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Old 10-08-2013, 06:05 PM
 
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I just ran across this while looking for something else and thought it could be a entertaining addition to our usual discussions.

In most respects the American colonies governed themselves, but as they started to expand, border disputes with New France increased. So Britain was obliged to deploy regulars to maintain an uneasy peace with the French and also protect colonistís homes from Indian depredations. This truce lasted until a 22 year old lieutenant colonel in the British army, a certain George Washington had his men launch an unprovoked attack on French troops at Jumonville Glen in 1754, killing 10 of them and murdering their commander. This effectively sparked off the seven-year war (1756-63) during which the French tried to drive the (non-French) colonists out of America. To defend them, Britain had to increase its troop numbers in the colonies to ten thousand men. This is because when the colonists were left to their own devices, they nearly always lost, George Washington was particularly useless getting himself captured by the French; (it wasnít until the revolution that he became an outstanding General).

Despite the colonists being comparatively wealthy, with some very wealthy, the cost of this protection was nearly all being borne by the British taxpayer and the seven-year war had added 150 million pounds ($280,500,000) on top of an already crippling debt, incurred while defending Hanover from the French, Austrian, Saxon, Swedish and Russian Alliance.
This deficit was made worse by corruption in the colonies actually causing tax revenue to cost Britain £8000 in order to collect £2000 tax, and this at a rate of only sixpence a year each.
The British had repeatedly tried to get the colonists to pay towards their protection, by introducing various taxes, but all were unpopular.

Despite its notoriety, the objection to tax levied on tea was a ruse; the real issue was the British had, in an attempt to curtail their activities, under-cut the price of tea offered by smugglers, so itís not surprising that most of the revolutionary leaders were in fact smugglers. But what is less well known is these same leaders had become wealthy dealing with the enemy during the Seven-Year-War, while fellow Americans were fighting to help save the colonies from the French.
Another reason not often mentioned is that the local legislatures for their own ends, kept devaluing their currencies to the point of making them virtually worthless. This cheated creditors out of money; but also created large numbers of debtors in the colonies.
The money owed wasnít theirs to lose, so by promising to absolve these debts, the rebels devised a powerful incentive for support.
American Loyalists
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Old 10-08-2013, 08:43 PM
 
Location: University City, Philadelphia
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I hope this isn't off topic, but during the years 1994 through 1998 I was a member of the Royal Merchant Navy of the UK even though I am an American citizen. This was necessary because I was employed by the famous British shipping company Cunard. I have both an American Passport and a British Seaman's Passport.

I was a member of a ship's staff. Although not an officer I ranked the equivalent of a 2 and 1/2 stripe officer - very high up - and was not considered a part of the crew but a member of the captain's cadre. The crew were mostly British, but there were several other nationalities represented. There were only a couple of other Americans.

Anyway, as a member of the Fo'c'sle Club (restricted only to officers and high ranking staff members) I decided to sponsor a Fourth Of July party for all the crew members. This one other American guy onboard (a technician, also a member of the club) was livid. "This is a British ship! We can't rub our Independence Day in their faces! They will be insulted!" he said. My reply was "Nonsense, They have forgotten about that generations ago."

When we were docked in New York I picked up shopping bags of all kinds of Americana decorations, American flags, "Spirit of '76" picture, etc. (all at my personal expense, mind you.) The chef of the ship was enthusiastic - whereas I suggested a buffet of just hot dogs and hamburgers - he suggested barbecue baby back ribs, mac 'n' cheese, and other goodies (the club picked up the food tab).

The party was a great success. A stupendous success. Everyone - 90% British - were wishing everyone else a happy Fourth Of July. The ship band was playing things like Don MacLean's "American Pie." It had no more of a political overtone than a St. Paddy's Day party or a Cinco de Mayo Party or an Oktoberfest party.

From my experience there are no hard feelings on the other side of the pond. In fact when former mates of mine visit me here in Philly they always demand to see the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, anything associated with Ben Franklin as well as the "Rocky steps" and a cheesesteak sandwich.
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Old 10-09-2013, 06:42 AM
 
Location: Emmaus, PA
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NO ONE visits Philly without eating a Philly cheese steak.
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Old 10-09-2013, 08:02 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clark Park View Post
From my experience there are no hard feelings on the other side of the pond. In fact when former mates of mine visit me here in Philly they always demand to see the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, anything associated with Ben Franklin as well as the "Rocky steps" and a cheesesteak sandwich.
What a great story!

My British friends like to needle me on Independence Day, saying that that's the day they finally decided they were done mucking about with us "colonials."

I counter by pointing out that Americans, Indians and Pakistanis alike can all celebrate kicking the British out.
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Old 10-09-2013, 08:32 AM
 
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For Americans, the revolution is the key event in their history. For Brits, the 'War of American Independence' (which is how it was taught to us) is just another event in a long colonial history.

