Thursday, August 7, 2014

Who Won Lexington and Concord?

In all of my years of teaching, I don't think I have ever really been confronted with the question of who won Lexington and Concord. Not only that, but we lump the two together.  But try finding things such as casualties and definitive stories - such as who fired the first shots and you will have problems.  Well we know that the Regulars (hey we were all British) won the Battle of Lexington and the American colonists we think lost 8 to death and 10 more were injured.  At Concord, you could say the Regulars won as they confiscated the weapons they sought as you can see in the video above.

But then other questions to ask your students.  Why do we even say Lexington was the first battle since it wasn't even close to the first skirmish between Regulars and colonists as the former sought other magazines with weapons.  Ray Raphael wrote a book called "The First American Revolution" and put up some original documents he found of letters, newspapers, etc. from pre 1775.  What is great is that you can show them to your students so they can see the very tough work historians have in reading and interpreting letters, for example.  Raphael even has a page on "myths perpetuated in your textbook" for Colonial America and has gone through every textbook we use.  

Finally I know that Wikipedia is controversial, but there are actually 80,000 people who have claimed their stake in it and if you write a falsehood will very quickly correct it. Having said that go here and look at the reasons behind some of our myths surrounding Lexington and Concord. For example, I like to ask my students why we only remember Paul Revere and not Prescott and Dawes and for that matter did they know only one of the three was captured by the Regulars that night - yes Revere (and soon thereafter released)! 

So it could be a great exercise for your students to look at some of the links mentioned above and to try to see how history is often re-created, changed and made into nice neat stories to fit in our textbooks! 

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