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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > American Age of Discovery, Colonization, Revolution, & Expansion > American Revolution

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American Revolution 1763-1789 The birth of a new nation - to commence at the Proclaimation of 1763 to the end of the Articles of Confederation.

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  #1  
Old 11 Feb 11, 15:37
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The revolution that did not have to happen...

Well, I'm currently reading Hibbert's 'Redcoats & Rebels' and after the first quarter I'm asking myself the following simple question:

All the American colonists wanted was a voice in the British parliamant ('No taxation without representation'). Instead of waging a costly war against them, why didn't anybody argue in letting them in the politics????

The solution to peace never was so simple. I'm sure the Americans would agreed to help pay for the British costs of the Seven Year's War if they had a voice...

Or am I oversimplifying things????



Greets,
Stratego
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  #2  
Old 11 Feb 11, 16:51
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Stratego,

This is a great question. I have been kicking this around in another thread (under Colonial era). I am reading 'Crucible of War' and am wondering mostly the same thing. I don't understand why the British went through all that effort to capture Canada (expell the French) and then let relations with the Americans go down the toliet. Some shared some very good insights in that thread. All I can add is the distance from 'home' maybe had something to do with it. Also, maybe the view that the Americans were 'those colonists' and even though the colonists viewed themselves as British subjects the government didn't? Anyway, great topic and I look forward to what we find out.
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Old 13 Feb 11, 08:49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratego View Post
Well, I'm currently reading Hibbert's 'Redcoats & Rebels' and after the first quarter I'm asking myself the following simple question:

All the American colonists wanted was a voice in the British parliamant ('No taxation without representation'). Instead of waging a costly war against them, why didn't anybody argue in letting them in the politics????

The solution to peace never was so simple. I'm sure the Americans would agreed to help pay for the British costs of the Seven Year's War if they had a voice...

Or am I oversimplifying things????



Greets,
Stratego
To say 'All the Am colonists wanted was a voice in the British Parliament' is not an accepted summary of the situation. In my opinion, few colonists cared to have a voice in Parliament. They knew any representation there would be minimal as British population at the time dwarfed that of the colonies. Most wanted to continue on with the comfort of own provincial legislatures. I've often heard that Ben Franklin was instructed not to accept representation in Parliament under any circumstance. I'm not sure if its specifically true but the idea behind the instruction was well known.

Taxation without Representation is Tyranny!! Great campaign slogan used to bring the people together as one voice. Everyone hates taxation and the Stamp Act represented broad based revenue generating taxes to the benefit of Britain and the expense of the colonies. It was a great slogan but not actually true in the sense of desiring representation. What they wanted was acknowledgement that Parliament had no direct authority to levy such taxes on the colonists. It had never been done before and certainly was an emotional issue for everyone. Never again would the colonists act in such unison as with the Stamp Act issues. Great Campaign Slogan. Politicians of all types continue with such slogans to the current day.

But don't be fooled into thinking that is what everyone had in mind. For many, particularly in Pennsylvania and Virginia, the Proclamation of 1763 represented a bigger complaint. Investors in the various western land companies included Patrick Henry, George Washington, Ben Franklin, Richard Henry Lee, George Mason, etc. The list of stockholders reads as a who's who list of prominent Patriot leaders from VA and the Middle colonies. But it was not limited only to the rich, everyone dreamed of western land. There was great talk of land banks and even using certificates of property as a type of currency. Disappointment over the Proclamation and continued determination to get it repealed was heavy on the minds of many during the pre-revolution years.

I don't know why it didn't occur to Parliament that granting representation would have meant little as a practical matter yet would have taken huge teeth away from the Patriot political movement. I can speculate a couple of thoughts. One, they didn't view the Patriot political movement as much of a threat. After the Stamp Act, only a very few like Adams, McDougall, Dickinson, and Gadsden remained active in the pushing against 'tyranny'. The Townsend years were really kind of mild and Parliament thought they had the situation under control. Or Two, they could already see a growing population potential in the colonies and feared that, eventually, representation granted to them would become a majority as compared to the Isles.

Please tell me how you like the book. I have it on my shelf and am looking for time to give it a look. The author may have some interesting insights on the question of Parliament's motivations.

Last edited by Elijah; 13 Feb 11 at 08:51..
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Old 13 Feb 11, 16:57
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I've discussed this at length in the past with Slick, its one of our favourite topics.

