It’s appropriate to start the fourth of July with a poster showing at the Museum of the American Revolution, in Philadelphia.
“Sometimes, freedom wore a redcoat,” is the slogan on the poster, showing a redcoat surrounded by African-Americans.
The exhibit highlights the fact that 15,000 African-Americans fought with the Loyalists; while only 5,000 fought for the Patriots.
Even the term “patriots” as against the “Americans” is a step forward in our understanding of the Revolutionary War; this was not a war between Americans and the British, but rather a civil war between two factions of Americans.
After more than 240 years, it’s healthy for Americans to realize this fact, and to appreciate that the war was not as simple as Hollywood (and books) have often made out.
After the conflict, many of the former slaves left for Canada and helped found Sierra Leone.
LOVE AND HATE IN JAMESTOWN
Of course, the Revolutionary War was not the beginning of America. There was 170 years of western civilization here before the struggle for independence.
It all began in Jamestown.
The first English settlement in North America began in 1607. (There was an earlier settlement on Roanoke Island, but it was wiped out.)
Jamestown itself was almost wiped out. It was a miracle that it survived.
I’ve been reading the book “Love and Hate In Jamestown,” by David A. Price, published in 2003. On a number of occasions things were going so badly that the settlers wanted to return to England. One young white man wrote his parents back home begging them to redeem him from indentured servitude, as he didn’t think he would survive the seven years he had to endure.
There is a promising series running on PBS right now titled “Jamestown.” However, it should not be confused with the facts. The series is very good in conveying the difficulties and challenges of every day life, but is a fictionalized account of the English settlement. However, the series is still one of the best currently showing on American television.
The TV series is in 1619-1620 right now, with the arrival of the first women and the first African-Americans in 1619 under the governorship of Sir George Yeardley. The same year saw the beginnings of democracy in the colonies, with the establishment of a parliament (the House of Burgesses). A major fault of the TV series is that life in Jamestown is seen through the eyes of three women, at a time and in a place where women were few and far between, and irrelevant when it came to decision making. It’s revisionist history, for sure. More for the 21st century audience than reality.
I am waiting for the uprising, which took place after Yeardley left. On March 22nd, 1622, one quarter of the colony were slaughtered by the natives, a major turning point in relations between the settlers and the Native Americans. This was a precursor of the long history of bad relations between the whites and the natives, which went on until the end of the nineteenth century. The date, March 22nd, was long commemorated throughout Virginia, in remembrance of those who had died.
It’s hard to imagine the heartbreak of those early years. Pocahontas died before she was due to leave England with her husband. He had to leave their two-year-old son behind, as he was too fragile to make the Atlantic crossing. Having lost his mother, he never saw his father again. He was eventually raised by his uncle.
In his last chapter, Mr. Price, who lives in the Washington DC area, looks at the Pilgrims and the Mayflower. Of interest was his account of the religious persecution of the Pilgrims. He relates how the Puritans wanted a ban on sports and the theater on “the Sabbath” (Sunday). “In 1618 King James overruled local Puritan magistrates who attempted to ban Sabbath day sports. “When shall the common people have leave to exercise,” he demanded, “if not upon Sundays and holidays, seeing they must apply their labor, and win their living, in all working days.”
“On the scale of European religious repression, King James’s treatment of the Puritans was relatively mild. At his behest, the bishops of the Church of England fired around ninety of the most conspicuous Puritan ministers from Anglican churches. He banned the worship services of a breakaway group, dissenters within the dissenters, known as the Separatists. On the other hand, his sponsorship of a new Bible translation, now known as the King James Bible, came at the suggestion of a prominent Puritan clergyman; several Puritans were also on the team of translators.
“In any event, a group of 125 Separatists left England for Amsterdam in 1608.” (“Love and Hate In Jamestown,” David A. Price. pages 223-224, 2003.)
“Politicians are granting free healthcare to illegal immigrants, while fining Americans for not having health insurance.” (“The state has become our nation’s real God,” by Gary DeMar, New American Vision)
EU CHANGE OF LEADERS
It’s difficult to predict what’s going to happen in Europe right now.
The EU’s top officials are being replaced. Not democratically, of course. But their terms are up, so there’s going to be change.
Most significant so far are Ursula von der Leyen and Christine Lagarde. They have won the top two posts. Ursula von der Leyen had a mixed record as Germany’s Defense Minister. Christine Lagarde was the head of the IMF.
CNN reported 7/3: “Europe’s leaders have agreed to give two of the top four European Union jobs to women, but only after a marathon set of talks that exposed the continent’s simmering divisions.
“German defense minister Ursula Von Der Leyen emerged as nominee for president of the European Commission, and International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde, who is French, was put forward for the presidency of the European Central Bank.
“Von Der Leyen’s role must be confirmed by a vote in the European Parliament. If elected, she would be the first woman to lead the European Commission. Lagarde will be the first woman to head the bloc’s central bank.
“Outgoing European Council president Donald Tusk called the appointments “a perfect gender balance.”” (Bryony Jones)
I spent a couple of evenings this week watching “The War That Made America,” a 4-hour PBS special made in 2006, to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the French and Indian War. The intro added the words: “And it’s not the war you think.”
It is, arguably, the most significant war in American history. If it had ended differently, we might have been French and Catholic. Instead, we speak English and have freedom of religion.
Prior to 1754 the British had control of the eastern seaboard. The French were in control of the “Ohio country.” From Canada to Louisiana, they had a series of forts that controlled the center of what is now the US. These forts stopped Americans from moving westward. They were trying to strengthen these forts when conflict arose between Britain and France.
George Washington fired the first shot, as a member of the colonial Virginia Regiment, a provincial militia. It was the first shot in what was really the first world war, a war that saw fighting in India, the Philippines, Africa and Europe as well as North America. Outside of the US, the war is known as the Seven Years War.
After more than seven years of brutal fighting, the French were driven out of North America. The threat from the Roman Catholic Church, which did not tolerate freedom of religion, was over. The French king no longer ruled over North America, replaced by an English king who was a constitutional monarch.
When told the news that he had lost Canada, Louis XV was talking to Voltaire, the famous French philosopher. In an attempt to console him, Voltaire asked what the French had actually lost. It was, he said, just “a few acres of snow.”
