July ARF Serial: Conclusions and why this all matters.

Conclusions; Or, Why we should care about all this. 

As we’ve seen over the past few months, there was nothing remotely Democratic, Egalitarian, or Just about the American Revolution. Unfortunately, there’s nothing to be done about this reality now, some 240 years later. Chronology is a reality we have to deal with.

However, there are many things we can do to make our current situation better, using this knowledge.

First, understanding the reality of the American Revolution establishes a better understanding of why many American Ideals are based entirely off of fallacies. The idea of a country where merit only is the measuring stick for a person’s worth is proven entirely wrong, as is the idea of the Founders’ Nobility and Innocence.

Ditching the Hero Worship, and insistence upon adhering to what any one of the founders would have wanted would save the US from itself. What was important 240 years ago might not be so now, though there are enduring principles long predating the Revolution enshrined in the Constitution and Founding Documents which merit respect.

However, using the Founders to support or deny a litany of actions beneficial to the populace, including Healthcare, Firearms, Public Lands, or Financial Regulation are all based in looking for the support of Fascists. This is setting aside the nonsensical nature of this peculiar form of Blackmail of the Living by the dead, and its other massive problems.

Second, looking at US History from a more critical perspective, from the founding to the present day, will give a clearer perspective to the nation on what the United States is really responsible for. This includes a litany of Genocides, War Crimes, Invasions, Slavery, Racism, Imperialism and many other unjust actions which must be redressed if we are to survive. Only by looking from the very start at our flaws will we start to see ourselves for what we really are; the first step is admitting there is a problem at all.

Third, is the idea of Reputation versus Reality. The reputation the US holds, at least internally, is nothing like the reality. However, in the long term, Reputation will change to follow reality, and this is something we need to come to terms with. Understanding it’s not acceptable to simply deny a problem, or perpetuate a longstanding injustice would be a good change for the US.

There is much left to do with this topic. Objections for offences such as not dealing with Thomas Paine, as well as various other specific characters (though they fit all the criteria more generally defined in the course of the paper) will inevitably be brought forward, and thus should be addressed. Further primary source research in the broadsides and propaganda of the time, in addition to more patterns of violence and variations over the colonies is also needed. Another fascinating study would be analyzing the internal consistency of the American Revolution, alongside Hobbes and Lockean Theory upon which it was supposedly based.

However, despite the abovementioned deficiencies in current research on this link, clear patterns are present. The American Revolution is linked clearly to Fascism as an early developing form. This correlation is strong and should be addressed by those scholars with the time and resources to dedicate to this pursuit. As a non-academic, public historian, a lack of time especially, as well as access to many critical databases and archives for such pursuits is painfully clear.

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June ARF Serial: Connecting the Dots to the 20th Century

ROOTS OF NATIONALIST/FASCIST THOUGHT AND PARALLELS  TO FASCISM FROM 1920-1945

If one were to examine Benito Mussilini’s  The Doctrine of Fascism, many of the themes already treated of in this paper concerning the American Revolution become the evident cornerstones of Fascism as seen in the 20th century.(1) The will of the individual being subordinate to the Will of the State, Anti-Democracy, and the embodiment of all in the State, as well as Acceptance of the Individual only in as much as the individual conforms to the State have been seen to be vitally important to both Fascism and the American Revolution.

The Will of the State, as explained by Mussolini, is specifically stated as not being the Will of the Majority of citizens. “Fascism is… opposed to that form of Democracy which equates a nation to the Majority, lowering it to the level of the largest number; but it is the purest form of democracy… from the point of view of Quality rather than Quantity…”(1)  The implication thereof is that the ruling class, the few, are those who rule in a fascist state.  Similar to the American Revolution, wherein the few, those whose interests were threatened by Imperial Power and Law Enforcement, took it upon themselves to form militias and mobs to impose the Will of the State they wished to create.

As seen in the lead up to and during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39, Mob Violence and Political Militias were used to enforce the Will of the State.(2) Similar systems were used in Italy and Germany during each country’s Fascist Revolutions, and each of these countries also developed Secret Police Forces to enforce the “Will of the State.”  This is, as seen previously, Identical to the Separatists during the American Revolution.

As can be seen by a cursory examination of German Propaganda efforts under the Nazi Regime, or the rhetoric used in the speeches of fascist leaders, there was little difference between themselves and the Separatists in the American Revolution.(3)  A reliance on a State of Fear, Internal Enemies and other such devices are principal parts of the programs used in all three Fascist States to convince the populace to side with the Fascist parties.  Emotional Pleas to preserve the Heritage and purity of the State and Nation were routinely used, at the least implying the existence of those who supported the downfall thereof. These persons were, by default, enemies to the State such as Communists, Socialists, Trade Unionists, and anyone else who did not tread the party line.

Further Encouragement to side with the Fascist parties was of course Political Violence. Used extensively by all States under Consideration in this paper, we have already seen the practices of the American Separatists explained in detail. The Fascist States of the 20th Century were no different. The Requetes and Falange Espanola in Spain, the Blackshirts in Italy and the SS and SA in Germany filled the same role as the Sons of Liberty and Mob Violence had during the American Revolution.(4)

Obsession with roots and heritage also defines Fascism. While Mussolini was talking about the Italians and Romans, Hitler talked of the Germans and the Teutonic Peoples. The Americans in the Revolution talked of the Ancient Rights of Englishmen, their English roots, and their continuation of English Traditions.  This obsession with heritage and Identity is used to establish who is truly one of those included in the great plan, and defines those who are “Outsiders” and thus enemies to the great Fascist power.

