Was the American Revolution justified?

Strange. I bought that book months ago. It’s already been released…

EDIT: ah, now I see…paperback is coming.

What struck me the hardest the first time I read the piece was the response to the charges that the King had been attacking the colonies: " The Acts of a justly incensed Sovereign for suppressing a most unnatural , unprovoked Rebellion, are here assigned as the causes of this Rebellion."

The colonists attacked the government. When the government responded in kind, the colonists acted aggrieved. It reminds me of the current situation in American cities: “Peaceful protestors” riot, then when police respond with force to quell the riot, the cries of “fascism” rise. It’s chutzpah, but in industrial quantities.

And to reap what our fathers sowed, Jefferson is cited in defense of tearing down statues of Jefferson. May God have mercy on us.

Thanks for the link to the Loyalist sermons. I pre-ordered it.

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The Declaration of Independence has a lot more list than merely taxation.

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How is it slander to remind readers of someone’s political views and track record? It’s called context.

Do you have evidence that he was a traitor or corrupt, or are you relying on the mob to make your decisions for you? Let me remind you what the mob thinks about people like you and me today…

Perhaps you didn’t notice those words, but they cannot be described as his political views or his track record.

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De Tocqueville cites a history of Massachusetts Bay colony by one Hutchinson. I looked up the history book on a hunch and, turns out Thomas Hutchinson was the author. I don’t know how scholars view his work, but he had enough affection for Massachusetts that he bothered to write a history of the colony.

My go to source of Wikipedia says that some of Hutchinson’s manuscript was destroyed by a mob that invaded his home. Reading about Boston during those days felt…familiar.

Hutchinson lived in exile in London after 1774. He was treated rather poorly by the British prime minister, Lord North. His home and possessions in America were seized and given to the family of a political enemy. I had never heard of him until like, this week, but he seems to have gotten a raw deal.

Well I did say ‘he was viewed’ rather than ‘in my opinion he was’ which isn’t the mob’s decision made for me, but historian’s. They (more than just a mob) regarded him as such regardless of what I think of his political views. Looking back I think it’s too easy for us to let Hutchinson off the hook, though an argument can certainly be made, a convincing one at that. But can we really say that while he had some good solid and held some good personal views, that he, at the time, was unfairly treated? Maybe, but maybe not. He was a political figure and had a public responsibility for the people he was governing and to the King and Parliament. I think it’s far too tricky to pin him down on either side fully and completely, but I do think a case can be made that from the colonist point of view, he certainly was against them, and from their perspective wrong, and therefore justified in some sense of viewing him a traitor. I’m not trying to be relativistic, but trying to look at things at ground level.

The problem for Hutchinson was that he was continually, throughout his career, on the side against natural rights. (I guess that’s not a problem for those who are also against natural rights). Even if–in spite of his skepticism of natural rights–he personally was sympathetic to the other side and sided with them in minor instances, he was publicly not on their side. That cast him in a light (fair or unfair) that called into question all of his decisions from the moment he let that flag fly. For example, when a petition to Parliament wasn’t worded as strongly as it could have been, even though he was voicing the complaint of the colonists, he was blamed for secretly siding with Parliament.

There’s no doubt he was stuck between a rock and a hard place, but in a land where people had no representation, in a number of instances when the people felt he should’ve been publicly on their side, effectively representing their views to Parliament, he came off as wishy washy. I think we get the same vibe today when republican voters call a politician a RHINO or part of the establishment. Good men (we were told!) who continually drop the ball at the precise moment we need them to score. It’s natural for us to begin to wonder about them.

While it is true that Hutchinson was the subject of conspiracy theories that attributed to him motives and actions that were exaggerated or outright false, Hutchinson himself attributed exaggerated or false motives to the citizens of Boston, including men we hold in high esteem today, like Samuel Adams. And over time you can detect a strong contempt (fair or unfair) of his view of the citizens of Boston. He was also habitually tone deaf. Even England, while agreeing with him in principle, questioned they way in which he handled things, noting he tended to increase the heat in an already boiling pot.

So there was distrust from both sides and when Samuel Adams released a pamphlet discussing the rights of the citizens of Boston and the limits of Parliament, Hutchinson publicly sided with Parliament, and it was he himself that sort of laid down the line and by his own reasoning concluded that either the colonies were vassals of the Parliament or completely independent.

The final straw was what we’d call a ‘leak’ today. Letters from Hutchinson discussing how the Mass. government could be restructured in such a way as to essentially give Parliament more power. In it a number of issues were discussed (such as the desire to send certain ‘dangerous’ patriot leaders to England for trial and statements about abridging liberties) which more or less sealed the deal for him. Here’s where we start seeing him called a traitor, demands for him to resign, etc. And this was all before the Tea Party debacle, in which all of the previous suspicions were augmented for both solid and shaky reasons. (His actions leading up to the Tea Party, in light of other governors who were dealing with the same issues at the time and how they defused the situation, reveal how intransigent he was, and highlights the real grievances of the citizens of Massachusetts. In a real, legitimate way, even with his bad reputation, had he handled this situation like the other governors by just sending the ships back, things may have never escalated as they did, and who knows what would have happened.)

Despite his personal views, despite his efforts to follow the letter of the law, he publicly became an embarrassment in the colonies and eventually an embarrassment in England. The best I can surmise is that he was a moderate politician, but in the worst way. Mostly right personally, mostly wrong publicly. When the time came to make the right decision (whether it was the right decision for the colonies or for England) he seemed to bungle it up (usually for both at the same time) and I get the sense that he felt he, not the patriots or the Parliament, was the only person who was right. He was so conscientious as to be completely useless to anyone, and worse than useless, he became incendiary.

But let’s be done with the idea that he was considered a traitor or corrupt merely by the mob. Unless you include such persons as John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and Samuel Adams as ‘the mob’. Mobs don’t react by calling public debates. Mobs don’t call together a Continental Congress in reaction to political decisions and office holders foisted upon them by people like Hutchinson later did in England. (To be fair, Hutchinson did suffer early on at the hands of a mob which was rightly criticized and punished). If you want to cast the Boston Tea participants as ‘the mob’ well then I’ll just have to say May God grant us more mobs like that.

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I think you misunderstood me. I was not arguing anything about Hutchison.

My previous response should have been simpler. Here is my point, simplified: Andrew was not accusing anybody of slander, and especially not you. I needed to make that clear, given the comment I was responding to. He was simply saying we better be careful, given the incentives at the time, to not simply take what the people of that time thought about him uncritically.

I do not want this topic to turn acrimonious based on a single commenter’s misconstrual of what was said.

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If that’s the context, I agree, but I didn’t think my comments were made in a way that made it seem I was accepting or pushing something uncritically.

I see the danger of romanticizing the American story of independence, but I also see the danger of modernizing it too, such as believing that all the founders were purely political with no other motivations influencing them.

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Watching Mel Gibson’s The Patriot this very moment. That is all. :us:

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I’ve been watching that movie too! One of my favorite movies for sure.

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