July 4, 2013

FROM THE ARCHIVES: THE OPTIMAL SOLUTION...:

A view of America's independence: INDEPENDENCE: The Struggle to Set America Free By John Ferling (Chuck Leddy, July 4, 2011, Boston Globe)

From the opening pages, Ferling's ambition is clear. He starts with a British debt crisis triggered by military spending to oust the French from much of North America.

After peace arrived in 1763, writes Ferling, "Great Britain was swamped with debt brought on by years of war. The national debt had doubled during the previous seven years'' of war. Parliament, supported by overstretched British taxpayers, asserted that the American colonies, clear beneficiaries of Britain's military victory, should pay their fair share of the debt burden.

So began a decade-long period of futile British efforts to compel the colonies to pay levies and recognize Parliament's authority to tax them. [...]

[F]erling digs deep into a few important themes, which he handles in a fresh way. For instance, Ferling makes it clear that until early 1776, American moderates seeking reconciliation played a powerful role in Congress.

Pennsylvanian Dickinson, for instance, argued passionately for seeking a negotiated settlement with Britain over the tax issue, one that would keep the colonies inside the empire. On the other side of the Atlantic, reconciliationists in Parliament like Edmund Burke sagely warned that "Great Britain must offer conciliatory terms or risk the loss of its American colonies.'' Burke would be proven right.

"Leaders on both sides had many opportunities to choose an alternative course,'' writes Ferling, but the king and his ministers "spurned every American proposal for change, accommodation, and negotiation,'' instead pursuing a stubborn policy of colonial submission through military force. Congress actually sought talks with the king after the battles of Lexington and Concord in April 1775. George III responded to this offer by declaring war on the colonies and demanding their complete submission to British rule.


...would have been for George to grant us a separate parliament with himself as the monarch of the new polity.


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[originally posted: 7/04/11]


Posted by at July 4, 2013 12:07 AM
  

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