As during the American Revolution, the Fascist States needed to maintain control of the political and ideological aspects of their populations. Both instances resulted in the same approach to this problem: Disenfranchisement, Disarmament, Expulsion and Extermination.(5) These four elements are not only common to all the situations, but they are indicative of an anti-democratic system.  As stated earlier, the removal of opposition parties from the ballot is extremely effective in maintaining the power of the official party.  These efforts were all aided by the other two elements mentioned above, namely Propaganda and Political Violence, which would continue and encourage the marginalization and destruction of the “Feared Others” or Enemies of the State.

Further, Development of Socialism gave Fascism the bigger cause to define itself against and use as Internal Enemies in the place of the British Empire and Loyalists.  This being the case, there were little changes made due to the unique Historical Circumstances of each episode, however the greater driving forces of the two movements were essentially Identical.

With these parallels in place, it becomes more and more clear the American Revolution was the Earliest form of Fascism.  With the American Revolution coming first chronologically the only answer to the question at hand is that the American Revolution and the ideas it launched with such force were to quickly gain hold across the Western World. After 150 years of rumination on the subject, and slight evolutions, these same thoughts, plans and actions were centralized, consolidated and streamlined. Due to the significant helps of Scientific advances such as the theory of evolution and its later application in Social Darwinism, applied to the Ideas of the State and the techniques developed in the American Revolution created the perfect storm of Fascism.

FOOTNOTES:

  1. Somerville, J. and Santoni, R. Social and Political Philosophy (New York, NY: Anchor Books, 1963) pp 424-440
  2. Preston, Paul. The Spanish Civil War: An illustrated Chronicle 1936-39 (New York, NY: Grove Press, 1986)
  3. A very good exhibit on Nazi propaganda was on display in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2010-2011. The primary sources included in this exhibit were quite enlightening on the subject and reviled the techniques quite well.
  4. The extent and nature of Fascist use of Political Violence should need no more documentation than the mention of Kristalnacht, the March on Rome, and the Coup d’Etat which sparked the Spanish Civil War. Should anything more be needed for a particularly ignorant reader, These events should be looked up in the nearest encyclopedia, alongside the respective organizations mentioned herein.
  5. All 4 situations involved in this paper resulted in at least three of four of these options. While not all of the programs were entirely thorough, they were sufficient to silence the others who may have been amicable to the opposition.  The German “Final Solution,” Massacres of dissenters in Spain and Italy, and the arrest and  deportation of Loyalists in the American Revolution are all covered in these four elements.

May ARF Serial: Beware Of KGB

MAINTAINING SUPPORT AND SOCIAL CONTROLS (Beware Of KGB).

In order to have a revolution succeed, support, once gained, must be maintained, and controls must be put in place to prevent the opposition from regaining any support of their own.  The American Revolution was no different. Through election law, gentry support and political violence, as well as maintaining a state of fear.

Voting Requirements in the era of the revolution were actually quite exclusive. To speak in generalities, Legislation in the colonies required that those possessing the franchise be freeholders of over a certain monetary amount, for example £40 in New York.(1) To be a freeholder one had to have independent ownership of land worth £40, or a lease for life of the same value.  Further, voting was by viva voca, or live voice.(1) This made voting against persons such as the Sons of Liberty very dangerous, and served to suppress dissident voting.  As if anything more was needed to support the conclusion that the system was anti-democratic, elections themselves were frequently not between opposing candidates. In several colonies, it was very common for the local gentry to agree on a person to “Set Up” for election, who would run unopposed.(1) This reduces the vote to nothing more than a poorly staged political appointment, resembling Democracy or Republicanism in much the same way a Mountain resembles an Atlantic Tuna.

A State of Fear, established through propaganda, was continued through the arrest and imprisonment of Loyalists, as well as further propaganda and mob violence, as explained previously in the series.  The imprisonment and arrest of loyalists was aided by Secret Political Police agencies established in order to rid the States of “all conspiracies, which may be formed… against the liberties of America. This committee, and those like it were empowered to “send for persons and papers; to call out such detachments of the militia or troops in the different counties, as they may from time to time deem necessary for suppressing insurrections; to apprehend, secure or remove such persons, who they shall judge dangerous to the safety of the State; to make drafts on the treasury for a sum not exceeding five hundred pounds; that they be empowered to enjoin secrecy upon their own members, and the persons employed by the Committee, whenever they shall judge the same necessary; and in general, to do every act and thing whatsoever, which may be necessary to enable them to execute the trust hereby reposed in them.”

Much like the Soviet NKVD or KGB and the German Gestapo, all other committees, public officers and Military Commanders were required to report any suspicious activity to this committee. Such action contributes significantly to the State of Fear allowing the entire revolutionary structure to continue its existence, as anyone not entirely on board will become paranoid or imprisoned. Both of these outcomes are entirely acceptable for the intents of the Separatist Party.

This Committee in New York clearly had a hand in arresting, imprisoning, and deporting those not in the Revolutionary party. This committee forced out all those who were under investigation thereby in March of 1777, with only one week allowed for protests and appeals. Property of all those deported to New York City, then under British Occupation, was confiscated and auctioned or appropriated to the use of the Separatist cause.

There were similar laws in Virginia, and similar oaths required in other States, making for a decentralized, provincial version of the KGB.  Further the Virginia law specifically states that all refusing to take the oath are to be disarmed and “during the time of such neglect or refusal, be incapable of holding any office in this state, serving on juries, suing for any debts, electing or being elected, or buying lands, tenements, or hereditaments.”  Also, Maryland Law stated very much the same thing for anyone who committed treason against the United States, including a statute similar to that in New York, which allowed anyone who failed to turn treason in to the authorities to be tried for treason themselves.  This is very similar to the German Gestapo, SS, and other police organizations using such threats to turn the population on themselves, and ostracize those who do not conform to the party line.

