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AMERICAN HISTORY > AMERICAN REVOLUTION

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 13, 2013 10:26PM) (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments This thread focuses on the American Revolution. We do have a thread within the Military History folder - but we are opening up a thread here as well.

The American Revolution was a political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America.

They first rejected the authority of the Parliament of Great Britain to govern them from overseas without representation, and then expelled all royal officials. By 1774 each colony had established a Provincial Congress or an equivalent governmental institution to govern itself, but still recognized the British Crown and their inclusion in the empire. The British responded by sending combat troops to re-impose direct rule. Through the Second Continental Congress, the Americans then managed the armed conflict in response to the British known as the American Revolutionary War (also: American War of Independence, 1775–83).

The British sent invasion armies and used their powerful navy to blockade the coast. George Washington became the American commander, working with Congress and the states to raise armies and neutralize the influence of Loyalists. Claiming the rule of George III of Great Britain was tyrannical and therefore illegitimate, Congress declared independence as a new nation in July 1776, when Thomas Jefferson wrote and the states unanimously ratified the United States Declaration of Independence.

The British lost Boston in 1776, but then captured and held New York City. The British would capture the revolutionary capital at Philadelphia in 1777, but Congress escaped, and the British withdrew a few months later.

After a British army was captured by the American army at Saratoga, the French balanced naval power by entering the war in 1778 as allies of the United States. A combined American-French force captured a second British army at Yorktown in 1781, effectively ending the war.

A peace treaty in 1783 confirmed the new nation's complete separation from the British Empire, and resulted in the United States taking possession of nearly all the territory east of the Mississippi River.

The American Revolution was the result of a series of social, political, and intellectual transformations in early American society and government, collectively referred to as the American Enlightenment.

Americans rejected the aristocracies that dominated Europe at the time, championing instead the development of republicanism based on the Enlightenment understanding of liberalism.

Among the significant results of the revolution was the creation of a democratically-elected representative government responsible to the will of the people. However, sharp political debates erupted over the appropriate level of democracy desirable in the new government, with a number of Founders fearing mob rule.

Many fundamental issues of national governance were settled with the ratification of the United States Constitution in 1788, which replaced the relatively weaker first attempt at a national government adopted in 1781, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union.

In contrast to the loose confederation, the Constitution established a strong federated government. The United States Bill of Rights (1791), comprising the first ten constitutional amendments, quickly followed. It guaranteed many "natural rights" that were influential in justifying the revolution, and attempted to balance a strong national government with relatively broad personal liberties.

The American shift to liberal republicanism, and the gradually increasing democracy, caused an upheaval of traditional social hierarchy and gave birth to the ethic that has formed a core of political values in the United States.


Source: Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American...


R.M.F Brown | 85 comments I for one am looking forward to the debate about this subject. For me, the American Revolution is one of the most complex events in Western history, rivalled only by the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution.

Some people (I've been guilty of this in the past) have tended to see the revolution as 'good' Americans and 'bad' British, which does a massive intellectual disservice to the subject. Anyway, there are a number of points I'd to raise and discuss to get the ball rolling:

1) Were the British as tyrannical as the Americans made them out to be? Given the distances involved from London to Boston, and the low taxation colonists underwent, were the British cruel masters?

2) Were the British being unreasonable by expecting the colonies to contribute to their own defence? Which leads me nicely onto

3) Where was the American initiatives for home rule? When you consider the intellectual prowess of Jefferson, Adams, et al, and the crowning achievement that is the constitution, why didn't the Americans draft a bill for home rule/self governace that could have been acceptable to all sides. To me it always seems to be British action, American reaction, rather than the other way around.

4) Why did Britian fail to engage with the moderates such as Dickinson, and why did they misjude the situation so badly.

5) How effective were militia men? Is this a myth? You could be forgiven for thinking the Americans were all wily snipers and the British did nothing but march around and get shot at.

6) Were the founding fathers aware of the contridictions they preached i.e freedom for all, and yet, denying these freedoms to Native and African Americans.

Well, I'm worn out!


message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 17, 2013 05:54PM) (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments R.M.F. - There were many British Loyalists and folks who would have preferred to mend the differences with England and the monarchy. The colonists for the most part were reluctant to break ties with the mother land and sent representatives to meet with the king many times and unfortunately the colonists were kept waiting and waiting for any response to their petitions for representation, etc. I think the focus was on the monarchy and how the colonists were treated by the King. They simply wanted "no taxation without representation" and that was not to be. Could things have worked out differently - I suppose so but the actions of the monarchy obviously were some of the main reasons we are so against monarchies and kings today. Britain had a point about having to defend its colonists but there is always a middle ground where negotiation is possible and the king was not interested in giving an inch.

