Romney’s Revolutionary War Bungle

Exclusive: Mitt Romney tries to impress the Tea Partiers with his love of the Founders, but the ex-Massachusetts governor writes that the Revolution began in April 1775 with the British capturing Boston by sea, rather than the Minutemen driving the Redcoats back to Boston from Lexington and Concord, says Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

You’d think that Republican presidential hopefuls who claim to idolize the American Founders would at least have a rudimentary knowledge about the historic events that led to the Revolution, especially one hopeful who served as governor of Massachusetts.

Yet, Mitt Romney, who presided as Massachusetts governor for four years in the capital city of Boston, wrote in his book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness,that the Revolutionary War began in April 1775 when the British attacked Boston by sea.

Minuteman statue near Concord Bridge in Massachusetts. (Photo credit: Dave Pape)

“In April 1775, British warships laid siege on Boston Harbor and successfully took command of the city,” Romney wrote.

However, in the actual history, the British military controlled Boston long before April 1775, garrisoning Redcoats in the rebellious city since 1768. The British clamped down more tightly after the Boston Tea Party on Dec. 16, 1773, imposing the so-called “Intolerable Acts” in 1774, reinforcing the Boston garrison and stopping commerce into Boston Harbor.

The aggressive British actions forced dissident leaders Sam Adams and John Hancock to flee the city and take refuge in Lexington, as colonial militias built up their stocks of arms and ammunition in nearby Concord.

The Revolutionary War began not with British forces seizing Boston in April 1775 as Romney wrote, but when the Redcoats ventured forth from Boston on April 19, 1775, to seize Adams and Hancock in Lexington and then go farther inland to destroy the colonial arms cache in Concord.

The British failed in both endeavors, but touched off the war by killing eight Massachusetts men at Lexington Green. The Redcoats then encountered a larger force of Minutemen near Concord Bridge and were driven back in a daylong retreat to Boston, suffering heavy losses. Thus, the Revolutionary War began with a stunning American victory, not with the American defeat that Romney described.

Tea Party Favorites

In misreporting the start of the Revolution, Romney joins some of his past rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, in getting basic facts about America’s Founding wrong.

Earlier in Campaign 2012, Gov. Perry put the American Revolution in the 1500s and Bachmann put the opening battle in New Hampshire, not Massachusetts.

“The reason that we fought the revolution in the 16th Century was to get away from that kind of onerous crown if you will,” Perry said, missing the actual date for the war for independence by two centuries and even placing it before the first permanent English settlement in the New World, Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, the first decade of the 17th Century.

While pandering to Tea Party voters in New Hampshire, Bachmann declared, “You’re the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord.” (She may have gotten confused because there is a Concord, New Hampshire, as well as a Concord, Massachusetts.)

However, one can almost excuse such historical ignorance coming from two public officials who live far away from the historic events. It’s harder to comprehend how Romney, who lived in Massachusetts much of his adult life and was governor of the state for four years, could get such a basic historical fact how the Revolutionary War began wrong.

Key events, including Dr. Joseph Warren dispatching Paul Revere and William Dawes to warn the countryside of the British attack, occurred virtually within eye sight of Boston’s Beacon Hill where the State House sits. These also are events that are near the heart of every Bay State citizen and are celebrated each April with the Boston Marathon on the Patriots Day holiday.

Yet, Romney committed to writing in a book that he claims to have personally authored an account of the start of the Revolutionary War that is upside down. He has British warships attacking and capturing Boston, a British victory, rather than the Redcoats being bloodied by the Minutemen at Concord and driven back into Boston, an American victory.

One could say that the real “Case for American Greatness” began very differently than Mitt Romney describes.

[For more on how the American Right gets the Founding wrong, see’s “America’s Founding Pragmatism.”]

To read more of Robert Parry’s writings, you can now order his last two books, Secrecy & Privilege and Neck Deep, at the discount price of only $16 for both. For details on the special offer, click here.]  

