1776: Historical Revisionism

Daniel Hannan on the historical revisionism surrounding our country’s founding (hat tip: Punk). It’s an article with relevance for those concerned with the attempts to marginalize the uniquely British and Protestant world-view central to the country’s foundation.

The American Revolution was motivated not by a rejection but a reaffirmation — indeed, an intensification — of British national identity…

It did not occur to any of the actors to treat the conflict as being between two nations — at least, not until the French became involved in 1778. Indeed, the whole affair would be better understood as the Second Anglosphere Civil War — the first being the one fought across England, Scotland, Ireland, and America in the 1640s.

Hannan lists several of the mythic elements of our founding. Of the new flag that Washington fought under, he notes that in place of the stars on today’s flag was a depiction of Britain’s flag (i.e., the St. George’s Cross for England & the St. Andrew’s Cross for Scotland.) Of the Paul Revere legend he writes:

It’s a stirring story, but it’s false in every aspect. Neither Paul Revere nor anyone else could have shouted “The British are coming!” in 1775: The entire population of Massachusetts was British. (What the plucky Boston silversmith actually yelled was “The regulars are out!”) The overall level of taxation in the colonies in 1775 was barely a fiftieth of what it was in Great Britain, and the levies to which Americans had objected had been repealed before the fighting began. The Boston Tea Party, which sparked the violence, was brought about by a lowering of the duty on tea.

Hannan points out that the American Revolution was a continuation of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, that is, as part of a uniquely British tradition that, since the time of the Magna Carta, has been concerned with things like trial by jury, property rights, habeas corpus, common law, etc.

The resolutions of the Continental Congress are a protracted complaint about the violations of traditional British liberties.

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