Forgotten Freedom Fighters: Dr. Thomas Young; The First American Revolutionary

Our history books are full of references to the Boston Tea Party. The images of our forefathers dressed as Mohawk Indians boarding three East India Company ships in Boston Harbor and making this iconic stand against British tyranny brings a swelling heart to all members of Freedom Movement who understand the ideas of Civil Disobedience. This event is one of a few events that moved the colonies towards independence from rule by the British Empire.

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On December 16, 1773 the members of the “Sons of Liberty” dressed as Mohawks, because they wanted to define themselves as Americans, not British citizens. They defied the authorities by throwing boxes of tea overboard. “Taxation without representation,” would be their slogan to justify those actions. This act of civil disobedience would bring down retaliation from the Crown, and they knew it. It led to the tyrannical British government removing self rule from the Massachusetts Colony and closing the harbor, crippling the Boston economy. This chain of events directly led to the people of Massachusetts rising up against what were called “The Coercive Acts,” or “Intolerable Acts.” The uprising would lead to The First Continental Congress petitioning King George for the repeal of the Acts. He refused, leading to The American Revolutionary War near Boston in 1775.

Most of us know this story. As I said it is “iconic.” We all know what happened. Do you know who the people were that were involved? Many historians will say that the leader of the “Sons of Liberty” in Boston was Samuel Adams. It is true that Samuel Adams certainly was their leader. Was he there? It is unknown. What is known is that he defended the action and became recognized in the growing Freedom Movement of the time. I love Samuel Adams. He is an important, well remembered freedom fighter, but the credit for the Boston Tea Party should not be given to him.

The sparks that ignited the American Revolution in the Old South Church in Boston on December 16th were not kindled by Samuel Adams. Earlier that year, on November 29th, this action was proposed in Boston by a loud mouthed Doctor, best friend of General Ethan Allen, and a member of his Green Mountain Boys. His name is Thomas Young. The idea of throwing the tea into the harbor was his, and he drummed up support for it publicly.

I enjoy history, and I adore those freedom fighters that share their passion with the world. No one I have found in my research make their way into my heart as much as this Doctor, Thomas Young. I think I have fallen in Love. You should too, because this country would not exist if it were not for him. He is everything I like in a hero. He is loud, opinionated, and a radical on every front. He challenged governments and churches. His voice was everywhere in the 1770’s all over the world. So why has no one ever heard of him? Then, just like today, people feared change. Thomas Young was full of evolution.

Our government and their puppets in writing history like to paint the picture of the revolution as a centrally planned event led by leaders like General George Washington or in this case, Samuel Adams. This, simply, is not factual. The revolution was not a single event. This particular case, for instance, was a series of happenings that led to what eventually would be a separation from the British rule. The Boston Tea Party was just one of many places where individuals acted.

Thomas Young was not a leader of men. He led only one man, himself, and others walked his way. This is the mark of true leadership. His voice neither began nor ended in Boston, but I want to share his part of the story that is the American Freedom Movement. To continue with this part of the story, it was Dr. Thomas Young who inspired those men to disobedience, but his role in this event does not end there.

In Colonial America, just like today, you could not just board ships. There was security guarding the boats and the harbor as well. In this particular case, many of those guards were armed British soldiers. Had this band of thirty or more men just tried to board the ships they would have either been arrested or worse, shot. On to the stage steps our loud mouthed hero, Thomas Young, who already had a reputation for mischief. He drew the attention of the guards at the Old South Church with a satirical speech on “the ill effects of tea on the constitution.” While the soldiers were trying to shut him up and silence his obvious attacks on the Acts of the British government, the other “Sons” were dumping tea. He was the only one punished; he was beaten by the officials for the offense to the crown. They almost killed him.

Keep this in mind; Thomas Young was taking direct action for freedom while other much more well known leaders were not. At this time John Adams was not involved. He, in his own words, was an enthusiastic bystander. George Washington at this time “had serious doubts about America’s place in the Empire.” Benjamin Franklin was in London. As for Thomas Jefferson, John Adam’s says of him that at this time he “knew more about the eclipses of Jupiter’s satellites than what was passing in Boston.” James Madison was 22 at the time and Alexander Hamilton, who was not a freedom fighter but a snake, was 16.

This is just the beginning of how Thomas Young is at least as responsible for the revolution as any of these men, if not more so. He was there at the beginning of the revolution as a freedom activist. Mathew Stuart, who I owe a huge debt to for much of this information, calls Young “a plotter, a conspirer, an ideologue, and a provocateur.” Young vowed, “I will fight the good fight.”

His story did not begin with the Boston Tea Party, nor did it end there. In 1764, his first published work appeared. It championed the natural rights of man verses imperial rule. In 1765, he led a protest against the Stamp Act. Seeing the actions of the government, it was this fighting oppression that brought him to Boston to the aid of Samuel Adams. The governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Hutchinson named him one of the most dangerous men in town. In 1772, Young helped found the “Boston Committee of Correspondence,” which was responsible for spreading revolutionary and democratic thought throughout the colony. It was one of the earliest American examples of propaganda. Its reach would stretch all the way to England and Scotland. He would help pen the publication entitled “Rights of the Colonists,” which would go on to be one of the models used for the “Declaration of Independence.”

As I indicated above, Dr. Thomas Young was not finished in stirring the waves of liberty. In 1775, he would move to Philadelphia and find another ally, Thomas Paine. Most of us know Thomas Paine as the writer of “Common Sense,” which was the document that would inspire everyone fighting in the Revolutionary War. George Washington would later say that there would have been no revolution without Thomas Paine.

