The headstone of Falmouth's Abraham Swift broke into six pieces when it was hit by…
“And their only crime was remaiing good Americans”
The Revolutionary War was a costly victory for the vast majority of the colonists in America and an unfortunate defeat for the colonist’s mother country, Great Britain. But did the American insurgency have a legitimate, legal, moral or democratic right to revolt against the British government to start their own country? Although the Revolutionary War would eventually lead to a great independent nation known today as the United States of America, the answer to this question is no.
The rebel insurgency, in their quest for independence, resisted government control in many illegitimate ways and orchestrated the cruel, unfair treatment of America Loyalists. They were involved in the smuggling of goods and many other corrupt illegal acts. Groups such as the Sons of Liberty, intimidated government officials through vicious propaganda, performed cruel acts such tarring and feathering of Loyalists in many of the States and violently resisting any form of control.
Their propaganda said they were fighting for the inalienable rights of life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness, but the colonists were living, King George had given them the freedom to live in America, to virtually self-govern, to own property, to set up businesses and allowed them to trade. The land was theirs to own, buy and sell and most were happy and content having a higher quality of life than the average person living in Britain. They in fact had no reasonable right to rebel, their leaders had been motivated by personal greed and employed propaganda as a way of disguising this fact.
The colonists had the same rights as those living in England and some of the same obligations, so by making an issue of taxation, the insurgents stuck a devious cord to create a popular illusion, which of course didn’t mention the reality of becoming independent meant taxes would be much higher.
Thomas Paine’s ‘Common Sense’ pamphlet, described by John Adams as either
honest ignorance or knavish hypocrisy is a good example of this propaganda, as it’s full of unfounded allegations, portrays the British as
murderers and Britain’s attemp to justifiably protect it’s investment as repression, but really just sounds like the rant of a militant socialist.
Likewise George Washington (the man who supposedly never told a lie) used devious rhetoric to motivate his troops:
The time is now near at hand, which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their homes and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the conduct and courage of this army…We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die.
It is however a testimony to the effectiveness of their propaganda that there is still, so much misconception about what actually happened and that Americans have come to think of themselves as almost a different race of people.
The Rebels used propaganda not so much to demoralise their opposition, but mainly to provoke potential supporters, keeping them constantly agitated and the undecided at least on the fence.
The ‘so called’
Boston Massacre is one of the best known examples of this and was contrived to support rumours, that the insurgents were spreading about redcoat brutality, which actually was a twist on the resentment being caused by British troops being willing to take on work in their own time, for less pay than Americans wanted to work for.
Another example of a propagandist’s twist is how Patrick Henry’s cry of: “Give me liberty or give me death!” has been changed from it’s real meaning of not wanting to give up Virginia’s independence to a federal United States to that of anti-British rhetoric and Ethan Allen had actually advocated Vermont be annexed by Canada rather than join the United States.
Propaganda was also used to re-write events, an indication of this is how the Battle of Yorktown is now perceived, the British, at least outnumbered two to one, faced more than 16,000 troops with heavier cannon, but these were actually mostly made up by French troops, because Washington having not paid his for months, probably didn’t have as many Americans troops under his command as the British had.
Then so many things the insurgents were guilty of, they have blamed on the British, like the slaughtering of Indians, despite at the time they were trying to protect them, conversely the insurgents were referring to them as savages, which gives a good indication where any true blame lays.
The Revolutionary War is looked upon as a triumphant victory of a good people and the birth of a great nation, but the causes of the war were merely the will of a corrupt and rebellious minority. The winners of this war were not heroes, as conventionally portrayed, but at best irresponsible visionaries, at worst self-interested traitors.
Source: RedCoats UK