Fast forward fifteen years, to 1775. This was the year that saw the beginning of major changes that lay the groundwork for the world we now live in.
From Wikipedia: “In the Hebrew Bible, forty is often used for time periods, forty days or forty years, which separate “two distinct epochs.” Several Jewish leaders and kings are said to have ruled for “forty years,” that is, a generation.”
1775 was truly the end of one epoch. 1815 was the beginning of another.
MANASSEH SEPARATED FROM EPHRAIM
The forty-year period began with the separation from the “multitude of nations,” of a ”great people,” Manasseh. The multitude remained united under the Crown.
“Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands knowingly, for Manasseh was the firstborn. And he blessed Joseph, and said: “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has fed me all my life long to this day, The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads; Let my name be named upon them, And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”
“Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. And Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”
But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”
“So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will bless, saying, ‘May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!’ ” And thus he set Ephraim before Manasseh.” (Genesis 48:14-20)
2. CANADA ALSO BECAME A NATION.
One of the consequences of the US victory at Yorktown was the expansion of Canada and of it becoming its very own nation. The British had control of the 14th colony, Quebec (Lower Canada), which refused to join the “Protestant Republic” forming to the south. Britain had conquered Quebec in 1759, guaranteeing the French their Roman Catholicism. Many of America’s Tories fled to Ontario, then Upper Canada, and, with Lower Canada, formed a new nation of Canada. Later, in 1867, they would be given independence under the Crown, forming the Dominion of Canada, the first nation of the British Commonwealth.
3. FRANCE LOSES ITS SUPREMACY TO ENGLAND
The first blow against French domination was struck in 1759 when the British gained Montreal and Quebec. But it was the 22-year period of on-again, off again, military conflict with France that led to a century of British domination. The Napoleonic Wars weakened France and strengthened England. The defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, on 18th June, 1815, saw the end of France as a great military power.
4. The LOUISIANA PURCHASE of 1803, financed by a British bank, gave America the Ohio country and enabled it to expand westward.
5. NAVAL SUPREMACY
The Battle of Trafalgar on October 21, 1805, one of the greatest British victories of all time, gave Britain naval supremacy. For over a century, the Royal Navy ruled the seas, protected British territories and the US and ensured the peace.
ABOLISHMENT OF THE SLAVE TRADE
The trade in slaves ended for the British Empire in 1807. The US followed a year later. It wasn’t until 1833 that the British ended slavery throughout their empire. For the US it was thirty years later during the Civil War. But the end of the slave trade boosted the growth of the British Empire, which was seen throughout Africa as a Liberator. The West Africa Squadron of the British Royal Navy patrolled the Gulf of Guinea, and was authorized to stop any naval vessel (of whatever country) and free their slaves. In the fifty years of the Squadron it is estimated that 150,000 slaves were freed.
During the Revolutionary War, the British were supported by most of the slaves in the thirteen colonies, slaves who were promised their freedom at the end of the war. With defeat, they took those slaves on board ships, many of which went to found a new nation, Sierra Leone, in West Africa.
Three new countries emerged in the 40-year period we are looking at – the United States, Canada and Sierra Leone.
WAR OF 1812
This war showed that the US was a serious nation. Canada was, too. The two fought and established their separate identities. Canadians made it clear they wanted to stay under the Crown.
THE COST OF ARROGANCE
The PBS documentary showed quite clearly the role of the Indians in the struggle for North America. The French started the war with great advantage – most of the Indian tribes were on their side. But their arrogance toward the Indians caused that to change.
At the same time, British arrogance toward George Washington cost them the American colonies twenty years later. They refused to allow Washington advancement in the ranks because he was a “provincial.” He quit the military in 1758, returning in 1775 to lead the Patriots” against the British.
The DVD is well worth four hours. You could also read the book “A Few Acres of Snow” by Robert Leckie, “the saga of the French and Indian Wars.” Published in 2006.
MAY VISITS GRIMSBY
Mrs. Theresa May, Prime Minister of the UK, visited my hometown of Grimsby this morning. She was there to make a pitch for her latest Brexit proposals, to be voted on in parliament on Tuesday. Grimsby is one of the towns that most supported Brexit. She made it clear that, if her proposals are rejected, the UK might have to remain in the EU.
Even if her proposals receive the support of parliament (a big IF), there is no guarantee that the EU will go along with them.
The people voted to leave the European Union. Now they are being told it’s not as simple as that. Why not let the people have what they voted for? That will never do!
DW news (German news) highlighted the fact that anti-semitic acts in the Federal Republic increased by over 60% last year. They added that France was worse, with a 70% increase.
At the same time, right-wing parties are expected to make significant gains in the election for the European Parliament, set for May. It should be emphasized that most people in these parties are simply concerned about immigration. But this could change.
A FRENCH VIEW ON AMERICA’S RETREAT FROM THE WORLD
“BHL (Bernard Henri Levy) … is a philosopher given to interpreting the world’s maladies. He is in New York for the publication on Feb 12 of his latest book, elegantly provocative, “The Empire and the Five Kings.” It describes “the new geopolitical order which is designing itself before our eyes” as a result of “America’s abdication” of global leadership.
“You have America going back,” he says, “retreating and lowering its flag, both on military and ideological terms.” In Mr. Levy’s thesis,“ five former empires which we all thought to be dead and buried, are waking up again – Russia, China, Turkey, Sunni radical Islamism and Persia (Iran). We thought they were pure ghosts but no, they are moving again; they are dancing again on the floor of the world.” They are rushing unchecked, he says, into the voids left everywhere by the retreat of the West, most notably under Donald Trump.” (“The French philosopher who loves America,” by Tunku Varadarajan, WSJ, 2/9)
INCREDIBLE SHRINKING EUROPE
“Last week offered fresh evidence that the most consequential historical shift of the last 100 years continues: the decline of Europe as a force in world affairs. As Deutsche Bank warned of a German recession, the European Commission cut the 2019 eurozone growth forecast from an already anaemic 1.9 % to1.3 %. Economic output in the eurozone was lower in 2017 than it was in 2009; over that same period, gross domestic product grew 139% in China, 96% in India, and 34% in the US, according to the World Bank.” (“Incredible Shrinking Europe”, by Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, 12th February).
