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Author Topic: American History  (Read 29381 times)
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thanatopsy
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« Reply #2310 on: April 29, 2008, 12:00:55 AM »

A contemplative BF in Philly:




BF and the kite:





A serene BF:

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thanatopsy
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« Reply #2311 on: April 30, 2008, 10:58:33 PM »

April 30, 1789:  Washington takes oath of Office!
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« Reply #2312 on: May 01, 2008, 08:25:40 PM »

Washington was inaugurated on the 30th of April because Congress couldn't get up a quorum fast enough to certify the electoral vote fast enough to get him inaugurated on March 4. The procedure was to count the Electoral Votes, certify a winner (though there was never any doubt in his case), then notify him by messenger and then get him to come up to New York. One longs for those leisurely days when it took abt a week or two to from Virginia to New York....
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Bob
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« Reply #2313 on: May 01, 2008, 08:34:17 PM »

I was watching a documentary on Franklin about a month ago and heard Brookheiser remark that Franklin went into the cockpit an Englishman and came out an American. I hadn't thought about it that way before, but I think he might be right. The British treated him rather brutally that day and perhaps he deserved it, but  it changed him, trasformed him, cut through his ambivalence--and made him return to America a dedicated revolutionary.

It is also interesting that it really was of his own doing. After all, he "leaked" the Hutchinson letters which caused all the furor and for a time let someone else take the blame. The good doctor then came to his senses and honesty prevailed and he told the truth.

The incident is recounted in the book starting at page 271. It reflects character--something rather lacking today especially in the field of politics.
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Bob
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« Reply #2314 on: May 01, 2008, 08:43:12 PM »

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Parliament backed down momentarily as BF was held to be the cause for the "speedy and total repeal of this odious law"[the Stamp Act].  But later on it enacted the most unwise Declaratory Act giving it virtually dictatorial power over the colonies.


Franklin at first supported Parliament on this one.
   Quite frankly, didn't any "mother country"  have virtual dictatoral power over its colonies? wasn't that part of the idea--control, absolute control? Who the heck were the colonists to demand things and to make "fine" distinctions between internal and external taxes. All power and privilege derived from the the King and/or through the Parliament. The British Empire wasn't a bloody democracy--it was a kingdom,an heredity state vesting power in a monarch--not in the people and certainly not in  colonists.
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thanatopsy
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« Reply #2315 on: May 02, 2008, 11:11:01 PM »

control, absolute control?


Many people immigrated here from Europe with a view towards complete freedom of thought, religon, pursuit of happiness, and the right to total self determination. And as Isaacson shows, many colonists were not of Anglo descent.  Many were German, Dutch, or other parts of Europe who were not loyal to the British Crown.  Thus, dissent to this idea should not come as a surprise.
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« Reply #2316 on: May 02, 2008, 11:52:39 PM »

But they surely knew they were coming to a British Colony which was subject to British rule--nobody came here thinking it was a "democracy"--which was an epithet at the time--or a republic. That they came here in part to seek greater freedom of thought and behavior may be true--but surely they didn't come here to tell the mother country to go pack salt when the mother country taxed them. I don't think anybody came here with the thought of having self determination, especially since a number of the colonies were close to theocratic states and intolerant themselves of any deviation from their belief system.

That they came here to worship as they believed I can accept and that they came here to better themselves econoimcally and to have greater freedom of thought I can also believe. But to believe they could come here with the right or privelege to defy the mother country is difficult to believe.

Remember that at the outset of the Revolution, the idea wasn't independence, but to secure the rights of Englishmen; to have the King and Parliament secure those rights which the citizens of the British Isles already had.

There wasn't a nation in Europe who didn't absolutely control its colonies. The English were different in that their's were colonies where the citizens were granted more rights and priveleges than other European nations granted their colonists---Rights and priveleges notwithstanding--power rested in the Monarch and in the Parliament and it was absolute.

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« Reply #2317 on: May 02, 2008, 11:58:23 PM »

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By the time of the American Revolution (1775-1783), between 800,000 and 900,000 British colonists had settled in North America and the Caribbean. The first U.S. census in 1790 counted about 4 million Americans. Based on the analysis of surnames, scholars estimate that British Americans constituted about 80 percent of the population in 1790.

British America--Encarta
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thanatopsy
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« Reply #2318 on: May 03, 2008, 08:16:15 AM »

to have the King and Parliament secure those rights which the citizens of the British Isles already had.



... which automatically entails taxation only with representation.
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« Reply #2319 on: May 03, 2008, 10:33:09 PM »

Boston Tea Party:







Revolution was in the air and BF tried his best to be a conciliator when he was in Britain. It was at this time that BF made his final break with his son. While much of his words met with great sympathy from the likes of William Pitt {Lord Chatham} and others it was clear that the British government was not going to allow the Yanks have their way. "Once it was clear that Britain remained intent on subordinating the colonies, the only course left was independence". {p 295}

Petitions for reconciliation were disregarded and the Continental Congress passed Declaration of Causes and Necessity for Taking Up Arms.  Bf now joined with this movement. He created a series of Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union in which it listed its rules of governance and a plan for dissolution in the event of a British recognition of grievances. He helped organized military units and assisted in the adoption of the "Don't tread on me" motto. Despite his advanced years (he was 70 at this point) he made exhaustive trips to organize the early phase of the Revolution.

Paine was enlisted to write "Common Sense" in order to rally the populace against the British government.

Wm Franklin was detained and convicted of disloyalty.

Jefferson writes the Declaration of Independence with editing assistance from BF.


