Monday, November 22, 2010

Was the American Revolution a Just War?

"Congress, in the Declaration of Independence, accused George II of a whole list of atrocities. The King had 'refused his assent to laws [of the colonial assemblies], the most wholesome and necessary for the public good,' he had 'dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing, with manly firmness, his invasions of the rights of the people,' and on and on through specific allegations of royal misconduct. Each of the charges was based on real incidents of strife between the colonies and the mother country, usually during the fifteen years preceding 1776. But all of them exaggerated greatly the intent of the King and the Parliament to destroy the liberties of the colonies and the actual damages which their conduct had caused. We gain perspective on the plight of the colonists when we realize that they enjoyed more freedom than almost any region in the world in 1776. They had as many rights under the British government as citizens of Puerto Rico or Washington, D.C. (who are also taxed without voting representation in Congress) enjoy under the United States government today....Most historians of the Revolution concede that Parliament was committing serious errors. It was making mistakes of judgment and errors in action. Its leaders, like Lord North under whom the War began, did not understand life in North America well. But virtually no historian believes that the blunders of Parliament constituted the threat the colonists thought they did. Regardless of how the patriots perceived it, they were not in a desperate situation. 'In short,' as historian Gordon S. Wood has recently written, 'the eighteenth century colonists were freer, had less inequality, were more prosperous and less burdened with cumbersome feudal restraints than any other part of mankind in the eighteenth century, and more important they knew it.'"
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