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.

19 comments for “Romney’s Revolutionary War Bungle

  1. Lois Keener
    August 9, 2012 at 20:44

    I am confused. Mitts says the war began in 1775 when the Brits attacked via Boston Harbor. The war did begin in April 1775 when the Brit forces were sent into the Concord/Lexington area and were met by the colonists. So Mitts did make a boo-boo.

  2. Otto Schiff
    August 8, 2012 at 00:03

    I think many of us don’t know the exact dates or places of historic events.
    However it would be much smarter in a campaign to talk about what you
    really know rather than to improvise and make bad guesses.
    National history is a very important subject for a president.
    Not only that but improvising in this matter shows very bad judgement.

  3. DWSib
    August 6, 2012 at 01:33

    The claim is that the war ‘started in April of 1775, not when did the British have control of Boston. The war did start in April of 1775, so you people are calling Republicans ‘stupid’, try fact finding and prove exactly were his statement is false.

    1775 – February 1, in Cambridge, Mass., a provincial congress is held during which John Hancock and Joseph Warren begin defensive preparations for a state of war. February 9, the English Parliament declares Massachusetts to be in a state of rebellion. March 23, in Virginia, Patrick Henry delivers a speech against British rule, stating, “Give me liberty or give me death!” March 30, the New England Restraining Act is endorsed by King George III, requiring New England colonies to trade exclusively with England and also bans fishing in the North Atlantic.

    April 14, 1775 – Massachusetts Governor Gage is secretly ordered by the British to enforce the Coercive Acts and suppress “open rebellion” among colonists by using all necessary force.

    April 18, 1775 – General Gage orders 700 British soldiers to Concord to destroy the colonists’ weapons depot. At dawn on April 19 about 70 armed Massachusetts militiamen stand face to face on Lexington Green with the British advance guard. An unordered ‘shot heard around the world’ begins the American Revolution. A volley of British muskets followed by a charge with bayonets leaves eight Americans dead and ten wounded. The British regroup and head for the depot in Concord, destroying the colonists’ weapons and supplies. At the North Bridge in Concord, a British platoon is attacked by militiamen, with 14 casualties.British forces then begin a long retreat from Lexington back to Boston and are harassed and shot at all along the way by farmers and rebels and suffer over 250 casualties. News of the events at Lexington and Concord spreads like wildfire throughout the Colonies.

    April 23, 1775 – The Provincial Congress in Massachusetts orders 13,600 American soldiers to be mobilized. Colonial volunteers from all over New England assemble and head for Boston, then establish camps around the city and begin a year long siege of British-held Boston.

    While under British siege, they were not at war, war was declared in April of 1775. Please tell me again where he is wrong in his statement?

  4. Wally Hayman
    August 4, 2012 at 06:19

    I’m sure Mitt is not really interested in the Revolutionary War since he would have found a way around paying his portion of any tax imposed by the crown. Anyway, Republicans are against both taxation and representation. They tend to scream bloody murder over the former while quietly suppressing the latter.

