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qpwoeiru

American Revolution

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I want to learn about the events leading up to and following the American Revolution, but I realize history is an iffy subject and by leaving out some things and over-stressing others, an author can cause someone to have a completely distorted view of what happened. Anyone have any suggestions of good books to go with?

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I'm glad you ask that question. I've consumed vast quantities of historical texts on the Revolution. And you are correct to note that historical writers often have an agenda of persuasion concealed between the pages. As for specific titles for the Objectivist agenda, may I recommend "Freethinkers-a History of American Secularism," by Susan Jacoby. While Jacoby's book covers only specific personalities and there philosophical influences, and she covers secularism up to the present day, the early chapters help to dispell the myth of America's "Judeo-Christian" foundation.

To truly understand the times leading up to the Revolution, you will be reading many volumes. You may even find that reading about events in Britain explain America's unique outlook on liberty, such as the English Civil War in the mid-1600s. Review the economic theories of merchantilism, court decisions made in American colonies, biographies, and in general, understand that not everyone agreed on the need to break with Great Britain. I will try to remember some other titles that helped me to better grasp the full measure of the period, but off hand I packed away most of my library.

What specific area of the Revolution interests you?

Edited by Repairman

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I'm interested in knowing about the events leading up to the revolution, the battles that took place during the war, and the arguments and debates that took place during the adoption of the constitution.

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qpwoeiru, where do I begin? This is a favorite subject of mine, so I'll try to avoid any oversights or mistakes. I shall attempt to address the subject with the lesser-known facts. The colonial period must be understood for what it was: colonial governments administrated by men interpreting English law to a population of undesirables and opportunists from the British island and northern Europe. Disregarding import duties and trade restrictions was a common practice for those engaged in commerce. Tax officials were easily bribed. After the Seven Years War, (the French-Indian War to Americans), the English demanded their taxes be collected and the war debt be paid. In addition to this, the Crown restricted the creation of new settlements in the lands once claimed by the French and their Indian allies. And as resistance to these new demands required muscle, British troops were poring into the colonies, quartering their soldiers anywhere they bloody well chose. Many of the other facts leading up to the Boston Massacre, and the shoot-out at Lexington and Concord are famous. But to the critical thinker, understanding the general attitudes of colonial communities allows one to understand the difficulty in breaking from the king that had protected their interests, their "father protector," their monarch, their sovereign, and being entirely independent under an unknown ruler, or untested form of government. The question of what sort of government ultimately was the question, but to answer that, one must seek and study the mind of Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and an array of philosophers both contemporary to the Founders, and from the distant past. That's all for now. Ask me any time.

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On the subject of the Constitution, the 1787-88 convention was closed from the public, and quite likely was nothing as depicted in the famous painting, with dignified gentlemen posing in orderly debate. More likely they were arguing in a heated passion. It is important to point out that many delegates had come to Philadelphia that summer of 1787 with specific orders NOT to agree to any new "innovation." The new federal government was one such innovation. Thomas Jefferson, serving as America's representative in Paris as the time, was sternly opposed to it.

While there were numerous issues debated, the three major points I often identify as the most contentious are 1) the slave issue. It was agreed that slavery, while being evil, was necessary for economic recovery, especially as the southern states were carrying the debts of less capable northern states. Much more can be said of this subject, and it is worth saying the southerns at that time understood the contradiction of liberty as a doctrine, and holding slave as a practical means to a greater end. That end being the expansion of a continental empire. The slave issue was to be a "closed" matter for no less than 20 years.

2) The preamble of the Constitution includes as a list of objectives, among them, "(to) Promote the General Welfare." This clause is not found in the constitution drafted for the Confederacy, in 1860. This particular clause has provide a loophole for a great deal of nonsense, and there were those who understood its implications in 1787-88.

3) You will note that there is no mention of God in the preamble, and in Article 6, section 3, no test of religion as a qualification for public office. This outraged religious leaders, and contributed to the backlash of religiosity, known as the Second Awakening. The Confederate Constitution of 1860 includes a distinct claim to God, as their source of legitimacy.