At a basic level, giving the Colonists a voice in Parliament would mean either a change in the British Consitutions to create a new representative position, or simply establishing MP's and constituancies in America.

The latter would be easier but it throws up a unique and interesting concept, that of an American born British Prime Minister who would also be part of the Privy Council advising the King!

I wouldn't have a problem with this myself, but in the mid 1700's it might have caused quite a stir...

The other alternative that might have started, if Pitt the Younger have been born earlier, is the move towards Proto-Dominion status. This would I think have been feasable, but would have had problems later in the early 1820's onwards with the Anti-Slavery movement and laws. How having Dominion status might have affected this if at all, I'm not sure.

Theres also the practical problem in that whatever Representative type was created, they would have been expected to Sit in Parliament as MP's do, if they were to have a say in British law. A dominion Parliament in the colonies would negate this requirement, though in the context of the time I expect American based Representatives would be expected to spend some time each year in the UK. That then adds the problem of time and travel to the mix...

Should something like Dominion status have been granted it would I feel have radically changed American history, first off in the run up to what would become the civil war.

However...

There might have been a way out if American Representatives and Colonists had British/English citizenship, in that in England at least, up until this century, slavery wasn't illegal. The trade was after the 1830's but not ownership, so in that light the Emacipation Proclamation would have been an interesting statement in the context of the time.

WW1 would have been radically different too, with the USA joining it in August 1914 like the other Dominions... whose political models would most likely have been based on the USA's!

Gaz
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Old 13 Feb 11, 18:26
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Thanks you guys.
That's some great extra information

Elijah: I've just started reading and just finished the campaign of Montgomery and Arnold in Quebec. As it is fairly new territory for me, until now, the book is very comprehensible and not boring.

I'll keep you updated.



Greets,
Stratego
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Old 16 Feb 11, 06:24
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Originally Posted by allsirgarnet View Post

WW1 would have been radically different too, with the USA joining it in August 1914 like the other Dominions... whose political models would most likely have been based on the USA's!

Gaz
So what we're saying is. It's George Washingtons fault for throwing a hissy fit and one that meant WW1 went on as long as it did and in succession caused Hitler and WW2. What a cad!!
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Old 16 Feb 11, 10:00
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The last thing I read on the issue of the American Revoution was that we were not going to settle with just reperesentation in Parliment we wanted out freedom . And also rememeber that the British crown ,at the time , saw us not as Englishmen but as a colony so he might have thought that if he gave us representatsion he would have had to do the same for India , Jamaica , Hong Kong, ETC .
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Old 17 Feb 11, 15:55
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It wasn't just political representation that was an issue in the American colonies; the Merchantilist system, designed to benefit merchants and manufacturers in Britain effectively made people in the colonies an underclass which officially existed only to benefit those in the home country. The Navigation Acts forbade the American colonists from engaging in trade not approved by Britain. They couldn't make certain kinds of goods and were restricted to buying only British products or those goods which had first been landed in a British port and subjected to heavy taxes. The idea was to guarantee cheap raw materials to the home country and ready markets (with stable prices) for manufactured goods from Britain. This was outright economic exploitation of the American colonists who resented being "cash cows" for the British merchant class.

Remember that in the late 1700's, true political representation in Britain was limited to very few people. It wasn't until 1832 when the vote was extended to about one adult male in six, and that act increased the number of people entitled to vote by 50% to 80%. So political representation in Parliament would have meant next to nothing to the American colonists.

Given the politics of the day, and especially the British adherence to the merchantilist economic system, there wasn't much the British could do to resolve the legitimate grievances of the American colonists without creating a huge amount of turmoil in Britain itself. In essence, the American colonies were a failed experiment in political and economic policy that taught the British important lessons in administering to future colonies in India, China, and Africa.
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Old 17 Feb 11, 17:03
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there is no doubt that had America stayed a Dominion the world would be a far better place, but we have the benefit of hindsight.
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Old 17 Feb 11, 17:57
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there is no doubt that had America stayed a Dominion the world would be a far better place, but we have the benefit of hindsight.
Quite a conclusion you have no doubt of. Perhaps you might explain why you believe the world would be a far better place without America. I doubt that is a conclusion very many Americans would agree with.
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Old 18 Feb 11, 18:42
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Wait.... Did I say no America? I said America as a Dominion ....

