Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Revolution of Independence

The concept of Independence from Tyranny remains as revolutionary an idea today as when the founders of this nation declared their independence in 1776.

So much history and so many events are murky or forgotten, but a rather comprehensive account can be found at the American Revolution Home Page.

Some facts from that site include:

The Americans of 1776 had the highest standard of living and lowest taxes in the Western World. Farmers, lawyers and business owners in the Colonies were thriving, with some plantation owners and merchants making the equivalent of $500,000 a year. Times were good for many others too. (The vast majority of business owners and professionals were white males.) The British wanted a slice of the cash flow and tried to tax the Colonists. They resisted violently, convinced that their prosperity and their liberty were at stake.
*
There were two Boston tea parties. Everyone knows how 50 or 60 "Sons of Liberty," disguised as Mohawks, protested the 3 cents per pound British tax on tea by dumping chests of the popular drink into Boston Harbor on Dec. 16, 1773. Fewer know that the improper Bostonians repeated the performance on March 7, 1774. The two tea parties cost the British around $3 million in modern money.
*
By 1779, as many as one in seven Americans in Washington's army was black. At first, Washington was hesitant about enlisting blacks. But when he heard they had fought well at Bunker Hill, he changed his mind. The all-black First Rhode Island Regiment - composed of 33 freedmen and 92 slaves who were promised freedom if they served until the end of the war - distinguished itself in the Battle of Newport. Later, they were all but wiped out in a British attack.
*
There were women in the Continental Army, even a few who saw combat. Probably the best known is Mary Ludwig Hays, nicknamed "Molly Pitcher." She replaced her wounded husband at his cannon during the Battle of Monmouth in 1778. Another wife of an artillery man, Margaret Corbin, was badly wounded serving in her husband's gun crew at the Battle of Harlem heights in 1776. Thousands of other woman served in Washington's army as cooks or nurses.
*
By 1779, there were more Americans fighting with the British than with Washington. There were no less than 21 regiments (estimated to total 6500 to 8000 men) of loyalists in the British army. Washington reported a field army of 3468. About a third of Americans opposed the Revolution.
*
At Yorktown, the victory that won the war, Frenchmen outnumbered Americans almost three to one. Washington had 11,000 men engaged in the battle, while the French had at least 29,000 soldiers and sailors. the 37 French ships-of-the-line played a crucial role in trapping the 8700-strong British army and winning the engagement.
*
In one key respect Jefferson used Natural Law instead of natural-rights theory, substituting "the pursuit of happiness" for "property" in the trinity of inalienable rights. In this change, derived from the Swiss legal philosopher Emerich de Vattel, he emphasized public duty rather than (as the language seems to indicate) personal choice, for natural law theory is that happiness is attainable only by diligent cultivation of civic virtue. Two passages in Jefferson's draft were rejected by the Congress -- an intemperate reference to the English people and a scathing denunciation of the slave trade. The document was otherwise adopted without significant change, and formal signing by 56 members of Congress began on Aug. 2, 1776.
*

And if you wish to celebrate by blasting away with fireworks, you can simply click on this link, then crank up the volume and click away with your mouse for endless and non-flammable explosive fun.

As for me, Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!

(NOTE: Apparently I should add Give Me A Spellcheck)

11 comments:

OXYMORON said...

next to of course god america i

“next to of course god america i
love you land of the pilgrims’ and so forth oh
say can you see by the dawn’s early my
country ’tis of centuries come and go
and are no more what of it we should worry
in every language even deafanddumb
thy sons acclaim your glorious name by gorry
by jingo by gee by gosh by gum
why talk of beauty what could be more beaut-
iful than these heroic happy dead
who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter
they did not stop to think they died instead
then shall the voice of liberty be mute?”

He spoke. And drank rapidly a glass of water

ee cummings

Wintermute said...

Nice post, Joe.

AT said...

No doubt, thanks for the facts, particularly the one about the third of colonists being loyal to England. Hell, they tried to get Canada into the independance gig several times, and they didn't want anything to do with it. Thats how a lot of upper Canada was populated, with Americans who wanted to remain Britons (kinda). Then the ol' War of 1812, which is kinda like the sequel of the Revolutionary War, but the sequel that nobody rents anymore.
I like to wonder often what kind of press the American revolution would get if it happened today. Would they call it an insurgency?

Dammit, now somebody's gonna call me a liberal...

Joe Powell said...

Oxy - ee cummings is one of my favorites, saying so much with so few words.

WM - thank you very much - and btw, everyone should check out yer Mini-Memphis Blues fest!!

And AT - i believe they'll more likely call you "librul" heh heh.
and you're right, the 1812 War is the forgotten sequel. if Madison had not fled the burning of Washington with the Declaration and Constitution in hand, who knows what version of the documents we'd have today.

GoldenAppleCorp said...

Independence from Trannies? Um, what?

newscoma said...

Happy Fourth to you, Joe.
Patriot on a keyboard, that's you.

Joe Powell said...

GAC - would ya believe independence from spelling? yeesh. at least YOU bothered to tell me
yeesh

newscoma said...

The Trannies thing was funny.
Did I ever tell you that I'm a terrible copyeditor and proofreader?
Awful, The Suck.
They like me for my captalist business sense.

Joe Powell said...

yeah, it was pretty funny!

once back in the days of working at the local paper, i mis-read a story about a car accident and wrote a headline in which i claimed the victim died rather than only being injured.
his letter to me proved quite conclusively he was definitely alive.

Cinemonkey said...

Hey, thanks for the fireworks link! Pretty lights & boom-booms! (Yeah, I know - I'm four>)

james said...

Give me liberty or at least a fifth of Jack