We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

The most important day in US history

225 years ago today Parliament voted a resolution to end the war and grant the colonies independence. A month later Lord North faced a vote of no confidence and stepped down.

It seems to me any old place can declare independence, it is when your would-be rulers accept it that matters.

34 comments to The most important day in US history

  • August

    But have you looked at the tax on tea lately?

  • nicholas gray

    Just when I thought midwesterner was one of the good guys, he goes and does something like this! Aside from the inordinate number of existing holidays (Wasn’t there a Prez’s Birthday last week?) wouldn’t you also need to celebrate Lord North’s retirement day, the death day of King George III, the day the news first reached America- as well as celebrating the birthday of the person who was brave enough to move the motion? Where would it end? Should we also celebrate Vietnam Liberation Day, since, as libertarians, we don’t like imperial overreach? At least the fourth of july is in Summer!

  • Fred

    “Granted” independence? Gee, that’s uh, special.

    You are independent when you can enforce your independence. Consent of those formerly known as rulers (or prince or king or whatever) is not required.

  • Nick M

    Fred,

    That’s true up to a point but a society living under constant threat isn’t a very nice place to live. The UK parliament lifted that threat 225 years ago.

    Of course, there was also the 1812 re-match.

    I always thought “A Short History of Pointless Wars” might make for a suprise best-seller.

  • Mike

    By those standards, when will Kosovo be independent Fred?

  • Should we also celebrate Vietnam Liberation Day, since, as libertarians, we don’t like imperial overreach?

    And on the day that Vietnam is indeed finally liberated from its ghastly rulers, perhaps we will celebrate that.

  • RAB

    As someone keen on history, I often play the
    “What if…” game.
    What if the American colonies had got representation and become fully intergrated with Britain.
    Perhaps no Indian and African empire But I’m prepared to bet we’d have been living in a saner safer world long ago.

  • Jacob

    “A Short History of Pointless Wars”

    How do you make it SHORT ? No way.

    Maybe an Oscar for best pointless war. And the winner is… WW1

  • Paul Marks

    Perry is indeed correct about Vietnam (indeed all of IndoChina).

    In the late 1970′s and early 1980s, when very large numbers of “Boat People” were escaping from Vietnam (the ones who did not die at sea) and the knowledge of the millions killed by the Marxists in Cambodia, and the “yellow rain” and other crimes of the Marxists in Laos were well known – there was a time of quiet from the left.

    But it all went down the “memory hole”, and of course it would – as the left control history (in both schools and colleges) and they control the mainstream media.

    So the idea that the Vietnam war was something do with an “American Empire” is common (and the left is helped along by libertarians of Murry Rothbard’s school), as is the idea that it was about “paranoia” about Marxism (as if TENS OF MILLIONS of people around the world murdered by the Marxists are just a delusion).

    The left, such as Jane Fonda, are now busy blaming America for the murders of civilians conducted in Iraq by Sunni and Shia terrorists (sorry “the resistance”), just as they (when they accept it happened at all) blame the crimes of the Marxists in IndoChina on the United States (“America started it” and so on).

    It is considered perfectly acceptable to support the enemy in time of war, and people who do still get a friendly reception from the mainstream media, nice adverstising contracts from corporations and so on.

    “But they are not supporting the enemy” – Jane Fonda posed flirting with N.V.A. troops in Vietnam, next to a gun they used to fire at American aircraft. And she would pose with the head hackers and suicide bombers of Iraq as well – if it was not for the fear that her own head might get hacked off (these people can not be trusted not to murder even their own supporters). Nor is Jane Fonda untypical – she is just more open in her activities.

    These people are the cultural mainstream, and they are scum. They should not be “punished”, but they should not be treated with respect either. They (Hollywood, the mainstream media, the establishment academics and so on) are not worthy of respect, and everything they say and do should be treated with the open contempt it deserves.

    As for the post:

    Midwesterner made an important point – and I do not remember him suggesting a national holiday.

    Nor is he out of line. After all people celebrate the end of wars, if they are successful, (such as V.E. day and V.J. day in relation to World War II) not the start of wars.

  • Nick M

    RAB,

    I don’t buy it. In 1914 the world was more globalized than it is now. And still the insanity of the trenches ensued. I don’t know of a town or village in the UK without a war memorial. Somehow I suspect they are also rather commonplace in France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Austria et fucking nauseum..