In several colonies, New Jersey (Mentioned in the VA Gazette of 12 September 1777), Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland and others, the property and any other assets of Loyalists were to be confiscated and sold for funding the rebellion. Such actions make for several very subtle, though important, political effects. Firstly, Those who are not already forced out of the area through political violence are moved off their property and thus forced into moving away should they avoid deportation. Secondly, This destroys the tenants’ freehold, which is required to gain the franchise as aforementioned. Therefore, any opposition is forced from the electorate, imposing a false political hegemony in support of the Separatist cause.

As with several of the laws mentioned above, Congress itself also suggested that all loyalists be disarmed, thereby removing their means of self defense.(2: 12 April 1776)

Similar methods were employed by the fascist powers of the twentieth century.  Persons aligned with the opposition were disenfranchised, their property confiscated, and the subjects imprisoned, deported or exterminated, depending on the particular case at hand.

  1. Gerlach, Don R. Philip Schuyler and the American Revolution in New York 1733-1777. (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1964) pp. 323-331
  2. Virginia Gazette Archives Online, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. http://research.history.org/DigitalLibrary/VirginiaGazette

APRIL ARF Serial: Popular Support for Separation

POPULAR SUPPORT FOR SEPARATION:

The American Revolution was, in fact, not avidly supported by the majority of the American Population.  To cite a commonplace historical ruling, the Separatist faction only consisted of about 33% of those residing in the colonies during the period herein considered.  Loyalists made up approximately another 33%, while those committed to neither party made up the remaining 33%.(1)

These figures should point to several things; first, the Separatists needed to control the non-committed population through fear, exercising considerable efforts in attaining that objective. Second, the groups composing each of the factions had differing interests, and therefore would be engaged in different businesses, churches and social classes. An examination of this distribution, as best it can be made, will shed considerable light on the interests of each movement. Third, the victorious faction would have to protect its power in some way after gaining any ground. An investigation into the ways power was achieved, maintained and institutionalized will illuminate the interests of each party more clearly.

The first faction to be considered is necessarily that of the Separatists.  This party boasted such personages leading them as John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Patric Henry, Philip Schuyler and sundry others yet to be mentioned.  Even a cursory investigation into these persons into the characters, interests, and businesses of these persons should quickly give an overview of the party’s common goals, interests and intentions.

To start with John Hancock, we have an already-unflattering view of the Separatist party.(1)  A known smuggler continually engaged in dodging taxes and government Customs agents, John Hancock’s commercial interests were principally mercantile. Hancock was a Supporter of the Non-Importation movement due to the fact his smuggled tea sold at a higher price than that which would be imported by the East India Company.  Further, Hancock’s opposition to British rule can be summarized very simply: increased government activity enforcing commercial law cuts into business, and increased taxes reduce profits.  A member of the Sons of Liberty, Hancock was a central figure in councils whose decisions included threats on competing shipping companies and their personnel, destroyed the property of same during the Boston Tea Party, resolved to boycott and target for political violence those who continued to import British Manufactures, and sundry other major Ethical and Moral, to let alone Legal transgressions.

Philip Schuyler also illustrates the group which supported the revolution very well. A landed aristocrat from Albany, New York, he had established himself in all aspects of trade, including lumber, agricultural products, shipping, the West Indies trade and a massive landholder.  Also active in provincial politics, he looked with disdain on Democratic ideals, and the Separatist cause stood to remove British laws limiting his own gain in landholding and business.  Attempting to establish himself as a pseudo-feudal lord in the leases he gave to tenants, his landholding and commercial interests would be greatly forwarded by independence. (2)

George Washington, as Aforementioned was an investor in the Ohio Companies, and stood to loose money thereupon due to the passing of the Quebec Act.  Further, as a Wealthy Virginia Plantation Owner, taxes on Glass, Lead, Tin, Paper, Tea and other British Manufactures would have impaired his ability to maintain his plantation, reduced profits and, as proposed by T. H. Breen, Impair his ability to be British through the acquisition of the latest British fashions and goods.(3)  As Washington, and most Colonial Gentry were British only by extraction, this imitation of the British Gentry in every way was what made them British, their final Aspiration. Thus, opposition to the British rule comes, arguably, from economic and social standing, and risk to investment caused thereby.

Since the majority of the Separatist Party’s leaders were composed of this set of society, it stands to reason that their interests would dominate the party. Such goals as reduced taxation, a clear path for business and profits, open lands for speculation and loose enforcement of the law would be the primary planks of their platform.

It was observed by many in the time period that those who supported the Separatist cause were generally not in the interests of the populace as a whole.  In such works as “At a Meeting of the TRUE Sons of Liberty, in the City of New-York” they are described as being elitist, and not reflecting the general interest of the populace. As stated in the aforementioned satire:

2. RESOLVED, That we have the whole Sense of the City, County, Province, and all the Colonies, concentrated in our own Persons.

3. RESOLVED, Therefore, that a general Congress (saving Appearances) would be unnecessary and useless.

6. RESOLVED, That the fittest Persons to carry on this great, good, necessary and godly Work, are not such as the Freeholders, in their respective Counties and Colonies, have elected to be their Representatives they being supposed to be Men of Conscience and Understanding–but such only as OURSELVES; who have not been used to Speculation and Refinement; but simply fitted, by our Lives and Conversation, for right-forward Doings; which are the only Doings, in these distresful[Sic] Times, that ought to go right forward.