In the teaching of history in the UK, the Seven Years War and the WOAI are dwarfed in importance by the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars. Although there is a recognition that Britain lost that war, in the wider scheme of things, it is not considered all that important.
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Old 10-09-2013, 09:18 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaggy001 View Post
For Americans, the revolution is the key event in their history. For Brits, the 'War of American Independence' (which is how it was taught to us) is just another event in a long colonial history.

In the teaching of history in the UK, the Seven Years War and the WOAI are dwarfed in importance by the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars. Although there is a recognition that Britain lost that war, in the wider scheme of things, it is not considered all that important.
Even as an American that's how I've always thought of it. For Americans it is a HUGE deal because it is how our country began and we absolutely adore all the "underdog coming out on top" stuff that goes along with it, but... When you look at it from the scope of World History, there were FAR more important things going on at the time and America was little more than a fly buzzing around Britain's head until the World Wars. I think in many ways the vast majority of America is still very much isolationist in attitude towards the rest of the world even though our government is almost constantly up in everyone else's business. Americans seem to think the world always revolved around us because, from our perspective, the rest of the world only matters when it is relevant to America. Of course, I imagine all countries are like this to a certain extent, but it seems to have an extra special something here.

Although, I would like to see an actual British scholar's perspective on the American Revolution... (If you can really call it a Revolution. I mean, it really doesn't fit the definition of a Revolution when you think about it.) That website the OP posted is interesting, but the author's explanations are far too simplistic and lack a coherent narrative about taxation, theological concepts of liberty in Britain, friction between standing armies and militia dating back to the English Civil War and the debates about the war in parliament. I would think a true British historian would focus more on the reaction within parliament as well as public opinion within the empire regarding the situation. During that era, debates regarding taxation were more like an epic theological/ideological battle than a simple matter of number crunching.

... Which is probably true about most issues in politics/history. More often than not the numbers don't add up if all we cared about was practicality, but the ideology that is attached to whatever it is we're talking about? That changes everything. I guess you could say perception is what shapes our reality even when it flies in the face of what is actually happening. With that in mind, the American Revolution (or any war for that matter) takes on a whole new form.
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Old 10-09-2013, 09:49 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blink101 View Post
Although, I would like to see an actual British scholar's perspective on the American Revolution... (If you can really call it a Revolution. I mean, it really doesn't fit the definition of a Revolution when you think about it.) That website the OP posted is interesting, but the author's explanations are far too simplistic and lack a coherent narrative about taxation...
No it doesn't but the idea of the post was to encourage the posting of coherent narratives.

Take for example this analysis of the tax burden incurred upon British citizens as a result of the French and Indian war.

The cost of providing a military presences in the American colonies rose from £13,000 to £220,000 so a tax was levied to pay for British protection of the colonies (quite reasonable one would think but that's the tea party for you.)

British View on the Stamp Act
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Old 10-09-2013, 10:53 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ovcatto View Post
No it doesn't but the idea of the post was to encourage the posting of coherent narratives.

Take for example this analysis of the tax burden incurred upon British citizens as a result of the French and Indian war.

The cost of providing a military presences in the American colonies rose from £13,000 to £220,000 so a tax was levied to pay for British protection of the colonies (quite reasonable one would think but that's the tea party for you.)

British View on the Stamp Act
I'm so glad that a COHERENT thread, not the mess of a thread recently started by a now non-member, was re-started on this topic.

That's all true, but I thought the real issue was not the tax....well that was important of course....but the lack of representation in Parliament. The whole "no taxation without representation" thing. Now the colonies were somewhat left to govern themselves, but you still had a big brother out there, who as the years went by they felt less and less connected to cluturally or socially, making decisions for there future. Getting rid of the British tax meant just replacing it with a new tax from the Independent Colonial Government so I am not sure that was the main issue.
And the French and Indian war in the colonies, as you mentioned, was just a front in the Seven Years War - i.e. a European Conflict. For that matter it's just one of a series of French/British conflicts that existed over centuries and would continue to exist for another half a century. So, besides the tax, you can't blame the colonists for asking themselves why were they fighting a European war? Before the war, sure there were some border disputes, but nothing that couldn't be resolved between France and England - France's money maker was it's colonies in the carribean (sugar and spices) and colonial militia's could easily handle the indian tribal disputes, there were otherwise almost no french troops and very few regular british troops. And then suddenly the colonies become a front in the historical enemy/monarcy habsbug vs bourbon rivalry/quasi religious/european conflict with all these armies flooding in.
That's a balancing view anyways.

