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Untold Truths About the American Revolution

ABSOLUTELY HEROIC post by Lew Rockwell! Yes, it’s time to take the gloves off, my fellow libertarians. No more excuses for the state! No more state worship! Down with constitutional sentimentalism!

‘Untold Truths About the American Revolution’

Posted by Lew Rockwell on July 7, 2009 08:49 AM

Thanks to Laurence Vance for sending me this most interesting article by Howard Zinn. Zinn, one of my favorite left-wing historians, is always interesting, and sometimes right. He says:

We’ve got to rethink this question of war and come to the conclusion that war cannot be accepted, no matter what the reasons given, or the excuse: liberty, democracy; this, that. War is by definition the indiscriminate killing of huge numbers of people for ends that are uncertain. Think about means and ends, and apply it to war. The means are horrible, certainly. The ends, uncertain. That alone should make you hesitate.

It took me a while, despite my Loyalist ancestors, to come to the same conclusion about the Revolutionary War. It was unecessary, like the rest of our wars. For example, the king–a sweetheart compared to almost any US president–would have conceded internal independence to the 13 colonies, so long as they remained officially British. And as the examples of Australia and Canada show, with British colonies that became peacefully independent, there is far more decentralism than in the US, and far less militarism and belligerent nationalism. Of course, may they remain monarchies, and never become republics, for all the reasons Hans Hoppe demonstrates.

My response:

Lew, great post. Anti-state, and anti-war. The Zinn piece has some other great lines that should be of interest to libertarians, especially constitutional sentimentalists and those who desperately cling to the notion that the American Revolution was some thoroughly libertarian event:

Nobody ever knows exactly how many people die in wars, but it’s likely that 25,000 to 50,000 people died in this one. … That would be equivalent today to two and a half million people dying to get England off our backs ….

Do you think the Indians cared about independence from England? No, in fact, the Indians were unhappy that we won independence from England, because England had set a line-in the Proclamation of 1763-that said you couldn’t go westward into Indian territory. They didn’t do it because they loved the Indians. They didn’t want trouble. When Britain was defeated in the Revolutionary War, that line was eliminated, and now the way was open for the colonists to move westward across the continent, which they did for the next 100 years, committing massacres and making sure that they destroyed Indian civilization.

Did blacks benefit from the American Revolution? … Slavery was there before. Slavery was there after. Not only that, we wrote slavery into the Constitution. We legitimized it

… Do you know that there were mutinies in the American Revolutionary Army by the privates against the officers? The officers were getting fine clothes and good food and high pay and the privates had no shoes and bad clothes and they weren’t getting paid. They mutinied. Thousands of them. So many in the Pennsylvania line that George Washington got worried, so he made compromises with them. But later when there was a smaller mutiny in the New Jersey line, not with thousands but with hundreds, Washington said execute the leaders, and they were executed by fellow mutineers on the order of their officers.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Claire August 6, 2009, 4:55 pm

    While I am opposed to most war, I don’t begin to see how you can maintain that Canada and Australia are less centrally-controlled. Would the phrase “right to bear arms” resonate here ?

  • scott February 20, 2010, 7:10 pm

    While I don’t think secession was bad ,I agree with your assessment that the American revolution was un-libertarian.

  • da99 July 14, 2011, 7:46 am

    I remember reading somewhere on LRC how some Massachusetts farmers peacefully got independence for their town from the British Empire. As you said: as long as they did not side with a foreign power. This was before the Revolutionary War. They were poor so they could not afford a war. Peace was cheap back then. I could not find the link to this.

    There were also pockets of anarchy during the war as the town governments broke down. Violence did not seem to break out in those towns. Probably because socialised police were not around at the time. Oh wait… it’s because most people don’t turn into criminals when the state isn’t around. I also don’t have a link for that one.

    I’m surprised these incidents don’t get much publicity among anarcho-capitalists. It would greatly add to the arguments for a natural law society. I’m also ashamed for not having saved the links 🙁

    Here is a link showing the King wasn’t a tyrant as pictured by the Founders:
    The Case Against the American War of Independence http://vimeo.com/24525685

    Martin Van Buren was probably the least worst president to serve his full term: http://mises.org/daily/2201

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