  5. Kevin Campbell
    August 3, 2012 at 13:57

    Labels: Wow, how you all like to judge and put labels on everyone…but the most disturbing fact that has gripped this country for too long is ‘me against you’, or republicans against democrats. Whatever happened to “we the people” living in a democratic society that is for the good of all? When did it become OK for a Senator or a House member to vote himself exempt from laws that the rest of the citizens of this country must abide by, or to be able to vote himself a raise that isn’t based on merit, or to give himself a tidy retirement package that is exorbitant with respect to the general public’s retirements. How is it that a politician can attach pork barrel spending to an otherwise good Bill? Is there any wonder why we are in the mess we are in when the fox has guarded the henhouse for so long…and the fox wears blue and red suits…perhaps the elephant and the donkey should be changed to a fox, or better yet, a shark! When the citizenry of our country wakes up and quits pointing fingers at the other guy on the other side of the aisle, that’s when we may see change that will help this country get back into prosperity. Vote for the right people who will make a difference, not the Party. How many times have YOU said that I’ll vote for X because he isn’t as bad as Y? What a hopeless state of affairs when we vote for the lesser of two evils… And by the way, slavery is alive and well in the USA and most every other country, but the Masters aren’t on the plantation now, they are the owners of the largest corporations in America and businesses around the world, not to mention dictatorial regimes…doling out money and benefits at a level just high enough to keep the workers from uprising…but lately that hasn’t been working in a number of countries, as the recipe for control is crumbling – cite Libya, Syria, Greece, etc…it’s only a matter of time until our nation follows…have you noticed guns and ammo sales lately? Are you happy with the current system of taxation? Are you getting ahead? Maybe you are and maybe not, but there are a lot of people out there that feel that things are pretty hopeless… and desperate people do desperate things… Buy more ammo, you may need it to protect what is yours, or to remove this dysfunctional institution and restore democracy!

  6. F. G. Sanford
    August 3, 2012 at 13:24

    It seems to me that there is a staggering element of hypocrisy at play on all sides when it comes to mentioning aspects of historical misconception for the sake of ridiculing opponents. Yes, Romney’s failure to check his facts is telling. What would be even more telling would be a historical accounting of the battles and political machinations which probably inform the traditions upon which his particular brand of patriotism is founded. The 1857 Massacre at Mountain Meadows is a case in point. The Marriott dynasty, claimed by some to have been amassed largely by the exploitation of Hispanic chambermaids is another. Then we have the exodus to Mexico by some of his antecedents for the purpose of establishing a polygamy playground. Or perhaps the clandestine secessionist ambitions at play while waiting to see which way the Civil War would play out. Top that off with his pronouncement that there is something flawed in the Mexican culture which fosters poverty and economic decay.

    After all, since when did recent political factions start giving a damn about our moral heritage anyway? Blowing the so-called “racist dog-whistle” has landed Romney almost no public condemnation. By the same token, liberals and progressives have tacitly defended some of the most egregious lapses in out moral code. That goes back at least ten years. First, impeachment was, “off the table”. Then, we were saddled with this idea of, “looking forward, not backward”. For those seeking an historical example of how far our moral code has submerged into a degenerate sewer, I offer this example from General Patton’s memoir, “War as I Knew It”. He recounts the photographing of the two hundred thousandth German prisoner of war with a sign on him stating that he was the two hundred thousandth prisoner of war. “They would not publish the picture…because…they said he was being degraded, which was contrary to the Geneva Convention”.

    Nobody gives a damn one way or the other about morals, patriotism, heritage or valor. This has become a perverse game in which any card will be played and any value may be trumped with a slogan if it insures continued hegemony of the power-for-profit motive. Both sides will continue to exploit piety and patriotism as long as it serves their interests. Who cares if their historical examples are true or not? Lack of moral outrage when the Democrats held the advantage ought to prove they are no less culpable. If the Geneva Convention doesn’t matter, what makes you think anything else does? The Germans may have lost the war, but it didn’t stop the fascists. Personally? I think the game is over, and the American dream has been commandeered. It’s become an Orwellian nightmare. I wonder what Patton would have to say about those homo-erotic photo shoots from Abu Ghraib?

  7. dahoit
    August 3, 2012 at 11:41

    My God,this is a great bungle?I bet if you asked most of our pols,including Obomba,what year was Bunker Hill and Lexington and Concord,they’d answer 1776.(or 1812)
    Obomba,the alleged Constitutional scholar,a much more relevant and pressing issue,is actually Constitutional moron.
    We all know Mitt MIGHT be just as bad as Obomba(or worse),but I know Obomba sucks,and to reward his total suckiness seems totally absurd.
    And outlets such as this might,just might, address POTUS Willards idiocy,unlike this irrelevant blue team polemic.

