Monday, May 15, 2017

"We Could Have Been Canada"

"Had the British won, we might now be taught about a fight between brave British emancipators and indigenous slaveholders, with the black slaves who defected to the British-loyalist side seen as self-emancipators, as the blacks who defected to the Union Army are now, and with Washington's and Jefferson's rhetoric of liberty shown the same disdain we have for the not-very-different libertarian and individualist rhetoric of their heirs in the Confederacy. We would perhaps wonder, far more than we are now allowed to, how radical Whigs like Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Paine ever allowed themselves to betray their own Enlightenment principles by making the tragic error of entering into a compact with slaveholders."

Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker looks at recent books on the American Revolution.

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