If America was a Dominion during WW1, WW1 would have either A. Never Happened or

B. Been over very, very fast.

Afterwards? England has the power to establish a complete world government, with a navy larger than every other in the world combined and multiplied and an massive and extremely elite army. There is no way Nazi Germany could have been fostered, there would be no need for atom bombs, or indeed, strategic bombing, Dictators such as Mugabe and those oppressive genocidal tyrants residing in Africa would not have been given power, hence Africa would be in a much better state, the world would be able to focus on universal prosperity instead of spending trillions of dollars on weapons.

and of course no Americans would agree with it, its too "Utopian" and "Communist" people working together for the common good? bastards!
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Old 20 Feb 11, 01:21
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Quote:
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Wait.... Did I say no America? I said America as a Dominion ....

If America was a Dominion during WW1, WW1 would have either A. Never Happened or

B. Been over very, very fast.

Afterwards? England has the power to establish a complete world government, with a navy larger than every other in the world combined and multiplied and an massive and extremely elite army. There is no way Nazi Germany could have been fostered, there would be no need for atom bombs, or indeed, strategic bombing, Dictators such as Mugabe and those oppressive genocidal tyrants residing in Africa would not have been given power, hence Africa would be in a much better state, the world would be able to focus on universal prosperity instead of spending trillions of dollars on weapons.

and of course no Americans would agree with it, its too "Utopian" and "Communist" people working together for the common good? bastards!
That's all highly speculative, especially the part about Africa.

The American colonists didn't want to be second-class citizens of the British Empire whether as a dominion or as colonies. If the American Revolution had happened in 1775, it would have happened at some later date. The British weren't going to voluntarily stop exploiting the American colonies and that's the basic reason the Revolution took place.

I happen to believe the world's a better place precisely because the American Revolution occurred when it did, and because the British empire finally crumbled.
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Old 20 Feb 11, 04:50
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Originally Posted by BravoMike View Post
That's all highly speculative, especially the part about Africa.

The American colonists didn't want to be second-class citizens of the British Empire whether as a dominion or as colonies. If the American Revolution had happened in 1775, it would have happened at some later date. The British weren't going to voluntarily stop exploiting the American colonies and that's the basic reason the Revolution took place.

I happen to believe the world's a better place precisely because the American Revolution occurred when it did, and because the British empire finally crumbled.
Are you insinuating that I'm a "Second Class" Citizen? Or indeed, that my forefathers were? At no point in time did my family feel as second class under the British Empire.

These things take time, that was the flaw of colonialism, it wasn't an instant process, and the passing of a few years could make all the difference, look at the British colonies now, the good little colonies now rank among the Happiest*, Wealthy and generally best countries in the world, hell New Zealand was voted one of the best tourist spots in the world. the Good Colonies, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, were the colonies that stuck with England, and now its paying dividends.

The go to the slightly more naughty colonies and protectorates, such as South Africa, Egypt and India. they are mostly classed as second world, but are quickly working their way up to first world nations.

The there are the "Naughty" ones. the best example is Rhodesia, and I don't think i need to go into much detail there.

and how is the world a better place due to America existing as a separate entity? without America the two world wars would have never happened, atomic weaponry would have probably not been invented and Africa would be a better place.

Look at Rhodesia for example. Under the white Rhodesians, even though the black majority did not have the vote, Rhodesia's booming tobacco and meat industries ensured food and shelter. Now Zimbabwe has no useful industries at all, and most of the population starves.

Had America been a Dominion of the British Empire for longer, I doubt nationalism would get much of a kick, with the British fire brigade running around slaughtering rebelling populaces.

this is one of those things that changes so much its impossible to predict what would have happened, but as long as the leadership of England was not supremely corrupt, the outcome would have been positive.
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Old 20 Feb 11, 06:46
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Old 20 Feb 11, 08:39
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That's all highly speculative, especially the part about Africa.

The American colonists didn't want to be second-class citizens of the British Empire whether as a dominion or as colonies. If the American Revolution had happened in 1775, it would have happened at some later date. The British weren't going to voluntarily stop exploiting the American colonies and that's the basic reason the Revolution took place.

I happen to believe the world's a better place precisely because the American Revolution occurred when it did, and because the British empire finally crumbled.
Keep talking Bravomike I like what I hear. We would not like to Britan's dominion like so many of the other old colonleis . We like being free to think for ourselves .
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