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Was The American Revolution Justified?

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Yumyumsuppertime
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Was The American Revolution Justified?

Postby Yumyumsuppertime » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:30 pm

I certainly think so, but then again, my education was in the American public schools, and they have a very specific narrative when it comes to our history.

Here's what we're taught, or at least the basics of it: In between increased demands for revenue from the colonies, the forced quartering and feeding of British soldiers, the Sugar Act, the Stamp Act, the curtailing of the powers of Colonial legislatures, the censorship and closure of colonial newspapers, and any one of a number of annoyances from the British Crown (combined with the fact that following the French and Indian War, we didn't really need the British Army for protection), the people who eventually made up the revolutionaries decided that since we weren't getting any sort of representation in Parliament in exchange for our resources and money, we should probably try to make a go of it on our own, instead. His Majesty King George III obviously objected to this idea, a war started, and the brave colonists won the day with the help of the French. After another kerfuffle a few decades later, we eventually started to come around to getting along, and now we're the bestest of friends.

That's obviously a simplified version, but it covers most of the major points that we hit in American History. My question is this, especially if you're from the U.K: What, if anything, are you taught about the causes for the American Revolution? Is it seen as justified? A temper tantrum? A mixed bag? Something else entirely? And, of course, what do you personally think? My belief is that it was justified, but as I said, we tend to have a narrow focus in school when it comes to these matters.

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The Truth and Light
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Postby The Truth and Light » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:34 pm

I have mixed feelings.

Fighting against taxation without representation is certainly admirable. Winning the fight and creating yet another nation that revolves around inequality and selective representation of the populace? Eh, it's a racket.

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Postby Minarchist States » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:35 pm

Of course. Fighting against illegitimate coercion is always moral.
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Postby Hollorous » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:40 pm

It's a mixed bag. The colonists do come off as ungrateful douches some of the time (like not wanting to pay for the French and Indian War, objecting to Britain allowing French Canadian Catholics to practice their religion, chomping at the bit to continue territorial expansion at the expense of the Natives), but Great Britain kind of asked for the trouble when they made their colonies a dumping ground for their various political dissidents, barely enforcing their regulations for a century and a half, then expecting the colonists to fall into line when they finally wanted to start enforcing all their laws and collecting all their taxes. In short, justification is kinda irrelevant from where I stand, as it was a sort of natural drift that erupted in violence. The entire "Taxation Without Representation" thing was a sort of smoke screen; anyone who was serious about it knew that colonial representation in parliament was seriously impractical due to the distance across the Atlantic.

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Postby Yumyumsuppertime » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:42 pm

Minarchist States wrote:Of course. Fighting against illegitimate coercion is always moral.


The British government provided stability through their military, their sound financial system (which was being badly affected by the money being issued independently by the colonies), and their institutions. What illegitimate coercion are we talking about, especially when one considers the benefits of British rule in exchange?

Just playing Devil's Advocate.

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Postby Christmahanikwanzikah » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:42 pm

I think a significant part of it had to do with the colonists always playing second fiddle to the Brits and their interests, and the Brits making sure the colonists knew about it.

Washington was hesitant about rebellion against the British - he was at first neutral about fighting the British, in part because of his income from trade - but one of the things that seemed to have pushed him towards supporting the rebellion (and eventual Revolution) was the disdain he received from British generals during the French and Indian War; and from the British locking up much of the land seized from that war and future incursions in Indian land and giving dibs to people in the mother country.

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Postby Blasveck » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:43 pm

Though this is a little OT, I'm curious as to why some people claim the American Revolution was justified and the attempted Southern Secession was not.
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Postby The Truth and Light » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:45 pm

Blasveck wrote:Though this is a little OT, I'm curious as to why some people claim the American Revolution was justified and the attempted Southern Secession was not.

I think that's actually the disparity from which this discussion arises.

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Postby Aeken » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:46 pm

Mostly, yes. There are some rather bad parts, however.

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Postby Regnum Dominae » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:48 pm

Blasveck wrote:Though this is a little OT, I'm curious as to why some people claim the American Revolution was justified and the attempted Southern Secession was not.

Because the motivations behind the two were very, very, very different.

Opposition to taxation without representation and a host of other problems with British control, is not even close to "we don't want to free our slaves".
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Postby GCMG » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:48 pm

We've never touched on the US Revolution at all, it was just never one of the topics we've looked at. In theory this year was a great year to have a go at it but the way we were introduced to perspectives didn't involve it. I'm fairly certain some schools here do. But, the point is my opinion is based primarily on what I've read in my own time.

The result? Well, greedy, parochially minded colonists got annoyed when their taxes were raised, Britain tried to placate sentiments by lowering taxes but by now the problem is not so much the taxes as the fact that the decision for the taxes is miles away. In terms of how it is remembered? George III and Britain are evil baddies and the colonists are the goodies. And, with Ireland excluded, Britain decided that home rule was a good idea in future.
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Postby GCMG » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:54 pm

Regnum Dominae wrote:
Blasveck wrote:Though this is a little OT, I'm curious as to why some people claim the American Revolution was justified and the attempted Southern Secession was not.

