PARKER, JOHN. (1729–1775). Hero of the battle of Lexington. Massachusetts. A native of Lexington, Massachusetts, John Parker served in the French and Indian War, fighting at Louisburg and Quebec and probably serving as one of Robert Roger's rangers for a time. When the Revolution started he was a farmer and mechanic, and held various town offices. As captain of the local company of minutemen, he figured prominently in the battle of Lexington, 19 April 1775. It is unlikely that he said the famous words carved on the stone at Lexington: "Stand your ground. Don't fire unless fired upon. But if they mean to have a war, let it begin here." This is, however, what he should have said. Parker assembled as many militia as possible after the action on the green, then marched toward Concord to harass the British on their retreat to Boston. He then led a small force to Cambridge, but was too ill to take part in subsequent actions. He died on 17 September 1775.
SEE ALSO Lexington and Concord.
Fleming, Thomas. The First Stroke: Lexington, Concord, and the Beginning of the American Revolution. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1978.
revised by Michael Bellesiles