If you visit Boston and go on the tour there or head to Concord and visit the Old North Bridge - you may find the guides not that amenable to the British viewpoint (smile) - but there is room for all viewpoints here and we welcome a good discussion and respectful debate.

Britain for quite some time always had at the back of its mind - strategic plans for regaining the control of the colonies that they had lost and despite some behind the scenes maneuvers were never able to make it stick. Once the yoke was off - it was off for good.


message 4: by James (last edited Feb 18, 2013 06:47AM) (new)

James (jbgusa) | 53 comments R.M.F wrote: "I for one am looking forward to the debate about this subject. For me, the American Revolution is one of the most complex events in Western history, rivalled only by the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution

I agree that they are fascinating. The three revolutions have one thing in common; when things came to rest afterwards it was really more "same old, same old" rather than a real change.

For example, after the Constitution went into effect the system was strikingly similar to Britain's constitutional monarchy, with a few tweaks. King George was hardly an absolute ruler in any sense of the word. Parliament passed laws in his name, but there were regular elections. U.S. election intervals and district sizes were similar to those prevailing in Britain.

The Bill of Rights had some differences from its British equivalent but all in all the experience of an American and Britisher was not all that different.

R.M.F wrote: Some people (I've been guilty of this in the past) have tended to see the revolution as 'good' Americans and 'bad' British, which does a massive intellectual disservice to the subject. Anyway, there are a number of points I'd to raise and discuss to get the ball rolling:

1) Were the British as tyrannical as the Americans made them out to be? Given the distances involved from London to Boston, and the low taxation colonists underwent, were the British cruel masters?


The British were not either great or cruel masters. During the period between roughly 1607 and 1689, the time of the Glorious Revolution, Britain itself was undergoing governmental chaos and was not focusing on the colonies. When the British came back to assert a role after they were unwelcome since the Americans were used to de facto independence.

R.M.F wrote: 2) Were the British being unreasonable by expecting the colonies to contribute to their own defence? Which leads me nicely onto

3) Where was the American initiatives for home rule? When you consider the intellectual prowess of Jefferson, Adams, et al, and the crowning achievement that is the constitution, why didn't the Americans draft a bill for home rule/self governance that could have been acceptable to all sides. To me it always seems to be British action, American reaction, rather than the other way around.


The British have often been financially "tapped out." The Seven Years War did not help matters. Britain was not wrong to expect colonial contributions for their defense since the colonists definitely did not want rule by French "papists."

The colonies were by as early as the 1640's certainly more prosperous than Britain proper and thus could be reasonably be expected to shoulder some of the burden of defense costs.

As far as the "great minds" being able to work out an acceptable compromise this would have been easier said than done. The population of the colonies was small. Even if given Parliamentary representation (forget about the difficulties of trans-oceanic travel for sessions) their 20 or so members of Parliament would not have had significant influence in the voting. Essentially it would have been similar to Alberta's conundrum in Canada now; lots of money and few votes.

R.M.F wrote: 4) Why did Britian fail to engage with the moderates such as Dickinson, and why did they misjude the situation so badly.?

I don't think most Britishers had a good picture of how active and bustling the colonies were. They were thought of as backwaters. Also the British were better at bluffing than fighting.

Note, Britain did not make the same mistake later with Canada and Australia; the yielding of power there was graceful and gradual.

R.M.F wrote: 5) How effective were militia men? Is this a myth? You could be forgiven for thinking the Americans were all wily snipers and the British did nothing but march around and get shot at.

The Yanks had a huge "home court" advantage in supportive areas such as Boston. The British troops would have needed eyes in back of their head to be safe there. Note, colonial forces did much less well in New York where the support for independence was far weaker.

R.M.F wrote: 6) Were the founding fathers aware of the contridictions they preached i.e freedom for all, and yet, denying these freedoms to Native and African Americans.

Back in those days, white, property owning males were the voters in Britain. The argument was that those with a "stake in society" should vote. The contradictions became more apparent once urban, renting populations swelled.

R.M.F wrote: Well, I'm worn out! "

Same here, but I hope I answered you.

Bentley wrote: "R.M.F. - There were many British Loyalists and folks who would have preferred to mend the differences with England and the monarchy. The colonists for the most part were reluctant to break ties with the mother land and sent representatives to meet with the king many times and unfortunately the colonists were kept waiting and waiting for any response to their petitions for representation, etc. I think the focus was on the monarchy and how the colonists were treated by the King. They simply wanted "no taxation without representation" and that was not to be. Could things have worked out differently - I suppose so but the actions of the monarchy obviously were some of the main reasons we are so against monarchies and kings today. Britain had a point about having to defend its colonists but there is always a middle ground where negotiation is possible and the king was not interested in giving an inch.

See my answers above to "R.M.F."

