J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2016

“The Rich never head a movement against tyranny”

From The New England History (1857), by the horticulturalist, industrialist, and author Charles Wyllys Elliott (1817-1883):
It is well enough here, to recall to mind that the Rich never head a movement against tyranny, or risk any thing in defence of a principle; and among cultivated men and scholars, the expression of sympathy with Right is commonly in words rather than deeds.

No generous man can fail to give his heartfelt thanks to the Poor, who have always begun and fought the Revolutions against tyranny and usurpation, and in fighting for liberty have nobly sacrificed what they had—their Lives. Nor will any one be surprised if they should be led away by the heat of their hatreds, nor shall we be harsh and cruel in our judgment of them, when they have been betrayed into unwarrantable excesses; a sound public opinion will see to it, that when the excitement is passed the reaction against them does not bring about a like or greater excess in punishments, thus sustaining force and wrong.

It was by the poor, the day laborers in Boston and elsewhere, that the struggle was begun against Aristocratic oppression; and by them that the Work of the fight was done.
This is from Elliott’s chapter on the Stamp Act.

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