DEJA VU – socialism (again)
“If you’re not a socialist by age 20, you’ve got no heart; if you’re still a socialist by age 40, you’ve got no head.” So said Winston Churchill. It explains Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, at 29, very well. But how do you explain Elizabeth Warren, aged 69? Or Bernie Sanders, who’s 8 years older!
50 years ago, it was all the rage. Students across the world wanted socialism, government control of the means of production (and everything else). It didn’t work. It made a much bigger mess of the world. Thirty years later, people realized that instead of government solving the problem, the reality was that government IS the problem!
But now, thanks to young voters, we’re back to socialism being the solution to everything.
This year, a number of socialists are in the US Congress. And they all have expensive ideas. Medicare for all; the Green New Deal; a guaranteed job for all; a new system for corporate control; vastly higher taxes. These are all part of the program. The cost to the tax-payer would be horrendous. A guaranteed job for all would make government even more inefficient.
That isn’t to say it won’t happen.
Democracy in Africa? What democracy in Africa?
Note from The Editor: Branko Brkic, Daily Maverick, 20 January 2019
The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Constitutional Court in the early hours of 20 January upheld the victory of Felix Tshisekedi by rejecting appeals by his rival, Martin Fayulu. Fayulu has rejected the court ruling and called on his supporters to organize non-violent protests.
It is becoming increasingly clear for everyone to see: Democracy in Africa is an idea to which almost nobody is subscribing. Once more, another country’s clear majority chose its president, only for the land that was once Mandela’s to accept the clearly fake presidential and parliamentary results, people’s will be damned. This time, it’s Congo’s turn. So, why have elections at all? The polls in Congo have come and gone, another one in the wall of denying the people’s true will. The “results,” if they could be even considered that, have clearly been cooked. (Daily Maverick, South Africa, January 2019)
FIGHTING FOR THE KING IN AMERICA’S FIRST CIVIL WAR
Recently, I’ve read four books on the American Revolution. All four books were written by Americans — and all four describe the Revolutionary War as “America’s first civil war.” Indeed it was.
Most of the battles did not involve any British troops. And for two years after the British defeat at Yorktown, fighting continued between Americans. The conflict was between American Tories (Loyalists) and American Patriots (Rebels). In some areas (notably South Carolina) 80% of the citizenry supported the Crown. In fact, at one point the Patriots were ready to give up on the South as they were solidly loyal.
One thing is clear – the more conservative you are now, the more likely you are to have been a Loyalist!
Out of the war came three nations, the United States, Canada and Sierra Leone. (The latter was established for slaves freed by the British Army.) The war was not between America and England. Note the last three paragraphs of “Tories: Fighting for the King in America’s First Civil War,” by Thomas B Allen:
“Within a year after the war ended, about 100,000 Americans left their homes. Most of them went to Canada. The rest chose England, Scotland or British possessions in the West Indies. Within a generation the new Canadians had spread across the vast British dominion, taking with them the virtues and the visions that they and their ancestors had had as American colonists. Granted large tracts of land, they transformed a wilderness into a vibrant nation. Many became prosperous farmers or started mercantile dynasties. “Seldom had a people done so well by losing a war,” a Canadian historian wrote.
“Today, four to six million Canadians – about one fifth of the population – claim a Tory ancestor. Many Canadians believe that their nation’s traditional devotion to law and civility, the very essence of being a Canadian, traces back to being loyal, as in Loyalist.
“Below the border live the people who started another country, built by Rebels.
Within a generation, those Rebels would begin to forgive – and forget – the Tories. They would call the Revolution a war between Americans and the British, losing from their collective memory the fact that much of the fighting had been between Americans and Americans.” (“Tories,” Thomas B. Allen, page 333).
This obscures the fact that the war saw brother fight brother, that neighbors fought each other. We have seen this twice in our history. Now, we are dividing again. Could history repeat itself?
(The other three books are “Redcoats and Partisans,” by Walter Edgar; “Frontier Rebels,” by Patrick Spero; and “Scars of Independence,” by Holger Hoock.)
There have been an increasing number of articles warning about the global economy. The latest predicts a depression worse than the Great Depression. None are specific, in terms of “when” but all say the signs are there.
The most common problem cited is debt. Governmental debt is already over $22 trillion in the US. This is the highest amount any country in history has ever owed, so it’s difficult to predict what will happen. In addition, there’s also corporate and private debt. The figures given do not include mortgage debt, which is also extremely high. Nor do they include the annual commitments for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other government programs, the so-called entitlements.
The 2008 financial crash started as a mortgage failure. So did the 1873 crash. It began in Austria-Hungary and spread around the world. This particular crash was known as The Great Depression, more than fifty years before the depression of the thirties. It would be a mistake to think it cannot happen again.
In fact, depressions have been a regular feature in America’s history. There have been as many as 47 recessions and depressions since independence. After the end of the Revolutionary War, there was a depression, in which the economy slumped by 50%. The depression of 1873 lasted 25 years, on and off. Unemployment was at 50% in the 1896 election, resulting in the highest turnout ever – a full 80% of voters participated that year.
Not every year saw the economy in deep depression. It came in three waves. It finally ended with the Spanish-American War, which got the economy moving again.
PANIC OF 1873
The 1873 depression in the US started with the collapse of Jay Cooke & Co., then a major component of the American banking establishment. Contributory failures were the post-Civil War inflation, rampant speculative investment and losses in the Chicago and Boston fires (1871 & 1872). Bank reserves plummeted in the first two months from $50 million to $17 million.
“The failure of the Jay Cooke bank, followed quickly by that of Henry Clews, set off a chain reaction of bank failures and temporarily closed the New York stock market. Factories began to lay off workers as the United States slipped into depression. The effects of the panic were quickly felt in New York, and more slowly in Chicago, Virginia City, Nevada (where silver mining was active), and San Francisco.