I think the problem was that the colonies were more prosperous and British levels of taxation eventually would have proven totally unbearable. Europe had been fighting wars since the 800's and there were no signs of that stopping. The colonies had no interest in subsidizing European wars.

Those wars came to a temporary halt with the Congress of Vienna in the 1810's but resumed with a vengeance between 1914 and 1945. It is only the American "wet blanket" over Europe that has created a Pax Americana since.

The colonies had not part of this foolishness and didn't want to pay for it.

Bentley wrote:If you visit Boston and go on the tour there or head to Concord and visit the Old North Bridge - you may find the guides not that amenable to the British viewpoint (smile) - but there is room for all viewpoints here and we welcome a good discussion and respectful debate.

I hope I am debating in that spirit.

Bentley wrote: Britain for quite some time always had at the back of its mind - strategic plans for regaining the control of the colonies that they had lost and despite some behind the scenes maneuvers were never able to make it stick. Once the yoke was off - it was off for good. "

In fact one of the impetuses for replacing the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution was to prevent that from happening. And the threat didn't really end until the stalemate of the War of 1812. The war was too expensive to continue the futile efforts on both sides.

And remember, from the British point of view, their population centers in Canada were snug against the U.S. border. Think Toronto (then Fort York), Montreal, Quebec City and Halifax. Ours were far more remote from the border. We both needed to stop fighting each other.


message 5: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 18, 2013 09:03AM) (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Yes, James thanks for your responses for RMF. I do agree that the taxes were onerous and especially when the colonists were treated with less respect than if they were living in England. And they were for the most part English citizens. I think that the colonists were placed in the unenviable position of turning on their own people because of how they were being treated with absolutely no recourse whatsoever. And of course James - everybody's opinions and thoughts are welcome (smile).

I do not think that even the War of 1812 ended those yearnings. I think that during the Civil War - the fact that Britain was trying to assist the South spoke volumes.

Good points James and great discussion questions RMF. I hope that we hear from many other group members regarding any and all of these points and questions.


R.M.F Brown | 85 comments Thanks for the replies, some good responses here. I'll post more points in the future.

One thing I'd like to touch on is this: I've been reading about the Whiskey rebellion (after the war), and it strikes me that the protesters are no different from those in Boston who rebelled against Britian, and yet, people were supportive of the Federal government for clamping down on it. There is a school of thought that the new Federal government had to destroy the revolution in order to save it. Does anybody else buy into this?


James (jbgusa) | 53 comments R.M.F wrote: One thing I'd like to touch on is this: I've been reading about the Whiskey rebellion (after the war), and it strikes me that the protesters are no different from those in Boston who rebelled against Britian, and yet, people were supportive of the Federal government for clamping down on it.

The Whiskey Rebellion was outside of the major urban centers. Those urban centers have often favored a robust central government, whereas the moonshiners gained little from authority. To some extent urban residents voting (and I live in the New York City area) amounts to two wolves and a sheep voting on dinner. The rural types often feel oppressed by this arrangement and not without reason.

On the other hand the rural areas needed defense help more often than urban areas did.

R.M.F wrote:
There is a school of thought that the new Federal government had to destroy the revolution in order to save it. Does anybody else buy into this? "


I think that one cannot effectively run a government in a revolutionary posture for long. France learned that lesson the hard way. As I started to say when I discussed the French Revolution briefly above, the French wound up where they started; with a centralized dictatorship under Napoleon, who eventually declared himself emperor.

The more conservative American Revolution wound up with a different flavor of parliamentary democracy, with a few names changed.

Thus, the revolution had to end at some point and governance begin.

Bentley wrote: "Yes, James thanks for your responses for RMF.

You are welcome. And with the constraints of a full time law career and doing actual reading I look forward to commenting actively.

Bentley wrote:
I do agree that the taxes were onerous and especially when the colonists were treated with less respect than if they were living in England. And they were for the most part English citizens. I think that the colonists were placed in the unenviable position of turning on their own people because of how they were being treated with absolutely no recourse whatsoever. And of course James - everybody's opinions and thoughts are welcome (smile).


I do not think the Americans were treated all that poorly at all. I think the British expected more than gratitude, i.e. expected money, for protecting the colonies from a very aggressive New France, now Quebec.

We stuck out thumb in the British Empire's eye, and also for good reason.

What I said was that Britain learned its lesson and wound up with us, Canada and Australia as allies when they needed us.

Bentley wrote: I do not think that even the War of 1812 ended those yearnings. I think that during the Civil War - the fact that Britain was trying to assist the South spoke volumes.

That may have had more to do with needing a source of cotton since Egypt had not yet come into play. Perhaps they saw the Confederacy as eventual weak and easy pickings. I don't think they seriously expected to retake the Union.

What speaks volumes on that is their start on liberating Canada. Canada attained Dominion status on July 1, 1867 but the process was rolling a long time before that.