    I remember visiting on a number of occasions the Royal Academy of Arts and reading the death toll of London artists from WWI, They had their own regiment and were slaughtered with the rest. Yup, Jacob, you’ve got a point: WWI was a hideous abomination. Having said that, my use of the word “short” was somewhat ironic.

    I’m very much into counterfactual history. C’mon, bring out your biggest guns. I’m curious. OK, here’s the biggy. What would have happened if Charles Martel’s Franks hadn’t held the line against the Moorish heavy cavalry at Tours/Poitiers on October 10th 732AD?

    Sorry for bringing up “battles long ago” but I’m really, really looking forward to 300 coming out.

  • RAB

    Well I’m not “selling” anything Nick, It’s mere conjecture.
    I think had America not gone independent of Britain and frankly become antagonistic, nay I’ll put it more strongly, actually hostile to and determined to take down the British Empire, our combined clout back starting in 1776, would have shaped the world in a very different way than it is now.
    I think, saner and more peaceful.
    But who knows?
    History teaches that shit happens far more often than sanity prevails.

  • Brendan Halfweeg

    What would have happened if Charles Martel’s Franks hadn’t held the line against the Moorish heavy cavalry at Tours/Poitiers on October 10th 732AD?

    They probably would have been “held” somewhere else, since the invading army where operating 1000 miles from where they landed and may well have exhausted their advance. There is much debate over the significance of this battle, but it did shape the history of the victors, the Franks, and gave them hegemony over Gaul. The shape of Europe may have changed, but not the ultimate reversal of the Muslim invaders.

    How about if the Carthagians had defeated Rome in the First Punic war?

  • Sandy P

    America hadn’t gone antagonistic???????

    We are the British Empire and India’s been brought back into the fold.

    We’re trying to correct the African mistakes, actually, we’re trying to correct a lot of Britain’s mistakes.

    Do you honestly think Americans understand we have Britain’s birthright?

    Do you actually think we want it?

    Besides, at some point in time, we would have become independent. It was inevitable. Best it happened this way.

  • RAB

    We are the British Empire and India’s been brought back into the fold.

    We’re trying to correct the African mistakes, actually, we’re trying to correct a lot of Britain’s mistakes.

    Do you honestly think Americans understand we have Britain’s birthright?

    Sandy P. Proud American that you are. Dont tell your fellow countrymen that they now are the British Empire.
    For most of your history you have detested the very idea of Empire. Especially British.
    India has been brought back into the fold???
    When did they ever leave? Except when Britain had to let them leave to be independent. Every institution in India is of British construction, including Parliamentary Democracy. Besides there’s this little ‘Ol thing called the Commonwealth.
    So what is America doing in Zimbabwe, S Africa, Nigeria etc to correct our poor British mistakes? Are you doing anything to correct the mistakes of the Portugese, Spanish French and Germans too?
    No actually I dont think most Americans understand that they have Britains birthright.
    But then we both speak English (shit how did that happen!) and all the ideas and priciples that went into The American Constitution, were first formulated by natural born Britons.
    There is no such thing as “Inevitability” in history.

  • Jacob

    had America not gone independent of Britain

    That can be corrected. The Americans can repent, and humbly ask Her Majesty to accept them back.
    I think she might accept.

  • a.sommer

    Hmph.

    It is more probable that Britain would petition to join the Union, and that’s pretty bloody unlikely.

  • With love from Saratoga

    But have you looked at the tax on tea lately?

    But it’s our tax!

    It is more probable that Britain would petition to join the Union, and that’s pretty bloody unlikely.

    I’d be first in line to support the petition, but I think you’re right about the likelihood.

  • But have you looked at the tax on tea lately?

    But it’s our tax!

    Sadly that just goes to prove that liberty and independence are only passing acquaintances :-(

  • But have you looked at the tax on tea lately?

    But it’s our tax!

    Sadly that just goes to prove that liberty and independence are only passing acquaintances :-(

  • Maybe America would return if England lays off the Windsors and hires a different royal family.

  • nicholas

    Let’s not take America back until the French are cast as the villians in most future Hollywood movies! That would give us a common, unifying, history!

  • Nick M

    The US colonies were always going to declare independence. This sort of thing always happened. Brazil is no longer owned by Portugal, nor Mexico by Spain. The funny thing is that these historical settlements wouldn’t be necessary these days with modern coms and cheap flights.