“The New York Stock Exchange closed for ten days starting 20 September. By November 1873 some 55 of the nation’s railroads had failed, and another 60 went bankrupt by the first anniversary of the crisis. Construction of new rail lines, formerly one of the backbones of the economy, plummeted from 7,500 miles (12,070 km) of track in 1872 to just 1,600 miles (2,575 km) in 1875. 18,000 businesses failed between 1873 and 1875. Unemployment peaked in 1878 at 8.25%. Building construction was halted, wages were cut, real estate values fell and corporate profits vanished. ” (Panic of 1873, Wikipedia)
I single out the 1873 depression because of the similarities in the global situation today. The depression in German speaking countries is known as the Grunderkrach, or Founders Crash. When Germany was united following the Franco-Prussian war, a lot of money flowed into the country, mostly from French war reparations. Loans were then made, mostly for mortgages. When people couldn’t pay them, the banking system collapsed. This spread to the US and Britain. It was the beginning of the end of Britain’s global supremacy.
The Great Recession of 2008 began as a housing crisis. It actually began two years earlier when housing prices started falling. For years previously house prices had been rising fast. Millions of people bought homes, homes they could not afford. The banks loaned to people who should not have had loans. It was a recipe for disaster.
The same thing is happening again. Bad loans and speculative investments are pervasive. Student loans are so high they could be the cause of a collapse by themselves. Government debt is at an all-time high as are corporate debt and consumer, non-mortgage debt (credit cards).
I am reminded of what the late President of France, Charles de Gaulle, said over 50 years ago. He did not want Britain to join the EU (he had incredible foresight!). He dismissed the US and the UK as “the Anglo Saxon debtor nations.” The British-American economic systems have been built on massive debt. It works well . . . for a while! Eventually, there comes the day of reckoning.
That may be this year.
We should never have borrowed so much money, especially after the Crash of 2008. Often it’s been encouraged by government, when it makes little sense. Social engineering has boosted the value of homes and increased the number of loans (more profits). A government decree made under the last administration was that all neighborhoods should be 25% minority; the only way to achieve that was to give 100% loans to people who had never owned a house. Additionally, 100% loans have been made to immigrants, who have had little time to learn how the economy works in the US.
Remember, at stake here is America’s global leadership role. A serious set-back for the economy would weaken the US.
It’s interesting here to note that the euro is set up very differently, with government borrowing limited to 3%. The euro has its own problems, but could emerge as the greater currency in the event of a global depression. It’s already used by more people than the US dollar.
Debt can mean the borrower ends up in servitude to the lender. Note the following warning from scripture: Proverbs 22:7 7 “The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender.”
This is a far cry from the promised blessings for obedience:
Deuteronomy 15:6 says: “For the Lord your God will bless you just as He promised you; you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow; you shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over you.”
A second cause of financial concern is impending TRADE WARS. These will slow down the global economy. Once again, uncertainty is an issue here.
A third reason the global economy is at risk is BREXIT, now less than two months away. This could seriously affect inter-European trade.
A fourth factor, increasingly seen, is the economic Rule of Inequality. This is an economic law that predicts the likelihood of revolution based on the gap between the rich and the poor in any country. China is very concerned about this. There is only one country with a greater gap and that’s the US. Trump’s election was our “revolution” – if he is not able to deliver, there will be trouble ahead.
There are many countries around the world with a similar gap. France is going through weekly demonstrations about the rising gap between rich and poor; Venezuela and Zimbabwe are on the brink of revolution.
Other factors to watch are China’s slowdown and even the weather. Both can impact economies.
The above are all the predictables. There may be other factors, unpredicatables, such as war, that can add to economic woes.
It remains to be seen. But the warnings are there. The only question is “When?”
RUSSIA & CHINA POSE BIGGEST THREATS TO US
“Former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski warned in 1997 that the greatest long-term threat to US interests would be a “grand coalition” of China and Russia, ‘”united not by ideology but by complementary grievances.” This coalition “would be reminiscent in scale and scope of the challenge once posed by the Sino-Soviet bloc, though this time China would likely be the leader and Russia the follower.”
Nobody listened back then, but now it’s becoming clear that the two countries are cooperating to deal with what each perceives as the American threat. The latest development is in Venezuela, where they are supporting President Maduro and condemning the US for backing the “usurper,” Juan Guaido.
In the past, the US has thought a Sino-Russian entente outlandish. Only now it’s happening. As Mr. Brzezinski warned, it’s not that they have a lot in common, but rather they share a common enemy.
UK TO CRASH OUT OF THE EU
Now, nothing can stop Brexit from happening. Even many supporters of remaining in the EU see that. The way Europe has treated the UK will make it impossible to avoid a hard Brexit. (This assumes no change of heart in the EU.)
The facts are that British incompetence has led to Europe just wanting to get it over with. Looking back on almost 50 years of membership there is a realization that Britain has never been a good fit, either, so why try to keep the British in?
A third reason is NATO. Most of the other European countries sense that the US is pulling out of NATO, that it doesn’t want the responsibility or cost of defending the other members. This is why Europe is trying to put together its own military force. Britain, more pro-American, would only get in the way of this.
So, expect a full Brexit on March 29th.
This will not prevent Mrs. May running around Europe like a chicken with its head cut-off!
“From July 1780 until the end of the year, the Catawba River Valley and the adjacent northern districts were the scenes of some of the most brutal warfare ever fought in what is now the United States. It was a civil war, with all its horrors, as neighbors and families turned on one another with a vengeance.” (page 140, Partisans and Redcoats, by Walter Edgar, 2001)
We had all nine grandchildren in the house last week, Monday through Friday. Hence, the lack of a blog post a week ago. Visits to the grocery store were frequent, as was taking them places. There was no time to write, or even watch the news.
After our mini-family reunion, I really hope they will want to see each other after my wife and I are no longer around to host the gathering. I’m sure they will!
I was struck (again) by how much louder the five younger ones, all boys, were, than their four older female sisters and cousins. Noise, noise, noise! Can’t boys do anything quietly? Clearly not.
I found myself walking through the daily debris silently reminding myself that “children are a blessing!” They certainly are and I’m already looking forward to when we can all be together again.
THEN AND NOW
When everybody was gone, I started reading Boris Johnson’s “The Churchill Factor: How one man made history.”