Bentley wrote:
Good points James and great discussion questions RMF. I hope that we hear from many other group members regarding any and all of these points and questions."


Again thanks for the compliment. And with the constraints of a full time law career and doing actual reading I look forward to commenting actively.


message 8: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 18, 2013 08:30PM) (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments James we can agree to disagree on that one. I think that England - just like it did with many of its other colonies treated them like children - like they knew what was good for them. Plus their laws for trade were very good for England but not for the colonists who were prohibited from trading certain items to anybody else but England. They had to put these items on Brit ships and also pay the freight to take them there. No foreign ships were allowed to come into ports here and if you wanted an item from another country other than England you had to buy it through an English middleman. They could not even sell anything from one colony to another. They had to send it to England first so it could be distributed in another colony nearby. And of course there was all of that taxation without any representation. I think that the British government treated the colonists as if they had no say in their destiny and that is really the greatest insult of all. You are correct that Britain thought that the colonists should pay for their protection and that might have been more appreciated if they were not robbing the colonists blind.

But time has passed and one insensitive monarch does not a country make. Britain is a terrific country, friend and ally now.

They did learn their lesson but a little too late for us. However, in the long run all is forgotten as long as we are left alone (smile).

I am not so sure about that James - they were really stirring the pot (they still had the eye on the prize) - there was still a lot of animosity.

Great comments and I am enjoying this very active discussion. I do hope others jump in too and join you and RMF.


Peter Flom | 757 comments The principal of my high school was English. He said that all it said about 1776 in the history books he had used at school was "uprising in the colonies".


message 10: by Mark (last edited Feb 19, 2013 04:01AM) (new)

Mark Mortensen Bentley wrote: "But time has passed and one insensitive monarch does not a country make. Britain is a terrific country, friend and ally now."

Back around the 200th Anniversary of America’s independence I was a charter member of the Old North Bridge rugby club (now defunct) in Concord, Mass. Following one home game against a fine team from England we exchanged token gifts and headed to my friend’s farmhouse on Monument Street in Concord directly down the historic road from where the “Shot Heard 'Round the World” took place. It was a memorable after-party with much camaraderie. I easily recall tourists slowly driving by gazing up at the roof of the two story home where many of our wonderful guests from across the big pond were dancing joyously with scant clothing at best and paper bags on their heads. I suppose it was our way of closure. The Brits won this time. :-)


message 11: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)

Bryan Craig | 10322 comments You can see the American Revolution through the lens of colonialism, and this puts England in a worse light due to its nature in the power relationship. Possibly Britain was blinded by this relationship and the fact a colony actually could rebel. What do you do? Take back control.

I think there might have been a chance early on in the revolution to make some kind of arrangement, but as Bentley said, the King was not interested. Then it got more radicalized and the colonists rejected any kind of plan (and these plans did exist).


R.M.F Brown | 85 comments Bryan wrote: "You can see the American Revolution through the lens of colonialism, and this puts England in a worse light due to its nature in the power relationship. Possibly Britain was blinded by this relati..."

Good post, but for me, there were two types of colonialism going on - the relationship between the colonies and Britian, and the land grab that was happening westward. Even if the colonies were happy with taxation, my view is that war was just a question of time, and would probably have occured over the slave owner/land grab issue. I think there was a desire in London, long term, to protect native interests for trade.

On the subject of war, if there is one thing that I've learned from studying the past, it's that battlefield and politics should never mix (although the two are usually entwined) and the revolution is a clear example of this.

It amazes me how much the British army in America was undermined by London (troop numbers, directives, supply, objectives) and as pointed out elsewhere, the comparison with Vietnam is striking.

You see this pattern emerging years later with the Duke of Wellington, and it's a measure of the Iron Duke's abilities, that he was able to prosecute a successful campaign against the French.


R.M.F Brown | 85 comments Thomas Gage comes across as an interesting character in all of this. He seemed reluctant to escalate the situation and was sympathetic to the colonialists.


Patricrk patrick | 475 comments James wrote: "R.M.F wrote: "I for one am looking forward to the debate about this subject. For me, the American Revolution is one of the most complex events in Western history, rivalled only by the French Revolu..."

One of the tweaks that you don't read much about was the census and reapportionment. In England the membership of Parliament was fixed by location in the middle ages. New towns that had grown up may not have anyone in Parliament while some places had withered away but still had a member in Parliament. This led to rotten Burroughs where a Lord would be the only voter to select a member of the house of commons. Why should the colonist get membership in Parliament where there were huge sections of England itself that weren't represented? This problem wasn't fixed for at least another 50 years after the revolution.


Mark Mortensen Patricrk wrote: "One of the tweaks that you don't read much about was the census and reapportionment. In England the membership of Parliament was fixed by location in the middle ages..."