 

15. RESOLVED, That it is a General Mark of Patriotism, to eat the King’s Bread, and abuse him for giving it.

 

The question which arises is how one would get the rest of the population to side with this party. The answer is, as aforementioned, producing a state of fear against one’s opponents. Once this environment is established, the populace sides with the revolutionary party, with those who are implicitly protecting them from the “feared other.” The same techniques were of course used by the revolutionary Fascists in the 20th century.

This faction was, in most cases, a minority of the population (1). As explained in a broadside addressed “To the respectable body of Gentlemen…” in New York, “a Number of persons, very inconsiderable in comparison to the Number who constitute the Body of the freeholders and freemen of this city… have presumed to call themselves a Committee from the Body of the Inhabitants of the City, and in that Character have arbitrarily censured and threatened several worthy and respectable Persons amongst our Fellow Citizens.”

To then consider the opposition, or Loyalist party, it consisted principally of Crown Officers, the Mercantile classes engaged in licit enterprises, tradesmen, and, of course, some of the general populace.  Added to this is a large number of Liberated slaves during the revolutionary war who sided with the British to gain their freedom, and the illustration of this party is a bit different than that of the Separatists.(1)

This is the party which almost entirely followed along within the law, both in commerce and political action.  I have found it challenging to discover evidence of Loyalist mob violence, secret committees or most any form of extralegal activity.  Such activities were deemed not only underhanded, but under the station of the loyalist.

The evidence presented by Loyalist Propaganda shows a much more balanced view of the situation, and shows an adherence to rational argument or satire. While the Sons of Liberty are declaimed, it is on the grounds that their meetings are illegal, as are their methods.  Further, in regards to their representation of public opinion and the root of issues, they clearly and concisely point to the roots of the problem: The merchants siding for non-importation in their commercial interest, and that minority falsely determining their opinions to be that of the general population by underhanded methods.

There were Loyalist organizations which held a more martial footing. Militias were formed as violence rose in frequency and war loomed on the horizon, and a few of those were Loyalist units.  Some of these were supported by the local British military commands, others were essentially independent companies.  Raised to defend against Separatist violence, these units eventually became the foundations of several Royal American Regiments such as the Queen’s Rangers.(1)

Despite the presence of these militias, however, there is little to indicate their widespread use in political violence of the same type (and scope) as the Sons of Liberty.

FOOTNOTES:

  1. Allen, Thomas B. Tories: Fighting for the King in America’s First Civil War (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2010)   The estimate is vary general, and of course varies over time and location during the period in question. The element of true import, is that the portion of the population actively supporting the Separatist cause was NEVER IN THE MAJORITY.  In fact, the end of the Revolution saw between 16-20% of the population of the new United States flee the country.  Based on this, there is clear indication of the minority of the Revolutionaries.
  2. Gerlach, Don R. Philip Schuyler and the American Revolution in New York 1733-1777. (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1964)
  3. Breen, T.H. “‘Baubles of Briton’: The American and Consumer Revolutions of the Eighteenth Century.” Past and Present, No. 119 (May 1988) PP. 73-104

March ARF Serial: Propaganda

PROPAGANDA: Conning the Masses.

Propaganda is defined as Biased Information spread to shape public opinion and behavior. This is achieved through the use of lies, half truths, oversimplification of complex issues, a selective telling of fact and using emotional responses to override rational thinking. Much of what was printed and disseminated by the Separatist party during the American Revolution fits under this heading, as does some of that printed by the Loyalists. This section will treat the many types and techniques of propaganda in use during the Revolution.

The Declaration of Independence is, frankly, a well written piece of fiction designed to cover over, misrepresent or fabricate platforms which show the justice of the Independence Movement in the 13 Mainland North American Colonies.(1,2) These claims, made famous as the justification for separation from Great Briton are clearly well within the definition of Propaganda: Biased Information spread to shape public opinion and behavior.

To treat more fully only several of the individual complaints and impositions of the Declaration will make the clear attempt at disinformation more transparent.  Using the main tools of propagandists throughout history (half-truths, Omission of critical information, false dichotomy, attacking enemies and the use of emotional instead of reasoned pleas) the Continental Congress spread it’s message by not only this but other printings which will be addressed later on.

The principal complaints contained in the Declaration of Independence are as follows: (All Original Text is in Italic Typeface, and are numbered in order of appearance in the Declaration).(2)

  1. He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. This is a reference to the Massachusetts Capital and assembly being moved to Salem Massachusetts after Boston was deemed too dangerous to host the Royal Government (See Political Violence from February) (3).  The Fact that this is not mentioned or even implied by the declaration’s authors shows this as a half-truth.
  1. He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people. These dissolutions were made only after  the increased violence mentioned above, and after the representatives had passed laws and resolutions which were bordering on treason.
  1. He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance. This so-called swarm of officers harassing the people were in fact principally Customs officers charged with cutting down on smuggling in wines, tea, manufactured goods and suchlike goods. Such famous personages such as John Hancock were engaged in this trade, and such a governmental crackdown on illegal activity would be firmly against his financial interests. (3)
  1. He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature. There should be no need to mention the necessity of security forces to protect the King’s officers from the mob violence covered in the previous section on Political Violence. Further, such an environment as that in Massachusetts colony of generalized mob violence Martial Law would be the procedure used by most governments now as well as then.

14.A. For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us. The Quartering Act had been in effect in England and other regions of the British Empire for many years, and had been extended to the colonies when the army was sent to counter the French and Indian threat in the 1750s.  This was eventually approved by colonial legislatures such as New York in 1771. Further, the troops were requested by the colonies in the first place, therefore the extension of the quartering act was a logical action. (4)

In addition, the American Separatists failed to understand the original intent of the Quartering Act, which was to bring troops quartered for long periods of time in one place into closer contact with the local population.  This was found to be effective in preventing problems between the soldiery and civilians as the soldiers became a part of the community. This only happens, however, when the civil population is not actively engaged in harassing, attacking and slighting the forces stationed among them.

