23 thoughts on “The American Revolution”

  1. On various blogs over the years I’ve asked “liberals” and other State-shtuppers, if they celebrate the Fourth of July, and if so–what the heck do they think they’re celebrating? There was one “New Tory” who used to post here (you may remember he had, or claimed to have, a high rank in the Navy) who said, in effect, that he was celebrating the right to elect representatives who could cosign us to the serfdom he obviously longed for. Weird.

  2. Heck, the British have no problem saying the American Revolution was a good thing. Even the effects on Britain were overwhelmingly positive, as it was a stark warning against government abuse and a profound and loud restatement of what are now universal Anglo-American belief that power flows from the people, who have inherent rights as individuals. Rule by decree and rule by force were forever discredited by the Revolution.

    Regarding his arguments on slavery, I have held that in the long run, American slavery was critical for forming much of the modern world view of rights and equality for all people. Sometimes you have to get something very wrong for people to see all the other wrongs, and without the stark examples of the US slavery experience, the Civil War, and the Civil Rights struggle, Europe would likely still be running race-based colonies throughout Africa, and the UN wouldn’t bat an eye at it.

    The usual bleeding-heart liberals likely wouldn’t be complaining either, because there might be no bleeding-heart liberals. If America never had slaves, there wouldn’t have been something nagging at people’s consciences. There would have been no abolitionists. There would have been no African-American authors and thinkers, much less ones pondering on the Declaration of Independence. There wouldn’t have been a left that wonders if the status of the lower classes amounts to some form of slavery because they wouldn’t have had any slavery to contrast things with. There probably would have been no Declaration of Independence, since slavery was what made people think deeply about freedom and what it means. We’d like still have European colonists ruling Africa, making quaint observations of “the natives” like so many National Geographic magazine writers.

    Historical events and moral epiphanies were connected, and it’s unlikely there’s a path from the European 1600’s mindset to modern concepts of equality and dignity that just skips everything in the middle. It could be that the world would still have a European 1600’s mindset.

    Mankind learns from mistakes, and if you remove the mistakes you also remove the learning.

  3. The critical point in history was the period after the War of Austrian Succession, when lasting peace between Britain and France was still possible. When that fell through, the Seven Years War was inevitable. This led directly to the heavy taxation of both the British (who paid) and the American Colonists (who wanted to weasel out). This led to the American Revolution, which led to the bankrupting of the French government and the French Revolution, which then led to the French Empire (to which the Americans allied against Britain in 1812).

    All of this upheaval then led to 1848 and minor uprisings in British North America led to responsible government in Nova Scotia and then, after the US civil war, the establishment of the first Dominion, Canada.

    Without that first domino drop, the French monarchy might have survived a while, New France would likely have eventually joined the British North American colonies even without the Plains of Abraham (France could not properly run it and they weren’t interested anyway). British abolitionism was strong on its own without the US Revolution and the Royal Navy would likely have still shut down the slave trade well before the 1860s. And America might have become the First dominion (with PEI, Nova Scotia, Acadia, Upper Canada and possibly even Lower Canada included).

    As Conrad Black points out, the economic center of gravity of the empire was shifting toward America anyway. If America had stayed in the empire, it’s quite possible that although the monarchs might have lived in London, the political and economic hub of the empire would have been in New York. An interesting “what if” future history.

    1. And the ’48ers – or their equivalents – would have stayed in Middle Europe along with their lagers. Beer in North America would have remained decent ales (plus ciders) rather than the embarassments most “macrobrews” are.

    2. “If America had stayed in the empire, it’s quite possible that although the monarchs might have lived in London, the political and economic hub of the empire would have been in New York. ”

      Or maybe Hoboken 😉

  4. George wrote:
    ” Even the effects on Britain were overwhelmingly positive, as it was a stark warning against government abuse and a profound and loud restatement of what are now universal Anglo-American belief that power flows from the people, who have inherent rights as individuals. Rule by decree and rule by force were forever discredited by the Revolution.”
    The powers that be need reminding from time to time.
    Kipling of course:
    At Runnymede, at Runnymede,
    Oh hear the reeds at Runnymede:—
    “You mustn’t sell, delay, deny,
    A freeman’s right or liberty,
    It wakes the stubborn Englishry,
    We saw ’em roused at Runnymede!

  5. Somin’s Point #6 was the first thing that occurred to me. Every British colony that gained autonomy did so after 1783.

    I’m leery of facile speculations on how much like the present the alternate present would be without the World’s Greatest Empire having suffered a humbling defeat from a rustic mob of Yankee doodles.

    1. And even worse, what if the World’s Greatest Empire had spent the 1800’s freely recruiting or impressing Americans to help relieve their inherent manpower shortages in ruling their vast global holdings?

  6. To avoid the Revolution, Britain wold have had to abandon its mercantilist policy. This saw the colonies as existing only for the benefit of Britain with the population as tenants. This is the basis for the collapse of colonialism.

    I don’t believe that instigators of the Revolution would have been satisfied by less that inclusion in the Parliamentary Suffrage on the same basis (much narrower than now) as any other Englishman. The difficulty of communicating across the Atlantic probably made this impractical and it wasn’t about to happen in any event. Many of the Founding Fathers and the population would have been disqualified on religious grounds as well.