Very interesting Patricrk. Thanks


Harold Titus (HaroldTitus) | 24 comments R.M.F. (#13), Gage was in fact reluctant to escalate the situation. He was, to a certain degree, sympathetic to the colonialists. Many of his officers believed him to be much too sympathetic. He had fought with George Washington and the Virginia militia against the French in the French and Indian War. Prior to 1775 he had served in the colonies as the British army’s commander-in-chief. He was married to a New Jersey Loyalist. As Massachusetts Colony’s governor he had attempted after the Boston Tea Party and the closure of Boston Harbor to persuade rebel leaders to acquiesce. He had negotiated with Doctor Joseph Warren. The measures he took initially to attempt to forestall armed conflict were moderate. He bought the inventory of every Boston gun merchant. He removed powder from the Provincial Powder House at Charlestown and several cannon at Cambridge.

As opposition became more pronounced, he was forced to act less temperate. In December 1774 he ordered the removal of provincial gunpowder from a crumbling fortress at Portsmouth. The attempt failed. 100 barrels of gunpowder and 16 cannon were carried away by militiamen. In February 1775 he sent troops to Salem by sea to seized 8 new brass cannon and field pieces converted from the cannon of 4 derelict ships. The expedition was halted by a raised drawbridge.

The Earl of Dartmouth, the King’s Secretary of State, informed Gage by letter that the King expected swift resolution. “The King’s dignity, and the honor and safety of the Empire, require, that, in such a situation, force should be repelled with force.” The rebels were “a rude Rabble without plan, without concert, and without conduct. A smaller force now, if put to the test, would be able to encounter them with greater probability of success than might be expected from a great army.” The King’s expectation, and the fact that three generals – William Howe, John Burgoyne, and Henry Clinton – were crossing the Atlantic one of whom would surely replace him if he did not perform as expected, induced Gage to order the seizure and destruction of gunpowder and cannon at Concord April 19, 1775.

As a side note: after the Battle of Bunker Hill Gage put his wife on the transport Charming Nancy, along with 60 widows and orphans and 170 terribly wounded soldiers. He had suspected, historians believe correctly, that she had revealed to rebel leaders detailed information about his planned Concord expedition. It was known at the time that Joseph Warren had access to a highly placed source close to the General. David Hackett Fischer in "Paul Revere’s Ride" wrote: “Doctor Warren’s confidential source was someone very near the heart of the British command, and so much at risk that he – or she -- could be approached only in a moment of dire necessity. As evidence of British preparations began to mount, Warren decided that such a time had come. One who knew him wrote later that he ‘applied to the person who had been retained, and got intelligence of their whole design.’ The informer reported that the plan was ‘to seize Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who were known to be at Lexington, and burn the stores at Concord. … Margaret Gage made no secret of her deep distress. In 1775, she told a gentleman that ‘she hoped her husband would never be the instrument of sacrificing the lives of her countrymen.’” After the April 19 debacle, several high-ranking officers, including Hugh, Earl Percy, had suspected Mrs. Gage. The remaining years of his life Thomas Gage was estranged from his wife.
Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer David Hackett Fischer


R.M.F Brown | 85 comments Patricrk wrote: "James wrote: "R.M.F wrote: "I for one am looking forward to the debate about this subject. For me, the American Revolution is one of the most complex events in Western history, rivalled only by the..."

the city of Manchester is a great example of a large population not being represented by an MP, so it was not just a colonial problem.


R.M.F Brown | 85 comments Harold wrote: "R.M.F. (#13), Gage was in fact reluctant to escalate the situation. He was, to a certain degree, sympathetic to the colonialists. Many of his officers believed him to be much too sympathetic. He..."

Good points here, but I take back some of what I said about Gage. Why? I've been reading about Robert Rodgers, he of Rodger's Rangers fame. To say that Gage and Rodgers did not get along would be an understatement!

On the subject of Rodgers, he did provide training to the British army on fighting a skirmish war in woodland conditions, so this is proof that the British could adapt to the terrain of North America during the seven year's war and the revolution.


message 19: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)

Bryan Craig | 10322 comments Here is an interesting book:

The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire

The Men Who Lost America  British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire by Andrew Jackson O'ShaughnessyAndrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy

Synopsis

The loss of America was a stunning and unexpected defeat for the powerful British Empire. Common wisdom has held that incompetent military commanders and political leaders in Britain must have been to blame, but were they? This intriguing book makes a different argument. Weaving together the personal stories of ten prominent men who directed the British dimension of the war, historian Andrew O’Shaughnessy dispels the incompetence myth and uncovers the real reasons that rebellious colonials were able to achieve their surprising victory.