    I was in DC a few months back and I did think of storming Capitol Hill with a Union Flag and declaring “I reclaim these United States for Her Majesty…”. I think they would have shot me. I went off the idea after being told about the redcoats in the War of 1812 burning down the Capitol using books from the Library of Congress as kindling. I thought that rather mean.

    The grand dream of a unified Anglosphere is really not likely to happen. There are far to many Ameriphobes in the UK. I am constantly stunned by the cliche-ridden vitriol many of my fellow countrymen us against the USA. Invariably they have never visited the place. They may’ve been all around the world but not to the USA. Even with the dollar this weak. You get stuff like “I’d love to go to Canada but never the USA”. I find that odd. It’s a bit like saying you like the Lake District but can’t stand Snowdonia.

    What I’d like to see happen is for the UK to haul ass out of the EU but remain in the EEA like Norway and then broker a deal with NAFTA as well as renewing our old Commonwealth ties. Is this even still possible? The kerfuffle it would cause in Brussels would be worth it in amusement value alone. You never know. They might even hang Mandy from the mannikin pis.

    The idea that the USA is in some way sweeping up after the British Empire is bizarre. I share RAB’s incredulity at that idea. The USA has always attempted to piss from a great height on the British Empire. But, no, I’m not going to mention Suez.

    Brendan, alas I don’t really know enough about the Punic Wars to comment. Shame. The one that truly boggles the mind is that France wanted a union with the UK in the 50s.

  • James of England

    Perry, Paul: What’s wrong with the Vietnamese government? Thinking about it, all of the people who I know who I’ve talked to about ‘Nam lately have had a bias in favour of it (Tony Snow briefly after he’d given a talk partly about Vietnam, the American girl who recently ran Proctor & Gamble’s marketing out there, and a Vietnamese attorney, listed only to say that there was a fair variety and depth of knowledge in the tiny sample), but they’ve all been pretty exuberant about it.

    I’ve been using the fact that enough Democrats and Republicans voted against trade normalisation to delay it until after Bush went out there as to show how painfully self-defeating and cruel protectionists can be. Was I wrong? Did the bastards have a point this time?

  • Paul Marks

    First James of England.

    Certainly the Communist party government of Vietnam now may be just another corrupt dictatorship. However, back in the 1970′s and early 1980′s the government took Marxism seriously – it murdered very large numbers of people and enslaved the population.

    Certainly it was never as bad (or even as close to as bad) as the interpretaion of Marxism in Cambodia – but it was an evil place.

    On Jacob’s point.

    Yes World War One – although I would go further than “pointless”. The millions of people who died in World War One died to make the make the world a WORSE place than it was before (and this includes Germany).

    Perhaps the Great Powers would have come to blows sooner or later – but war should have been avoided as long as possible. France was in the middle of military reorganization in 1914 and so was Russia – Russia was also growing much faster than Germany (both in terms of economic growth and population).

    Delaying the war (for example by Russia allowed Austro-Hungary a free hand in Serbia, which the Russian Emperor wished to and, after all, the Serbian regime WERE GUILTY of ordering the murder of the heir to the throne of Austro-Hungary and his wife – just these criminals had murdered the King of SERBIA and his wife in 1903) would not have alterted the outcome (Germany would still have lost) but it would have made a much shorter and less bloody war.

    “But Germany would not have accepted a delay”. Actually even the German Emperor did NOT want war (not because he wanted it later – he did not want it at all) – if Russia had not mobilized (because the Russian war minister shouted at weak Nicky till he agreed) the Germans would not have put their own plans into operation.

    The German what-if-war-breaks-out plan depended on knocking out France before Russia was fully mobilized – so as soon as Russia started to mobilize the German military plan had to be put into effect.

    On the American colonies and Britain:

    The British House of Commons rejected any the idea of giving the American colonies seats (even only a few seats) which was the position of some of the followers of Pitt the Elder – just as (a century later) it was to reject the notion of an “Imperial Parliament” in which Australia, Canada (and so on) would be represented) – the idea of Joseph Chamberlain.

    The British House of Commons also rejected the idea (of Edmund Burke and the other Rockinghamites) of just not taxing the Americans (at least not taxing them in any way that upset them – the Rockingham ministry had found ways of getting defence money out of the colonies without great protest).