Because the motivations behind the two were very, very, very different.

Opposition to taxation without representation and a host of other problems with British control, is not even close to "we don't want to free our slaves".


More Devil's Advocacy... unless you present the idea as, "Nasty buggers living miles away from here making decisions about here" in which case it seems to be exactly the same (this is a perfectly coarse way of representing the idea behind the "no taxation without representation" jingle).

(We did touch on the US Civil War mind but only to the extent of its impact on slaves... and even that was just establishing the context for what we were doing. We probably looked at its causes briefly but I have no recollection of doing so.)
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Postby Blasveck » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:54 pm

Regnum Dominae wrote:
Blasveck wrote:Though this is a little OT, I'm curious as to why some people claim the American Revolution was justified and the attempted Southern Secession was not.

Because the motivations behind the two were very, very, very different.

Opposition to taxation without representation and a host of other problems with British control, is not even close to "we don't want to free our slaves".

To be fair, the newly formed US did still keep slaves post revolution.
They really just didn't care.

(Well, some did, like good ol' Benny, but not enough to institute change until the war about 70 years later.)
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Postby Zathganastan » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:54 pm

The Revolutionaries had legitimate reasons for wanting independence such as having no direct representations in parliament, an increase in taxation, limiting settlement out west, and the relocation of colonists that had already been there for some time. While the fact that the idea and clamor for a full break for the British didn't become widespread until after the first shots where fired also helps paint the revolutionaries as being in the right. Although the British did however have every right to enforce their laws upon their colonial territory which in some cases literally had armed mobs taking to the street attacking officials and rioting against British law.
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Postby Yumyumsuppertime » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:56 pm

Blasveck wrote:
Regnum Dominae wrote:Because the motivations behind the two were very, very, very different.

Opposition to taxation without representation and a host of other problems with British control, is not even close to "we don't want to free our slaves".

To be fair, the newly formed US did still keep slaves post revolution.
They really just didn't care.

(Well, some did, like good ol' Benny, but not enough to institute change until the war about 70 years later.)


Sure, but the war wasn't being fought over them. If the British government had attempted to abolish slavery, and the colonists had revolted over that (And, oh boy, would they EVER have revolted at that time!), then the colonists would be in the wrong. However, the revolt was over different matters entirely, so that doesn't enter into it.

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Postby Christmahanikwanzikah » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:57 pm

Blasveck wrote:Though this is a little OT, I'm curious as to why some people claim the American Revolution was justified and the attempted Southern Secession was not.


Both have their reasons for rationalization, and both have critics, but the former is criticized for aristocrats getting rich, and the latter is criticized for aristocrats keeping slaves.

Also, still, the reasoning for the latter makes less sense. A divided North and South were much more vulnerable to the shortcomings of their geography and economies than a whole Union, and the South's grievances didn't extend much further than slave ownership. So both can be "justified" in one way or another, but the Revolution is far more justifiable.

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Postby The Truth and Light » Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:02 pm

What I find amusing is that taxation with parliamentary representation wouldn't have even worked. The more I read about it, the more it seems like the colonies were simply autonomous vassals that were disgruntled with having to pay tribute. They had their own local governments with the power to enact laws, and their own troops long before the Revolutionary War.

What I can't get over was the fact that this was not a war for any values or ideals; though it is often painted that way. The leaders among the colonists just wanted to cut out the middle man, so they could exercise more direct legislation over their territories without the interference from the nosy people from across the pond.

I'm starting to see it less as, "We want freedom and representation," and more as, "We want the spoils of this unjust political system we have set up here, and we don't want to share it with these Brits."

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Postby Libertarian California » Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:03 pm

Of course it was.

First, the colonists were dragged into the Seven Years' War against their consent by Great Britain.
Second, Great Britain did not "defend" the colonists, as it was the colonial militias that did most of the fighting and conquered the Ohio country.
Third, Great Britain passed the Proclamation of '63, preventing the colonists from moving into the land they had just conquered.
Fourth,Great Britain had the audacity to tax the colonists to "help pay for their defense", ignoring the fact that the colonists by and large defended themselves and that the colonists had no say in these taxes.
Fifth, Great Britain engaged in egregious acts of economic coercion, attempting to force a Royal monopoly upon the colonists and deliberately hampering manufacturing in the colonies
Sixth, Great Britain made colonial governments effectively powerless and assumed total control over their laws. The colonists had tolerated British control over foreign policy and such, but viewed this move by the Crown to control the colonial governments directly as invasive
Seventh, military occupation of Boston and creation of martial law

Yes, many of the colonists joined the Revolution because they wanted to make a buck, and yes many were hypocritical for clamoring for freedom while owning slaves, but you'd be foolish to deny that the colonists had legitimate grievances.

The American Revolution was most definitely justified.


Also, don't even try to compare this to the Confederate treason.
Last edited by Libertarian California on Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Libertarian California » Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:07 pm

The Truth and Light wrote:What I find amusing is that taxation with parliamentary representation wouldn't have even worked. The more I read about it, the more it seems like the colonies were simply autonomous vassals that were disgruntled with having to pay tribute. They had their own local governments with the power to enact laws, and their own troops long before the Revolutionary War.

