Seizure of Fort William & Mary at Newcastle

Acting on Paul Revere’s warning the day prior, four hundred New Hampshire patriots, led by John Langdon, moved preemptively to capture the arms that the British had planned to seize. A prominent New Hampshire paper at the time said the capture was both “prudent” and “proper.” They also reminded their readers of the ancient Carthagians who consented to “deliver up all their Arms to the Romans” and were then overcome by them soon after.

David Kopel gives great insight as he writes,

“The British government was not, in a purely formal sense, attempting to abolish the Americans’ common law right of self-defense. Yet in practice, that was precisely what the British were attempting. First, by disarming the Americans, the British were attempting to make the practical exercise of the right of personal self-defense much more difficult. Second, and more fundamentally, the Americans made no distinction between self-defense against a lone criminal or against a criminal government. To the Americans, and to their British Whig ancestors, the right of self-defense necessarily implied the right of armed self-defense against tyranny.”

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