    For all the talk about George III it was really the House of Commons (or rather the majority of members there) who were the real problem.

    They did learn – which is why the “impossible” policy of Edumund Burke (do not tax the colonies if they are going to get upset about it) was followed in the Canada, Australia, New Zealand………..

    Indeed the British govenment went too far the other way. For example, various Australian colonies (most blatently Victoria) were allowed to put taxes on imports from Britain – and forbidding such a violation of free trade would not have meant any pressure for independence from these colonies.

    Any empire that allows colonies to put taxes on imports from the mother country is a rather loose sort of “empire”.

    Of course there was the distinction between the white empire and the nonwhite empire.

    There was less in the way of representative government (at least for many years) in the areas of the empire where there was a non European majority, and even the Princely states of India (which made up about a third of the subcontinent) were under greater British “influence” than say Victoria or New South Wales in the same period.

    However, such men as Lugard (however “racist” they may have been by modern standards) always held that in Africa local chiefs should rule – with only certain cultural practices (practices that modern academics like to pretend did not exist) forbidden.

    It was only in the interwar period (especially the 1930′s) that “planning” and other such became the style in the African colonies.

    The old idea of government as just the umpire (the governor on the engine) preventing people from violating each other but leaving them otherwise free carried on right to the end (more or less) in places like Hong Kong.

    As for the American cry of “no taxation without representation” – or (rather) no taxation without consent of elected representatives (which is what was meant).

    Modern Americans do NOT follow this.

    For example, when the judges in New Hampshire (and other States) demanded that taxes be increased (to provide more money for government education and other such) they were not killed, they were not even covered in tar and feathers.

    The public just meekly obeyed – which shows (for better or worse) what sort of people most modern Americans are (at least in many States).

    “Live Free or Die” does not seem to be a motto that most modern New Hampshire people (for example) understand (too many “educated” people have moved to the State perhaps). There were plenty of judges in the 18th century as well – but people had a rather different attitude to them then.

    Grenville (and the rest of the tindy minded administrators of the 18th century – Lord North was a moderate by comparison) would be quite happy with modern Americans.

  • Gabriel

    was to reject the notion of an “Imperial Parliament” in which Australia, Canada (and so on) would be represented) – the idea of Joseph Chamberlain.

    It did indeed reject the idea of an empire explicitly modelled on the Bismarckian model, it also decisively rejected ‘tariff reform’. You’re not seriously saying this was a bad thing? Presumably you would then have to support the empire policies implemented during the 1930s (largely by his son), given that they were basically updated versions of his.

    If there was a ever a family line that the good lord should have nipped in the bud, it was the Chaimberlains.

  • Let’s not take America back until the French are cast as the villians in most future Hollywood movies! That would give us a common, unifying, history!

    Yeah, more movies about Napoleon, the French and Indian Wars, and Osirak.

  • nicholas

    Alan, sounds good to me. I simply hoped to see them portrayed as gangsters, but we shouldn’t let the world forget about Napoleon.
    Here’s a what-if- Napoleon did beat the russkies in 1812! Most of Europe is now under his control. Even if the navy keeps England safe, I think India would have tempted him next, or maybe another go in Egypt…

  • Paul Marks

    Quite so Gabrial. I should have mentioned that Radical Joe was not just comming up with a plan to save the empire (against long term drift apart) – his plan was part of his tax on imports doctrine partly to hit back against Germany and the United States (that had put taxes on British goods), and partly to fund his (Bismark style) welfare ideas. Still “Empire Free Trade” might have meant an end on taxes on British goods into Canada and the Australian colonies (and so on).

    N. Chamberlain actually got to do some of his father’s dream.

    First he got to extend Lloyd-George’s welfare schemes (from certain industries to everyone) in the 1920′s and then (1932) he got to see the end of free trade – but with an Imperial Preference (i.e. lower trade taxes within the Empire).

    And all this before he even became Prime Minister. Of course as Prime Minister Neville had to deal with the Hitler problem – something he had no knowledge of or (really) interest in.

    I am told that Austin Chamberlain had a better national security head on his shoulders than Neville did (which would not have been difficult), but he died.

    Actually both Neville and Austin are supposed to have been honourable men in their personal lives, of course Radical Joe was a bit of a shit – but one can not blame sons for the father.

  • Paul Marks

    Before there is any misinterpretation – NO I would not have supported Britain putting taxes on German or American goods.