In interlinked biographical chapters, the author follows the course of the war from the perspectives of King George III, Prime Minister Lord North, military leaders including General Burgoyne, the Earl of Sandwich, and others who, for the most part, led ably and even brilliantly. Victories were frequent, and in fact the British conquered every American city at some stage of the Revolutionary War. Yet roiling political complexities at home, combined with the fervency of the fighting Americans, proved fatal to the British war effort. The book concludes with a penetrating assessment of the years after Yorktown, when the British achieved victories against the French and Spanish, thereby keeping intact what remained of the British Empire.


R.M.F Brown | 85 comments Bryan wrote: "Here is an interesting book:

The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire

[bookcover:The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the America..."


It's often been said that the similarities between the revolution and Vietnam are quite striking.


message 21: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Peter wrote: "The principal of my high school was English. He said that all it said about 1776 in the history books he had used at school was "uprising in the colonies"."

Those darned colonists! (smile) Enough said - a point in history they probably wanted to forget (:-)


message 22: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Harold wrote: "R.M.F. (#13), Gage was in fact reluctant to escalate the situation. He was, to a certain degree, sympathetic to the colonialists. Many of his officers believed him to be much too sympathetic. He..."

Very interesting post Harold, thank you.


R.M.F Brown | 85 comments One of the most interesting aspects of the revolution is the paradox of freedom. On the one hand, you have the colonists fighting for their rights, on the other, the British are freeing slaves and making alliances with Native American tribes. Now, I doubt if this is news to anybody on this site, but it does add a layer of complexity to the study of this event.


Mark Mortensen R.M.F wrote: "One of the most interesting aspects of the revolution is the paradox of freedom...."

That's a good point R.M.F. Life is not always fair and war is often a complicated paradox.


message 25: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments R.M.F wrote: "One of the most interesting aspects of the revolution is the paradox of freedom. On the one hand, you have the colonists fighting for their rights, on the other, the British are freeing slaves and ..."

Not to undercut or create an undercurrent about the strategic reasoning behind the British coming to America and making alliances with the Native American tribes but this was a technique that Britain used long after the colonists freed themselves from the monarchy's yoke. And I do believe that it was costly for the Brits to constantly defend the colonists from the savagery of the Native Americans; but of course losing one's land at the hands of the settlers in Jamestown and in other locations certainly did not sit well with the Native people.

All is not as it seems on both sides and there are always hidden agendas I am afraid.


R.M.F Brown | 85 comments Bentley wrote: "R.M.F wrote: "One of the most interesting aspects of the revolution is the paradox of freedom. On the one hand, you have the colonists fighting for their rights, on the other, the British are freei..."

Good point. Before the war of 1812, the Americans accused the British of arming the tribes and stirring up trouble along the frontier. It was one of the American justifications for war.

Anyway, the point I wanted to make was about American identity. I've often questioned this identity in the early years and the idea of a common cause. For example, what common cause could a rich, Virginian plantation owner have with a Boston dock worker?

People say that freedom was the link, but the rich guy is probably at the top of the tree in his area, and is probably the local judge/magistrate. His attitude and cultural outlook will be vastly different from the Boston worker and he would have more to lose, and thus want to preserve the status quo.

Ok, this might be an extreme example, but I'm reluctant to buy into this common cause idea, especially when you compare New England to the siuthern colonies. What do other people think?


message 27: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Well that goes to the basic argument between capitalism and socialism (and all of the different variations in between). Agrarian society and the farmers point of view (Virginia, Jefferson, etc., the South in general) and the Industrialists (Boston, the North, Yankees)

The common cause was freedom and the first freedom was probably religion - freedom of religion. At the beginning it was not about the rich versus the poor - it was about settlers looking for a better way of life and a new land. The Puritans came later (the rich guys).


R.M.F Brown | 85 comments Bentley wrote: "Well that goes to the basic argument between capitalism and socialism (and all of the different variations in between). Agrarian society and the farmers point of view (Virginia, Jefferson, etc., t..."

And of course later on it the different outlooks were responsible for the Adams Vs Jefferson rivalry. Like I keep saying, it's a complex piece of history.

More discussion points keep coming into my head, but would people agree that the roots of the civil war are to be found in the Revolution, especially in the drafting of the constitution?


message 29: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 05, 2013 12:54PM) (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Very complex I agree.

I am not sure about the roots of the civil war being found in the Revolution. But I guess the revolution in America spawned other Revolutions like the French one for different reasons. Thomas Paine and his writings had a lot to do with the spread there.

I guess you could say that the colonists proved more than England could handle and they were probably well rid of the problem and the colonists of them. I think the colonists outgrew the arrangement.


Harold Titus (HaroldTitus) | 24 comments I would say the common thread of opposition against the British in the American Revolution was the desire to be able to forge your own future. Once the British were removed and America had to govern itself, the devisive issues of economic class and sectional differences became important.


message 31: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Yes - you sort of become what you were trying to escape out of necessity or something like that. And there were the stark regional differences.