When I have the opportunity, I point out these facts as an argument for a secular government, with no specific objective to the "welfare' of any specific group or persons, other than the individual citizen.

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I want to learn about the events leading up to and following the American Revolution, but I realize history is an iffy subject and by leaving out some things and over-stressing others, an author can cause someone to have a completely distorted view of what happened. Anyone have any suggestions of good books to go with?

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hmm not sure what happened with posting a reply anyway

Given the reason you stated I would suggest a broad approach to researching things like the Albany Plan, the Articles of Confederation the Federalist Papers, along with biographies and writings of the principal players ie Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, Adams ect.

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Indeed religion as a huge issue shouldn't be ignored. Protestant ideals were fuels to freedom; they had broken free from Catholicism and Anglicanism. Even the American Anglicans were considerably less controlled by their hierarchy in the local faith assemblies. The Great Awakening heavily influenced the recognition that a person is free. 
 
Were people really that serious about fighting for principles? Uh, yeah, they were, and they did. Even those who weren't Christians were heavily influenced by the Great Awakening just a couple generations before the Revolution. It's a major reason why the overwhelming majority of Americans at the time were people of such integrity and could write and approve such amazing documents as our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. One of the issues brought up in the pulpit, especially after violence erupted, was that those who live by the sword die by the sword. The British had lived by the sword for a long time and it was time for it to stop. So the Americans stood up to put a stop to it. They sincerely believed they were endowed by Providence to stop tyranny. There were even preachers on the battlefields--before, after and not too uncommon during as well, and not just to preach. 
 
Yes, economics was an issue too. The British had allowed a lot of black market stuff to take place and decided to put a big clamp down on it after the French-Indian war. No way that would fly, but it most definitely not a primary reason, more like gas on a fire already burning. 
 
Try reading some books written in the early 1800's about why Americans fought in the war. It's very enlightening and is quite damning of the British and there's no PC crap to offend people in that time. Makes sense, because there were still many Revolutionary veterans alive up until the 1820s to give first-hand feedback. Google e-books are free when copyrighted so long ago. Misspells and weird letters aside, it's quite educational...and free.
 
 

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On 5/22/2017 at 8:36 AM, oliev said:
Indeed religion as a huge issue shouldn't be ignored. Protestant ideals were fuels to freedom; they had broken free from Catholicism and Anglicanism. Even the American Anglicans were considerably less controlled by their hierarchy in the local faith assemblies. The Great Awakening heavily influenced the recognition that a person is free. 

 

I hope you don't think I was ignoring the influence of religion on the Colonists. I quite agree that the multitudes of Protestant faiths were huge contributing factors in the creation of the American character of those times. But in the short space of these posts, I try to avoid expanding into a dissertation.

In any discussion I have about the Revolutionary period, I emphasize the secularism of the great thinkers, such as Franklin, Jefferson, and Paine. The lack piety in the writings of these men is noteworthy. If they held to any religious beliefs, those beliefs were not asserted as persuasive argument for revolt against the Crown. Being fully-aware of the sectarian strife and violence of the preceding years of colonial life, it is clear that they sought to diminish any legal justification for such strive in the nation they created.

The fact that Objectivism is a philosophy that stresses the importance of individual liberty over that of the state makes it the ideal philosophical foundation for the first nation to stress the importance of man's natural rights to liberty. The Founders gave a nation with a rather vague and even at times contradictory set of moral directions. Ayn Rand gave of the directions that were missing.

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On 9/19/2013 at 0:25 AM, qpwoeiru said:

I want to learn about the events leading up to and following the American Revolution, but I realize history is an iffy subject and by leaving out some things and over-stressing others, an author can cause someone to have a completely distorted view of what happened. Anyone have any suggestions of good books to go with?

it's probably nowhere near as informative as good book, but if you want a few hours of good television on the period of the Revolution and the early Republic, it may be worth watching HBO's series on "John Adams". 

 

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