July 3, 2010

IN EVERY ONE OF THOSE INTERPRETATIONS IT WAS A TEMPLATE FOR OUR OWN:

America’s Revolution: The Prequel (ADRIAN TINNISWOOD, 7/04/10, NY Times)

PICTURE the scene: Out of the dawn mist, a fleet of longboats glides across the water, packed full of musket-wielding patriots and weather-beaten Massachusetts militiamen. Standing in the prow of the lead boat, like Washington crossing the Delaware, is a man with long flowing hair and a blood-red banner emblazoned with two words: Vincat veritas. Truth Conquers.

But it’s not Washington, and it’s not the American Revolution. In fact, it’s not even America. This daring amphibious assault by Col. Thomas Rainborowe and his regiment of New Englanders took place 3,000 miles away, in old England, and in 1644, more than 130 years before those famous shots were fired at Lexington to herald what we Brits insist on calling the War of American Independence.

It is a fact rarely discussed on either side of the Atlantic that American colonists played a crucial role in the English Civil War, the bitter struggle between King Charles I and Parliament that tore England apart in the 1640s. The English Revolution — and that is just what it was — can be interpreted in all kinds of ways: as a religious fight between pathologically earnest Puritans and the Catholic-leaning bishops of the Church of England; as an uprising by a nascent merchant class determined to throw off the shackles of medieval feudalism; as right-but-repulsive Roundheads bashing the wrong-but-romantic Cavaliers.

It was all those things. But it was also a battle against the arbitrary tyranny of the crown that prefigured America’s own struggle for independence. And hundreds of American colonists cared enough about that struggle to sail back across the vast Atlantic, to build a city upon a hill — not in the frightening, alien landscape of Massachusetts but in the familiar fields and townships of England.


Posted by at July 3, 2010 8:37 PM
  
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