Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Did the factors that led to success in the French and Indian War make the American Revolution inevitable?

This posting is for our third meeting and the topic is the French and Indian War. Don't forget that you have to leave a comment before and after our session. Our session is on March 7, 2009. We will be meeting at the Wang Center from 8:30 - 3:30.

Your comments should be based on our reading for the session, The War That Made America by Fred Anderson.


bkilkenny said...

I don't know if the factors that led to British success in the French and Indian War made the Revolution inevitable, but the factors did lead to a need for increased revenue for the British Crown.
The inevitability was that the British needed to find a way to increase revenue and raising taxes on the American colonists was a logical conclusion. The other inevitability was that the colonists were going to be unhappy about the increase. The conflict and unhappiness was exacerbated by the lack of representation in Parliament for the colonists. The colonists felt that they deserved the full rights of all British subjects. This, to my understanding, was that all landowners had representation in Parliament and the colonists were denied the right of actual representation. Conflict was inevitable, but not necessarily revolution.

Anonymous said...

The American Revoluiton was inevitable from the time Columbus reached the West Indies and Mercantilism became the dominant economic theory of Western Europe. The success of the French and Indian War fueled a sense of entitlement among colonists, while encouraging a British dependence on mercantilism. Although mercantilism ensured captive markets in the colonies to benefit the British Empire, the colonists did not see themselves as subjects, and many protested English policies since the colonists would never ultimately benefit from mercantilism. Since the colonists and Parliament had different expectations after the French and Indian War, they were destined to clash.

msmilow said...

After feeling like a part of Braddock's beleaguered regiment as I slogged through Anderson's book, I would have to say that the reasons for the high cost of the war now seem perfectly understandable. It was interesting and astonishing to see that even in the 1750s, the colonists were so totally resistant to the needs of the British empire builders and generals. Pitt's determination to defeat the French caused him to "buy" the colonists support for Britain's conquest. It is obvious to us that the bribes paid to American colonials would have to be covered in some way but apparently the thought never occurred to Pitt.

On another front, it is understandable that all key British functionaries never seemed to get what the Indians were about. However, the fact that so many provincials were clueless in this regard seems unbelievable. Was it their ignorance or their arrogance that opened the door to such unnecessary violence. Or did the British regulars ignore their warnings? Expecting the Indians to participate in military expeditions without considering what the Indians expected in return seemed to be a reoccurring theme of the conflict as well.

I am an not inveterate footnote reader but the fact that there none made me wonder where the author got his information. Anderson visits the issue of footnote free writing in the Bibliographic Note at the end of this work and hopes that his attempts to paraphrase other historians' works has saved him from charges of plagiarism. While this is all well and good, what about primary sources? Also, I was puzzled by the inclusion of blurry pictures and hard to read reproductions of documents in a paperback edition of this work. They added little to the work, though the color plates clear photos were a positive.

Mr.Sill said...

“Not long ago, I fought for the British crown, and now, here I am fighting against it! I learned a lot about military strategy, the importance of training and supplying troops, the need to move armies of men quickly through tough terrain, and working with Indians. I also learned that the British system of military commissions was not only elitist, but it was also foolish! To surpass talent and competence for family lineage and social privilege proved to be a failed system. Arrogant and ignorant commanders such as Shirley, Loudoun, Ambercromby, and Amherst all made critical mistakes whereas men like myself and Colonel Bradstreet should have been treated better and promoted for our valiant service and merit.

They say this war would not have been won without the Iroquois support. But what about the provincial soldiers? Once William Pitt changed British policy of treating colonists like second class citizens and offered to include them into the military with equal status and monetary backing, the war shifted and British victory was inevitable! However, once the war was over, the crown cast us aside and treated us like children who needed to be punished for their own good.

This war… this American Revolution, could have been avoided if the King would have only included the colonial governments in the process of curing the financial burdens of the Empire and allowed his motivated subjects the ability to settle more land in the frontier. But this Royal Proclamation by King George III has walled us in, stunting our growth in the land that we once fought for.“

- General George Washington

pcostell said...

One of the factors that led to the success of the British in the war was the actions of William Pitt that encouraged the colonists to join the fight. By spending the crown's money without restraint, Pitt ensured cooperation. The colonists then believed they were a part of the new massive empire created by victory, and by not allowing them a voice in Parliament, their newly enhanced patriotism was lost. A wasted opportunity for the crown! Added tothe economic factors (taxation without representation etc...)the war sped up the process of independence. It was inevitable anyway, but the war moved it along!

Mr.Sill said...

What if?

My Great, Great, Great , Great, Great, Great Grandfather was a remarkable man who acted swiftly and heroically during a time of crisis in this nation. My namesake first established himself during the Seven Years War, on the American battlefield. He was revolutionary in the way he changed the relationship between the British regulars and their American provincial brethren by simply including them in some of the major campaigns and reimbursing them financially for their time served. Other British officers have received glory for their understanding and workings with the Iroquois, but it would be the use of the provincials that really made the difference in this war.

After the war, my distant grandfather, for whom this great city and capital of this Commonwealth is named, prevented what seemed to be an inevitable American Revolution. Once again, he was able to convince King George III that American colonists were a special breed; a group who understood and wanted to practice British ideals of freedom, justice, and righteousness. He told the King how they celebrated the very rights listed in our Bill of Rights and wanted to contribute to the success of our British Empire. He even told the King that these American men were in some ways more British they he was! He argued that the crown must be flexible in its methods of controlling the colonists and allowed them to be a part of the political system.

The King soon began to realize the potential of such a great land and its ingenious, loyal and productive citizens. He split the colonies into newly named states, allowed elections for state viceroys and legislatures that would be responsible for passing and enforcing all local laws. They allowed the colonists to freely manufacture and trade goods, raise taxes, and create their own armies. British law was still superior to state laws, helping to outlaw slavery in the southern colonies and establishing good relations with our neighboring allies, the Iroquois nation.

My fellow Brits, as we celebrate the birthday of one of our greatest founding fathers, we should realize that this city, the city of Pittsburgh, was once a fort built to protect us against tyranny… and now it is a shining city on a hill, built to protect the world from tyranny! Today, The British States of America owe a lot to our founding father, my Great Grandfather… William Pitt.

msmilow said...

Professor's Griffin's presentation was illuminating and caused me to think of the Americans in a different light. I wonder if there is indeed a way to quantify the "Britishness" that Americans may felt after Anglo-American victory. Also, were there certain Americans who felt more British than others? The Virginia aristocracy with its lush country estates and the means would seem to be more likely to want to emulate the British upper class. After all George Washington, ever the clothes horse, did love those British duds. I would guess that the merchants and those of the middling class in Boston would probably be less likely to have such an idealized vision of the British and be less inclined to identify themselves as British. It is hard to believe that most Americans because of the time and distance did not evolve into Americans.

If the tax that resulted from the placement of troops on the frontier did not directly lead to the Revolution, what about the Proclamation of 1763? Wasn't this viewed as a slap in the face of the Americans who had played an important role in the victory? It would be hard to imagine that they would not be resentful of the British prohibition against settlement west of the Appalachians.

pcostell said...

I was more convinced that the British success in the French and Indian War led to the American Revolution after the session. The American spirit of "I want services but I don't want to pay for them" was enhanced by the War and its cost therfore leading to the rebellion. We see that spirit alive today, and now it is evidently traced back to the very early history of this great nation of shall we say, freeloaders? What else to explain our collective perception that we are too highly taxed! Today's politicians clearly know that taxes will be the ruin of their career, just as our ancestors refused to pay their share of the empire's bills for the War!