Gonzales desires to take back “come and take it.” The motto has actually been co-opted by anyone from gun civil liberties activists to fast food chains, relentlessly commercialized, and—in some cases—arguably stripped of its original meaning.But 181 years after the verbal challengewas unforgettably uttered by revolutionaries in Gonzales, there’s unexpectedly a hotly contested conflict brewingaboutwhether the town actually hasproprietary legal rights to the expression in the an initial place.

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Gonzales’s insurance claim on “come and take it” goes back to 1835, once the southern Texas town was under mexican militarycontrol.According to the Texas State historical Association, Mexicans detailed a cannon come the homesteaders at Gonzales in 1831 to defend them from native Americans. 4 years later, they determined they wanted it back. When the Mexican military sent a small group of soldiers to recoup the cannon, the Gonzales homesteaders were less than accommodating—they kept thesoldiers prisoner, and kept the cannon too. Here’s the historic Association’s account the what happened:

On the morning of October 2, 1835, lieutenant Castañeda asked for the cannon be went back to the mexican military—a problem on i beg your pardon it had been loaned come DeWitt’s Colony—but the Texians pointed come the gun which stood about 200 yards to your rear, and said, “there the is—come and take it.” soon after the dispute began, in ~ the inquiry of the Anglo-Celtic leaders, the ladies of the negotiation hastily do a flag come fly over the cannon. The flag featured a white ground through a black cannon in the center, and also the motto “Come and also take it!” over and below.

The colonists eventually lost the cannon, however the occurrence sparked the fight of Gonzales, which to be the first fight of the Texas Revolution. The phrase conveniently becamea symbol of Texas’s freedom and part of the towel of Gonzales, whichholdsan annual “Come and Take It” festivaland keeps the original cannon on display at theGonzales Memorial Museum in addition to a replica the the renowned flag.But since 1835, the phrase has been embraced by many people and also groups exterior Gonzales through varying agendas, and also the townisn’t happy about it.

“A many of world take it and also co-opt the without expertise the reason behind it,” Erik McCowan, a reporter with the Gonzales Inquirernewspaper, said NPR previously in October. “I think a lot of that has to do with simply plain ignorance. World fought and also were ready to dice over this flag.”

As provided by NPR, someof the worst “come and also take it” offenders incorporate McDonald’s—which organized a “come and make it” contestto create the main state burgess of Texas, then planted a “come and also get it” flag atopthe to win entry. Then there room the marijuana enthusiasm who offer items emblazoned through “come and also toke it.” The Inquirer‘s McGowan wrote whole column bemoaning what he felt to be thedevaluation ofthe saying:

‘Come and Take It’ was uttered by a bunch that rebels standing versus an army in one antiquated time.It expected something deep come them. The is a fight cry that must only be claimed by those that really recognize its meaning.Lately, it appears that anyone has got their hand on this slogan and have co-opted it for your own, periodically slanted, always personal gains…When that company interests take it a revered symbol of resistance, rebellion and freedom and also splash their logo on it for profit, does that cheapen the essence of what Come and also Take it is?

In elevating that question, McGowan was also an important of several movements that have actually adoptedthe phrase, including gun rights groups (who periodically substitute an assault rifle in ar of the antique cannon), pro-choice supporters (a uterus rather of the cannon), andthe “Cocks not Clocks” people (who swapped the cannon v a dildo and adjusted the slogan come “take it and come”—innuendo that seemsto be lost on McGowan, who wrote that the expression “appears to have been written during a bout that dyslexia”).


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But the real conflict started after ~ NPR come sniffing around:

Allen Barnes, the Gonzales city manager, is an especially exasperated with second Amendment activists who have embraced the historic slogan and also substituted one AR-15 semiautomatic rifle for the cannon. “To me that fully changes the tone and the blog post of the flag,” Barnes says. “That’s no much longer our flag. The is a flag produced by various other folks.

The NPR piece likewise notes that the phrase was likely used throughout the American transformation (asdocumentedbya historic marker in Georgia). Yet it to be the excerpt over thatstartedthe recent skirmishbyriling up gun civil liberties activists, that were upsetthat someone in Gonzales to be criticalof their usage of the phrasewhilesimultaneously laying case to a motto that they say originated well prior to Gonzales existed.TheFederalistwrote a solution to the NPR piece, call the reporter “hapless” and accusing some localsof gift “ignorant” tothemotto’strue origin.“They space blissfully unaware that ‘Come and take it’ is a quote indigenous King Leonidas i of Sparta,” writes man Daniel Davidson, who has also contributed toTexas Monthly.“At the battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC, during the second Persian intrusion of Greece, Leonidas replied to Xerxes’s need that the Greeks surrender your arms, ‘molon labe’—come and also take them.”

But also that may not be completely accurate, at least according toStephen Hodkinson, a historyprofessor at the college of Nottingham and a well-credentialed skilled on ancient Sparta. In 2013, Hodkinson explainedto a gun control advocacyblogthat the Spartan beginning story the “come and also take it”/”molon labe” is somewhat shaky. Hodkinson said that the just appearance of the expression in historic accounts that the battle of Thermopylae came fromPlutarchin the second century, AD, in a compilation of sayings included in the Moralia—sayings Hodkinson assertswere often consisted of long after ~ the events throughout which they were claimed to have actually been uttered. “Molon labe” isa details suspect saying Hodkinson says:


Leonidas’ saying has actually a somewhat odd context. Unlike most sayings in Plutarch’s compilation, that is not a linguistic saying, yet a written response by letter to a letter indigenous the Persian king Xerxes. In fact, that is Leonidas’ 2nd response in a mini-exchange of letters initiated through Xerxes. The initial exchange between the two guys is offered in the vault Saying, no. 10. Leonidas’ “molon labe” in speak no. 11 has actually the ideal Spartan brevity in solution to a quick three-word need from Xerxes. In contrast, in no. 10 Xerxes’ letter and Leonidas’ an answer are both somewhat longer: Xerxes’ letter is 10 indigenous long and Leonidas’ an answer is an incongruously verbose 24 words in old Greek. The exchange of letter is in itself peculiar, despite not since Spartiates couldn’t read or create (they could). Oral communication via herald was a more normal setting of exchange and would have offered greater public resonance to a dramatic assertion prefer “molon labe”. In sum, the historical authenticity the the phrase “molon labe” is uncertain. One can not prove that it is a later embroidering that the Leonidas legend; yet its sole appearance in a late occupational which is recognized to contain numerous other inventions and its somewhat odd paper definition in that work-related do not inspire confidence the it is genuinely historical.

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“Come and also take it” isno much more ancient Sparta’s than it is Gonzales’s, and also itsactual origin might never it is in known. But that likelywon’t prevent the tug-of-war between Gonzales, gun civil liberties advocates, and everyone else who has used the slogan. In a way, though, itmakes perfect sense that “come and also take it” is for this reason divisive. After ~ all, theinherently confrontationalphrasedoesn’t exactlylend itselfwellto sharing.