You may have heard of Boris Johnson. He’s sometimes been described as “Britain’s Donald Trump.” On his recent visit to England, Trump expressed the opinion that Boris would make “a great prime minister.” A poll earlier this week showed him to be the favorite to succeed Theresa May. Donald Trump and Boris Johnson have known each other for some time and are good friends.
Boris served two terms as a very successful Mayor of London. More recently, he was Britain’s Foreign Secretary, the equivalent of Secretary of State.
He resigned a few weeks ago over Brexit. His objection, supported by many, is that Mrs. May, the Prime Minister, seems to want to compromise with the European Union. This would not deliver the Brexit (total independence) from the EU that was promised after the referendum over two years ago. There is still no agreement between the UK and the EU over future trade. Boris Johnson’s point is that the United Kingdom doesn’t need one – that new trade deals can be signed after breaking away from Brussels. Have faith – it will all work out.
I must admit to sympathy with his stance. Get out quick. Don’t hesitate.
His book on Churchill was written a few years ago and published in 2014. I’m now reading chapter 17 (there are 23 chapters). The chapter is titled “The Wooing of America” and details Churchill’s relationship with Franklin Roosevelt. His single-minded mission was to bring the United States into the war against Hitler. At their first wartime meeting, the two leaders were concerned that Hitler had recently invaded Russia. But Churchill knew that after Russia, he would come after Britain; and that if Britain fell and Hitler sank the Royal Navy, America would be next. The whole world would very quickly descend into the barbarism of fascism.
A lot was at stake when they met in Newfoundland on August 10th, 1941. This was the handshake that was to change the history of the twentieth century.
“As he stretches out that elegant white hand he knows he is reaching for his only lifeline; and yet there is nothing about him to convey the gloom of his position. On the contrary, his face is suddenly wreathed in smiles, babyish, irresistible.
“Roosevelt smiles back; they grip hands, for ages, each reluctant to be the first to let go, and for the next two days Churchill maintains his schmoozathon. We don’t know exactly what they say to each other at the first such Atlantic conference — the direct ancestor of NATO; but we know that Churchill lays it on thick. His mission is to build up a sense of common destiny; to work with the grain of Roosevelt’s natural instincts, and to turn the USA from distant sympathizers into full-blown allies in bloodshed.” (page 235)
This was a family reunion, only the second time a President of the United States had shaken the hand of a British prime minister in office. 160 years after Yorktown. 160 years after the United States had separated itself from the rest of the English speaking world. Now the two branches of the Anglo-Saxon world (the two sons of Joseph) were to be united in a common purpose. They met in Canada, the oldest Dominion of the British Empire, a nation founded by Loyalists at the end of the Revolutionary War. The alliance that was forming has remained the foundation of global peace and order for 77 years.
As I read Johnson’s book, I could see parallels with today. There’s no fighting this time (not yet, anyway), but once again Britain is trying to free itself from European despotism, as it has so often in history. There are those, like the current prime minister, who want to compromise; but others, like Boris Johnson, who are in a Churchillian mood, wanting to raise two fingers to the German-dominated EU (the two fingers were “V for Victory” in WWII, but, reversed, they have another meaning in England, which you will have to Google!)
History may repeat itself.
Confidence in Mrs. May is waning. The Opposition Labour Party is scandalizing Britain with its anti-semitism. The smaller parties are not credible. An internal coup in the Conservative Party could replace Mrs. May with Boris Johnson, just as Chamberlain was replaced with Winston Churchill.
There’s another analogy.
Mr. Trump repeated a commitment to Mrs. May that the US will offer a free trade deal to the United Kingdom when Britain leaves the EU. (EU rules mean that no deal can be signed until D-Day on 29th March next year; D for Departure!) American farmers, losing markets in the current trade dispute with the EU, will benefit from a new trade deal with the UK; Britain will benefit with plentiful supplies of cheap food.
Once again, the New World may come to the aid of the Old.
Once again, a family reunion could make a big difference in the world.
There’s another lesson from Churchill’s meeting with FDR. After the historic meeting of president and prime minister, there was a “divine service” on the Sunday morning. Sailors of the two nations sang hymns together – “chosen by Churchill – that express that single heritage: two broadly Protestant nations bound together against a vile and above all a pagan regime.” (pages 235-6)
This was just a few weeks after the National Day of Prayer called by King George VI during Dunkirk.
At such a critical time, today’s leaders should follow the example of their predecessors and ask God for divine help through a very challenging time.
BEWARE OF CHINESE TIES
Britain is keen for a sweet deal with China after Brexit – but watch out for Beijing’s ‘debt-trap diplomacy’, says Michael Auslin. For decades we’ve heard dire warnings about China’s growing military power, but these doom-mongers have missed the point. China isn’t on the war path. Where old empires would start by invading, it starts by trading. Only when an economy has become dependent on trade does Beijing begin to demand more, with the aim of creating an ever-expanding ‘Greater China’ in its near abroad. (Freddy Gray, The Spectator, 8/2)
FARMERS IN CRISIS
There’s increasing talk of land redistribution in South Africa, the wealthiest nation on the African continent. It’s been almost a quarter of a century since the end of apartheid, a period in which few black South Africans have seen any benefits. A wealthy elite has been created through corruption at the highest level, but little has been done to help the average person.
Neighboring Zimbabwe confiscated land from white farmers at the turn of this century. The result was mass starvation, the collapse of the currency and economic chaos.
The European farmers who colonized southern Africa in the nineteenth century brought a great deal of development to the region. Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) was the ‘breadbasket of Africa;” now, after almost forty years of independence, it’s the “basket case of Africa.” The white farmers who once dominated Rhodesia were “commercial farmers,” similar to their American and Canadian counter-parts. African farmers are “subsistence” farmers, who just grow enough food for their own families. This is a major cultural difference the world does not understand. Confiscating white farmland can only have one consequence – a dramatic drop in food production (Zimbabwe saw a 90% drop, with a consequent famine).
Farmers in South Africa are being murdered at an alarming rate. Many have chosen to leave the country. Western Australia is one area that is attracting them. Other parts of Africa are offering the farmers 99-year leases to boost their own agricultural production. Even Russia is encouraging them to relocate.