No one doubts that, 250 years after the fact - there is nothing but good natured teasing between the US and British about the results of the American Revolution. Now burning our capital during the War of 1812, that's another matter....

Last edited by Dd714; 10-09-2013 at 11:03 AM..
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Old 10-09-2013, 11:04 AM
 
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The end of the French and Indian War the starting point of the Amer Rev.
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Old 10-09-2013, 12:00 PM
 
Location: Aloverton
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Originally Posted by Dd714 View Post
No one doubts that, 250 years after the fact - there is nothing but good natured teasing between the US and British about the results of the American Revolution. Now burning our capital during the War of 1812, that's another matter....
Except that this was retaliation for us torching part of York (today Toronto). We did a lot of looting and burning. Perhaps that's war, but one can see why they'd be annoyed.

Veering aside from your post and in general response to the discussion, I have for some time believed that one of our national conceits was to assume that our first two wars were as momentous for the world at the time as they were for us. (The mentality is natural. I have a friend who survived esophageal cancer, and now she is Ms. Cancer R Us; her life revolves around herself as the Cancer Slayer, and she doesn't understand the attitude of "Great, you survived. Now live your life about something besides cancer." She can't. Cancer defines her now.) Realistically, the British probably expected an independent colonial North American nation (or nations) at some point, but more on the Canadian model and certainly not involving violent revolution. In any case, looking at the larger picture there, the primary British concern of the era (indeed, most eras) was the safeguarding of a wealthy island nation from invasion that it was not well equipped to repel once enemies came ashore, and the protection of the growing global British merchant shipping trade.

What this meant, in practice, was:

1) Britain would always put naval pre-eminence first, making army size a second consideration. It could not do otherwise. It did not reach its late 1700s world position by doing otherwise.
2) Any resources, land and sea, devoted to fighting a war in the Americas must necessarily require more spending, or a weakening of defense against a neighbor about twenty miles away at nearest point, which was also a land and sea power with other land and sea powers (Spain, Netherlands) potentially allied.
3) The last thing they therefore wanted was war over here, which is one reason they tried so hard to placate us over taxes.

What they learned was the eternal truth that Americans then as now simply don't want any taxes, but do want the benefits they can bring. They also learned that common Americans were astonishingly manipulable, as with the Boston Tea Party, where rich smugglers organized non-rich people to act completely against their own interests out of patriotism. The British were trying to provide cheaper, legal tea and bail out John Company, and were flabbergasted to meet with hostility to the idea. They underestimated the 1770s version of Cletus. When Cletus's local leaders told him he was oppressed and overtaxed, and that he should not take that abuse but should stand up and fight against it, he did so, mainly harming himself to help his rich manipulators, and congratulating himself on his patriotic stand.

When the colonies represented a net gain for Britain, it was easy to see why they'd want to hang onto them. When garrison needs made them somewhat of a money sink...not so much. The reflex was to assert Imperial might--"No one talks to Us that way"--but it was a reflex that led to a war one might call Britain's Vietnam, avowedly stretching the metaphor in many ways. Later came the Napoleonic Wars, a conflict with global implications in which, by 1812, the British had been engaged at full power for their lives for seven long years--including the horrible Peninsular conflict. Right about then, the very last thing they needed was American trouble, but there was more than a little residual American sympathy for Napoleon simply as an enemy of Britain. 1812 was an irritating sideshow for the British, though a formative war for both the US and Canada.

It's not that the Colonies had no valid complaints prior to the Revolution. They had some. Their complaints would probably have been taken more seriously (though even then, the British tried hard to conciliate them, backing off on numerous Acts and Taxes) had they been willing to help defray the costs of their own defense. Instead they took the position that they could defend themselves and didn't want or need the mother country's help, which was fine except that said mother country had spent a Great Buttload O' Money defending them already, which sounds like 'thanks for saving my life; tomorrow we start even.'

Another thing not generally appreciated in US circles is how divisive the Revolutionary War was in metropolitan Britain. Many British considered it fratricidal: "these are Englishmen, and we are thus killing our own." Many considered it a foolish waste of lives, money and focus. And to go by the correspondence of British generals stuck fighting the colonists, there was some perception of the Colonies as a miserable hellhole. Brutal winters. Muggy summers. Hurricanes. Rough terrain. What seemed like a giant desert beyond that, loaded with even worse discomforts. Insects and predators that brought to mind Africa and southeast Asia. Contentious, heavily armed locals. Contentious, well-armed Indians. It's not surprising that so many British officers wanted to be sent anywhere, long as it wasn't the American Colonies. "The best punishment for their insolence would be to let them be stuck with it, and don't take them back."

I rarely post in this forum any more, but the OP began a good discussion worthy of input. I would like to see Americans better grasp the nature of their formative events, and how they fit into global affairs of the day.
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