American Revolution: A win/lose situation

That would have happened to America if we’d lost the revolution? Some of our Founding Fathers would have been tried and convicted of treason, and those who fought against the British if not executed could have been imprisoned.

6-25 Page 4A.inddAccording to history as seen from the viewpoint of Great Britain, the colonists were considered ungrateful. England had spent long years and lots of money winning the territory from France. They needed the colonies as a source of raw materials for their manufactures. America exported raw materials to England, while England produced the goods and then sold the finished product to the colonists.

The colonists did own guns, but had no factories to produce ammunition. This was a distinct disadvantage.

England didn’t strictly enforce the laws against smuggling, so many Americans enjoyed a pretty brisk trade under the table and on the black market.

The English thought it was reasonable to collect taxes to pay for numerous expenses. After all, that is how it worked in England.

They thought and said that the colonists were more or less a drunken rabble who fought without honor.

We know, of course, that those beliefs are completely without merit. Just because colonists scalped and cut the ears off British soldiers killed on the hill doesn’t mean they were primitive barbarians. Some may have been drunkards and some may have been rabble and some may have been barbarians, but not all involved could have been all three.

Interestingly enough, when the tea was thrown overboard, Benjamin Franklin said he thought the British should be paid for the loss.

Some British historians say we would never have won the war if it hadn’t been for assistance from the French and Dutch. They commend George Washington for surviving the winter at Valley Forge but point out that they were at a great disadvantage because orders to British troops from England took three months to arrive across the Atlantic.

History is always written from the viewpoint of the winners. Traditionally, the losers have a very different version of events.

If America had lost the war, we may have ended up much like Canada.

Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the Revolution was the new order. Americans as a whole did not feel inferior to the aristocratic ruling class of England, a class of entitled but not always worthy leaders.

The colonists had a tradition first introduced by Captain John Smith, “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” So those who enjoyed elevated positions were expected to earn them.

The diverse group of colonists who spearheaded the rebellion did not do so lightly. They knew the actions they were taking were very dangerous, both to themselves and their families.

Somehow, men like John Adams — thoughtful, insightful and principled — were able to work with men like Thomas Jefferson, a visionary, and Patrick Henry, a hot-head.

It wasn’t an easy task. They hammered out compromise during difficult and challenging times. Compromise meant they worked together for the best solution, being willing to listen to and accept viewpoints other than their own.

Were they wise or foolish, brave or reckless, traitors or patriots? It depends upon which side of the Atlantic you call home. But these people created a new world with rights and freedoms for its citizens that few on earth enjoy.