    Nor would I have supported the welfare schemes.

    However, free trade within the empire was worth having (it was a bit of a farce without it) as PERHAPS would have been an Imperial Parliament.

    The governments of Australia, Canada, New Zealand (and so on) were a bit upset that Britain declared them at war with Germany in 1914 – without asking them first.

    They would have agreed – but they would liked to have been asked (there was resentment – which got worse when the butcher’s bill started to get paid).

    An Imperial Parliament would have meant that the judgement was a shared one (no undercover resentment at British high handedness).

    And yes I would have included the Indian Princes in the Parliament. Partly because skin colour does not matter – and partly because more power to the Princely States would have warded off a united democratic India (which is where the real threat to the Empire lay).

    Government schools in India and a civil service (both 19th century ideas – they started under the East India Company) were the root of the problem – they led directly to the Congress party.

    But more real independence and represenation for the Princes might have warded off the danger.

    Of course one could have free trade in the Empire without an Imperial Parliament – but the government of Canada, Australia and so on wanted something big to make them drop their trade taxes (and seats in the House of Commons would have been as hard to get in the 19th century as they had been for the American colonies in the 18th century).

  • Sandy P

    Of course we’re sweeping up after you.

    India/Pakland borders, Africa, and if Iraq devolves back into it was……

    But choosing the gigolo and the oven maker over US????

    Mother’s gone senile in her old age.

    They burned the library because of our foray into Canada.

    The History Channel’s 2-hr piece on The War of 1812 was inspiring (for US).

  • Sandy P

    India’s back into the fold due to their embracing, as Chiraq would spit, anglo-saxon market principles.

    Why in the world do I care what Frankenreich, Portugal and Spain do, other than the mess they’ve made of Canada, Mexico, most of our southern neighbors and Haiti.

    Spain is devolving into its’ elements.

    Mebbe the hostility to America is this unconscious loss of birthright.

    It does mean something to be English.

    As to Africa, Oprah just built a $40 million girls school (because the black kids in the US weren’t worthy, you read her reasoning and tell me what she said), Gates is on a mission he’s trying to bring accountable/ accounting practices along w/his money (UN didn’t like that), and W really can be considered the 1st black president.

  • James of England

    Paul, I agree that the 70s/ 80s were a bad time to be in Vietnam. The vote to cut off the funding and air cover from a South Vietnam that was perfectly capable of defending itself with those things (as it did in ’72) was one of the most shameful acts in American history.

    That said, Perry’s comment wasn’t about the 80s, it was a present day claim that Vietnam was pre-liberation. It’s not a whole-hearted democracy and it’s economy is not up to the standards of, say, the Philipines, but it’s growing fast, an Asian tiger cub, so to speak. Given that the South Vietnamese government wasn’t perfect, I think I’m standing by my view that victory in the Vietnam war was declared a couple of months ago, when trade normalisation with a friendly, capitalist, government was passed.

  • Paul Marks

    There is a lot of evidence in support of your position James.

    However, whilst the government remains offcially Marxist all private property (and property owners – and non property owners who try and defend them) could be swept away in the blink of an eye.

    Property may be stolen (by various “legal” means) in the United States – but not all property, all at once.

    It is the same with China. Taxes and regulations are much less in China than in the United States (which is one important reason why there is such a large amount of exports from the China to the United States).

    But if the party willed otherwise all this could change – overnight.

    Whilst an officially Marxist organization remains in charge there is always the danger that it could back to Marxism – a doctrine it has never officially denounced.

    Indeed “Uncle Ho” is still a hero to the regime in Vietnam, and the picture of Mao (the greatest mass murderer of all time) is still to be seen in China.

    I distrust governments that treat as heros (in their history books and so on) great evil doers.

    And governments that still officially hold to the basic beliefs of these evil doers.

  • James of England

    Paul, I was thinking for a moment that, A Ha!, the same thing could be said, to a lesser degree, about our own sceptered Isle. Read today’s Daily Ablution for some examples of unsavory “hero” worship. Caught out, Mr. Marks! With that logic, you’d have to admit to not trusting Her Majesty’s government!

    I was sufficiently embarrased by that train of thought that I felt compelled to share. I still think that talk of their need to be liberated is a little strong, but I’m not terribly libertarian, this is a libertarian site, and I should be tolerant of calls for liberation from government. ;-)