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"Was the American Revolution Inevitable?" Topic

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07 Aug 2021 10:22 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP07 Aug 2021 9:18 p.m. PST

"…When Parliament sought to re-establish its sovereignty by force it undermined the loyalty, affection and tradition upon which that authority had rested. Indeed, between one-fifth and one-third of the colonists remained loyal to the crown once the war broke out. Many of these, however, switched allegiances to the rebels when they experienced or learned of the heavy-handed tactics employed by the British army in America. Had the British managed to 'win' the military conflict they would have had to resort to a degree of force antithetical to their ultimate objective – the reestablishment of British authority in the colonies.

Had American independence not been inevitable then a political settlement would have been found between 1765 and 1775. It was not. In fairness to the imperial administrators and politicians who 'lost' the colonies, they were confronting an unprecedented political, economic and diplomatic challenge in seeking to govern the empire and balance the books in the aftermath of the Seven Years' War. They handled the issue of American taxation in a relatively clumsy manner, but they learned their lesson.

In 1776 the English radical Thomas Paine argued that the colonies should declare themselves independent because 'there is something very absurd, in supposing a continent to be perpetually governed by an island'. During the nineteenth century the island in question would come to rule a large portion of the world. Its leaders would never again attempt to impose direct taxes on its colonies."
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rmaker07 Aug 2021 9:56 p.m. PST

When Parliament sought to re-establish its sovereignty by force

Right there is what made the Declaration of Independence both necessary and inevitable. Legally, Parliament had no sovereignty in America. King George did, but only in so far as he abided by the charters given the individual colonies, none of which allowed for Parliament to exercise any power over the colonies.

The status of the colonies vis a vis Britain was essentially the same as that of Hanover. To put it simply, a shared monarch. What would have happened had Parliament attempted to enact laws and levy taxes in Hanover?

42flanker08 Aug 2021 2:49 a.m. PST

From later in the article: [1765. The reaction to the Stamp Act]

"During the summer, matters came to a head in the colony of Massachusetts.On 14th August, an angry mob attacked the house of Andrew Oliver – the local man rumoured to be responsible for collecting the tax. Then on the 26th they damaged the houses of colonial officials and completely destroyed the home of the colony's Lieutenant Governor. The demonstrations spread throughout the colonies and, through threats, intimidation and violence."

The deployment of Crown forces in Massachussets – the standard means of enforcing public order available at the time- was a response to the violent insurrection described above. It was not a tactic to enforce government policy

With regard to re-establishing sovereignty, the Declaration of Independence was made a full year after the military confrontation at Lexington, a bungled response to the growing threat of armed insurrection. Severing ties with the United Kingdom, while advocated by some, does not seem to have been inevitable and even after the British army returned to New York, there were efforts to find a negotiated solution.

15th Hussar Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2021 3:09 a.m. PST

It boiled down to two factors…the bumbling Mean Spiritedness & Intransigence of Lord North and the bovine stupidity (and ignorance) of George III.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2021 4:11 a.m. PST

Revolution was probably inevitable after the Stamp Act crisis, as both parliament and the American radicals dug in, rejecting compromise.

SOME readjustment of the status quo was certainly inevitable, especially after the British conquest of Canada.

Children grow up, and when children are ignored by the Mother Country for most of that process (Salutary Neglect) and then Papa George tries to clamp down on the teenagers, of course some rebellion ensues.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2021 5:13 a.m. PST

"… rejecting compromise."
There's the key right there.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2021 5:22 a.m. PST

American independence – inevitable

The Revolution? Not – as noted, with compromise independence could have been achieved as it was in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, etc.

Cerdic08 Aug 2021 9:14 a.m. PST

That's the disadvantage with being the eldest child. You are on the receiving end of all your parent's learning mistakes…

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2021 9:36 a.m. PST

thumbs up

There's many a Reddit YouTube video on that.
Or as Tommie Smothers would say, "Mom always liked you best!"
Should the USA ask AITA?