Harold Titus (HaroldTitus) | 24 comments The Loyalists' point of view during the American Revolution was, apparently, not uniform, as many people today probably think. I've read that those who sided with the patriots were not in the majority. I know I am citing a historical novel, but Kenneth Roberts's "Oliver Wiswell" portrays a Loyalist whose family and friends are bullied without remorse, who abhors mob ignorance and cruelty but who also is contemptuous of the British. I can easily imagine many Americans then taking that position.
Oliver Wiswell by Kenneth RobertsKenneth Roberts


message 33: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 05, 2013 02:18PM) (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Possibly - many of the founders tried their hardest to make it work with the King and their efforts failed. And remember all of these folks had family in England for the most part and were British; so of course that was a hard choice. The Patriots offered a solution which maybe was not popular at the beginning but it eventually became the only other alternative so that they could all move forward and have some degree of autonomy over their life and their future.


Harold Titus (HaroldTitus) | 24 comments When a foreign army invades your colony and kills people of your class much less your neighbors and friends, you are going to side against it. I agree that the other alternative became quite unacceptable.


message 35: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments For sure Harold. I think it was a tough decision for everyone involved and I don't think the colonists took that path without a lot of soul searching.


R.M.F Brown | 85 comments Harold wrote: "When a foreign army invades your colony and kills people of your class much less your neighbors and friends, you are going to side against it. I agree that the other alternative became quite unacc..."

But were they a foreign army? The colonists saw themselves as Englishmen and London most certainly saw them as Englishmen to be taxed and governed.

In my view, American independence was inevitable. War would have been a question of 'when' rather than 'if' (due to the slavery issue) but I think if there had not been a revolution, an amicable parting along the lines of Canada and Australia probably would have happened.


Harold Titus (HaroldTitus) | 24 comments Granted that colonists felt their connection with the "home country" and many remained loyal to the Crown despite their disdain for royal governors and their agents, and, later, actions taken by British generals like Gage, Howe, and Clinton. But the British army was not made up of their own people; it was an occupying army; its purpose in being quartered in Boston prior to Lexington and Concord was to quash desent and enforce obedience to the punitive laws of Parliament and the desires of George III. Incidents in the streets of Boston between citizens and officers and soldiers exacerbated hostility despite Gen. Gage's orders that his soldiers not provoke colonists. Colonists resented not being accorded the full rights of English citizenship. The army's presence was a concrete symbol of that.

There were attempts made by the more moderate leaders of the colonies to persuade Parliament and the King to find a common ground with them wherein the colonies could exercise a satisfactory degree of self-governance without severing their connection with their mother country. Dr. Joseph Warren was such a leader.

In March 1775 Warren spoke to a Boston church full of citizens and British officers to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Boston Massacre. The officers were anticipating inflammatory remarks. They had hatched a plan to retaliate. They had assigned an ensign to throw an egg at Warren as a signal that he was to be arrested. On the way to the meeting the ensign had fallen, dislocated a knee, and not attended. Had he been present, he would not have been able to throw the egg, his having broken it open. Enumerating the dangers of a standing army in Boston in a time of peace, Warren had refrained from calling the Massacre “bloody.” Although some of the officers had hooted their displeasure, violence had not occurred.

All of this is to say that hatred can be ignited among family members when positions they take are perceived by opposite sides to be irrational and extreme. The presence of the British army in Boston and the King's insistence that "tyranny" must be punished and the refusal of the patriots of Massachusetts to be bullied became irreconciable differences.


message 38: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 07, 2013 01:30PM) (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments And remember too that the founding fathers knew that were they caught planning and putting together a new government (if they lost the war) that all of them would have been executed (hung) for treason and they joked about it uneasily. This was not an easy decision for any of them to go up against the British army and the monarch. Much of the blame goes to George III.

Great posts RMF and Harold. Thank you.


R.M.F Brown | 85 comments I would say that Parliament contained its share of American sympathisers, so we must refrain from using blanket terms when referring to Parliament.

I've often wondered (and it's probably been asked before on this site) how big a role King George's mental health problems played in his dealings with the colonists? Anybody with insights into this?


message 40: by Leonardo (last edited Mar 08, 2013 05:06AM) (new)

Leonardo Noto (LeonardoNoto) | 12 comments R.M.F wrote: 5) How effective were militia men? Is this a myth? You could be forgiven for thinking the Americans were all wily snipers and the British did nothing but march around and get shot at.

"The Yanks had a huge "home court" advantage in supportive areas such as Boston. The British troops would have needed eyes in back of their head to be safe there. Note, colonial forces did much less well in New York where the support for independence was far weaker."

