Monday, July 04, 2011

Prologue to a Revolution

(an encore blog) This is a day for reflecting on our country's roots in the human need for "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." For my extended family, I can't help reflecting on my ancestors' little known contribution to the revolutionary fervor that culminated in the events of 1776:

From The Hampton New Hampshire Library archives:

"It is a singular and interesting fact that the first armed resistance to British oppression in the North took place in Hampton almost 100 years before the outbreak of the Revolution. In 1682, Charles II of England sent to New Hampshire as royal governor, Edward Cranfield, a most arbitrary and injudicious man. The ruling body at this time was the Assembly, made up of representatives of the four towns of Exeter, Hampton, Portsmouth and Dover, which ably managed the affairs of the little commonwealth. This Assembly refused to comply with Cranfield's commands and he dissolved it. One of the members was Edward Gove, of Hampton, a high-spirited and impulsive man, who resolved not to lightly submit to what he considered an infringement of the people's ancient prerogatives. Mounting his horse he rode through Exeter and Hampton with the cry: "Freemen, come out and stand for your liberties!" He gathered around him a little band of supporters. But before the movement could become formidable, Gove was surrounded by the militia in Hampton village and surrendered. He was tried, convicted of high treason, sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered. But this ferocious sentence was never carried out.

After several years commitment to the Tower of London, he was pardoned by the King and permitted to return to Hampton. Gove has been harshly treated by the historians. They have represented him as a rash and impulsive man who headed a hopeless rebellion against constituted authority. But there is another side. I like to think of Gove as a pioneer patriot, as a man in advance of his times, as the morning star of the American Revolution. Had Gove lived a century later, he would have been acclaimed as a great patriot, and his name would have been enrolled with those of Sam Adams, Josiah Quincy, Joseph Warren and John Sullivan."

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