Other farmers from Europe moved to North America, Australia and New Zealand in the nineteenth century. These commercial farmers produce a disproportionate percentage of the world’s food. Higher tariffs on agricultural produce could affect this, along with changes in the weather and massive fires that seem to be a permanent fixture of our landscape. All of these threaten today’s farmers.
Zimbabwe’s woes never seem to end. The “first free election” held at the weekend, has been followed by riots and violence as the losing party claims to have won. It’s not possible to determine who really won, but after 38 years, ZANU-PF is still in power. Most people will not be surprised.
Prior to Zimbabwe, Rhodesia had elections for decades without any violence. Zimbabwe has not been able to achieve that. As is the case elsewhere in Africa, tribalism and corruption have led to democracy being compromised. Zimbabwe’s first leader, Robert Mugabe, was in power for almost 38 years, leading a very corrupt regime.
It’s doubtful there will be any significant change.
Idealism has played a role in American interventions. Misguided idealism. It goes back over two centuries to the country’s revolution against Britain.
This is the subject of a new book by Holger Hoock of the University of Pittsburgh, called “Scars of Independence,” the best book I’ve ever read on the revolution.
Mr. Hoock shows that the war was very much “America’s first civil war,” with Loyalists and Patriots doing most of the fighting. (After the “final” Battle of Yorktown, there were over 200 battles and skirmishes between those loyal to the Crown and those in revolt. None of these involved British troops.) Loyalists were denied the opportunity to return to their former properties (and families) after the war, by local revolutionary committees – this enabled the “victors” to distort historical accounts of exactly what happened. But those accounts are still there. Mr. Hoock quotes from newspaper and other accounts at the time, of atrocities committed by both sides. Neither side looks good by the end of the book.
He also shows how America’s mis-interpretation of the Revolutionary War affects us today.
Because America’s leaders see the war for independence as a revolt by simple farmers against a mighty tyrant king of England, they see analogies with leaders like Saddam Hussein. Overthrow him and you can introduce democracy, which will solve all the country’s problems. This was a prominent idea at the time of the invasion. The reality is that a democratic election in Iraq has caused many problems. The repercussions never seem to end. As with every other military adventure in the Middle East, the quicksand just keeps sucking us further in!
The reality of our history is that the thirteen original colonies were democracies before the revolution. Each colony had its own representative assembly. The political system of each colony evolved from England whose parliament was founded in 1265. That’s a long history of democracy.
This is important to understand and appreciate. Because the common mythology believes that it took a revolution to introduce democracy in America, our foreign policy keeps trying to do the same thing over and over again.
We fail to understand that democracy is unlikely to be successfully introduced in some nations for cultural reasons. America’s democracy evolved over centuries in the mother country; it cannot suddenly be imposed on most alien cultures.
Post-war America kept pushing for the dissolution of the European empires. Country after country was given independence. Most of them have not been very successful democracies; in many, the people are worse off than they were under colonialism and the people have less freedom. These are reasons why millions are trying to reach North America, Europe and Australia. But, again, Americans see independence as a solution to all problems, based on their own misinterpretation of history.
“It was the Suez crisis of 1956 which first sounded the alarm, and brought those of us associated with Britain and the Empire face to face with the hard reality that Britain could no longer call the tune on the international stage. The United States was now in the driving seat, constantly propagating the philosophy that colonialism was inherently bad and that the pace of its elimination had to be stepped up.
“The Americans joined forces with the Russians in this anti-colonialist campaign, albeit for opposing reasons. The Russian plan was for world conquest, the take-over by Marxism-Leninism. As the metropolitan powers pulled out of their empires, the Russian plan was to move in. The Americans, on the other hand, believed that the presence of the colonial powers was denying them the opportunity to develop in these areas the expertise, skills and economic success of their free enterprise system. Sadly, they seriously misjudged the situation.
“First, the Russian plan was organized and well laid . . . As everybody knows only too well, in the fields of espionage and propaganda, the Marxists-Leninists are world beaters . . . Once they control a country, the free enterprise system goes out the window – and that is exactly what happened in every case.
“The second point, which should have been obvious to the USA, was that wherever Western colonialism was the vogue and the free enterprise system thriving, with American skills, capital and equipment everywhere – big mining and industrial development, motor cars, heavy transport, earth-moving equipment – all doors were open to everybody, including the Americans. But once the Russians moved in, everyone else was frozen out. So the result turned out to be contrary to the United States’ expectations. However, there is no way of correcting these mistakes, we have to live with them. This is easy for the Americans: they live 10,000 kilometers away and can go on living their own lives. The problem lies with the people on the spot, who have to go on living with the disaster forced onto them.” (Bitter Harvest, Ian Smith, Rhodesian Prime Minister, 2008, pg 34)
It’s also the case that, denying the Revolutionary War was, in fact, a civil war, we overlook the case for the Loyalists. Those that remained loyal to the Crown were, ironically, the equivalent of today’s Republicans. They called the Patriots “the sons of anarchy.” fearing that a republic, a country without a king, would be like the English Republic of the previous century. When King Charles I was executed in 1649, parliament was supreme for a while, but was soon replaced by a military dictatorship under Oliver Cromwell. The king had always been seen as the guarantor of freedom – without him, it was likely there would be a breakdown of law and order.
There were also concerns that America would be cut off from other colonies around the world. Together, they all constituted an Empire of the English speaking peoples, that had built up the best trading system in the world. Tens of thousands, maybe more, wanted to maintain that trading empire because their livelihood depended on it. It was also an empire built on basic freedoms, of enterprise, political thought, the press and religion; and the rule of law.
“There are good reasons why Americans portray their revolution and war for independence as an uplifting, heroic tale, as the triumph of high-minded ideals in the face of imperial overreach, as a unified and unifying nation-building struggle to deliver a free and independent United States. But, in doing so, they risk neglecting its divisive and violent strands. To understand the Revolution and the war – the very birth of the nation – we must write the violence, in all its forms, back into the story.” (“Scars of Independence,” Holger Hoock, 2017, page 12.)
