October 19, 2004


'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Oct. 18 Guest: Jimmy Carter (MSNBC)

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you the question about—this is going to cause some trouble with people—but as an historian now and studying the Revolutionary War as it was fought out in the South in those last years of the War, insurgency against a powerful British force, do you see any parallels between the fighting that we did on our side and the fighting that is going on in Iraq today?

CARTER: Well, one parallel is that the Revolutionary War, more than any other war up until recently, has been the most bloody war we‘ve fought. I think another parallel is that in some ways the Revolutionary War could have been avoided. It was an unnecessary war.

Had the British Parliament been a little more sensitive to the colonial‘s really legitimate complaints and requests the war could have been avoided completely, and of course now we would have been a free country now as is Canada and India and Australia, having gotten our independence in a nonviolent way.

I think in many ways the British were very misled in going to war against America and in trying to enforce their will on people who were quite different from them at the time.

To compare the Sunni insurgency and al Qaeda terrorists is the act of an ignoramus, but he's right about the Revolutionary War being a mistake.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 19, 2004 8:25 PM

"Mistakes, I've made a few, but then again, too few to mention . . ."

They can always petition for admission to the union.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 19, 2004 9:08 PM

Well, he's wrong in saying that the colonists had legitimate grievances. We didn't, except that we didn't want to be ruled by the English. Only one way to solve that problem.. .

Posted by: David Cohen at October 19, 2004 9:40 PM

Casualties at the battle of Shiloh (1862) exceeded total casualties of every American conflict up to that date. Carter was not only an incompetent President, but is an incompetent historian.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at October 19, 2004 9:49 PM


They were English--at the outset anyway.


What about as a proportion of the population?

Posted by: oj at October 19, 2004 10:02 PM


Still not close. The numbers I found via google seem plausible:

Revolutionary War: 4,435 dead (combat only)
Civil War: 184,575 dead (combat only)

Populations were about 4 million and 32 million, respectively; that makes about 6x as many proportionally.

Posted by: mike earl at October 19, 2004 10:18 PM

OJ: That was the Revolution. The intellectual movement, taking place from 1768 to 1774, in which the Americans decided that they weren't English, and that foreign rule was intolerable.

John Adams put it best:

The American Revolution was not a common event. Its effects and consequences have already been awful over a great part of the globe. And when and where are they to cease?

But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations. While the king, and all in authority under him, were believed to govern in justice and mercy, according to the laws and constitution derived to them from the God of nature and transmitted to them by their ancestors, they thought themselves bound to pray for the king and queen and all the royal family, and all in authority under them, as ministers ordained of God for their good; but when they saw those powers renouncing all the principles of authority, and bent upon the destruction of all the securities of their lives, liberties, and properties, they thought it their duty to pray for the continental congress and all the thirteen State congresses, &c.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 19, 2004 10:30 PM

Oh, and let's not skip too quickly over the idea that we could be Canada or India and that's fine with Jimmy.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 19, 2004 10:34 PM

Yes, the point isn't that we'd be Canada but that Britain would still be Great, though centered in Washington, not London.

Posted by: oj at October 19, 2004 10:50 PM



Posted by: oj at October 19, 2004 10:51 PM


Less than 4500 combat deaths in an eight year war demonstrates how low-intensity the American Revolution was. Carter is simply pathetic.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at October 19, 2004 11:29 PM

Senility and dementia have set in but because in his case it's indistinguishable from the mainstream Democratic orthodoxy no one has properly diagnosed it.

Posted by: MB at October 20, 2004 12:41 AM

If the British were misled in trying to put down the American insurgency, then Carter certainly cannot support the Union going to war with the Confederate States of America.
After all, the slaves would have been freed by 1920, at the latest.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 20, 2004 4:01 AM

Note also that Carter's statement only makes sense if you presume that the US government has been as resistant to Iraqi independence as King George was to American independence. It's as if Carter believes that the White House house announced the continued colonial status of the Iraq in perpetuity, along with taxes to pay for the American military.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at October 20, 2004 8:38 AM

Carter could have freed the slaves by the mid-70's

jeez, pin a note to his sweater and send him off to the dog track...

Posted by: JonofAtlanta at October 20, 2004 9:36 AM

Folk-enemy alert! Before this moment, I hasd some faint regard for Carter for his Military service and his apparent willingness to confess his faith in Christ before men. No more.

By repudiating the American Revolution, he has defined himself as a folk-enemy. Can we dare to imagine what the 2004 world would look like if American expansion had stopped at the Alleghenys, as the British intended? The buffaloes would be roaming, the noble Red Man would rule the remainder of the continent not held by the Spanish, and the Hakenkreutz would fly over the cities of the world.

Carter cannot bring himself to affirm our history. That's all right. America had said "no" to him and yes to Ronald Reagan, for the good of all mankind.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 20, 2004 9:36 AM


It wouldn't have. Britain was hardly noted for its failure to expand was it? Would have saved us some money though, we'd have just taken the LA territory during the war with France.

Posted by: oj at October 20, 2004 10:04 AM

Republicans should do whatever they can to insure that that bucktoothed, inbred, Jew-hating, anti-American nitwit is on TV as much as possible. The closer he ties himself to Kerry the more Kerry sinks into the diseased muck from which he rose.

Posted by: Bart at October 20, 2004 10:36 AM

>Had the British Parliament been a little more
>sensitive to the colonials really legitimate
>complaints and requests the war could have been
>avoided completely, and of course now we would
>have been a free country now as is Canada and
>India and Australia, having gotten our
>independence in a nonviolent way.

Ever read Harry Turtledove's The Two Georges?

Posted by: Ken at October 20, 2004 1:35 PM

For a Southern 'historian' to think the Revolutionary War was bloodier than the Civil War (aka the War Between the States, aka The War of Northern Aggression) is just mind-boggling.

Posted by: mike earl at October 20, 2004 3:18 PM

The American Plains Indians were done for, regardless of who ended up conquering them.

Any European nation had better communications and arms than the Indians had in the 19th century, and any peoples living in the New World would have lusted after their lands.

The West and East coast Indians might have gotten a better deal if the French or English had retained political control of America.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 21, 2004 3:13 AM

Sigh. As is well known in most quarters, the Revolution was the deadliest of our conflicts to be a soldier in.

Combat deaths were only a fraction of the total, but an increasing fraction as time went on.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 22, 2004 4:56 PM