14.B. For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states: A clear reference to the Boston Massacre, the soldiers were acquitted due to the fact that they were the party attacked by a rioting crowd. Another example of the use of selective evidence.(5)

14.C. For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world: Another pointer to Boston. After the destruction of the tea in 1773, Boston harbor was shut down as a punitive measure, with intent to bring the political violence into check.  This was a reactive movement by parliament, well within reason considering the political climate of the city.

14.D. For imposing taxes on us without our consent: The claim “no taxation without representation” is entirely a rallying cry without foundation. The colonies were clearly under the authority of Parliament, and further, were the colonies represented therein, they would have been out voted by the other members and taxed just the same.

14.G. For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:  The Quebec Act placed all territory past the Proclamation Line of 1763 under the government of the province of Quebec, instead of the thirteen colonies. The investors in the Ohio Company and similar ventures (George Washington among them) had already invested considerable money into the Ohio country, and thus stood to loose a large amount of money with this new development.(6)

  1. He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. The forming of Loyalist militias, Regular regiments and Ranging Companies to act in opposition to the Separatist forces were a natural military course of action and cannot be claimed as abnormal or termed as “Domestic Insurrection.”  The Native population siding with the British was entirely their decision, and based on the Natives’ best interest. To claim otherwise is to obscure the finer points of the North American political scene at the end of the 18th century.

Other propaganda such as the extremely numerous handbills, broadsides and newspapers all had the same mission. (7)   By misrepresenting the facts of the cases they presented, these works were all used to sway public opinion in favor of Separation by obfuscation of the actual issues.  Hundreds of such items were printed throughout the revolution and before, however, only several examples will be cited here for the sake of brevity, clarity and the author’s sanity.

A Bloody butchery, by the British Troops: or, The runaway of the Regulars” was an account of the battles of Lexington and Concord published in Salem, Massachusetts in 1775.  It contains two accounts of the day’s events, as well as a section giving the casualty lists for the Massachusetts Militias involved.  These accounts, when read over with even the slightest knowledge of the battles of Lexington and Concord, are so far askew from the reality of the situation as to be laughable. Word Choice, nomenclature, and the implications made are all essentially the recipe for propaganda: Attributing all wrong to the enemy forces, while praising friendly troops as Morally superior pillars of justice.

By attributing the first fire to an order given by the British commander, the collected Separatist troops as a Militia involved in their routine Exercises, and eliciting emotional response through descriptions of “the savage barbarity exercised upon the bodies of…[Separatist] wounded” without mention of the Operation’s origin or purpose, it uses half-truths to gain support for the cause.

Similar techniques are used in many other handbills, advertisements, broadsides and the very catchy, easily spread medium of music.  

Propaganda was also used, much like that of the fascist parties of the first half of the Twentieth Century, to advertise and mark “Public Enemies” or Enemies of the State.  Such tools were the main distinguishing features of such “Internal Enemies,” as they otherwise appeared identical to the rest of the population.  As advertised in Boston, in 1768:

The true Sons of Liberty

And Supporters of the Non-Importation
Agreement,

ARE determined to resent any the least Insult or Menace offer’d to any one or more of the several Committees appointed by the Body at Faneuil-Hall, and chastise any one or more of them as they deserve; and will also support the Printers in any Thing the Committees shall desire them to print.

AS a Warning to any one that shall affront as aforesaid, upon sure Information given, one of these Advertisements will be posted up at the Door or Dwelling-House of the Offender.

 

This was clearly meant as both a warning against any action contrary to the approved party line, and as a marker for targeting so-called “Enemies of [Liberty/The State/Party/Race/Colonies, etc, Ad Infinitum]” who would otherwise be invisible.  This is analogous to forcing Jews to wear Stars of David in Nazi Germany: an invisible, internal enemy is now visible; an Internal Enemy made External, so it can be targeted by public ridicule, social stigma and mob violence.

During the time period under consideration, those thus marked were frequently attacked, publicly ridiculed and targeted for general harassment, as seen with the examples Aforementioned. These persons were targeted and defamed “as an Enemy to his Country, a Post to Society, and a vile Disturber of the Peace, Police, and good Order…” or similar charges.  The incessant affirmation that all opposed to the Separatist view were “Enemies of the colonies” intent on supporting actions which would “undoubtedly be the means of inslaving(Sic) the whole continent” served to inscribe the same thought on the hearts and minds of those who read and heard the message daily. As with any message, marketing an Idea and having it gain a near-subconscious foothold requires frequent repetition.  Once this feeling was instilled, the implication of such activities would land the targeted persons on the list of those to harass.

Further, news reports of loyalists being attacked and abused are a form of threat in and of themselves, serving as a warning for those who have not made up their minds or are loyalists themselves.

Another Medium which gave promise for frequent repetition, easy memorization and fast dissemination was music (8).  Songs were rewritten, new sets of lyrics to well known tunes would have spread like wildfire after they were distributed in broadside form (a long-standing tradition by thee 18th century).  Some examples through the revolutionary period were “The Battle of the Kegs and “The new Massachusetts Liberty Song To the Tune of the British Grenadier.  While the Battle of the Kegs derides the British Army as a generally comic enemy esteeming the defeat of empty barrels as grand heroics, it simultaneously makes them less formidable due to that. It also conveys news of actual events, and serves to keep the populace up to date on the developments in the war.  