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2021 3:25 p.m. PST



Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2021 5:35 p.m. PST

Yes. Not enough competent leadership in England to resolve the issues which they had created and kept making worse. A lot of hotheads in greater Boston especially. Once the Kings troops got there, the fuse was all but lit.

Gorgrat09 Aug 2021 11:08 a.m. PST

Yes. Two different peoples who had grown apart for two hundred years. Their interests had completely diverged.

Bill N09 Aug 2021 3:58 p.m. PST

Probable, yes. Inevitable, no.

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP09 Aug 2021 4:17 p.m. PST

If not in the 1770s then probably in the 1960s.

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP10 Aug 2021 11:31 a.m. PST

I think the American Revolution was fought over colonists' rights as British citizens. "No taxation without representation" would have been a familiar concept to your average Englishman, and one of the reasons they fought the English Civil War. In some ways, what George III did to the colonies was reminiscent of what Charles I tried to do without Parliament, because, as noted above, Parliament had no real authority in the colonies. So North and the King could do what they wanted, and what they wanted pissed people off.

There was a lot of sympathy for the Colonists in England, because it was felt that they shouldn't lose their rights as British citizens because they'd risked their lives and fortunes to expand the King's domains in North America.

Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP12 Aug 2021 11:27 a.m. PST

It was a perfect storm of incompetence, mismanagement and stubbornness by King and Parliament. It was by no means inevitable. Had the "Olive Branch Petition" been taken seriously the whole bloody mess could have been avoided.

Instead the British did everything in their power to push the colonies to independence. At least they learned their lesson when it came to Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2021 3:54 a.m. PST

Because of the attitude and actions of George and Parliament, the Revolution certainly became inevitable. They refused to treat the colonists as Englishmen, and so they became Americans.

And after the passage and implementation of the Proclamation of 1763, the 'slippery slope' to independence was well on its way.

A new race, the American race, had been spawned in the American colonies, and they came to the conclusion that a new nation was now a requirement.

42flanker13 Aug 2021 8:27 a.m. PST

I think 'The British did everything in their power' might be a bit of an over-generalisation.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2021 10:36 a.m. PST

In "The March of Folly", Barbara Tuchman presents a highly amusing history of how past "administrations" unerringly made the wrong decisions. It starts with the Trojan Horse, skins through the Renaissance Popes and ends with Vietnam. Vietnam is of course the whole point of her screed.
Her main thesis is that despite having the best advice (Cassandra for one) that these "administrations" would make the wrong decisions.
A good portion of the book deals with the American Revolution, and the stupid steps the King and his Ministers took. Unflinchingly.
All kinds of good advice was given, pointing out where it would lead.
To sum it up, blame George III, whose Mom told him "Be a King!"
It's strange that Prince Charles considers George III a role model, but what can I say? I never voted for him. grin

Tuchman makes a pretty good case that as long as George III was King, with Lord North running the show, that the American Revolution was pretty much inevitable.
But keep in mind that the main point of the book is an attack on everything that the USA did leading up to Vietnam and then running the war was an avoidable mistake. Fancy that.

Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2021 10:32 p.m. PST


Maybe a little strong, but not by much. Just short of telling the Colonist to leave the Empire, we don't want you anymore. One poor decision after another. If it didn't actually happen, you wouldn't believe a nation could be so arrogant and incompetent. IMO had the opposition party been in power in Britain, none of it would have happened.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP14 Aug 2021 5:18 a.m. PST

The basic problem is that Great Britain had a huge war debt after taking Canada from the French, and believed that the colonists should shoulder their part of the debt.

That is not unreasonable.

What was unreasonable was the way the British government went about it. That was the main cause of the Revolution.

42flanker14 Aug 2021 5:45 a.m. PST

had the opposition party been in power in Britain

Well, indeed; quite possibly; which is why generalising about "The British" does not promote the most helpful analysis.

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