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There is a very good reason why we fought the American Revolution

There is a very good reason why we fought the American Revolution

 

In recent years, there has been a string of documentaries on television along both sides of the Atlantic, which portrayed the American Revolution as an unnecessary war, fomented by a hothead minority,  who fanned very reasonable policies by the British Crown into raging political issues.  Standard history texts tell students that it wasn’t really an revolution, but rather a war for independence, since our society remained the same afterward.  The states had the same representative government as the colonies. . .  only their parliaments were now close to home.  I have been doing some legal reading in preparation as my role as a prosecutor, trying a crime done against myself.   That opened the door to some very interesting historical discoveries, which are never mentioned in our elementary and high school textbooks.

The truth is the federal government created by the US Constitution mimicked the ancient representative democracies of the major Southeastern indigenous tribes and the Iroquois Confederacy . . . except that white women would have to wait until the early 1920s to be able to vote and hold office.   Creek women could always vote and hold political offices in their tribal governments.  However, in the eyes of the federal and state governments, Native Americans were not even citizens of their own land until 1924.   Georgia did not officially dump its laws that banned Native Americans from voting, attending public schools, holding licensed professions or even appearing in court on their own account until the Jimmy Carter Administration. 

There was a difference, though.   Native American societies were also commonwealths in which the overriding concern of their leaders were the general welfare of all members of the tribe, not just the ruling elite.   Both having members starve and excessive display of wealth were consider inexcusable.

Yes, it was a Revolution!

In 1775,  Great Britain was completely controlled by a landed aristocracy, which represented a tiny minority of the total population.  Most of the North American colonies were not so different . . .  although most of the North American elite was not nearly so wealthy as its counterpart in Great Britain.  On the other hand, the average white North American household was far more affluent than its counterpart in Great Britain . . . especially in comparison to Scotland, Wales and Ireland.   The British aristocracy was increasing wary of the growing affluence of the colonists.   Such laws as the Stamp Act and Tea Act were exactly what American leaders claimed they were . . . the initial steps of the British aristocracy to reign in the economic vitality of the colonies so that a few could control many.

The students’ textbooks claim that representative democracy existed in all 17 North American colonies, which in addition to 13 that rebelled, included East Florida, West Florida, Quebec and Upper Canada.  At best,  these colonial governments could be labeled oligarchies. 

Small groups of extremely wealthy families, who were members of the Church of England,  controlled most aspects of the colonial economies.  Only their male members could serve on the Governor’s councils and colonial assemblies.  Whether elected or appointed by the Royal Governor,  membership in such assemblies was typically limited to white men, owning 500 or more acres . . . today’s equivalent of millionaires.  Sheriffs, notaries and customs officers were appointed by the crown.  There was very little local government in most counties.  In those colonies that even allowed elections of colonial assemblies only those, who owned substantial property, could vote.  In many colonies, only members of one or two certain Protestant denominations could vote.   The reason that the earliest synagogues were in Savannah and Charleston, was because those two colonies permitted immigration by Jewish families and even allowed the propertied Jews to vote for local council and colonial assembly members.

The criminal justice system and government barely existed outside large towns along the coast.  What was deemed a violation of the law was typically determined by the local landed gentry.  A sheriff, appointed by the royal governor, was typically the only full time government official in most rural counties.   The sheriff could summon members of the local militia to help him apprehend a supposed criminal and runaway slaves or bond servants.  That person would be held in a makeshift jail until a traveling judge, appointed by the Crown, could arrive . . . . or alternatively, the accused would be transported to a major town on the coast to be tried. The sheriff would also appoint a prosecutor for the specific criminal case.  Lawyers were extremely rare in rural areas, so the special prosecutor would also be from the landed gentry.   Only voting, white male citizens could serve on a jury . . . so again landed gentry determined the guilt of the accused.

The provisional governments set up by rebelling colonies during the American Revolution, were far more inclusive of societal members than their royalist predecessors . . . mainly because the rebel leaders did not want to alienate any section of the population that might furnish soldiers to the Patriot Cause.   The democratization process accelerated during the aftermath of the Revolution, with local communities electing their own judges, sheriffs, state assembly members and Congressmen.   However, it was not until the 1820s or later that the states began allowing white male citizens to vote for governors.   It was not until ratification of the 17th Amendment in 1913 that citizens were allowed to vote for US Senators. 