    Britain retained the Dominions by making them into independent countries in all but name. They would have gone the same way as the other colonies and Ireland otherwise.

    If the Canadian natives were treated better than the American, it is probably because the Hudson’s Bay Company retained authority for so long, over so much of Canada and saw them as an exploitable resource and that there were no Europeans interested in most of the land. The record for the rest of the British Empire is unreservedly dark.

    I don’t think abolition would have gone so smoothly if half of England was dependent on a slave economy. If slavery had been confined to Texas or Alabama, we would have done it without a war as well. As it was, cotton came fairly close to overcoming their moral posturing against slavery and I’m pretty sure that a lot of Africans and Indians would have trouble making a distinction.

    1. “The record for the rest of the British Empire is unreservedly dark.”

      This is a rather myopic American viewpoint and it ignores some amazing successes throughout the world. How many constitutions has the US written? I know of 2, but there might be a few more. The British have written over a hundred, most modeled after the British North America Act of 1867. Have all of these countries been successes? No. But many are and the British did a much better job of setting up functioning economies and infrastructure around the world than anybody else, and that, sadly, includes the Americans. Ask yourself, would India be a functioning nation if the British had not run the place? Hong Kong? Singapore? And many nations have a populace that remember the days of colonial rule with nostalgia. Just ask Obama’s half brother.

      In a way you are right about mercantilism, but only partially. The British had a much looser style than did the French (try visiting Louisburg sometime). They mostly wanted trade within the Empire and that trade is what made the American colonies economic powerhouses. Once the Brits figured out that they could make even more cash by allowing trade, they were happy to do so.

      1. I should have probably reserved India and a few islands scattered about. With those exceptions, the rest of your constitutions are at best paid lip service or most often of only historic relevance. The grotesque legacy of the rest of Europe in Africa is the only thing that makes the British legacy seem remotely acceptable.

        Ireland has a very mixed opinion and memory of British governance.

        Obviously, British trade policy evolved with time and history. In the late 18th century it wasn’t changing fast enough to keep us.

  7. The holy written trinity of English speaking peoples are magna carta, habeus corpus, and the Declaration of Independence. The dec was born in the fire of war, raised on the banks of the Thames.

    Apart from the bible, these three put the great in America, and many other countries just borrowed the sense of them. U Lucky bastards!

    1. “If America had stayed in the empire, it’s quite possible that although the monarchs might have lived in London, the political and economic hub of the empire would have been in New York. ”

      This is correct. The Lefties of today have NO CLUE why the US is so successful. They’s rather blame someone for the fact that it’s not perfect.

      Lots of countries have space and natural resources. It was the American ideal of individual liberty that makes the difference.

      As yu say the Brits did pretty well with their Constitution. But the US had the indescribably good fortune of starting with a clean sheet of parchment.

      1. Lots of countries have space and natural resources. It was the American ideal of individual liberty that makes the difference.

        Australia and South Africa come to mind as examples that prove your point.

        1. It SURE AS HELL DOES!
          Australia has no right of free speech and no right to bear arms.
          Also no effective limit on what government can legally do to individuals.

      2. We use the world “colony” for two very different things, and it causes a lot of confusion. One meaning refers to the British colonies of the US, Canada, Australia, and some other places where English and other ordinary Europeans moved en masse, taking their cultural and civil institutions with them and insisting on retaining all the same rights they had at home.

        The other is where European governments would go into highly populated areas of the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the New World, subjugate the natives, and says “We’re in charge, and now you’ll work for us, or else!” Those countries were ruled over as occupied territories, and their legal systems were set up to prevent rebellion and generate revenue. Very few Europeans would have tolerated living under such governments because such governments were, by design, abusive of people’s rights.

        But we commonly call both examples “colonies”.

        One observation is that the latter ones tended to be set up in places where few Europeans would risk raising a family, due to large numbers of savages, rampaging wildlife, pestilent insects, overwhelming heat and humidity, and incurable tropical diseases.

      3. Would the political boundaries of North America look anything like they do now? Unlikely, very unlikely!

        With a North America fractured into many smaller countries, not all of them British, why would New Amsterdam be the new center of the British world?

    1. Pro tip: she’s not facing 20 years.

      “People reporting on federal criminal justice — whether journalists or bloggers — routinely report on the statutory maximum sentence that a defendant could hypothetically get, an oft-ridiculous figure calculated by taking all the charged crimes and adding up the maximum punishment for each. This is usually followed by some sort of pronouncement that THIS PERSON CHARGED OF MINOR CRIMES FACES MORE JAIL TIME THAN YOU’D GET IF YOU BEAT A TODDLER TO DEATH WITH AN UNCONSCIOUS NUN WHILE RAPING A BLIND LIBRARIAN, or words to that effect.

      The problem is this number — the sum of the maximum sentence for all the crimes charged in a federal case — usually bears almost no relation to the sentence the defendant actually faces.”

      https://www.popehat.com/2013/02/05/crime-whale-sushi-sentence-eleventy-million-years/

  8. At this point I don’t think the British would take the USA back no matter how nicely they were asked.

    A question no one is asking. The real question is would Mexico take California back?

  9. Britain might not take the USA back but I think a whole lot of USAians wouldn’t mind the British repeating their little trick of 1814, except more effectively.
    Remember when using India and Hong Kong as examples that the “colonizations” were actually set up by private companies under goverment charter.

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