There’s a great article in the NY Times about those Americans who did not support the American Revolution in 1776. The author’s guess is that around 20% of the population did not support the revolution. It should not be surprising; people are rarely in harmonious, unanimous agreement about… anything. But it’s worth bearing in mind.
During three days in November 1776, this petition sat in Scott’s Tavern, on Wall Street, to be signed by anyone who wished. A frank declaration of dependence, it completely lacks the revolutionary genius and rhetorical grace of our hallowed July 4 document. Yet in all, more than 700 people put their names to the parchment — 12 times the number who signed the Declaration of Independence. Among the signatories were pillars of New York society: wealthy merchants like Hugh Wallace, who commanded vast tracts of land and capital; members of some of New York’s most prominent families, the DeLanceys, the Livingstons and the Philipses; and the clergymen Charles Inglis and Samuel Seabury, who published articulate rebuttals to rebel pamphlets like Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense.”
I’m probably the only person on the planet who thinks the American Revolution was ultimately a failure…. because we were reconquered by the British a hundred years ago. Notice that the petition was situated on Wall Street. Well, some things haven’t changed. Wall Street was then and is now, home to the “Royalists”, if you will. The “moneyed interests” were defeated in 1776, but the wealth and power Britain wielded was immense. In time, Britain was able to get a toehold in her former colony using that most diabolic of weapons: Money. As a young nation we were starved for it and didn’t really care where it came from.
A certain class formed, primarily on the east coast, right around New York (the “Empire State”), whose allegiance was to power; not America. I suppose it wasn’t the British reconquering us so much as the old guard reasserting its power against a young upstart.
Still, the British connection is worth looking into. Why do we care about the Queen or Princess Diana? Wall Street is associated with the CIA, and the CIA is closely tied with MI6. Our intelligence apparatus is intrinsically bound with that of Britain and her other wayward colony, Australia. The UK/USA axis is currently the strongest in the world. It does seem a bit odd that our closest ally (in Iraq and other places) is our old colonial master, doesn’t it? I suppose after WWII some old wounds were forgotten (or forgiven, anyway). But it is curious that we have such enmity in this country for France, the nation that gave us the Statue of Liberty and helped us fight against the British.
Here we are, in a nation that is clearly ruled for the rich, by the rich. Are we independent from the British? Perhaps, but what does it matter if we’re not independent of tyranny? A new tyranny rules these lands, and it’s called crypto-fascism. We wouldn’t be much better off under the thumb of the British police state. Freedom seems to slip away over time, as cowards have their say and convenience trumps idealism time and time again. It’s true what Jefferson said:
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
But the hard part, as always, is figuring out who’s a patriot and who’s a tyrant. I can give you a few hints, though: In a hierarchical society whose class system is based on accumulated wealth the poor folks certainly do not have a chance to be tyrants, whereas those sitting at the top of the pyramid might behave like aristocrats without even realizing it.
Let’s hope Thomas Jefferson doesn’t rise from the dead anytime soon. We’ll feel like the Native American tribes who sold vast tracts of land for nothing more than beads, trinkets and gunpowder. I doubt Jefferson will be nearly as impressed with our high-definition TVs as we might be.
“You exchanged your God-given Freedom for WHAT?!!” he’ll say.
“Hey, c’mon — these beads are really shiny!”