Tuesday, September 06, 2016

"Truly Our First 'Civil War'"

"Taylor's not interested in a triumphalist account of the nation's origins; instead, his core arguments deliberately overturn the notion that the Revolution was fought for egalitarian, democratic principles. Most colonists, Taylor highlights, felt deeply attached to the British monarchy on the eve of the Revolution. There was no distinct American identity to speak of, and everywhere Britain's American colonists looked—north to French Canada, south to Spanish America—they saw settlers with virtually no political autonomy. Their king, meanwhile, granted them greater civil liberties than any other European ruler; for much of the 18th century, British monarchs allowed elected Colonial assemblies to run their own affairs. But rather than inculcating a sense of independence, these Colonial assemblies only made American colonists cherish more deeply their status as 'free-born Englishmen.'
"So why, then, a war for independence?"

Eric Herschthal in Slate reviews Alan Taylor's American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804.

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