Saturday, February 25, 2017

American Revolution?

Let's get one thing straight.  There has never been an American revolution.  Between 1775 and 1783 that was a rebellion that became a War of Independence.  It used to be called that--the War of Independence.  But for the last three-quarters of a century, for both domestic and international consumption, in pursuit of an eminently sensible, geopolitical agenda, the War of Independence has been recast as the American Revolution.

It's pretty harmless.  We did have a genuine Civil War, of course (which some of your more cerebral unreconstructed rebels used to try to call the Southern War of Independence).  But a revolution, like the Soviet Revolution or the French Revolution.  No.

Was there an ideological component to the American War of Independence?  No doubt.  The Founding Fathers swam in the currents of the European Enlightenment, provincial groupies and followers of various strands of Enlightenment thinking, chiefly the parts concerned with political organization, less so the social analysis.  When Franklin arrived in Paris, he played the hick beautifully because the role was such a good fit. But to turn those guys into the towering intellects of the 18th century is joke.

The colonists started as subjects of a hereditary king, governing with legislature consisting of a hereditary House of Lords and a Parliament elected by a very restricted suffrage.  The new nation emerged with an elected king and a legislature consisting of an upper chamber composed of oligarchs indirectly selected by their fellow oligarchs and a lower chamber elected by a very restricted suffrage.

Some revolution.  But, definitely, a successful war of independence.

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