You are here:   Civilisation >  Books > US and Them
 
US and Them
November 2008

This well-researched, well-written book focuses on American press and public reaction to the British monarchy since the time of the American Revolution.

The only reigning British monarch to visit the US prior to the present Queen was King George VI, though William IV, Edward VII and Edward VIII went to America before their accessions.

Particularly interesting is the attention given to royalist sentiment in the American colonies at the time of the Revolution. John Adams, the first US minister to Great Britain, with Alexander Hamilton and ultimately George Washington himself, the leader of the pro-British faction of revolutionaries, bel-ieved the royalists to be about one third of the population of the colonies. The revolution-aries' treatment of the royalists was often, in more recent parlance, un-American.

On the other hand, the book could have shed more light on contemporary British opinion of the American revolutionaries. The Macaulay-Trevelyan faction of utilitarian historians has maintained that the American Revolution was a civil war in which really only George III and his royal toadies opposed the objectives of the colonists.

Burke, Chatham, and Fox are regularly cited in support of this theory. But this flies in the face of the inveterate reaction of many leaders of opinion, including Dr Johnson, who is sometimes claimed to regard all Americans, with the exception of Benjamin Franklin, as scoundrels.

This study does not claim to be a history of the American Revolution, but the motives and the correlation of forces of the two sides in that conflict naturally shaped their subsequent relations. The Americans have romanticised their founding as a revolt of egalitarian philo-sopher-kings leading a tiny population of intrepid patriots successfully against over-whelming odds. In fact, as has been mentioned, large minorities in both countries opposed the war. The real cause of the American Revolution was the grubby matter of taxes, as Britain felt the Americans should pay more of the burden of protecting them from the French in the Seven Years War (1756-1763), and the Amer-icans thought they should have authority over their own taxation. Almost all the pamphlet-eering about equality and "self-evident truths... inalienable rights... and sacred hon-our" was bunk.

View Full Article
 
Share/Save
 
 
 
 

Post your comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.