Oh, what lovely morning it is
–Samuel Adams, April 19, 1775
Samuel Adams uttered these words upon hearing the shots ring out
in Lexington, as the colonial militias clashed with British soldiers.
Adams was a key ringleader of the minority of colonists who wished to
break from the Crown. He had gotten his break with the Boston Massacre
five years earlier, something that outraged even moderate opinion
within the colonies. And on this April morning, the first part of his
dream had come true. The American colonies were at war with the Mother
Country and the fight for independence had begun.
The anniversary of the fighting at Lexington and Concord is honored
as an official holiday in both Massachusetts and Maine. In 1969 the
celebration of the holiday shifted from April 19* to the third Monday
of the month. Schools are closed and many businesses take the day off.
Boston Marathon is run on this day, and the Red Sox are always
scheduled to be at home. Patriots’ Day** is a big deal in New England.
But the American Revolution wasn’t just a northern affair. The
southern colonies played a key role too and none was more important then the state of Virginia. The Commonwealth state would
subsequently become known as the “Cradle of Presidents”, producing many
of the nation’s early leaders at the same prodigious rate that Italy
used to produce popes at. Although getting Virginia on board for revolution was
not as easy as it may appear from a cursory reading of the history books.
The North-South divide is nothing new in American politics. It hit
its most terrible depths eighty-five years after Lexington when
fighting broke out between Americans at Fort Sumter. While violence has
long ceased, even contemporary politics are sharply distinguished
between the red states of the south and the blue states of New England.
In the years leading up to the outbreak of war, the south—led by
Virginia—was more inclined toward loyalty to the Crown, while the
north—led by Massachusetts—was the incubator of revolutionary
sentiment. When the two sections eventually merged, it proved to be an
Just as Britain went too far in the Boston Massacre and provoked
opinion that otherwise may have tended toward loyalty, they similarly
overreached in Virginia. The House of Burgesses was the principal
legislative body in the Commonwealth. As conflicts over taxation and
other sovereignty issues rose, the Crown responded by cracking down.
The House of Burgesses was dissolved in 1769, and it pushed more
Virginians into Adams’ camp.
Williamsburg was the capital of Virginia when the war broke out This
city was the center of social and political life in this most historic
state. The House of Burgesses was home to leaders like Thomas
Jefferson, Patrick Henry and George Washington. After the dissolution,
the aspiring revolutionaries continued to meet in the Raleigh Tavern to
chart a course of action. It’s reasonable to call Williamsburg the de
facto “capital of the colonies” for its importance.
The Boston-Virginia axis that spawned a revolution and built a
nation, has inspired a CM Gathering for Patriots' Day weekend this
year. The historic district of the capital of the colonies is preserved
today as “Colonial Williamsburg.” Becky-68929, a resident of the Boston
suburbs has put together an event in Colonial Williamsburg that will
tap into the American heritage. The historic town will host an evening
program on Friday, and Saturday activities will be capped off with
dinner at Christina Campbell’s Tavern, one of George Washington’s
If you’re able to get out for even a few of the activities, it will
surely be worth your while. It’s a chance to explore a significant part
of American history, meet some new people from Catholic Match, and enjoy a good
meal. If Sam Adams were to arise in the morning and hear the sounds of
the American citizenry gathered to learn about their nation’s heritage, he
might say—“Oh, what a splendid weekend it is.”
*April 19 holds a special place in the
history of the Catholic Church as well—on that date in 2005, Joseph
Ratzinger was elected to the papacy, becoming Benedict XVI.
**Note that this is distinct from Patriot Day (no apostrophe “s”), which is on September 11.
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