Bill O’Reilly’s Legends and Lies: The Patriots
JANUARY 19, 2016
Having just finished writing another O’Reilly Factor script, I am thinking about the people who made my program possible: the American revolutionaries. This day the Factor is packed with opinion and robust debate that would be unthinkable on television in, say, China and many other countries.
Having lived in Boston for some years, I immersed myself in New England history. Back in the mid-eighteenth century, life was hard in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Few people had any luxuries at all—they lived week to week trying to feed their families and ward off fatal disease.
The climate was harsh and the labor hard.
Thus many British subjects living in the colonies were in no mood to share what little they had with a corrupt king thousands of miles away. As King George’s financial demands grew, so did rebellion and sedition against the Crown. It was almost all about money.
The leaders of the rebellion were a very mixed crew. Led by tough working-class guys, the Sons of Liberty roughed up the king’s men and eventually sent an unforgettable message by dumping English tea, the source of a hated tax, into the cold, murky waters of Boston Harbor. Others, like John Hancock, were patricians who had a lot to lose by defying London but did so anyway because they believed in freedom and fairness.
The actual American Revolution began soon after the Tea Party and is filled with thrilling stories of bravery and deceit, brilliance and stupidity.
This book will bring some of those stories to life while telling the reader the truth about Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John and Samuel Adams, and other American icons.
Along the way, we debunk some of the lies attached to the legends, which I always find fascinating. As a former high school history teacher, I am often shocked to find that some Americans know virtually nothing about the origins of the place where they currently live and therefore believe most anything.
How many of us know the story of the Francis Marion—the Swamp Fox? What a guy he was—a fearsome fighter who used the thickets of South Carolina to terrorize British forces. Marion’s guys were tough outdoorsmen who openly mocked the king’s men dressed in their elaborate “red coats.”
The Swamp Fox used guile and guerrilla tactics to hammer a much more powerful opponent. He exemplifies the true American spirit; self-sacrifice and goal oriented.
How much more opposite could Francis Marion be from, say, Benjamin Franklin, the crafty inventor turned diplomat who guided the Independence movement? Talk about two different worlds: Franklin at home in the salons of Paris; Marion camping out in desolate backwaters!
This book chronicles both men, demonstrating the diversity that was present in colonial America, even as it is today in modern times.
My life has been directly affected by those who forged rebellion against England and won freedom. I have made my living for over forty years by using my freedom of speech and working in a free press. No other country on earth has so many liberties in the marketplace of ideas in which I traffic every working day.
So I owe the original patriots a deep debt and hope to repay it by writing the truth about them and bringing their courageous deeds to millions of readers. It is a mission that is worthy and necessary in this age of declining knowledge about how America became the land of the free.
As always in my books of history, there is no political message other than stating the facts. The American revolutionaries were men and women of differing opinions, united against what they saw as an unbearable oppressor—King George.
But not every colonial was a rebel. About half the population, called Tories, did not want separation from the Crown. That caused a bitter divide that lasted for decades after independence was finally won. In fact, if you travel to Cambridge, Massachusetts, today, you can visit Brattle Street and see some of the large homes that colonists loyal to the king inhabited. To this day, that neighborhood is called “Tory Row.”
So what side would you have taken? Most of us now would most likely say “the patriots!” But back in 1775, the decision was not an easy one. Few thought George Washington and his ill-equipped army could defeat the powerful, well-trained British regulars. And the Brits were vengeful—the lives of all rebels were definitely on the line, as they say.
Still, the allure of freedom intoxicated many colonists. But it was the extraordinary leadership provided by the subjects of this book that made our present freedoms possible.
Their stories demand to be told accurately. We don’t need false legends or propaganda. The truth is simply too compelling.
Hopefully, you will enjoy the following pages and visualize the intense struggle that gave all contemporary Americans a chance at living a free and worthwhile life. Reading this book will be educational and enjoyable; my favorite formula. We write for you, the reader, in a fast-paced, action-packed way. But please don’t forget how important these stories really are as you get caught up in the drama.
So let’s go, and thanks for taking the time to learn about the patriots.
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