Acton Institute Powerblog

Happy Patriots’ Day

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Patriots’ Day commemorates the opening battles of the American Revolution at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. It is officially celebrated in Massachusetts and Maine, and is now observed on the third Monday in April to allow for a three day weekend.

Patriots’ Day is also the day upon which the Boston Marathon is held and the Boston Red Sox are always scheduled to play at home with the only official A.M. start in Major League Baseball.

My Patriots’ Day post last year references an excellent book that studies the skirmishes at Lexington and Concord titled Paul Revere’s Ride by David Hackett Fischer. This is a terrific account that can’t be recommended too often. I can think of no other book that does a better job of capturing the intensity, seriousness, and overt bravery of the men who took up arms against the British Crown.

The history of colonial American militias is in fact unique. All the men who took up arms that day may not have been able to envision a final outcome or even a final political solution for their grievances, but they knew they were living in a historic time of change. The idea that rights were bestowed not by man but by God had already taken root in the colonies. Furthermore, if government was empowered, it’s purpose in empowerment was to protect the people not to subject them. It’s important to remember Patriots’ Day and ask ourselves about its relevance today.

Ray Nothstine is opinion editor of the the North State Journal in Raleigh, North Carolina. Previously, he was managing editor of Acton Institute's Religion & Liberty quarterly. In 2005 Ray graduated with a Master of Divinity (M.Div) degree from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky. He also holds a B.A. in Political Science from The University of Mississippi in Oxford.


  • Jim Nothstine

    Quite sobering when you consider that the founding Patriots were about protecting individual rights, now that same government operating under the same constitution is bent on regulating and limiting rights.

  • Chad Hague

    Great article Mr. Nothstine. It is incredible how complacent of our liberties we’ve become! I’m curious as to what you thought of Mr. David McCollough’s 1776 and his biography on John Adams.

  • Ray


    I think McCollough’s books are fine. I enjoyed 1776 a lot more than the Adams biography, and I liked McCollough’s emphasis on providence or God’s favor by the men during specific times in the war, such as the fog that settled in NY that allowed Washington to remove his army.

    Over 1776 however, I would have to recommend another David Hackett Fisher book and that is “Washington’s Crossing.” Absolutely amazing! There is something about David Hackett Fischer in his research and writing that makes you feel like you are right there, and smarter readers will be able to tell he is a conservative historian, meaning he seems to reject the agenda driven historians who infect much of academia.

  • GregS

    Let me also recommend “Washington’s Crossing”. A fantastic book on one of the less examined campaigns (outside of the attack on Trenton) of the war.