US Presidents – The SY Connection (Part 2 of Some) : 1776 and the War of In-dip-endence

10 05 2016

US Presidents – The SY Connection (Part 2 of Some) : 1776 and the War of In-dip-endence
In this American election year, our series on US presidents and their Leodhasach connections has been going a bit slowly, what with all the fleekeen obituaries we keep having to write.
So let us go right back to the beginning, and examine the conflict in 18th-century Lewis that inspired America’s founding fathers to take up arms against the heavy-handed policies of their Coll-onial masters. 
Until 1776, villages all over the Isle of Lewis were free to manage sheep scab as they saw fit. The dates for dipping, the concentration of the wash solution, the level of rabid insanity in the attending sheepdogs, and the order in which the half bottle of Trawler Rum should be passed round were all decided by the local grazings committees.
King George III was not happy with the situation, however. The sheep dip manufacturer in which he was a major shareholder was failing because of poor Hebridean sales of their flagship product – “Old Mad Seoras’s Patent Gairtean Magnet and Scab Promoting Solution”.
Under pressure from the King and his business associates, Parliament passed a bill strictly controlling every aspect of the sheep dipping year in his Hebridean colonies. Among other structures, the new laws banned excessive drinking at the fank, and required everyone to use the King’s ruppish dip prompting essayist Thomas Coulegrein to write the incendiary pamphlet “The Rights of Maws” in protest.
This led to uproar across the island. Crofters in Bernera, outraged to find a flask of refreshing hot beverage waiting for them at a fank in place of their usual carry-out, poured the contents into the sea at one of the island’s scenic beaches with a cry of “No deinfestation without libation!”. This event, known as the Bosta Tea Party, was the trigger for the War of In-dip-endence.
The War ran for several years and set brother against brother, maw against Townie and shareholder against grazings committee.
The King’s forces consisted of the Redcoves (so called because most of them came from Point), backed up by a large force of brutal Nessian mercenaries from Skigersta.
The Coll-onial forces were largely part-time soldiers (from the Army Cadets and Boys Brigade) and although under-equipped at the outset of the War, soon proved themselves to be effective warriors under the charismatic leadership of their general, George Sheepwashingtòin (ably assisted by his yes-man Thomas Tha-Milton, whose life story has recently been made into a hit Broadbay musical told entirely via the medium of crap.)
The war had its fair share of heroism and stupidity. Knockaird cabbage-magnate Nathan Kale had a short-lived career as a spy. He posed as a Townie Loyalist for a week but got found out when the boat he was spotted waving at furiously from the Eoropie machair turned out to be full of the King’s troops and not the coves returning from Sulasgeir with a haul of Gugas as he had mistakenly thought. His last words before being hung for his treachery proved inspiring to many: ‘I only regret that I have but one life to Lewis for my country’ 
Paul Reverend, an FP Minister from Habost, was the person responsible for equipping the troops with uniforms. On the first order he sent in to Murdo MacLeans for uniforms, he forgot to include trousers, resulting in the Coll-onials having have go into battle in their drathars. Eventually Paul saw a consignment of trousers being unloaded at Brevig Harbour and ran back to the Coll-onial lines shouting ‘The Briogais Are Coming! The Briogais Are Coming!’
The War itself was notable for several pitched battles which included Newvalley Forge and Tic-on-her-doggie but was basically the two sides standing on opposite sides of a river shouting swears and calling each other names. Then when a big cove charged, the opposing coves would run away to one of many fortified settlements around Broadbay.
The main defensive garrison was named for its commander, the lechendary traitor Benedict Arnol. It was re-named Fort Clinton after the war due to the fact that it had a nice yard. Nowadays, the site is known as West Point, which is ironic since Benedict Arnol actually came from Portvoller.
Anyway, after several years of conflict the Coll-onials eventually prevailed and King George III had to wave goodbye to his lucrative sheep dip revenues. An interim Grazings Committee, “The Second Continental ConGress” was set up between modern day Back and Tolsta while The Declaration of In-dip-pendence was being scribbled down on a beer mat in Mac’s Imperial. 
The declaration was co-authored by Benjamin Fanklin (anti-slavery campaigner and great-grandfather of soul diva Athighearna Fanklin) and Thomas Wedderson (who was always banging on about equality but actually kept a load of slaves on his bog cotton plantation out on the Arnish Moor). After the war, Wedderson successfully negotiated the Lewisiana Purchase, in which South Lochs was bought from the French for a bag of winkles cunningly rebranded as “Hebridean sea salted escargots”.
Thus ends another significant chapter in Lewis history, but those of you of a more scholarly bent who wish to find out more about this period in time, and particularly the disastrous impact the war had upon the indiginous people of the country areas would do well to pick up a copy of ‘The Last of the Maw-hicans’ by James Fivepennymore-Cooper.

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