The earlier song from Massachusetts aggrandizes resistance to extra-continental authority while not actually mentioning any of the reasons why such action would be needed, justified or accomplished. However, the continual repetition of these themes would have quickly settled into the  minds of those who heard it. Both these examples are written to easily sung, well known and popular tunes (Yankee Doodle and British Grenadiers, respectively), making them very easily passed on, person to person, colony to colony.

Other mediums such as handbills, informational broadsides and newspapers were exploited as well, and to great effect. They spread quickly through the Post and from hand to hand, colony to colony.  Further, these items were read in public places, where the news would be passed on mouth to mouth (9).  These publications were just as biased as any of the others available, frequently involving the same disinformation.

Take for an example An Account of a late Military Massacre at Boston, a broadside published early in 1770 at New York.  It describes the so-called massacre as a premeditated action on the part of the British troops against peacefully assembled, concerned citizens, mostly young persons, occasionally throwing snowballs.  After a short time, so it claims, Capt. Preston, the Commanding Officer of the guard detachment gave the order to fire on this assembly.  The account entirely fails to mention the crowd was armed with clubs, staves, and similar weaponry, and was in a riotous posture.  That the crowd had assaulted the lone guard initially posted at King Street, to the point where he felt obliged to call out the reserve guard under Capt. Preston, was also conspicuously absent from the account (5).  Thus, a riot and assault on Government officers charged with enforcing the law turns into an infamous massacre.  

Such a representation of British Troops especially, but also those loyal to the king in general, is designed to instill fear in the populace of these groups.  Characterizing the British Soldier as a murdering savage, those opposed to the Non-Importation as those intent on Enslaving the populace, and supporters of the Stamp Act in the same manner is calculated to bring public opinion against them.  The same was done to the Jews in Nazi Germany, as well as Communists, Socialists, Unionists and any other group not toeing the party line.  On the other side, this fear was spread to the targeted groups through the actions of organizations such as the Falangalists, SA, Sons of Liberty, Fascisti and even unaffiliated individuals sympathetic to the Revolutionary cause.  Through such harassment and hostility, conformity was established or those who were able fled. Any who remained loyal to their established government were usually then imprisoned thereby establishing the political homogeneity sought by the revolutionary powers.

In the interest of not continuing this section of the paper Ad Infinitum, suffice it to say that even if this were an exhaustive study of Separatist propaganda and printings, it would find little variation in these patterns for any sample taken.

On the other hand, most Loyalist propaganda came in the form of Legalistic protests, or Satires of the Sons of Liberty and their actions. Many of the Later are quite to the point, and effective.  There are quite a few examples clearly pointing out the economic implications of Separatist actions, the absurdity of the Sons of Liberty’s resolutions for the general Populace, and are actually quite searing.

The Connections should be, to any person possessed of the most limited knowledge of Nazi Germany, quite obvious. Propaganda throughout the reign of the National Socialist Party engaged in Disinformation, misrepresentation and outright fiction so plainly that no documentation should be needed.  The pointing out, or more accurately, fabrication of Enemies to the State, their Identification and the installation of fear throughout Germany was made manifest through propaganda. Once Identified, these persons were routinely threatened, beaten, assaulted, subjected to mob violence and forced into compliance or flight.  The same as done in the Aforementioned examples from the American Revolution.

FOOTNOTES:

  1. Davidson, Philip G. “Whig Propagandists of the American Revolution” The American Historical Review Vol. 39 No. 3 (April 1934) pp 442-453 Jstor.org (Accessed 18 June 2011)
  2. The U.S. Constitution and Fascinating Facts About it 7th ed. (Naperville, IL: Oak Hill, 2006)
  3. Allen, Thomas B. Tories: Fighting for the King in America’s First Civil War (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2010)
  4. Cuthbertson, Bennett A System for the Complete Interior Management and Oeconomy of a Battalion of Infantry, 2nd ed. (London, UK: J. Millan 1779)
  5. York, Niel Longley “Rival Truths, political Accommodation and the Boston ‘Massacre'” Massachusetts Historical Review Vol. 11, pp 60. Jstor.org (Accessed 24 February 2011)
  6. “Thomas Glassock to George Washington, 22 August 1773.” The George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress American Memory Collection.  http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/mgw:@field(DOCID+@lit(lw040144)) (Accessed 21 April 2011)
  7. Davidson, Philip G. “Whig Propagandists of the American Revolution” The American Historical Review Vol. 39 No. 3 (April 1934) pp 442-453
  8. Schlesinger, Arthur M. “A Note on Songs as Whig Propaganda 1765-1776” William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series Vol. 11 No. 1 (January, 1954) pp 78-88  www.Jstor.org (Accessed 24 February 2011)
  9. Clark, Charles E. The Public Prints (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1994)

February ARF Serial: Political Violence

POLITICAL VIOLENCE: The Truth About  National Unity.

Some level of Political Violence has been an aspect of most all revolutions throughout history. However, it was brought to a very well planned, coordinated and executed level in the American Revolution: Targets are designated through propaganda, Threats are made systematically, militias are organized and small parties of thugs are continually active (1).  This level of violence against any and all opposition parties is intentionally executed to gain the compliance or expulsion of those who disagree through a state of fear, and to encourage a continued support by those who may be lukewarm supporters of the party.

Attacking and threatening Government officers in the conduct of their duties, inciting riot, destroying the property and lives of political rivals, and instigating armed insurrection are only a partial list of the acts committed in the name of “Liberty.”  These actions were mostly performed and coordinated by the Sons of Liberty, a loose organization of those with rising or established commercial interests which were being undercut by royal government.

