A Few Bloody Noses: The American War of Independence
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Liberty against oppression, right against wrong - a clear message has come down to us about the origins of the American War of Independence, one of the founding events of the modern world. As with so many legends, the truth is somewhat different. In this revealing account, Robert Harvey overturns most of our assumptions about the causes of the war. Both Britain and America were divided over the struggle, America violently so, while in Britain many favoured independence if it would avoid bloodshed. The war itself was vicious and confused, and marked by incompetence and bad faith on both sides. When it was over the Americans pushed out their French allies, while the British, who had encouraged black slaves to revolt, and Indians to attack, abandoned both to their fate. Yet after four years of misrule the Constitutional Convention imposed its own conservative counter-revolution, and out of bloodshed and suffering, cunning, idealism and courage, there emerged the infant nation that was to become the most powerful the world has ever seen. In this extraordinary and intensely readable book Robert Harvey tells the whole extraordinary story of its birth.
virtually instant and key decisions are taken at headquarters. The tendency to centralize decision-making away from the commanders on the spot has, however, had one great benefit: co-ordination between different commanders. Its downside has been the tendency to take military decisions for political reasons. In Britain’s war with the colonies, not only was there a delay of weeks before orders from London could reach the commanders; when decisions were made in Britain they were almost invariably
not unite it, the sword will. The gallows and halter will finish the work of the sword.’ This was the bluntest warning yet of the lengths to which the conservatives would go to impose their will: the counter-revolution would be imposed by force if necessary. A compromise of sorts was proposed. The bigger states reluctantly accepted that all states should have equal representation in the upper house of Congress – the Senate. In addition, the upper house representatives would be nominated by the
York, 1948–54, 6 vols) Frey, Sylvia, The British Soldier in America (Austin, Texas, 1981) Freidenwald, Herbert, The Declaration of Independence (New York, 1904) Fuller, J.F.C. Decisive Battles of the USA (1942) Galvin, John, The Minute Men (New York, 1967) Glover, Michael, General Burgoyne (London, 1976) Goss, Elbridge, The Life of Colonel Paul Revere (Boston, 1891, 2 vols) Gottschalk, Louis, Lafayette and the Close of the American Revolution (Chicago, 1942) Granger, Bruce, Political
allegiance to a ‘despotic’ King against his slightly representative Parliament. This line of argument was quietly abandoned as the dispute progressed and indeed, the King was to prove the more ardent persecutor of the colonies. As long as the colonies still professed their loyal obedience to Britain, it is hard not to conclude that every one of the legal arguments adduced against the Stamp Act and the measures that accompanied it was essentially flawed. There were no real grievances, only
rebel arsenal at the town of Worcester to the south-west. Whether he believed that he could still avert war, or was merely anxious to avoid triggering an attack from the thousands of hostile militiamen outside Boston, he was still going out of his way to avoid provoking hostilities. The limited action was justifiable since the British authorities had the right to control the disposal of munitions, if necessary by force, to deter intimidation of the kind already exercised at Salem. Two young