By Jane L. Green - Posted at Journal of the American Revolution:

"On the morning of March 9, a sergeant appeared at the guard house and told Ditson to strip to his breeches. More men followed carrying a bucket of tar and a feather pillow. An officer standing in the doorway ordered the men to tar and feather Ditson from head to toe, including his pants. After he was tarred and feathered, a soldier read a placard to him and then hung it around his neck. According to Ditson’s oath, it proclaimed, 'American Liberty or Democracy exemplified in a villain who attempted to incite one of the soldiers of his Majesty’s 47th Regiment to desert and take up arms with rebels against his King and country.'”

The status of Thomas Ditson, Jr., as a minor hero of the American Revolution has more to do with the perception that he was an average, unpretentious farmer caught in the wrong place at the wrong time than with specific displays of courage. A deeper look at his activities reveals years of service first as a Massachusetts minuteman and then in the Continental Army as a sergeant—a position of authority and responsibility—during some of the war’s toughest battles. At the heart of his story is how his ancestors’ determination to build their own America rose inside him in the face of British opposition.

Ditson descended from Puritans who had escaped British persecution by fleeing England during the Great Migration to America from 1620 to 1650. Unlike immigrants to southern colonies who often came to America as fortune seekers, indentured servants, or as the penalty for committing crimes, as well as those forced to migrate through enslavement, the Puritans who settled the Massachusetts Bay Colony were reasonably well off financially.[1] They were well-educated and traveled in families along with proven leaders, came by the thousands, and were a dominant force in the New World until about 1740.


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