For the period of one year alone, there are several examples of these activities. The attacks on Mein and Fleeming, Boston Printers, who were clearly in support of the British Government due to their publication of shipping manifests embarrassing to those who had signed the Non-Importation agreement were a clear example of such threats escalating to beatings and then resulting in the departure of loyalists (or any other opponents of the Whigs) from the Colonies. A similar target was Patrick McMaster, a Boston Merchant who had refused to sign the Non-Importation agreement, was to be tarred and feathered due to his reticence in regards to importation.  This came after a full year of vandalism, attacks upon his character and other minor affronts (2). 

In addition Henry Houlton, a Commissioner of Customs, and his Family were attacked on the night of 19 June 1770.  As Crown officials, they would clearly be against the Whig agenda.  During the attack windows were smashed and the occupants of the house terrorized. After this incident, the family moved to  Castle William in Boston Harbor to avoid further assaults. They had fled Boston before due to worries about their personal safety at the hands of such targeted Mob Violence (2).

The Gaspee Incident, outside Providence, Rhode Island in June of 1772 was a prime example of political violence targeting Crown Officials. Planned and put into action by a prominent Merchant of the town, the Customs schooner Gaspee was burned after it ran aground.  Such attacks on Government officers and offices were commonplace, and frequently organized by those with the most to gain from the revolution.(1)

Attacks upon other government figures were commonplace. Some well known incidents occurred in 1765, the Royal Stamp collector in Boston was tarred and feathered while carrying out his duties, while in New York, armed parties confiscated Stamps before they could be landed from the ships.(4)  Countless others happened, and with such frequency that going over all of them would drag out this paper Ad Infinitum.

The attitude of the Separatist party was lampooned accurately by a Loyalist Satire writer from New York. In a broadside entitled At a meeting of the true sons of Liberty, the attitude of the Separatists is clearly represented in the last lines of this scathing satire: “RESOLVED, lastly, That every Man, Woman, or Child, who doth not agree with our Sentiments, whether he, she, or they, understand them or not, is an Enemy to his Country, wheresoever he was born, and a Jacobite in Principle, whatever he may think of it; and that he ought at least to be tarred and feathered, if not hanged, drawn and quartered; all Statutes, Laws and Ordinances whatsoever to the contrary notwithstanding.”

Aside from these, there were outright attacks on the British Army perpetrated by the Separatist party.  The Boston Massacre is a prime example.  It describes the so-called massacre as a premeditated action on the part of the British troops against peacefully assembled, concerned citizens, mostly young persons, occasionally throwing snowballs.  After a short time, so it claims, Capt. Preston, the Commanding Officer of the guard detachment gave the order to fire on this assembly.  The account entirely fails to mention the crowd was armed with clubs, staves, and similar weaponry, and was in a riotous posture.  That the crowd had assaulted the lone guard initially posted at King Street, to the point where he felt obliged to call out the reserve guard under Capt. Preston, was also conspicuously absent from the account.(5)

Also of Note, from the same time as the Boston Massacre, is the “Battle of Golden Hill” in New York. Occurring in January of 1770, the “Battle” resulted in one civilian killed and one wounded. Caused by a mob harassing British Soldiers removing a Liberty Pole, the small skirmish was a local affair which was calmed over quickly, but was still a blatant attack on Government Forces. (1)

Political Violence should not be listed as solely physical attacks. Destruction of property, threats, and other forms of Mental and Physical Violence fall under the same heading.

Propaganda was used much like that of the fascist parties of the first half of the Twentieth Century, to advertise and mark “Public Enemies” or Enemies of the State.  Such tools were the main distinguishing features of such “Internal Enemies,” as they otherwise appeared identical to the rest of the population. Marking these targeted persons, through publishing their names in newspaper advertisements, visually marking their residences, stores or persons, or through exposing them by other means, they can be kept in a state of fear and anxiety which is intended to cause compliance.(6)

The advertisements were occasionally only very thinly veiled threats. Knowing then the Sons of Liberty were the persons posting such advertisements, it must have been quite disconcerting to hear that one “shall be deemed Enemies to the Colonies, and treated accordingly.”  With the precedents established for treatment accorded enemies of the colonies by the Sons of Liberty, this is clearly a threat to life, limb and property. It was (and still is) in fact considered better to leave subjects in a state of fear to gain compliance, as actual pain or attacks are more likely to be overcome.(6) However, a target must first be marked before it can effectively be exposed to public abuse or threatened by mob violence, which was the purpose of these pieces of propaganda.

At the time of the Boston Tea Party, Clear, public and unmistakable threats were made against the captains of ships laden with tea should they allow any tea to be landed.  Further, to prevent any tea from being landed secretly, or in violation of the resolutions mentioned therein, a guard of 25 men was appointed to stand at the wharves of the ships until they left the harbor. Another Resolution was that any person shipping or receiving tea into the colony should be treated and esteemed “an Enemy to his Country.” 

During the time period under consideration, those thus marked were frequently attacked, publicly ridiculed and targeted for general harassment, as seen with the examples in this chapter. Many were subsequently forced to relocate, or publicly comply with the publishers’ demands. As can be seen in the non-importation and Stamp Act crises, some of those targeted by the Sons of Liberty caved under the weight of such fear, publicizing their compliance to avoid violence.

There are dozens more examples of such acts, generalized against any and all persons opposed to the Whig viewpoint. The burning of the Peggy Stewart in Maryland, which carried tea into Annapolis serves as an example.,  (7) A Large mob forced the owners into burning the ship and cargo to save their lives, as explained in the Virginia Gazette for 6 April 1776 (3).  As early as 1770, Voters were being suppressed in their attempts to gain a secret ballet.   Such actions are clear evidence, and were so prevalent as to make many areas entirely unsafe for Loyalist sympathizers.

