonymous said...

We may actually be at the point of burning Coast Guard cutters. Didn't they jsut stop teh oil recovery barges for "safety" reasons - you know, down in the Gulf? Does anyone think they did this on their own, or that the Coast Guard command has taken leave of its senses?

No, they were directed to interfere with the cleanup operation for political reasons. They have capitulated to an anti-American, thug administration.

Anonymous said...

I think Bobby Jindal would like to burn a few....


Chris Vaughn said...

"We are not yet to the point of burning Coast Guard cutters."

Last week a USCG officer threatened to arrest local officials in Destin; from Denninger-

"Lt. LaGuardia said the county will face federal charges if they block off the pass. There you have it - a federal official from the USCG threatening local and county officials with federal charges for protecting the inland waterways and acting to close STATE waters. So much for state sovereignty - are we a federation of states or a Kingdom under Washington?"

Anonymous said...

Good corollary discussion on Global Guerrillas today. "More Thoughts on Coercing Organizational Hierarchies" and "COERCIVE GAMES". The type of activity described in these blogs could supply that extra nudge. Make them cross the line first.


Defender said...

When the Coasties accepted the mission of illegal drug interdiction, they went to the Dark Side.
Every time I read of an armed boarding and search of an American boat and lots of intimidation thrown around by CG officers --especially on INLAND waters-- I lose a little more respect for the service and fedgov. An unconstitutional order can and should be refused. EVERYONE needs to choose sides. You can't destroy a republic "just a little bit."

Joel said...

This was a good clarification, Mike. While not going as far as Ghandi, I also didn't quite know what you meant by "passive."

Dennis308 said...

I disagree Mike, It is time to Tar and Feather the IRS Agents(or do something to their Official Vehicles or Offices),and Burn the Coast Guard Cutters(or to sabotage their operations on land and sea).The ATF would be a Great Agency to start with(a bag of poppers,the little fire works that you throw on the ground to make them pop,under a tire)they would be VERY likely to over react to any shenanigans perpetrated on THEM.(how dare you!)
It´s time to show the government that We can and will strike back they really don´t believe that we have the fortitude to carry a real campaign of opposition to them. The Tea Party Protests of the Health Care Bill had little if any effect on the outcome,except to show that had no respect for the opinion of the majority of the American People they would do what they would and We would just have to deal with it. And the Restore The Constitution Rally although more effective publicity wise,As of yet have made no difference in the manner in which this Administration and Congress doe´s it´s business.The Brick Campaign got much more response,it at least caused them to tighten security at the Democratic Offices. So it is MY OPPINION that it is time to strike again to force them to use their resources to protect themselves and their interests.
There are many Public Offices and Interests that could be struck as I stated above there is IRS,ATF,Coast Guard and then there is Welfare,Public Health,Education Boards can they cover them all I doubt it. Something as simple as placing a nail under their tires when they stop at the local 7-11.
It´s time to follow in the footsteps of our Fore Fathers the Sons of Liberty and bring the fight to them.Start small and escalate use imagination and stealth. besides this would be good practice in wreaking havoc on the Machine when things do go to far start now while we still have the will and resources. You did post something along those lines did you not, To wait until you don´t have the means to resist is the same as surrender.
God Bless and Happy Hunting to All.