The United States of America was indeed “a light to the world during the late 1700s and early 1800s.”  The revolutions in France and Haiti might never occurred had not the revolution in North America been successful.   Certainly, Great Britain and its remaining colonies, would have been much slower in evolving toward true representative government, had not the American Revolution occurred.  The wars of independence between the Spanish colonies in Latin America and the Spanish Crown probably would have been delayed many decades, without the example of the United States.   The “middle way” championed by the United States until the late 20th century was proof to the repressed peoples of the world that there was a preferable alternative to either the dictatorships of Fascism and Communism.  Since 2000,  the United States has rapidly accelerated toward an oligarchial society, more closely resembling Great Britain on the eve of the American Revolution.

Lessons taught by history

The primary reasons that democracy has struggled in Latin American countries since their independence from Spain are (1) the continuous gap between the haves and the have-nots, (2) lack of a democratic tradition in the Spanish colonies, and (3) lack of socio-economic mobility between economic classes and ethnic groups.   

Democracy can only thrive when there is a large, well-educated middle class that can at least hope to better itself within a lifetime.  When the middle class sees itself shrinking and life as a hopeless struggle to maintain the status quo,  political instability will be followed by either a police state or societal chaos or both. 

 

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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.

19 Comments

  1. chasjjr1@gmail.com'

    Richard, you say very reasonable policies by the British crown. I don’t agree with very reasonable as applied to when Bannister Tarleton, the 24 year old redcoat general up around Moncks Corner in Berkeley County near Charleston, slashed a Charlestonian across the face with his sword when the Charlestonian was waving a white surrender flag. Maybe you didn’t know this, but I heard about it. Of course I live in Charleston County and I become privy to stuff that happened here. In other words, the Brits were not very reasonable at all.

    Reply
    • No I did not say that. I said that the textbooks are now telling students that the British were reasonable and justified in demanding taxation without representation. It is the same kind of modification of history that we complain about on Native American subjects. The textbooks are calling the Patriot leaders “hotheads” who were not representative of the colonists. In fact, the leaders were absolutely right. Those tax acts were the first steps toward eliminating the North American middle class.

      Reply
      • chasjjr1@gmail.com'

        Excuse me for blaming you. Well the Brits have zero credibility for any of their colonial causes now after what Bannister Tarleton did. It’s called in psychology “reliability,” something that can prove itself over time. Their entire war effort was not reliable, and maybe that’s why they lost. When Tarleton did that on his horse to what might have been a Charlestonian on foot was exceptionally cruel. Charleston was about to get overtaken by the redcoats. I also heard where Andrew Jackson was forced to clean the boots of a redcoat general in New Orleans, and he got slashed too”. I heard about these incidents on the History Channel. The history textbooks are obviously becoming biased toward the Brits and this is dangerous, just like the math and science scores going down in some of our schools. Many loyalists fled to Canada at the end of the Revolutionary War. Now look at how we are dealing with Canada- poorly, and Canada is about to offer pot anywhere there to those old enough. We in the US need to deal with those from England and Canada very carefully if at all. I know we bailed out England in WW II.

        Reply
  2. redearth@hemc.net'

    An educated middle class is the only basis on which a representative democracy–as the US was set up to be–can exist. So if you want to destroy the root of The United States of America, you get a hold of and propagandize the educational system. This we see happening.

    Reply
    • andreadost@hotmail.com'

      an educated middle class, knows there is no such thing as “representative democracy” the very words are mutually contradictory. Any & all educated or aware people know we are a republic. Anytime a office runner uses the word democracy he or she loses the votes of any American. Thornton’s following because of his unawareness or propaganda? has lost 100s if not 1000s of followers.

      Reply
      • You stupid Nazi scum. Do you realize what you said. “Anytime a an officer holder uses the word democracy, he or she loses votes.” Democracy is the act of voting – by definition.

        Reply
  3. andreasost@hotmail.com'

    Well, for years, we (our tribe) have lauded your columns & spread the word, that you bring forth information hard to find otherwise.
    No longer. any 6 year old knows we (the USA) is a REPUBLIC. & far from a democracy. The very term “representative democracy” is not only a contradiction of unrelated concepts, but a gross insult to our ancestors.. There has NEVER been a “democracy” nor is such even possible..
    As an Elder, one has to wonder, how much the “democratic” party paid you to spread such propaganda? As Americans (by blood & choice) we will no longer tap into your articles. Now we have to serious doubt any & all of your information in prior columns.

    Reply
    • What in the heck are you talking about? I am not a member of any political party. I didn’t vote for either major party candidate last year. I met Hillary Clinton on the East Lawn of the White House in June 1993 (National Dairy Month). She turned her head 90 degrees when she shook my hand very coldly. Bill Clinton was just the opposite.

      Reply
    • adamfreeman1861@gmail.com'

      Ms. Ost,
      The term is not “representative democracy”. It is and has always been “Democratic Republic”. We are now in a Plutocracy, which is a very unstable form of government. “As an Elder, one has to wonder, how much the “democratic” party paid you to spread such propaganda? As Americans (by blood & choice) we will no longer tap into your articles. Now we have to serious[ly] doubt any & all of your information in prior columns”…your statement strikes me as a very foolish reaction.