To point out the range of these acts, there were even Loyalist executed in multiple states for their political affiliations. The Virginia Gazette archives from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation contain dozens of reports of their executions, from though out the colonies. (3) Some of these executions were also of men taken under arms, who had the right to be treated as prisoners of war, as mentioned in the Virginia Gazette of 20 June 1777. (3) 

To consider the other side of the coin, there was some limited violence from the Loyalist party as well. Armed societies did rise throughout the colonies, essentially associations for their mutual defense.  These militias, however, were not nearly as active as those of the Separatists. With the exception of impoverished tenants on Cortlandt, Livingston and Claverack Manors in New York, who rose in a Jacquerie in early 1777 (7). 

The similarities of these activities to those of the Fascist parties in the 1930s should need no Documentation or explanation. Using Generalized violence to silence opposition has been a hallmark of every oppressive regime based upon a lack of rational principals since the dawn of time.

FOOTNOTES:

  1. Schlesinger, Arthur M. “Political Mobs and the American Revolution 1765-1776” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society Vol. 99 No. 4 (30 August 1955) pp 244-250  www.jstor.org (Accessed 24 February 2011)
  2. Nicolson, Colin “A plan “to banish all the Scotchmen”: Victomization and political mobilization in pre-revolutionary Boston.” Massachusetts Historical Review, Vol. 9 (2007) pp 64 Jstor.org (Accessed 24 February 2011).
  3. Virginia Gazette Archives Online, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Http://research.history.org/DigitalLibrary/VirginiaGazette
  4. Gerlach, Don R. Philip Schuyler and the American Revolution in New York 1733-1777. (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1964)
  5. York, Niel Longley “Rival Truths, political Accommodation and the Boston ‘Massacre'” Massachusetts Historical Review Vol. 11, pp 60. Jstor.org (Accessed 24 February 2011)
  6. CIA, Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual-1983 http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB122/index.htm#hre (Accessed 25 April 2011)
  7. Allen, Thomas B. Tories: Fighting for the King in America’s First Civil War (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2010)

January ARF Serial: Introduction.

The American Revolution was the struggle of the Everyman against Tyranny! They stomped on our rights, and got what was coming to them! Right? The Founding Fathers made this country the pinnacle of Liberty, Freedom, and Justice for the entire world to look at, and want to be! Right?

You can’t seriously doubt this! We have the Constitution! The Declaration of Independence! Hundreds of years of being equal, where you can get ahead if you do lots of hard work, and where you can keep your property! Right?

Are you sure?

The Story of how We beat the British as a fully united nation, rising up against oppression is familiar to everyone. It’s an inspiring story of how we Defeated a standing army with just militia who hid behind trees and disappeared into the population when they weren’t needed, returning to their peaceful agrarian lives which they never would have abandoned if not for England’s Oppressive Policies.

This story Is completely, entirely, and unequivocally false.

It’s a story pushed by those who would love you to think that, of course. It’s part of the American Dream, used to rationalize everything from a lack of gun control so we can overthrow the government (while the only people to ban firearms in the Revolution were the Americans…) to making sacred all forms of Private Property (Can’t have Taxes, they’re oppressive!).

It’s also a lie. The history of the American Revolution is Murderous, Unjust, Unfair, Coerced, and Forced. It was based entirely on Selfishness, Greed, Power and Prejudice. The founding fathers, venerable figures raised to Godhood in the National Consciousness, were the forbearers to Mussolini and Franco, in the worst way possible.

Over the course of the next year, I’ll prove it, and talk about why it’s important and must change. But for some starters, think about these little details:

If we defeated the Evil British Empire with an Everyman’s Militia, why does this exist? It’s a pretty basic proof that we had a Professional Army.

If this was Everyman’s Fight, what about this? Or This? Or This? 

Tune in over the next few months to get a little more of why the story we tell ourselves is not only wrong, it’s downright dangerous.

Modern Nationalism found its roots in the American Revolution and would, 150 years later, evolve into Fascism as seen in Spain, Italy and Germany. The Roots of the Ideas, Techniques, Rhetoric and most General Forms of Fascism are present in the American Revolution.

The American Revolution shared so many of the aspects of the Fascist Revolutions in Spain, Italy and Germany during the first half of the 20th Century, the connections are so close it would be entirely justified to consider the Separatist elements during the American Revolution Fascists. Parallel patterns of rhetoric, political violence, propaganda, instilling fear of invisible internal enemies, and destruction or forced removal of said enemies are only a few of the many connections. The purpose of this paper, now published in Monthly Serial Form, is to expose these connections in a clear, concise and simple manner while holding actions in both time periods to a uniform standard of analysis.

The paper is divided into several sections covering the several aspects where there are direct comparisons between Revolutions. Sections will be found covering Definitions, Political Violence, Propaganda, Popular Support and Maintaining Social Control.  The parallels covered in these sections are summarized in the last three portions, followed by a final set of conclusions. The final conclusions offer recommendations on future scholarship, suggested adjustments to patterns of interpretation for the American Revolution, and other general observations it is thought are necessary.

A NOTE ON HISTORIOGRAPHY:

The individual time periods and sub-fields covered in this paper have been covered extensively. Every respect of both the Fascist regimes of the 20th century and the American Revolution have been picked apart by historians since their respective movements were born, and frequently in minute detail. Economic, social, political, philosophical and historical factors all have been individually considered for each of the conflicts herein treated.

However, I have been unable to find any literature covering both time periods or making any connections between the two.  Philosophically, I have found the same to be true: Both Fascism and the American Revolution extensively covered, yet not in tandem, and without connection.

With this as the case, I can only speculate as to the reasons for avoiding this too-clear connection.