2500 years ago Spartan King Leonidas and his men stood against an invading Persian army under King Xerxes. Xerxes sent a message to Leonidas, requesting that he surrender and “Deliver up your arms.”
The famous reply was “Molon Labe,” literally translated as “After you come, take.” Sparta was in a region of Greece known as Laconia. Men of Laconia were known for speaking with as few words as possible.
This expression was also famously used in the American Revolutionary War, at Fort Morris on the Georgia Coast. In 1778 the commander of a British force demanded the fort’s surrender. Though outnumbered, American Colonel McIntosh replied:
“As to surrendering the fort, receive this laconic reply: ‘COME AND TAKE IT!’”
In 1835 Texas was in revolution against the Mexican government under Santa Anna. The government demanded that the Texas town of Gonzales surrender their cannon, and the Texan reply was “Come and take it.” Troops came to enforce the surrender, and a fight ensued.
Flying over the cannon was a now-famous flag, with the cannon and a star drawn on it, and the words, “Come and take it.”
Gonzales kept its cannon.
The cannon is on display at the Gonzales Memorial Museum, Gonzales, Texas.
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