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Sunday, July 04, 2004

Yahoo! News Message Boards Top Stories: "AMERICAN REVOLUTION = CIVIL WAR
by: radioactive_cyborg_crack_monkey (19/M/Great Britain, England) 07/04/04 01:54 pm
Msg: 1260 of 1529
2 recommendations

The Hollywood version of the War of Independence is a straightforward fight between heroic Patriots and wicked, Nazi-like British Redcoats. But the reality is very different, it was in fact a Civil War which divided social classes and even families. Benjamin Franklin�s own son, William, governor of New Jersey, remained loyal to Britain during the war. The two never spoke again. And the worst violence did not involve regular British troops, but was perpetrated by rebel colonials against their countrymen who remained loyal to Great Britain.

But it is the great irony of the American Revolution, and it strikes you forcefully when you see today�s prosperous Lexingtonians trying to relive their forefathers self-sacrifice � that the ones who revolted against British rule were best of all Britain�s colonial subjects. There is good reason to think that, by the 1770�s, New Englanders were about the wealthiest people in the world. Per person income was at least equal to that in the United Kingdom and was more evenly distributed. The New Englanders had bigger farms, bigger families and better education than the Old Englanders back home. And, crucially, they paid far less tax. In 1763 the average Briton paid 26 shillings a year in taxes. The equivalent figure for a Massachusetts taxpayer was just one shilling. To say that being British subjects had been good for these people would be an understatement.
Just twenty years before the ‘battle’ of Lexington, the American settlers had proved their loyalty to the British Empire by turning out in tens of thousands to fight against the French and the Indian allies in the Seven Years War. The first shot of that war had been fired by a young colonial named George Washington.

Everyone has heard of the ‘Boston Tea Party’ of 16 December 1773, in which 342 boxes of tea worth £10,000 were tipped into the waters of Boston harbour. But most people assume it was a protest against a hike in the tax on tea. In fact the price of the tea in question was exceptionally low, since the British government had just given the East India Company a rebate of the much higher duty the tea had incurred on entering Britain. In effect, the tea left Britain duty free and had to only pay the much lower American duty on arriving in Boston. Tea had never been cheaper in New England. The ‘Boston Tea Party’ was organized not by furious consumers but by Boston’s wealthy smugglers, who stood to lose out.

On close inspection, the taxes that caused so much fuss were not just unimportant; by 1773 they had all but gone. In any case, these disputes about taxation were trivial compared with the basic economic reality that membership to the British Empire was good – very good – for the American colonial economy. The Navigation Acts may have given British ships a monopoly over trade with the colonies, but they also guaranteed a market for North American exports of agricultural staples, cattle, pig iron and ships.

Overall, something like one in five of the White population of British North America remained loyal to the crown during the war. The loyalist companies often fought just as hard as the British troops. But with the colonial rebels, French & Dutch working together, the odds were stacked against the British who had a limited military presence due to involvement in wars elsewhere in the world, mainly against the jealous French back home in Europe.

Many loyal colonials responded to defeat by immigrating northwards to the British colonies in Canada, which had all remained loyal. The loss of America had the unforeseen effect of securing Canada for the Empire, thanks to the flood of English-speaking Loyalist immigrants who would soon reduce the French Quebecois to a struggling minority.

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Just twenty years before the �battle� of Lexington, the American settlers had proved their loyalty to the British Empire by turning out "

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

just testing

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