What I can't get over was the fact that this was not a war for any values or ideals; though it is often painted that way. The leaders among the colonists just wanted to cut out the middle man, so they could exercise more direct legislation over their territories without the interference from the nosy people from across the pond.

I'm starting to see it less as, "We want freedom and representation," and more as, "We want the spoils of this unjust political system we have set up here, and we don't want to share it with these Brits."


I'm sure it had nothing to do with being forced to accept monopolies by British corporations, or the military occupation of cities, or how Great Britain actively set out to destroy the governments of New England, which were the most democratic in the world at that time.
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Postby Yumyumsuppertime » Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:09 pm

Libertarian California wrote:Of course it was.

First, the colonists were dragged into the Seven Years' War against their consent by Great Britain.
Second, Great Britain did not "defend" the colonists, as it was the colonial militias that did most of the fighting and conquered the Ohio country.
Third, Great Britain passed the Proclamation of '63, preventing the colonists from moving into the land they had just conquered.
Fourth,Great Britain had the audacity to tax the colonists to "help pay for their defense", ignoring the fact that the colonists by and large defended themselves and that the colonists had no say in these taxes.
Fifth, Great Britain engaged in egregious acts of economic coercion, attempting to force a Royal monopoly upon the colonists and deliberately hampering manufacturing in the colonies
Sixth, Great Britain made colonial governments effectively powerless and assumed total control over their laws. The colonists had tolerated British control over foreign policy and such, but viewed this move by the Crown to control the colonial governments directly as invasive
Seventh, military occupation of Boston and creation of martial law

Yes, many of the colonists joined the Revolution because they wanted to make a buck, and yes many were hypocritical for clamoring for freedom while owning slaves, but you'd be foolish to deny that the colonists had legitimate grievances.

The American Revolution was most definitely justified.


Also, don't even try to compare this to the Confederate treason.


Of course not. This was justified treason, that was unjustified treason.

Treason against the Crown made sense, as we didn't have representation, and were being jerked around with little to nothing in return. The Southerners' treason made no sense, as they had representation, and had actually had the greater share of influence over the government since the founding of the nation.

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Postby Minarchist States » Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:09 pm

Yumyumsuppertime wrote:
Minarchist States wrote:Of course. Fighting against illegitimate coercion is always moral.


The British government provided stability through their military, their sound financial system (which was being badly affected by the money being issued independently by the colonies), and their institutions. What illegitimate coercion are we talking about, especially when one considers the benefits of British rule in exchange?

Just playing Devil's Advocate.


The colonists were forced to house soldiers and care for them for starters. The redcoats could just take over any house and live there.
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Postby The Truth and Light » Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:10 pm

Libertarian California wrote:
The Truth and Light wrote:What I find amusing is that taxation with parliamentary representation wouldn't have even worked. The more I read about it, the more it seems like the colonies were simply autonomous vassals that were disgruntled with having to pay tribute. They had their own local governments with the power to enact laws, and their own troops long before the Revolutionary War.

What I can't get over was the fact that this was not a war for any values or ideals; though it is often painted that way. The leaders among the colonists just wanted to cut out the middle man, so they could exercise more direct legislation over their territories without the interference from the nosy people from across the pond.

I'm starting to see it less as, "We want freedom and representation," and more as, "We want the spoils of this unjust political system we have set up here, and we don't want to share it with these Brits."


I'm sure it had nothing to do with being forced to accept monopolies by British corporations, or the military occupation of cities, or how Great Britain actively set out to destroy the governments of New England, which were the most democratic in the world at that time.

First two points support my hypothesis, so yay. Vassal culture!

The third point is laughable.

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Postby Libertarian California » Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:12 pm

The Truth and Light wrote:
Libertarian California wrote:
I'm sure it had nothing to do with being forced to accept monopolies by British corporations, or the military occupation of cities, or how Great Britain actively set out to destroy the governments of New England, which were the most democratic in the world at that time.

First two points support my hypothesis, so yay. Vassal culture!

The third point is laughable.


Actually, some of the governments set up in New England were nothing short of direct democracies and tyranny by majority.
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Postby Christmahanikwanzikah » Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:13 pm

Libertarian California wrote:Second, Great Britain did not "defend" the colonists, as it was the colonial militias that did most of the fighting and conquered the Ohio country.


To be fair about this point, it was the British that led and organized these armies. They trained and led an organized army according to their own tactics (something that Washington picked up on and used later), and it was a British general who was eventually successful in capturing lands that not even Washington with the same army could obtain.

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Postby Saint-Thor » Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:15 pm

Hollorous wrote:objecting to Britain allowing French Canadian Catholics to practice their religion.

It's the British who did not allow the Canadians to practice their religion in the first place. They forced the Canadians to take the Test Oath right from the start in 1763. The British removed the obligation to take the oath after the Act of Québec in 1774 to make sure the Canadians would support Britain and not the Americans colonists in case of insurgency. If the colonist had the bright idea to offer them the same right before the British, they would have gained valuable and very hostile allies against the British. Plus, Canada would be theirs.

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