Skip to comments.A Canadian Protests: The Declaration is not entirely accurate, but the Founders had the right idea
Posted on 07/04/2013 7:01:09 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
The last thing I would wish to do, as a Canadian and also as a British citizen, is dispute the worthiness of celebrating the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July. It is not in that spirit, but in the pursuit of historical accuracy, that I gently remind some readers of what that Declaration actually tells us.
Poor old King George III Farmer George, a stubborn, not overly intelligent person who was intermittently mad as a result of porphyria was certainly a limited man, but was not a bad man. Yet he is denounced in the most astonishing strictures by Thomas Jefferson and his colleagues on the editorial committee for the Declaration of Independence (Jefferson, Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman): George III evinces [a] design to reduce [us] under absolute despotism; he has been waging war against us. He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.
Were Jefferson and the others delusional? What on earth were they writing about? None of this had happened or was an ambition entertained by the king, sane or mad. This was from a lengthy sequence of charges Jefferson launched against the king that is scarcely less grave in its content nor more temperate in its tenor than the charges against the Nazi leaders at Nuremberg. The king and his ministers were attempting to collect a tax, which was not in an excessive amount and was not an unwarranted ambition. The British, in the course of the Seven Years War (called the French and Indian War in the U.S.), had almost doubled the national debt and were running deficits as chronic as those in the U.S. today. The Americans had almost 30 percent of the population of the British home islands and the highest standard of living in the British empire.
The most expensive aspect of the Seven Years War which was in some respects the first world war, as it was fought in North America, the Caribbean, Europe, West Africa, and India was in North America. The principal British object in the war was to evict France from North America, and they succeeded in this, without which American independence would not have been feasible. The Americans could never secede from the British empire while the French empire was on the border of New England and New York; the possibilities for incursions by the French were extremely serious and could not have been resisted.
The genius of the Founders, Benjamin Franklin in particular, was to help persuade the British to throw the French out of North America, and then to persuade the French to help the Americans expel the British from the United States. That these colonists were able thus to manipulate the two most powerful governments in the world was an astounding achievement.
The British imposed on America the stamp tax, something the British were already paying, and they allowed for one year to pass before it took effect, so the Americans could suggest an alternative method of raising revenues from the American colonies. The only American to do so was Franklin, then in London as the representative of Pennsylvania and two other colonies, who proposed that the British government address the absence of paper money in America by setting up a credit bank that would issue credit at a fixed rate of interest, with an annual fee for renewal, and that this would, in effect, be a voluntary tax.
It was, as always with Franklin, a very imaginative idea, but the British government at this point unlike during the Seven Years War, when it was under the influence of Pitt the Elder wasnt interested in thinking of a new tax. The British were paying the stamp tax, and if the Americans were going to compensate the British for the services they had rendered the Americans, it was up to the Americans to either pay the same tax or devise an alternative (Franklin had no authority to speak for his colonial countrymen). Instead, the Americans came up with the concept of No taxation without representation, but no sane people on earth would vote to tax itself if it did not have to do so.
The British had every right to expect the Americans to contribute to the cost of removing France from their borders. The British bungled the issue and made the fatal mistake of trying to impose a tax that was not in fact collectible. But they did not deserve, and the British king did not deserve, the sort of abuse that is the core of the Declaration of Independence, between its famous and soaringly eloquent opening and closing.
As a Canadian, and a native Quebecker at that, I take particular umbrage at the claim that the beleaguered George III, and those acting in his name, were guilty of abolishing the free system of English Laws in a neighbouring province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies. This is an outrageous fiction.
The distinguished governor of Canada, Sir Guy Carleton, subsequently Lord Dorchester, produced a formula, adopted in 1774, for the governance of the 75,000 French Canadians in what is now Quebec (compared with 2.5 million free Americans and 500,000 slaves). At the request of the French Canadians, the British restored the civil law of France to Quebec, but undertook to establish a commission to codify French Canadian law in Quebec, promised not to interfere with the functioning of the Roman Catholic Church, which represented practically all French Canadians, and promised the retention of the French language, ensuring the cultural survival of French in North America.
The charges of Jefferson and his committee were a bit rich, given that the French Canadians received all they asked from the British, who did not threaten them with cultural assimilation, as the sea of English-speaking Americans did. The Continental Congress had attacked Roman Catholicism as a bloodthirsty, idolatrous, and hypocritical creed . . . which had flooded England with blood, and had spread hypocrisy, murder, persecution, and revolt into all parts of the world. The law objected to, the Quebec Act, was a liberal and generous measure that secured the loyalty of the French Canadians during the American Revolution, as Carleton, with only the support of a rag-tag of French militia, a few Indians, and a handful of British Redcoats, sent the then-loyal revolutionary Benedict Arnold and Benjamin Franklin packing from Montreal and Quebec. George III, that he might be spared nothing, was accused of having endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whom Jefferson accused of an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions. This is also wildly exaggerated, and the removal of the British from dealing with the Indians brought down on that benighted native people 160 years of theft and oppression by the United States government, highlighted by President Andrew Jackson tearing up the treaties, in defiance of the Supreme Court, and transporting 250,000 Indians by force to the West, to make way for more slave-operated plantations on the vacated Indian reserves.