      Reply
      • Adam Freeman is a pseudonym used by over a dozen different IPN’s. They are very brave, when safely in the comfort of their lounge chair, sipping a beer.

        Reply
      • redearth@hemc.net'

        Adam, I think it was just a poor choice of words, and I appreciate the corrections you and andrea have made. Richard’s research and findings are verifiable. I appreciate his expertise, and let go by anything that may be opinion or personal experience. ..

        Reply
        • It was not a poor choice words. It was the correct word. Just because two Nazi’s say something that they were supposed to say this month, does not make it true or patriotic.

          Quote from political science reference.

          Representative democracy is a type of democracy founded on the principle of elected officials representing a group of people, as opposed to direct democracy.[2] Nearly all modern Western-style democracies are types of representative democracies; for example, the United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy, France is a unitary state, and the United States is a federal republic.[3]

          It is an element of both the parliamentary and the presidential systems of government and is typically used in a lower chamber such as the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, Lok Sabha of India, and may be curtailed by constitutional constraints such as an upper chamber. It has been described by some political theorists including Robert A. Dahl, Gregory Houston and Ian Liebenberg as polyarchy.[4][5] In it the power is in the hands of the representatives who are elected by the people.

          Reply
          • andreadost@hotmail.com'

            Democracy may be defined. so are unicorns and elves. Definition is not reality. The reality is that there is a historical basis for unicorns (horn manipulation on cattle & goats) & even elves (traditions of smaller people). But anyone demanding that a hypothetic political philosophy is actual, now that is the definition of a Nazi, Demanding the altering of history & the Constitution. At work several have read the post. The liberal 2 desks down (& he is liberal unlike those fakes in democrat party) was appalled. “No American would have said that stuff. Any Junior high student knows he is lying/ Why?” Now that is the question. Here in a situation where there is no moral even historical basis for disagreement, why they hysterical reaction to valid correction? Thornton is the fascist Nazi here, not the correct respondents.

          • You are quite insane. The only reason comments were allowed to be posted is to make that perfectly clear to the Native Americans who have operated and participated in this website for 14 years to clearly see that fact.

    • redearth@hemc.net'

      Sorry. You are correct. I did mean a representative republic, NOT democracy. You are correct, because democracy really ends up as mob rule

      Reply
  4. garrettlandsurvey@gmail.com'

    I think the uneducated masses might be running rampant. Please don’t take me wrong. I love ya (probably) and I appreciate anyone trying to understand the situation better, but the problem with this conversation as well as any nearly any conversation in a comments section on any blog or article, or facebook post, is that people are trying to take a topic and be the master of it, maybe in order to prove to themselves or their friends or strangers on the internet that they care and know what they are talking about. But this usually ends up in stalwart “hang-ups” over such things as the definition of democracy. Democracy does mean exactly what Richard stated.

    I know the same thing that you are referencing because it was one of Neal Boortz’ favorite tirades while he was on the radio in Atlanta for years. Some caller would say we live in a democracy, and Neal would love to show off his lawyering skills, and “learn sumpin” to all the dumbmasses, as he used to refer to a majority of the audience. He would get under my skin, but I listened to him over and over again for the entertainment and a some good ideas too. I can’t remember the exact language he would use, but he would explain it in a very “talking down to you” sort of way.

    Anyway, I think forms of government are difficult to define because they are attached to historical periods, and then historical periods shift, but can anybody really say exactly what day or hour or minute each form ended or began, NO. There are always grey areas in such a change. For instance when did the constitutional monarchy of England become an empire, or did it really become an empire, or did they exist at the same time, because one definition is speaking of the system of heads of state, and one is speaking of it’s perception by the countries ruled, and the rest of the world. Was the rule sometime empirical or the rule sometime constitutional with agreement upon by a monarch figurehead. I think they existed at the same time.

    When Lincoln refused to allow secession, did we become a different government, based on forced acceptance rather than mutual confederacy , or did Lincoln actually prove that secession would have been a betrayal of promises made to keep the entirety of the then defined United States as wealthy as the status quo ought to decide. I don’t think the business model of our Federal Government has changed much since that defining moment because we have always ended up expanding. We tried isolationism again before WW2, it didn’t hold, and Thank God for good reason! Now many say that we are an empire and would have been even bigger had it not been for the bad reception of Vietnam. America had to fight communism but at the same time check itself against becoming an empire. We end up growing but we have to do it for the right reasons, which makes for wild conspiracy theories about creating those reasons, i.e. 9/11, Gulf of Tonkin, Pearl Harbor, sinking of the Maine in Havana. ??????? Don’t ask me.