These two together in one place would not just fan the flames of freedom. It was like someone turned on a flamethrower. This is truly when Young’s actions would add the most to the cause of human independence.

The contributions of the Pennsylvania Colony to the Continental Congress come only second to Virginia. Pennsylvania’s opinions had great weight. As an example, the most notable member of the second Continental Congress was Benjamin Franklin. When Young arrived, Pennsylvania was decidedly conservative and pro- British. In May of 1776 this was still true. Young and Paine and their radical friends successfully persuaded the Pennsylvania Legislature in a vote 6 to 4 to support a resolution that said all governments ruled by the crown should be “totally suppressed.” This, in essence, nullified the Pennsylvania government. A new government was established. One of its first acts was to have its delegates to the Continental Congress vote for independence from the British Empire. This was so important that John Adams, who had become the face of the cause of independence, wrote “You will see Pennsylvania, one of the most patriotic colonies… voted that the Delegates for this Colony ought on the first of July to vote for Independence… The revolution is now began and must be supported.” Thomas Young would go on to help write the new constitution of the Pennsylvania.

In support of our war effort, Benjamin Franklin would go to France to try and receive support from the French people. It is said that while he was there he passed out papers that explained the nature of liberty and the need of all freedom loving people like those in France should lend their support to the effort in America. Many people assume, being that Franklin was a wise and respected man, that those papers were composed by Franklin himself. They were not. Thomas Young was the author of most of those papers. It can be argued that France’s support for our cause was an important aspect of our success. Again, Dr. Thomas Young should be credited.

So why is it that his name is nowhere found in the history books of today? It is obvious to me, and anyone else who studies him, that his part of the American Revolution is huge. The answer to this question is likely a complicated one. Some, such as Mathew Stuart in Natures God would argue that it was because Dr. Young was not just evolutionary and revolutionary in his political ideas. He was a Deist and certainly influenced both Thomas Paine and General Allen, who went to write books on deism. These three men are despised by the churchmen of the time. I myself, being a Deist, have made the argument that many of Thomas Paine’s writings on liberty, (such as The Rights of Man), are excluded from discussions on the early years of the American government’s history due to his Deism. Benjamin Franklin, another Deist, warned Paine not to publish his famous Deist work Age of Reason. He told Paine, (and was right), that his enemies would conspire against him if he publicly admitted his religious beliefs. All of this is likely part of the reason Thomas Young has been forgotten. I do not believe it is the entire story.

Perhaps the primary reason he has been removed, and his two closest friends, Paine and Allen have been minimized, is for a different belief altogether. It is the same reason that Mercy Otis Warren is marginalized. These heroes believed in self ownership and largely opposed a strong central or Federal Government. They did not want to exchange one behemoth empire for a newborn empire. They foresaw correctly the dangers of giving too much power to a central government. These people were just as big a threat then, as people like Adam Kokesh, Ron Paul, Martin Luther King, or Emma Goldman, are in the last century. We not only believe in true freedom and self ownership, we act on those beliefs.
All of these people from Thomas Young to Adam Kokesh were willing to put their freedom on the line to set people free. It is easy to see the comparison to Thomas Young performing the distraction so that the Boston Tea Party could happen, to Kokesh dancing at the Jefferson Memorial to abolish a contrived and silly rule against freedom. Seeing Kokesh load a shotgun on the National Mall in D.C. in defiance to the laws in opposition to our right to self defense is no different than Thomas Young using a controversial defense against small pox that likely saved the screaming Ethan Allen’s life. (I’ll talk about that when I write about him). This is why he has been hidden from us.

Those in power do not want us to have examples of men and women who buck the system and fight against it. They are ok with those who complain, but they fear those who act. Just like millions of people are following the example set by these modern freedom fighters like those I listed above, Dr. Thomas Young was a true freedom fighter. He not only had ideas, he fought for them. I hope all of you who are reading this post join me in taking action for freedom and holding our own freedom as something sacred. Take action and spread your ideas in world. How I choose to do this, is by aiding Adam Kokesh in his bid to become the last president you will never need. This act puts me in good company. I thank Thomas Young for inspiring me further in my activism.

Thomas Young paid the ultimate price for being a hero. He was born February 19, 1731, and he died in Philadelphia on June 24, 1777, at age 46. He was a doctor and while treating the soldiers fighting for the cause he so valiantly helped start, he caught a fever and died.

By- Marcus Pulis, Press Secretary

Sources
Nature’s God, The Heretical Origins of the American Republic, Matthew Stuart
http://www.history.com/topics/american-revolution/boston-tea-party
http://www.ushistory.org/pennsylvania/birth2.html

1 Comment

  1. Julie Marchetti on August 7, 2018 at 10:09 pm

    Dr Thomas Young was my great grandfather (a number of times over) and I was excited to read your piece on him, until I realized you are trying to promote a philosophy of government to which he never would have agreed. Dr. Young did not believe in NO government, but in government that was fair and equitable, by the people and for the people. It is true he was a mentor of Ethan Allen, and he is considered the Grandfather of Vermont because he not only named the state, but furnished it with the first draft of it’s state constitution, a near replica of the one adopted by Pennsylvania. The struggle of the Green Mountain Men had to do with land owners being stripped of their ownership by the stroke of a pen from King George. They were not fighting for the sake of fighting. My grandfather was a brave and great man, but certainly was not an anarchist. Abolishing the office of president instead of holding the office holder’s accountable to the highest of standards is where the danger lies.

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