It’s not just foreign policy that has been affected. Mr. Hoock shows that the basic divisions of the “first civil war” continue to this day, as do the means of achieving an end. The Patriots tried to silence the Loyalists, by smashing their printing presses, tarring and feathering them, even hanging them. Today, we see a frightening liberal-fascism that tries to silence any voices that oppose their aims. It’s the same intolerance.
I remember a few years ago listening to an interesting segment on NPR. It was an interview with a Canadian politician who was asked to explain the difference between the Canadian and American political systems. I will always remember his answer (paraphrased): “In Canada, on any issue, we begin with the four parties stating their respective positions. We then discuss and discuss until we finally reach a compromise. In the US, there are two sides. Both argue their case and then head for the barricades.” Sadly, there is a lot of truth to that.
We have a culture of intolerance, which is causing irreparable division. In Mr. Hoock’s opinion, it all goes back over two centuries to the Revolutionary War. Incidentally, that war made the “second civil war” inevitable.
Although many Loyalists left the new republic to live in other colonies, many also remained with their families in the US. They remain in our midst even now. The post-World War II Secretary of State, Dean Acheson came from a Loyalist family.
“Dean Acheson was born in Connecticut into the Anglophile East Coast establishment. His father was a Canadian-born Episcopalian bishop and the family always celebrated the King’s birthday.” (“Picking Up The Reins”, Norman Moss, 2008, pg 65).
“Scars of Independence” should be read by all Americans. The writer’s basic premise is that the country’s violent birth still affects us negatively. Before we make any more mistakes, we ought to be honest about our origins.
From a Biblical perspective, there is also something to think about. Most Christians would say that the US is not mentioned in the Bible. It certainly does not seem to be mentioned in end-time prophecies. However, other Christians believe that the United States is modern Manasseh, the half-tribe of Israel, descended from Joseph. Manasseh broke away from the “multitude of nations” that was the Empire. (Genesis 48)
Manasseh’s name means “causing to forget.” “And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.” (Genesis 41:51)
Forgetting has been America’s history from Day One.
With three young grandchildren in the house, including a baby that recently turned one year old, I’ve taken to watching silent movies on Turner Classic Movies (TCM). There’s no dialog to hear, so surrounding noise isn’t a problem.
I started by watching the 1925 version of “Ben Hur,” which many consider the best of the three versions. It certainly has the best chariot scene, made at a time when animal rights were not taken into consideration. (Not that I advocate hurting animals – it was just so REAL!)
Recently, I watched “Love” with Greta Garbo and John Gilbert, made the following year. The two actors were more famous than Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio are today.
The movie was an enactment of Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina.” The title was changed thanks to the tabloids. The gossip papers had revealed that, while making the film, Gilbert and Gabo had started their own relationship. This enabled the movie’s producers to put the following on marquees across America: “Garbo and Gilbert in Love.” The movie was a sensation, a bigger hit than anything Hollywood turns out nowadays.
It wasn’t only the title that was changed. Producers chose to make the movie with two alternative endings. They referred to one as the “Russian ending,” with Anna, as in the classic, killing herself in front of a train after an adulterous affair that led to her losing her son. Another ending was made for Americans, with Anna’s husband dying, thereby leaving her free to marry her lover, Vronsky, and keep her son. It was felt that American audiences couldn’t handle Anna’s death. The “American” version missed the whole point of the novel.
Interestingly, the Russian ending was shown in New York and on the West coast. It was only Mid-western sensibilities that they were concerned about.
If Hollywood can’t even get a novel right, why would we expect them to be accurate when it comes to non-fiction?
Another Russian “story” caused a problem for Hollywood a few years later, by which time sound had replaced the old silent movies. This movie dealt with “Rasputin and the Empress” (1932). It’s depiction of Prince Felix Yousoupov, the principal murderer of Rasputin, was so inaccurate it led to a major lawsuit; since then movies carry the words “all characters in this film are fictional,” or similar, to protect themselves from expensive lawsuits. Now, no attempt is made at accuracy.
I’ve yet to see a Hollywood movie depict the American Revolution with any degree of accuracy. In Hollywood, everything has to be black and white. Real life is rarely like that. The Revolution was not Americans against the king; the country was equally divided — one third rebelled against the crown, one third were loyal and the other third couldn’t spell “crown.” On the eve of Yorktown, 40% were loyalists, with support for the Patriots down to 30%.
Rather than the claim that the king was acting selfishly, it can be argued that the leaders of the Patriots were. They were heavily in debt to British banks, following a bad crop in 1773 – one way to get out from under the debt was to ditch the Crown. It’s not surprising that wealthy indebted landowners led the revolution – the only revolution in history where those rebelling were richer than those they rebelled against! This issue was finally resolved after the war when the belligerents got together in Paris.
I was thinking about this over the Fourth of July, when I read a review in The Economist by their American correspondent. He reviewed a book titled: “Scars of Independence: America’s violent birth,” by Holger Hoock of the University of Pittsburgh. Mr. Hoock “. . . concluded that selective amnesia took hold soon after the war, as victors told their version of history, and the British displayed their genius for forgetting defeats. In the republic’s earliest decades, stone monuments charging the British with “cold-blooded cruelty” rose on battle sites from Lexington, Massachusetts to Paoli, Pennsylvania. Meanwhile orators told Americans that their revolt had been unusually civilized: one public meeting in 1813 declared the revolution “untarnished with a single blood-speck of inhumanity.” (The American Revolution Revisited – a Nation Divided, Even at Birth)
I have an extensive library of books on the Revolution, all of which were written by Americans. The following quote from The Economist is an accurate observation:
“Browse through school history books, with names like “Liberty or Death!” and the struggle to throw off British rule is sanctified as a victory of American patriot-farmers and artisans against battle-hardened British redcoats and foreign mercenaries, defending ideals crafted by orators in periwigs. Yet go back to contemporary sources, and they called it what it also was: a brutal civil war.” (Economist review.)
6% of America’s population died in the Revolutionary War, as against 2% in the War Between the States eight decades later. (By 1861 the population was much higher, but the percentage gives an idea of the relative suffering of the people.)