The Revolution begins!



pp 275-314
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« Reply #2320 on: May 04, 2008, 05:46:09 PM »

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power rested in the Monarch and in the Parliament and it was absolute.

Yes, but as the Chinese proverb goes "The mountain is high and the Emperor is far away."

I recall the theory that colonists became rebellious only after a period of "benign neglect" when they went their own ways, reacting vs. the tightening of controls when the mother country became more demanding much like teenagers who have been allowed to go their own way for too long before parents try too late  to reassert control.     
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« Reply #2321 on: May 05, 2008, 10:36:20 PM »

There was nothing in the English Bill of Rights stating no taxation without representation. Besides, Americans weren't Englishmen, they were colonists and treated as such--colonists were subservient to the Monarch and to parliament. They enjoyed such "rights" as were granted to them and no right to demand rights. They could petition the King or Parliament, but if refused--too bad, so sad. This was theeighteenth century, not the twenty-first.

The policy of the First Minister, Walpole, was called Salutary Neglect and it had its advantages to all concerned. But one of its disadvantages was to foster an attitude that somehow the colonies needed to be treated as citizens of England. Then along came the French and Indian War--started no less by Washington himself--and England went heavily in debt, running up the national debt from 75 million pounds to 133 million pounds, mostly funded through debt financing. When the war ended the Colonies went into a recession and a credit squeeze ensued. In addition, remember that the Colonists were essentially smugglers--they lied as to their cargoes and as a result the duties collected in the range of 2,000 pounds annually. When the duties were rigidly enforced England began to collect 30,000 pounds annually. The British transferred smuggling cases to the Admiralty Courts, taking them out of the hands of colonial courts which were very lenient. The British also saw the need to quarter troops in America at the cost of 200,000 pound yearly---and wanted to bill the colonists 60,000 pounds to help defray the expense. This is where the fun began, the Stamp Act was a direct tax--Colonist thought it unconstitutional and not based in common law. They surmised that in order to be taxed directly they needed to be represented in Parliament. I don't know where they got that from, but England responded by saying that every member of Parliament representred all the people including the colonists--a sort of virtual representation.

I think it awfully presumptuous of the colonist to just blow off the fact that the mother country just added 58 million pounds to her debt in part to save their asses and that they were going to expend another 200,00 pounds annually to place troops there to further protect them, and was asking them to defray a merel 60,000 pounds of it--this after screwing the mother country for years by evading import duties by smuggling millions of pounds of materials into the country duty free.

If the British had any sense about them they should have jailed and executed John Hancock and be done with it. 342 chests of tea were dumped into the harbor on the night of the Boston Tea Party--at a cost of 10,000 Britsh pounds---roughly the equivalent of 3/4 of a million dollars in todays money. They did this in spite of British tea  being cheaper than the Dutch tea they normally consumed. The East India Company, owner of the tea, was already in dire straits--that's why the Crown wanted to sell the tea to the colonists in the first place. But because there was a minimal tax on it the Americans chose to destroy the commody instead of just not buying it.....that's grand theft of a sort and wilfull destruction of private property and arson.

There's the British side of things....
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weezo
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« Reply #2322 on: May 05, 2008, 11:01:50 PM »

Had an interesting conversation today with a historian, who it turns out has written some interesting stuff on Franklin that may be of interest to those reading the book.

To see the articles, go to: http://www.stephanaschwartz.com/home.htm

Go down the menu on the left and click on Magazine Articles, and then choose the two article on Franklin. The article on the "unknown" founding father is about George Mason.

Sorry for the detailed instructions. I need to write the author and tell him to fire his web designer -- the pages are enclosed in frames so that you cannot cite a single page.
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thanatopsy
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« Reply #2323 on: May 06, 2008, 08:58:25 AM »

"Americans weren't Englishmen ... that's the British side of things"


The narrative suggests that the majority of American colonists regarded themselves as Brits during the pre war era. In his Albany Plan, BF regarded early French successes during the French + Indian war due to "the present disunited state of the British colonies" {p 159}. His plans were intended to create a unified colonial entity, not an independent country. Franklin certainly thought that "the colonies were not second-class citizens. Instead he felt they should have all the rights of any British subject" {p 183}. Thus, BF and the majority viewed themselves as British subjects with the same rights as everyone else.

This has always been my understanding of the matter.

Perhaps the problem is that Isaacson did not provide more details as to the pre war public sentiment. And as for the debts brought on by that early war, BF answered it by asserting that England was protecting its own interests in that war, not those interests of the colonists, many of whom fought in it and paid part of that debt with their blood.
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« Reply #2324 on: May 06, 2008, 03:55:28 PM »

"Americans weren't Englishmen ... that's the British side of things"


The narrative suggests that the majority of American colonists regarded themselves as Brits during the pre war era. In his Albany Plan, BF regarded early French successes during the French + Indian war due to "the present disunited state of the British colonies" {p 159}. His plans were intended to create a unified colonial entity, not an independent country. Franklin certainly thought that "the colonies were not second-class citizens. Instead he felt they should have all the rights of any British subject" {p 183}. Thus, BF and the majority viewed themselves as British subjects with the same rights as everyone else.

This has always been my understanding of the matter.

Perhaps the problem is that Isaacson did not provide more details as to the pre war public sentiment. And as for the debts brought on by that early war, BF answered it by asserting that England was protecting its own interests in that war, not those interests of the colonists, many of whom fought in it and paid part of that debt with their blood.


You would have had to kill off a lot of Germans to say that Americans were Brits.
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