The militia men were effective in a few engagements, notably at Bunker Hill at the beginning of the war and later during some woods skirmishing in the South. However, the militia/minute men usually turned and ran when faced with the British regulars. It was really a core of ~5,000 American regulars who formed the base of the Continental Army and it was these soldiers who did most of the fighting in which Americans actually held their own (even if they still lost more often than not) against the British. The Americans didn't have to win the American Revolution anymore than the VietCong had to win (or could have won) in Vietnam by militarily defeating the world's greatest power of the era -- they just had to outlast them. Even after Yorktown the British still had a huge army in the Colonies and could have fought for years and years if the folks back home hadn't decided that they'd had enough. Washington always knew, at least after the debacle in New York City when he nearly lost the entire army, that his primary goal in the war was to keep the army intact and to outlast the enemy -- this revolutionary strategy (at the time) is why a man who was a rather mediocre tactician nonetheless managed to win against the global hegemon.


R.M.F Brown | 85 comments Leonardo wrote: "R.M.F wrote: 5) How effective were militia men? Is this a myth? You could be forgiven for thinking the Americans were all wily snipers and the British did nothing but march around and get shot at.
..."


I read somewhere that the American army was attacked by Loyalist militia when it was in the New York Area.


message 42: by Rami (last edited Mar 12, 2013 08:22AM) (new)

Rami El-sawy (ramielsawy) | 2 comments Hello im looking for a book to summarize the american revolution, its reasons and its consequences. Not a dry one though. I've recently read a book about the French revolution for Mark Steel

Vive la Revolution  A Stand-up History of the French Revolution by Mark Steel

It gives a good introduction to the revolution, its key people and the consequences.
Can I find something similar for the American revolution ?

Thank you


message 43: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)

Bryan Craig | 10322 comments Rami, I like the American Heritage series. It has good text and pictures and there is a 2004 edition:

The American Revolution

The American Revolution by Bruce Lancaster Bruce LancasterBruce Lancaster

Synopsis

From Lexington and Concord to Yorktown, Bruce Lancaster's classic, The American Revolution, covers the story of America's fight for independence in vivid detail. With an introduction by the critically acclaimed author Bruce Catton, and a new foreword by Thomas Fleming, The American Revolution is a highly readable and engaging volume.
-------------------

Don't forget to add a author photo and link on your citation:

Vive la Revolution  A Stand-up History of the French Revolution by Mark Steel Mark SteelMark Steel


Rami El-sawy (ramielsawy) | 2 comments Bryan wrote: "Rami, I like the American Heritage series. It has good text and pictures and there is a 2004 edition:

The American Revolution

The American Revolution by Bruce Lancaster[authorimage:Bruce Lancas..."



worth checking. Thank you !


R.M.F Brown | 85 comments Bryan wrote: "Rami, I like the American Heritage series. It has good text and pictures and there is a 2004 edition:

The American Revolution

The American Revolution by Bruce Lancaster[authorimage:Bruce Lancas..."


Would you say that this is a well rounded, balanced text, or does it veer towards the American point of view?


message 46: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)

Bryan Craig | 10322 comments Good question, R.M.F. I don't remember exactly; it has been a long time since I read it, but I was left with a good impression. I think it focuses more on the American side, though.


R.M.F Brown | 85 comments Bryan wrote: "Good question, R.M.F. I don't remember exactly; it has been a long time since I read it, but I was left with a good impression. I think it focuses more on the American side, though."

I remember we had a discussion before on 'good history,' and I was wondering if that book fell into that category.


message 48: by Jill, Assisting Moderator - Global NF, HF, European/Brit. Hist/Music (new)

Jill Hutchinson (Bucs1960) | 6668 comments Note This post from David was moved from the Introduction thread.


What struck me in looking at my genealogies on the revolutionary war was how complete the service was in the war; but also that service was short and episodic by most but not all. That could be due to lack of records. The Massachusetts records are quite good not so sure about New Jersey. Does any one know about sources for service in New Jersey?


Heather (NicknameHeath) | 4 comments I have only done preliminary research on this, so forgive me for not giving more information… In Bruce E. Johansen’s book Forgotten Fathers (book nor author on Goodreads, but you can google it and get a free pdf version…that’s how I read it), he provides research asserting that many of the differences between America’s political ideals and that of the British can possibly be traced to the influence of Native Americans. The general overview is that our Constitutional process was informed by the Iroquois and The Five Nations. There is also evidence that our Bill of Rights was inspired by The Five Nations’, the Onondaga, Mohawk, Seneca, Cayuga, and the Oneida’s, list of guaranteed rights. I found the book to be short and informative; a welcome contribution to the ever-complicated reasons/motivations/influences of the American Revolution. Johansen cites "The Iroquois and the Founding of the American Nation" by Donald A. Grinde within his text. I have not read Grinde’s book yet, but thought I would share!The Iroquois and the Founding of the American NationDonald A. Grinde


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