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The Ferguson Rifle is Now Patented Mayhem

Major Patrick Ferguson has patented his breech-loading rifle for use by British forces. (Americans need not apply.) The advantages of this rifle are: it is more accurate to a MUCH longer range than a smooth-bore musket. It can be loaded from a semi-prone position as opposed to muzzle-loading which requires one to stand, and the Ferguson has a firing rate of 6-times-a minute. Muskets can fire 2-times-a-minute and the Kentucky (or Pennsylvania) rifle can be fired once-a-minute. (FYI, I'm guessing once-a-minute, figuring that a You Tube demonstration of loading a Kentucky rifle under ideal conditions, with no pressure other than the sincere desire not to blow one's own head off is probably different from real battlefield conditions.) 100 Ferguson rifles are being deployed to put down the American rebellion, but it is mostly for show. The British Empire suffers from a C.Y.A. bureaucracy that won't tolerate the retraining and equipment costs required to change over. After all, how good could those Kentucky rifles really be? Well... pretty darn good as it turns out. [1]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
If the Ferguson rifle could have been deployed in 1775, there would have been no "Spirit of '76" unless we were talking about the ghosts of dead patriots. Of course if wishes were horses, the British soldiers would all ride, but it was not to be. They had "Brown Bess" muskets which are devastating weapons out to 50 or 60 yards, but otherwise useless as clubs against the Kentucky rifle which can hit a man-sized target out to 200 yards. The best bet for the British soldier would have been to stick to the woods where the range advantage of the Kentucky rifle would have been severely reduced. Unfortunately, European tradition called for open field engagements with men lined up for volley fire. In other words... a turkey shoot. [2] [3]

Independence Day! (July 2nd? July 4th? August 2nd?)

What day is Independence day? It is hard to say. On July 2nd, the Second Continental Congress votes for independence from Great Britain. A few weeks ago John Adams talked Thomas Jefferson into writing up a list of grievances to be submitted to King George the 3rd. There was no title given for this document but they call it the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson didn't want the job, but like a game of musical chairs, he was caught standing when the music died. Jefferson has a gift for words, but after submitting his draft, the Congress makes a number of changes, mostly in the list of grievances. Each colony has its own list of concerns. Congress also objects to the obsequious language that Jefferson is using. It is ancient tradition to address a King in a certain manner. The Congress brooms all that rubbish. Oddly the Congress isn't paying attention to the flowery language at the beginning of the document. Finally, an approved copy is ratified on July 4th. The President of the Congress, John Hancock, signs his name with a flourish. According to tradition (that is, according to later hero-worshiping story-tellers) he signs with a large signature so that King George can read the name without his spectacles. Spectacles are considered a weakness. When George Washington's officers threaten to rebel against the Second Continental Congress to enforce the promises made to them, Washington will pull out his glasses to read their complaint. He excuses his weakness saying, "Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray, but almost blind in the service of my country." The military coup dies aborning. [4] [5] [6]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
FYI, the Liberty Bell (along with all the other bells in Philadelphia) rang on July 8th. But we celebrate the independence of the United States on July 4th. ("United States" was considered plural before the US Constitution was ratified.) Another copy of the document was made and signed on August 2nd by people who hadn't even been present for the original vote. Frankly, the document was an afterthought, a technicality required for its legal implications and in most ways, proforma. The United States (plural) were are war with the British Empire and nothing in the Declaration was going to change that. In later years, the Declaration of Independence became a popular document and its flowery language at the beginning continues to inspire generations. The most remembered line is "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." One wonders why Jefferson ended the sentence with "pursuit of Happiness". Anyone familiar with the philosopher, John Locke, will realize that the last few words could also be interpreted to mean "the pursuit of self-interest" or "the pursuit of property." There is a lot implied there, but I am not well-read enough to comment further. I leave it as an exercise for the student. [7] [8] [9] [10]

In Other News...

A lot of important events are being outshone by the American Revolution. For example:

1. Thomas Paine publishes "Common Sense" and "The American Crisis" anonymously. At the time people think that John Adams is the author, but he denies it.
2. Edward Gibbon publishes The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 1. "Another fat book. Eh, Mr. Gibbon? Scribble, scribble, scribble."
3. Companies (mostly miners) are buying the new Watt steam engine to pump water out of the mine. Watt sets the price based on a percentage of the money miners will save using his device. Good marketing.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1776, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Ferguson rifle - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 21 January 2016. “The action was adapted from the earlier 1720 Isaac de la Chaumette design by Major Patrick Ferguson (1744–1780), who redesigned it around 1770. He received an English patent in December of 1776 (number 1139) on details of the design.”
  2. Spirit of '76 (sentiment) - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 28 April 2016. “Thomas Jewett wrote that at the time of the American Revolution, there was 'an intangible something that is known as the 'Spirit of ’76.' This spirit was personified by the beliefs and actions of that almost mythical group known as the Founding Fathers, and is perhaps best exemplified by Thomas Jefferson.'”
  3. How to Load and Fire a Flintlock Musket (Brown Bess). YouTube (Oct 21, 2011). Retrieved on 28 April 2016. “Demonstration of a flintlock musket, using real black powder. (1763 replica of the Brown Bess, used extensively in the Revolutionary War by both sides. Brown Bess is a nickname of uncertain origin for the British Army's Land Pattern Musket and its derivatives.”
  4. Borneman, Walter R.. American Spring:, American Spring: Lexington, Concord, and the Road to Revolution, Little, Brown and Company. “John Hancock presided over the Continental Congress until October of 1777. He routinely signed his name to acts first, and in large letters, but his most famous occasion for doing so would be the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Hancock returned to Massachusetts and spent liberally of his fortune to resurrect Boston from the depths into which it had fallen. In 1780, he was elected the first governor of Massachusetts.” 
  5. Ellis, Joseph J.. His Excellency: George Washington. Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 1400040310. “Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray, but almost blind in the service of my country.” 
  6. Obsequious - definition of obsequious (2016). Retrieved on 28 April 2016. “obedient or attentive in an ingratiating or servile manner”
  7. Locke and Happiness. pursuit-of-happiness.org (2016). Retrieved on 28 April 2016. “If we go back to Locke, then, we see that the 'pursuit of happiness' as envisaged by him and by Jefferson was not merely the pursuit of pleasure, property, or self-interest (although it does include all of these). It is also the freedom to be able to make decisions that results in the best life possible for a human being, which includes intellectual and moral effort.”
  8. Proforma - definition of proforma (2016). Retrieved on 28 April 2016. “A standard form”
  9. United States Declaration of Independence - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 28 April 2016. “The Declaration was ultimately a formal explanation of why Congress had voted on July 2 to declare independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. The next day, July 3rd, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail: 'The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.'”
  10. United States Declaration of Independence - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 28 April 2016. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

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