Jefferson also attempted to blame George III for the importation of slavery into America, an unfounded charge (the king only assumed the throne in 1760). It was a bizarre accusation, given that the Sage of Monticello, who held to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights (and) that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, was a deist and a slaveholder, who, it is generally reckoned, had six children with his comely slave, Sally Hemings. And though this relationship came after the Declaration of Independence was written, Jeffersons committee colleagues suggested that the allegation against George III of foisting slavery on America was not appropriate. There was no more liberty in America after the Revolution than before, apart from having a resident, rather than an overseas, government, and Americans enjoyed no greater liberties than did the British, the Swiss, the Dutch, and some Scandinavians.
Having got all this off my chest, I must add that the Americans had the better part of the 1776 argument that, as the leading British statesmen of the time, Pitt the Elder, Charles James Fox, and Edmund Burke, noisily asserted, the American complaints were well-founded and the kings policy was, indeed, insane. Had they prevailed, along with their friend Franklin before he was completely alienated, the United States would probably today rule Britain and much of her former empire, including the treasure houses of Canada and Australia, thus increasing the present American population by 40 percent and tripling the natural resources of the United States. But they did not prevail, and Americans are right to celebrate July 4. The ensuing revolution and the representation of it as the dawn of human liberty have provided America with a powerful ethos, appropriate to the great country that it is, even if Jefferson took serious liberties with the facts, as revolutionaries usually do.
Conrad Black is the author of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom, Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full, A Matter of Principle, and the recently published Flight of the Eagle: The Grand Strategies That Brought America from Colonial Dependence to World Leadership.
Yawn. All the same old arguments. Fact: The Colonists largely provided for their own defense and fielded not insignificant amounts of their own troops in the French and Indian War.
So the author is saying our current libs are not original in their thinking about taxing the wealthy.
A Canadian leftist who just did a stretch in prison for fraud
“The most expensive aspect of the Seven Years War which was in some respects the first world war, as it was fought in North America, the Caribbean, Europe, West Africa, and India was in North America”
The colonists had no representation. This is what it was about. Taxation with no representation. In reality, if I recall correctly, the whole ‘tea tax’ debacle would have actually reduced the price of tea, BUT to agree to it would have been to agree to taxation without representation. It was about principle, not money, and I’m glad we stood on it.
Everything was kind of pointless though. The UK became a totalitarian police state.... and then so did we.
He is actually considered a Conservative - all of his enemies are leftists. That is a not a bad way to judge someone’s politics - who hates you the most.
The two largest battles led by British regulars in North America were near catastrophic losses. They marched straight into an ambush in one and attacked a fort without adequate men in another. The colonists had pretty much won Canada with no help from Britain by capturing, at great cost in fortune and life, the fortress at Louisport during King George`s War, only to watch the British negotiate it away for some piece of land in the Netherlands.
By the time the Declaration was written Royal forces had shelled and burnt down Charlestown During the battle of Bunker Hill, raided farms near water to support their army in Boston, and was in fact planning to subjugate the colonists especially in New England.
Canada`s public screwls must be as poor as ours.
> A Canadian leftist who just did a stretch in prison for fraud
And obviously is either on meds or other
Not to mention the blockade of Boston, which, had it happened today, would be considered one of the greatest human rights abuses in Western history.
The guy makes a lot of assumptions. And obviously written with antt-American bias.
“You been talking about the queen again? On Independence day?”
‘Let me gently remind you not to do that.”
Of course there is a completely different point of view which, IMO, is far more defensible, which makes the colonists case look alot better.
For example its hilarious to imply that the British engaged in the Seven Years War as a favor to the Americans, and that the Americans did not contribute blood sweat and tear themselves to the effort to maintain the British empire in the western hemisphere, yet afterwards still were not treated as full and equal citizens in the eyes of the Crown.
But then, this guy also wrote a book called FDR, Champion of Freedom. So what else would one expect.
George III evinces [a] design to reduce [us] under absolute despotism; he has been waging war against us. He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.
1. Everything done by the English government is done in the King’s name- the buck has to stop someplace.....
2. Lord North’s ministry owed its existence to a Tory majority in the Parliament, which owed its existence to widespread election rigging sponsored by none other than...King George.
3. The Intolerable Acts were all in violation of well-established English law. What do you do when the government is breaking the law, hm? Protest to Parliament, where you are not represented and just wants your money? Write a letter to the King, who has designs of absolute monarchy of his own?
4. As for the Parliament, the Tea Act was a nice way of trying to bail out the British East India Company by giving it a monopoly on tea - of which the stockholders were often members of Parliament. Can you say corruption?
Nope, the American Revolution was absolutely justified.
A man (Black) claiming the tyrant, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (who solidly emplaced Communism in our halls of Federal Government), to be a “Champion of Freedom” can’t be all wrong. /sarc
In the pursuit of historical accuracy, here are the ACTUAL charges
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
who the hell would want it? we're already overrun with socialist parasites of our own.
“A Canadian leftist who just did a stretch in prison for fraud”
Needs to be emphasized. And he might ask Quebeckers if they are happy with the way they became part of Canada.
This is laughably false. The British were so cruel to my ancestors that they had to flee the lands that they had work so hard to hack out of wilderness.
Sound like Global Warming. Same paranoid fears, but The Villian changes.
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