    I have always heard we are a democractic Republic, meaning we vote for Representatives to maintain order in the governmental offices because hopefully after much well deserved thought and deliberation, we understand that Pure democracy devolves into Mob Rule, and is susceptible to bribery , corruption, and trickery ( as all forms of gov’t are) because of the tendency for Politicians to make extraordinary claims and promise handouts to whomever they perceive as the largest voting block, in order to attain their goal. This has become easier since the advent of Mass Media. As long as the worker bees keep busy they usually get away with it, but when there are no jobs, thats when the workers lift their heads and raise their voice.

    Our democractic Republic should work when we vote in leaders who are constitutionally minded and respect the foundations of our form of government, and our humble enough to keep a steady hand on the rudder, and not revel in crisis’ (concocted, manufactured, or real)

    On a somewhat lighter note,
    I got into a heated discussion one night with my 15 year old son, when I explained that much of Georgia was known as a Temperate rainforest (as I remembered learning in middle school I think). To my surprise he corrected me and said no, that it was a deciduous forest area. I tried to explain that deciduous meant a type of plant within a forest, and can be used to describe types of forest and that I was describing the overall qualification of the climate of Georgia. ( I would venture a guess that not all of Georgia meets this climate generalization, but a majority does). He would not let it go, and the talk became an argument that ended with a quick google search, in which he found that he was focusing on the narrow view of a type of forest, while the other classification did indeed exist and His Dad was no longer WRONG. He admitted that I was ALSO CORRECT.

    I was a hard headed kid too.

    Reply
  5. gerard728@gmail.com'

    On Sunday, July 8th my wife and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. Because our anniversary fell on a Sunday we decided to do something a little different. We returned to the scene of the crime, so to speak. We attended Mass in the same Catholic church we were married in. This church is in Milwaukee’s central city and is now 130 years old. The church was built in 1888 in a predominately Irish area of the city. Even though there were mansions nearby, this area has always been working class. It has always been a tough area. We were married there because it was the church my parents attended. When my wife and I were married in 1978, the congregation was still majority white with some Hispanic. Services were well attended and while not an affluent parish, it was still able to support a school. We went to 9:30 AM Mass because the 11 AM Mass is Spanish language. In 40 years the exterior and interior of the church hadn’t changed a bit, but that is where the similarities ended. The large congregation is gone. Mass was attended by about 25 people. There were about four or five elderly white people and a couple of middle aged white people Everyone else was either African-American , Hispanic or racially mixed. One woman was Asian. Instead of the Irish-American priest who married us, there were two priests. One was Hmong, and the other was possibly from India. The Indian priest gave the sermon in heavily accented English, and this is the gist of what he said. We all live in fear. We drive around in our cars with the windows rolled up and the doors locked. We go into our homes and lock ourselves in, afraid to talk to our neighbors or anyone else. We cannot live this way. We have to leave our homes and form a community. We have to tell each other that we love each other. In the Catholic Mass there is a portion, the kiss of peace, where in large churches you shake the hand of the people in the immediate area and wish them peace. In this church the entire church ended up in the main aisle and no one sat down until he or she was satisfied they had greeted everyone else. Everyone was genuinely welcoming to my wife and I. After Mass my wife and I chatted with the priests and both of them told us to come back every Sunday. This church is the future of the United States. A white Trump voter is in the airport somewhere in Moldova. His flight is delayed for several hours. He goes into the airport bar and notices a black guy wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt at the other end trying to order a beer in English. That white Trump voter is going to go up to that guy because they are both the same. They are both Americans in a strange land. The revolution was a long time ago. Even though my DNA says I’m primarily English, I have nothing in common with those people. The Civil War was a long time ago. Our future is grim. Climate change is real. Automation taking our jobs is real. The nation is changing and it’s not just the way we look. We are divided and we are regressing because of it. The few people who rule us want us divided. We have to figure out a way to become one people and get through the challenges ahead because we are one people. We’re all the same. We’re all Americans with our uniquely American customs, diet, speech, and way of looking at things. Those people in the airport bar in Moldova don’t see a black man and a white man. They see two Americans. Richard Thornton, you are right. We need a strong, vibrant middle class to keep this experiment in government going.

    Reply
    • It is not just the Roman Catholic Churches with these stark changes. I have noticed in videos of Native American Protestant Churches in Oklahoma that virtually all the congregations were in their 70s and 80s. The young people have rejected the spirituality of their ancestors, but I suspect that they have also found that drugs and cellular hones are not an adequate replacement.

      Reply

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