Note the following: “At the war’s end, about one in 40 Americans went into permanent exile, the equivalent of some 8m people today.” (ibid.)
The Revolutionary War was a civil war. Most battles took place without the presence of British soldiers – brother fought brother, to death, with little mercy shown. Ironically, if the Revolutionary War had not taken place, the “Civil War” would never have happened – the imperial parliament in London abolished the slave trade in 1808 and slavery itself 25 years later. No battles were fought over the issue. Additionally, states’ rights would never have been a factor or cause for conflict. Canada was spared both civil wars.
So, what did Americans gain?
FACTS TELL A DIFFERENT STORY
Consider the following gleaned from a variety of books on the subject:
>>>American historian Gordon Wood, considered the foremost expert on the Revolution, wrote in his book: “The Radicalization of the American Revolution,” that England in the eighteenth century was the freest country in the world and that the colonists were even freer. The king was the guarantor of freedom – never again could a commoner like Oliver Cromwell take power and become a dictator. Celebrations for King George III’s coronation in 1762 were greater in the colonies than in England. So, what went wrong and why, then, did some Americans want more freedom?
>>>The French and Indian Wars were fought by Britain and the colonists to defend the latter against a French Catholic take-over. George Washington, serving “King and Country”, fired the first shots. The seven-year war left the British government with serious debts, which they tried to recoup by taxing the colonies. Americans did not want to pay for the war. Over two centuries later, Americans still do not like to pay for wars.
>>>Contrary to what is often thought today, all thirteen original colonies had a democratic form of government. All property-owning males could vote, with a 90% turnout at elections. After independence, there was no immediate widening of the franchise. In 1789, when the first election was held, only 6% of the population could vote. Both the United States and the United Kingdom extended the franchise during the nineteenth century and both gave women the vote after World War One. America lagged behind England in voting rights, not catching up until the Voting Rights Act of 1964.
>>>The Right to Vote and the Right to Bear Arms were in force before 1776. Indeed, the revolution would not have been possible without these rights.
>>>It has often been pointed out that the leaders of the Revolution were richer than the people they rebelled against.
>>>In 1772, the monumental Somerset Decision sent shock-waves through the American colonies. A slave had taken his owner to court. The court ruled that nobody in the British Isles could be owned by somebody else. If extended to the colonies, this would have ruined prosperous farmers who needed free labor.
Wikipedia has this to say on the subject: “Somerset v Stewart 98 ER 499 is a famous judgment of the English Court of King’s Bench in 1772, which held that chattel slavery was unsupported by the common law in England and Wales.”
>>>Rather than the claim that the king was acting selfishly, it can be argued that the leaders of the Patriots were. They were heavily in debt to British banks, following a bad crop in 1773.
>>> Paul Revere did not ride through Lexington, Massachusetts, shouting: “the British are coming.” This would have made no sense as everybody was British. It would be like somebody today, seeing the police approaching, would shout out the warning that the Americans are coming. Rather, Paul Revere warned that “the Regulars are coming,” a reference to full time professional troops.
>>>Geoffrey Wawro, a distinguished scholar of military history who teaches at the University of North Texas, led a discussion some years ago on “Global View” (History International Channel). The panel concluded that the separation of England and America weakened the English-speaking world considerably.
>>>By 1800, almost twenty years after independence, Americans were paying more in taxes than they had ever paid under colonial rule.
>>>As the Patriots called themselves the “Sons of Liberty,” the Tories referred to them as the “Sons of Anarchy.” Partly because of what happened a century earlier when England itself became a republic, many loyalists feared a total breakdown of law and order if the country became a republic, a country without a king. A Biblically literate population was aware of the warning at the end of the Book of Judges: “There was no king in Israel in those days; every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 25:25). No king meant anarchy!
>>>Many of today’s super-patriots, those who celebrate the 4th of July most vigorously, ironically, would probably have been Tories in 1780. Conservatives don’t like change or uncertainty.
>>>This brings us back to the Russians. Newt Gingrich’s book “Yorktown” brings out that Catherine the Great of Russia offered to mediate between the British government and those rebelling against it. One idea proposed was that Americans would keep their unitary nation, but remain within the Empire. On the eve of the final Battle of Yorktown, this was acceptable to most Americans, including members of the Continental Congress. This would have resulted in America being more like Canada. It would, of course, also have meant there was no need for Canada – loyalists would have stayed where they were. Catherine’s mediation attempt got nowhere – the autocratic Russian Empress was hardly a credible mediator between two sides that both believed in democracy.
>>>The victory at Yorktown would not have happened without the French navy. After the battle, the situation was unclear. It wasn’t until the King asked parliament for more money to fight the rebellion that the war finally ended – parliament refused his request.
>>>Cut off from the empire’s trading system, the US struggled financially after independence. Even in the 1930’s, the nations of the British Empire recovered from the Great Depression quicker than the US. America was anxious to break into the imperial trading club without becoming a part of the empire.
The question remains: what did Americans gain from independence? One thing comes immediately to mind – that the new country was no longer bound by British treaties with the “Indians;” they could now expand westward.
Ironically, it was a British bank that financed the Louisiana Purchase and British investors who helped build the railways that opened up the West. So the Brits did their part to make the country expand anyway.
On the other hand, if those treaties had remained in effect, California may never have entered the Union and Hollywood might not exist – some would say, those are two very good reasons for remaining loyal to the Crown!
So, why did Americans revolt and why did the rebels (patriots) win?
Decades after the American Revolution, the Anglo-Israelite movement believed that the British Empire and the United States of America were the fulfillment of a prophecy in Genesis 48; that the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, would become a great company of nations (Ephraim; the British Empire and Commonwealth) and his brother would become a great single nation (Manasseh, the United States). As the “company of nations” (Genesis 48:19) was united by the Crown, the great single nation had to break away from the crown, which is exactly what the United States did. Note: ”He set Ephraim before Manasseh (verse 20)”. Britain was the world’s superpower before the United States. In relative terms, Britain was also greater than its successor. After the loss of the American colonies, the British went on to develop the greatest empire the world had ever seen.
In other words, God determined the outcome of the Revolutionary War in order to fulfill Bible prophecy.
"Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened." — Sir Winston Churchill