"Shouldn't presidential candidates and prospective candidates have a firm grasp of American history?" Chris Matthews rhetorically asked on the June 9 "Hardball" before lamenting that Sarah Palin had a penchant for being "painfully wrong" on the subject, citing her recent inartful explanation of the famed midnight ride of Paul Revere.
Yet it seems Matthews may have no idea why the British regulars were marching on Lexington and Concord in the first place, as the "Hardball" host scoffed yesterday at Palin making an "NRA ad" out of the historical ride.
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"Here she is with her follow-up defending her false vision of history, and turning Revere's ride into a National Rifle Association TV commercial," Matthews scoffed as introduced a clip of Palin from the June 5 "Fox News Sunday," in which the former Alaska governor noted that Revere warned the British when captured "you're not going to succeed, you're not going to take American arms."
Matthews may scoff Palin making Revere a hero of Second Amendment adherents and gun rights advocates, but in doing so one has to wonder what exactly he thinks the British regulars were coming for in their April 18, 1775 march on Lexington and Concord.
So here's a little history lesson for Matthews courtesy of the National Park Service (emphasis mine):
What was the reason for the British expedition to Concord?
On the evening of April 18, 1775, General Thomas Gage sent approximately 700 British soldiers out to Concord (about 18 miles distant) to seize and destroy military stores and equipment known to be stockpiled in the town. His orders to Lt. Col. Smith, the British officer who was to lead the expedition, were as follows:
Having received intelligence, that a quantity of Ammunition, Provision, Artillery, Tents and small arms, have been collected at Concord, for the Avowed Purpose of raising and supporting a Rebellion against His Majesty, you will march with the Corps of Grenadiers and Light Infantry, put under your command, with the utmost expedition and secrecy to Concord, where you will seize and destroy all Artillery, Ammunition, Provision, Tents, Small Arms, and all military stores whatever. But you will take care that the Soldiers do not plunder the inhabitants, or hurt private property.
Under great pressure from his superiors in England to bring Massachusetts back under control of the "lawful government," General Gage sent the troops to Concord in the hopes that by doing so, he could convince the colonists to back down, and thus avoid an armed rebellion.
General Gage also believed that seizing stockpiles of weapons was not only a military necessity, but also his prerogative as governor of the colony. The colonists actively disagreed.
Matthews not understanding why Palin would take a pro-gun rights argument out of the march on Concord, Mass., is arguably much worse than Palin's Revere ride flub or Rep. Michele Bachmann erroneously stating Lexington and Concord were in New Hampshire, another gaffe which Matthews has mercilessly hounded.