    • Und
      August 3, 2012 at 21:20

      Since you can’t hold a candle to Obama as a constitutional scholar, your ranting accusations are worthless. Cranks always rant like that, you know? Honest people can disagree for honest reasons, but making up shit just makes you look crazy or like a total liar.

      Be honest with yourself and learn to be honest with others. If you had any knowledge of the constitution it came second hand from some nutjob on television. Give your head a shake, crank.

    • Wally Hayman
      August 4, 2012 at 06:59

      I’m no expert in Lower Paleolithic anthropology but can only assume this troglodyte was actually referring to President Barack Obama in his repeated use of the word “Obomba.”
      If that assumption is correct, I would love to here the creature’s in-depth explanation of why the President is a “Constitutional moron.” It must be a howl (or grunt).

  8. Rozlee
    August 2, 2012 at 22:53

    Republicans used to actually be intellectual and insightful at one time, despite their pro-wealth agendas. Then, once Reagan came in, their collective IQs seemed to drop precipitously and have been in a downward spiral ever since, witness their latest specimens such as W. Bush, Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, Christine O’Donnell and Mitt Romney. I won’t even bother mentioning many Republican politicians originating mostly from Southern states, as this would take up too much time and space. This disheartening devolvement is continuing unabated. At the rate it’s going, these poor conservatives will all be bubbles in the primordial ooze within a couple more generations.

    • JosephW
      August 3, 2012 at 02:32

      Rozlee, please bear in mind that the stupid GOP politicians exhibiting so much stupidity owe as much to their NORTHERN rearing as the Southern GOPers you’re so quick to dismiss.

      Of those folks you listed, Dubya was born in Connecticut; Bachmann was born in Iowa; Palin was born in Idaho (and raised in Alaska); O’Donnell was born in Pennsylvania (and raised in New Jersey); and Romney was born in Michigan.

      Then, of course, you’ve got New Jersey’s Chris Christie (native son), Maine’s Paul LePage (native son), Ohio’s John Kasich (Pennsylvania, and former FoxNoise host), Iowa’s Steve King (native son), Wisconsin’s Scott Walker (Colorado), and, from what I’ve seen, pretty much the entire Indiana GOP. Even Florida’s abysmal Rick Scott was born in Illinois (and spent time in places like Missouri and Texas before snowbirding it to Florida).

      It seems to me that it’s simply the GOP as a whole that’s gone stupid and where they’re from plays very little part in the whole shebang.

      Additionally, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Roger Ailes were all born in the North (O’Reilly and Hannity in New York, Beck in Washington State, and Ailes in Ohio). Must be something in the water up there.

      • Wally Hayman
        August 4, 2012 at 06:27

        All the (relatively) smart ones up here in the North figured out how to further their own careers by milking the mindless wrath of the knuckle-draggers down South.

  9. ilse
    August 2, 2012 at 21:45

    There is not one single thing about Romney …
    Is he too stupid or too lazy to find out the facts?

  10. GeriS
    August 2, 2012 at 15:05

    If anyone in their right mind believes Mitt Romney should be President of the United States, then they, obviously, are lacking in intelligence just as Mitt is lacking. He’s an idiot who can’t even get the Revolutionary War facts right! He makes George W. Bush look like he has intelligence, and that’s not saying much at all. Ha ha ha….Republicans….a truly hopeless group!

    • Jim
      August 5, 2012 at 14:15

      They intend to use crooked voting machines controlled by Republicans, to get him into the White House.

  11. Bill
    August 2, 2012 at 14:49

    BARBBF dredges up a GOP ad that has nothing to do with the topic. When your candidate gets history wrong in a book with his name on the cover, there’s only one thing to do: Change the subject.

  12. BARBBF
    August 2, 2012 at 14:15

    Obama’s excuses:


  13. Dan Domoff
    August 2, 2012 at 13:43

    “W” was an empty suit. Romney’s not even that: he’s just an empty blazer.

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