Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

‘Missionary Journalists’ Are Lying About the American Revolution | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on February 9, 2023

Perhaps contemporary activists are blindfolded to the causes of our Revolution because they perceive government as benevolent—if not an avenging angel. In contrast, it was a common saying in the 1770s: “The Restraint of Government is the True Liberty and Freedom of the People.” Americans took their lodestar from British political philosopher John Locke, who warned, “Nobody can desire to have me in his Absolute Power, unless it be to compel me by force to that which is against the Right of my Freedom, i.e., make me a slave.”

by Jim Bovard 

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The 1619 Project is back in the news with the release of the six-part Hulu series built around its claim that “nearly everything that has made America exceptional grew out of slavery.” The 1619 Project, championed by Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times, has been canonized by progressives and is now being taught in more than 4,500 American classrooms. Vice President Kamala Harris jumped on the bandwagon last June when she told school children “black people in America” suffered “400 years of slavery.” Harris did not specify when she expunged the Civil War and Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation from the history books.

African-American slavery was a profound injustice, and we should not downplay that abhorrent part of our nation’s past. But the 1619 Project is riddled with errors that have been debunked across the ideological spectrum by economic historian Phil Magness (who has done the best debunking), Professor Gordon Wood, the World Socialist Web Site, and many other respectable critics. The 1619 Project’s most harebrained idea is that the American Revolution was fought to preserve slavery. This notion is impossible to reconcile with the fact that the conflict erupted in northern colonies with few slaves. The 1619 storyline could not have passed the laugh test unless many Americans were clueless on the British brutality that sparked the war.

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., President John F. Kennedy’s court historian and a revered liberal intellectual, declared in 2004, “Historians today conclude that the colonists were driven to revolt in 1776 because of a false conviction that they faced a British conspiracy to destroy their freedom.” Was the British imposition of martial law, suspension of habeas corpus, and censorship not simply deranged fantasies of Thomas Jefferson? Apparently, it was paranoid to suspect the British unless King George III issued a proclamation announcing, “We will destroy your freedom.”

Slavery did help spark the Revolution, but it was “slavery by Parliament”—a common derisive phrase in the founding era. The Declaratory Act of 1766 announced that Parliament “had, hath, and of right ought to have, full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies and people of America, subjects of the crown of Great Britain, in all cases whatsoever.” That meant Parliament could never do an injustice to the Americans, since Parliament had the right to use and abuse colonists as it pleased.

Law after law trumpeted Americans’ legal inferiority to their foreign masters. The Sugar Act of 1764 resulted in British officials confiscating hundreds of American ships, based on mere allegations that the shipowners or captains were involved in smuggling. To retain their ships, Americans had to somehow prove that they had never been involved in smuggling—a near-impossible burden.

Britain imposed heavy taxes on imports and issued “writs of assistance” entitling British soldiers to search any home for evidence that tariffs on tea or whiskey had been shirked. Massachusetts lawyer James Otis denounced those writs for conferring “a power that places the liberty of every man in the hands of every petty officer.” (Judges in Virginia refused to issue writs of assistance.) Britain prohibited Americans from erecting any mill for rolling or slitting iron; British statesman William Pitt exclaimed, “It is forbidden to make even a nail for a horseshoe.” The Declaration of Independence denounced King George for “cutting off our trade with all parts of the world.”

Vermont patriots marched in 1775 against the British Army under a flag depicting a pine tree—a symbol of British tyranny. Because pine was an excellent material for building ships, Parliament banned cutting down any white pine trees and claimed them all for the British crown without compensation. Historian Jonathan Sewall, writing in 1846, claimed that the conflict with Britain “began in the forests of Maine in the contests of her lumbermen with the King’s surveyor, as to the right to cut, and the property in white pine trees.”

Firearm crackdowns proved the Brits could not be trusted. “By 1774, the British were routinely conducting warrantless searches and seizures of firearms in the Boston area…King George III ordered the seizure of any firearms imported into the colonies,” noted author Stephen HalbrookThe first major clashes of the Revolution occurred at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, after British troops sought to confiscate colonial firearms. After British regulars were cut to pieces at the 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill, General Thomas Gage decreed that “anyone found in possession of arms would be deemed guilty of treason,” as Professor David Kopel noted. Britain planned to confiscate almost all the firearms in the colonies after suppressing the revolt. If they had succeeded, colonists could have been subjugated to London for generations.

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One Response to “‘Missionary Journalists’ Are Lying About the American Revolution | The Libertarian Institute”

  1. Eric said

    Reblogged this on Calculus of Decay .

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