Red Ned Tudor Mysteries

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The American Revolution- What was it and Why?

Welcome my friends and fellow Houselings! Since it is has been such a along time since the doctor has given you any pearls of wisdom, I think that considering it is the 4th of July it merits a special post.

Since 1776 an awful lot of misconceptions and legends have grown up around both the Declaration of Independence and the Founding Fathers of the United States. More than a few are demolished by Bill Bryson in his excellent light hearted work Made in America. A piece that should be required reading for anyone in High School and beyond if only to show that history and myths are damned amusing and their origins are quite bizarre.

Instead today I am going to shift the focus away from the suggested seat of Liberty America and look at a single event in the Bear pit of the House of Commons at British Parliament in 1765. Charles Townsend the Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke in the House for the enabling of the Stamp Act to assign taxation of items in use by the American Colonies. While no one likes taxes at anytime the basis of this one was perfectly reasonable, the monies raised were to be used to defray the costs of protecting the American Colonies. Simple and straight forward, however after that bout of commonsense the rest of the process was a disaster. Which the eminent and highly readable historian Barbara Tuchman succinctly points out in her March of Folly. If human arrogance, misunderstanding, stupidity, misconception, ego and snobbishness could put an oar in to make a poor idea into a catastrophe it did.

But there were more than enough men of backbone and character who stood up against this piece of absolute stupidity. Pitt the Elder, the architect of victory over France, the great orator Edmund Burke, General Conway and the man who first encapsulated the American Colonials situation Colonel Isaac Barré (see painting to left). This respected soldier fought with Wolfe and was with him at the time of his death on the Plains of Abraham the culminating victory of the Seven Year War that ended French control of the Canadas.

What Colonel Barré said in answer to Townsends’ slur on the Colonies was this, accord to a transcription posted immediately to the colonies (quoted from A New Age Now Begins – Page Smith)

“They planted by you care? No, your oppressions planted them in America. They fled from your tyranny to a then uncultivated and unhospitable country –where they exposed themselves to almost all their hardships of which human nature is liable, and among other to a cruel and savage foe…And yet actuated by principles of true English Liberty, they met all hardships with pleasure, compared with those suffered in their own country, from hands of those who should have been their friends.”

“They nourished by your indulgence? They grew by your neglect of em: as soon as you began to care about em, that care was exercised in sending persons to rule over em, in one department or another, who were perhaps the deputies of deputies to some member in this House- sent to spy out their liberty, to misrepresent their actions and to prey upon em: men whose behaviour on many occasions has caused the blood of those Sons of Liberty to recoil within them…

“They protected by your arm? They have nobly taken up arms in you defence, have exerted a valour amidst their constant and laborious industry for the defence of a country whose frontier was drenched in blood. Its interior parts have yielded all its little savings to your emolument. And believe me, remember I this day told you so, that same Spirit of Freedom which actuates that people at first will accompany them still- But prudence forbids me to explain myself further. God knows I do not at this time speak from motives of party heat; what I deliver are the genuine sentiments of my heart.

So folks, here we are all those noble sentiments and ringing word that moved the Thirteen Colonies first uttered here by an Englishman in Parliament endeavouring to protect your Rights and Liberties.

The Grand Union flag of the Thirteen Colonies
I think that at this time of division and the active promotion of hate and rancour within our legislative assemblies and without, perhaps we too should listen to the wisdom of Colonel Barré a man who spoke for commonsense, thought and temperance. A man who freely admitted that the current system had serious flaws and that if they were not solved it could lead to calamity. At this point I feel that it is also worthy while noting that all through the trauma of the American Revolution support for the colonies across all classes of Britain remained high. This also continued into the dreadful time of the Civil War when apart from a frothy sympathy for the South from the Upper classes the British Government was not going to go to war on behalf of States upholding the institution of Slavery. Sorry all you die hard Southern supporters, King Cotton was always a myth. So to our American Kin on this auspicious day I suggest you look hard at the realties of this occasion and think long and deeply about what those Founding Fathers and their English supporters would think of what you have done with their gift since then? Reinvigorated or squandered?

Regards from the good doctor and don’t forget keep taking them pills!

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