The fighting at Lexington and Concord didn’t happen because the British army came to collect taxes. It was gun control.

Of course, the government-run schools don’t teach this.

What finally forced the patriots into a shooting war with the British Army at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775 was not taxes or even warrantless searches of homes or occupation by soldiers, but one of many attempts by the British to disarm Americans as part of an overall gun control program.


By the fall of 1774 – in response to non-compliance with the Coercive Acts, which were in response to the Boston Tea Party, which was in response to the Tea Act, which was in response to, well, you get the idea –  it was “a long train of abuses and usurpations” – both Lord Dartmouth and General Gage were on board with a full-scale gun control and confiscation program for the colonies.

Gage felt that Dartmouth’s suggestion of “disarming the Inhabitants of the Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut and Rhode Island” was a fantastic idea, and was “consistent with Prudence and Safety.”

Fascinating how the gun grabbers always say that gun control is for “safety,” isn’t it?

The only major concern in 1774 that Gage had about this – was that doing such a massive job would require “a recourse to Force, and being Masters of the Country,” which Dartmouth wanted to avoid at that point.

Gage likely knew the resistance he’d face, because he saw it first hand.


On Sept 1, 1774, he sent a force of 250 Redcoats to conduct a seizure at the Charleston powder house, and a small detachment of troops went to Cambridge and seized two artillery pieces.

Word of the seizures and troop movements spread quickly – rumors started flying that shots were fired, and the navy was shelling Boston. Known today as the “Powder Alarm,” as many as 20,000 militia members responded to a call and started streaming toward Boston. Several thousand showed up in Cambridge and intimidated some Loyalists into fleeing.

So Gage understood that the Patriots meant business.

But he pressed on with his gun control and tried another approach – warrantless searches of people for arms and ammunition without any provocation. The policy drew fierce criticism from the colonists. In fact, the Boston Gazette wrote that of all General Gage‘s offenses, it was this one that outraged people the most.

Gage’s response to Dartmouth was read in the House of Commons and publicized in the Colonies. In the meantime, King George III issued a decree blocking the importation of arms and ammunition to America – without a permit.

And what a surprise. No one ever got a permit.

By mid-December, the gun control scheme was on full display for everyone to see. And in a preemptive move, Paul Revere was sent on another ride to warn the people of Portsmouth. There, hundreds conducted raids on Dec 14 and 15, under the leadership of John Langdon and John Sullivan, seizing gunpowder and artillery before the Redcoats could get them.

An article in the New Hampshire Gazette and Historical Chronicle justified the seizure due to the import ban:

Could they [the Ministry] not have given up their Plan for enslaving America without seizing … all the Arms and Ammunition? and without soliciting and finally obtaining an Order to prohibit the Importation of warlike Stores in the Colonies? … And shall we like the Carthaginians, peaceably surrender our Arms to our Enemies, in Hopes of obtaining in Return the Liberties we have so long been contending for? 

I … hope that no Person will, at this important Crisis, be unprepared to act in his own Defence, should he by Necessity be driven thereto. And I must here beg Leave to recommend to the Confederation of the People of this Continent, Whether, when we are by an arbitrary Decree prohibited the having Arms and Ammunition by Importation, we have not by the Law of Self Preservation, a Right to seize upon all those within our Power, in order to defend the LIBERTIES which GOD and Nature have given us ?


Another letter from Dartmouth to Gage was received on April 14, urging the General to push harder with gun control. In it, he urged Gage to “Upon no account suffer the Inhabitants of at least the Town of Boston to assemble themselves in arms on any pretence whatever, either of town guard or Militia duty.”

Yet another letter to Gage was even more aggressive:

“all cannon, small arms, and other military stores of every kind, that may be either in any magazine, or secreted for the purpose of aiding the rebellion, should also be seized and secreted”

Gage acted promptly, and just 4 days later, issued orders that 700+ troops were to assemble during the night for a mission to seize arms stored by the colonial militia at Concord.

The rest, as they say, is history.  But the history we’re usually taught isn’t the truth – not even close. 

It bears repeating: The fighting at Lexington and Concord wasn’t because the British army came to collect taxes. It was because of gun control.

Michael Boldin

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