Hooray For The Red, White and Blue!

We are all American citizens but many of us were born in other countries, and all of us can trace our roots to other countries. Maybe our parents or our grandparents were born across the sea or maybe our family has been here for many generations, making up the melting pot that is America. The diversity of people and cultures, bringing their knowledge and expertise have made our country the great place that it is. Of course if you are a full blooded American Indian your ancestors welcomed the first settlers to our shores.

When I was a child and went to school in Mt. Vernon, N. Y., I noticed my classmates being excused for all kinds of interesting ethnic and religious holidays while I remained in class with just a few others. I went home and asked my mother where my ancestors came from, hoping for some interesting answers. “You are an American,” she said. At school they said that was impossible. I’d be an American Indian in that case. I tried again. “All right,” she said, “you’re English - way back.” That still didn’t do me much good as far as school holidays were concerned.

And then my grandmother, Maria Edes Giddings of Blue-Hill, Maine, who had lived with us since I was born, told me about her great-grandfather, our Revolutionary ancestor, Peter Edes and his father, Benjamin Edes. He was one of the two great printer-journaists of the American Revolution. Edes and Gill established the Boston Gazette and their offices became the meeting place of the distinguished writers of the time, headed by Samuel Adams, John Adams, and John Hancock. They were called “The Sons Of Liberty”. I quote a piece from The History of Printing in America which states: “No publisher of a newspaper felt greater interest in the establishment of the independence of the United States than Benjamin Edes and no newspaper was more instrumental in bringing forward this important event than the Boston Gazette.”

Benjamin Edes’ son, Peter, was his father’s apprentice and on the night of the “Boston Tea Party” he served punch to the so-called “Indians” who gathered in the printing office prior to throwing the tea overboard. The bowl in which the punch was served is in the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston. Peter showed his glee at the success of the Bunker Hill Battle a little too obviously and two days after that battle in 1775, he was imprisoned by the British. While in prison, he wrote a diary which has been published. It is quite interesting. After the war and when Peter Edes was about 28 he made his way into the state of Maine, with his printer pulled by oxen. He established newspapers in several towns, finally settling in Bangor where he established their first newspaper, and married into my family. He is considered the first important figure in the early history of printing in Maine.

I am proud of these patriotic ancestors. They were the inflexible advocates of civil, political, and religious liberty. They were men of bold and fearless hearts as were many of our early ancestors, whether they were born here or came here wanting opportunities or religious freedom. Fourth of July has a special meaning for me.

I think my revolutionary forbears would be shocked and saddened by the political display that is our present election process. Maybe not!! Their press was the organ of the Whig Party. Politics has always seemed to bring about colorful and scathing rhetoric. It’s time our would-be leaders showed dignity and respect for our country.

Pat Boman
Southbury, CT © 2016

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