If we tried to have a revolution today, would we succeed?  Do we have what it takes?  I hear boasts at reenactments all the time and everyone thinks they have what it takes to rebel but are we willing to “dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another,[1] or are we more likely to “more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” [1]   Visitors to our historical reenactments and parks are quick to criticize the Olive Branch Petition[2] and other attempts by the Continental Congress to reach peaceful reconciliation with Parliament.  I’m pretty sure, however, that the people of today are “more disposed to suffer.

EVERYONE complains about the government, but do they protest?  No.  In fact, very few people are even willing to exercise their right to vote.  Everyone thinks their right to free speech[3] applies to interpersonal communication – We really don’t care what you have to say.  These same loudmouths are afraid to write or say anything criticizing their government.  They are quick to demand the “right” to proselytize their religion and call it freedom of religion [3] but when others wish to quietly practice a different, perhaps less popular religion, they complain that its “unAmerican.[4]”  Most Americans oppose public protests, routinely submit to searches, think that some people should not have the same rights as others, and are generally irritated by anything that interferes with their vacuous entertainment driven lifestyles.  If today’s equivalent of Parliament, the President and US Congress, were to impose the Townsend Acts[5], no one would complain, America would roll over and accept all the “abuses and usurpations [1] ” and simply point the finger at any convenient scapegoat.

 No, I don’t think the Americans of today have the mettle to rebel.  Americans of today aren’t willing to make the simple sacrifices needed to engage in boycotts demanded by the Non-Importation Agreements[6].  After all, its difficult to give up things for values.  Its expensive to buy American made products when you are accustomed to buying cheap Chinese knock-offs.   Its easy to complain about the Koch Brothers[7] but when they need cheap oil[8], chemicals[9], paper[10], or auto glass[11]. We open our wallets and give them the money they need to fund hyper-conservative interests then complain about the moneyed interests in politics.  No, Americans today talk a good talk but they have what it takes to win a revolution.

You see, our independence from England was NOT won by George Washington’s Army.  Yes, they fought the British Army and without the Continental Army, the opposition to Parliament’s overreach would have been easier to crush but if we look at just the military components of the American Revolution, it was a total failure.  Washington lost almost every battle he fought[12].  The American Revolution was won by economic and diplomatic forces not military might.

Military action alone against the might of Great Brittan would have suicidal.  England had the most powerful navy and the second most powerful army ( only inferior to Fredrick’s Prussia).  The notion that thirteen fledgling upstart colonies with no standing army and no navy could prevail in an actual war was preposterous.  This disparity is clear when you look at the number and size of American victories.  Were it not for the economic and social war, Brittan would have easily and handily won the American Revolution[13]. So why did Brittan give up her colonies rather than just continue the war until they had quelled the American resistance?  The answer is not in the battlefields but rather the statehouses and storehouses.

The American Revolution was won because we were actively rebelling against the true might and sovereignty of King George, not his army and navy.  Americans were willing to form alliances with old enemies (France and Spain).  This gave us military might to wage war beyond our borders in the Caribbean, of the coast of Europe, in India and Asia, and on the high seas.  But beyond that, Americans fought a war that Brittan could not conquer with force.  The Revolutionary War was won through economic warfare as much as military warfare. 

Brittan had come to depend upon her colonies for the revenues needed to support her huge empire to fuel economic and political power.  The Townsend Acts were imposed unashamedly as an attempt to make the North American colonies pay for Brittan’s war with France, not just in America (this was a small part of the Seven Years War) but all over the world.  War with France and Spain was a contest to see who could own the flow of raw materials from the “new world” to European factories and markets.  America’s resistance to this strategy began a chain reaction that toppled not just British empires but also the French, Spanish, Dutch, and Portuguese imperial hegemony.  You can’t fight that battle with bullets and win but if you fight with Pounds and Pence, you have a real weapon!

To win the American Revolution, Americans were willing to fight using the most powerful weapons they had, their consumption of British goods.  The Boston Tea Party was not a quaint rebellion over the tax on tea – tea was CHEAPER under the Tea Acts.  This was a rebellion against the monopoly of the East India Company and their investors who held seats in the House of Lords.  Rebellion over the Sugar Acts was driven not because it taxed colonist, it was about restricting trade and upsetting the other industries (especially rum) that depended upon free trade with Spanish, Portuguese, and French Colonies in the Americas.  Initially, England didn’t occupy Boston to fight the radical demands of the Sons of Liberty, she send her troops to collect debts owed to the East India Company – a private company with strong lobbies in Parliament. 

It’s not really different today.  Today, the US CONGRESS is heavily influenced, manipulated, by “special interests” no less nefarious than the East India Company; and we have an inept egocentric executive no better nor worst than George III.  Unlike the 1760’s, however, most Americans are incapable of waging economic warfare.  They simply won’t give up their comforts, “are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” 

The abuses and usurpations will get worse if we do nothing.  Yes, you must vote!  We must attempt to change the mix of plutocrats.  It will FEEL better but not solve the problems America faces today.  The only way to change America is to change our economy, not our constitution, not our most sacred values, not our national identity.  As P J O’Rouke said – “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.”  Its time to take back the money!  But to do that you have to stop the flow from the source and the source is YOU!  Look at the companies who you do business with.  Who do they support in politics? Decide whether the money you save by shopping at Amazon, Walmart, Starbucks represents your values because “portions of each dollar spent go to support…”  If you can’t fight for what America stands for, then you aren’t American and you need to get out and make room for the new people wo will. “Send me your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me..”  Maybe they will stand for the America we fought to create every day of the last 240 years!  “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!14


[1] Declaration of Independence

[2] 2nd Continental Congress July 1775

[3] 1st Amendment to US Constitution, 1793

[4] Donald Trump,:Presidential Order on National Day of Prayer; July 16, 2019

[5] A series of laws passed by the British government on the American colonies in 1767 that placed new taxes and took away some freedoms from the colonists.  These were important because they helped to reignite anger in the colonies against England.

[6] In reaction to the Stamp Act (1765) and the Townshend Acts (1767), colonial nonimportation associations were organized by Sons of Liberty and Whig merchants to boycott English goods.

[7]  David Koch and his brother Charles Koch, longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation.  The Kochs have built and bankrolled a powerful network of foundations, think tanks, and politically active organizations that try to influence elections and policy.

[8] Flint Hills Industries

[9] Invista

[10] Georgia Pacific

[11] Guardian Industries

[12] Exceptions include Boston, Trenton, Saratoga, and Yorktown but even with these major victories, didn’t really impair the British ability to wage war in North America.

[13] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_American_Revolutionary_War_battles.  The Continental Army won <35% of the significant battles of the war and MOST of those won required French and Spanish allied forces.

[14] Inscription on the Statue of Liberty


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Published by Michael Carver

My goal is to bring history alive through interactive portrayal of ordinary American life in the late 18th Century (1750—1799) My persona are: Journeyman Brewer; Cordwainer (leather tradesman but not cobbler), Statesman and Orator; Chandler (candle and soap maker); Gentleman Scientist; and, Soldier in either the British Regular Army, the Centennial Army, or one of the various Militia. Let me help you experience history 1st hand!

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  1. If people do what they need to do each day, working together for a common good, but also constitutional freedoms, then each day will reveal a little more of what needs to be done, but it won’t happen with full prediction. Life doesn’t work that way. People, listening to their conscience, doing what’s right each day, make positive differences without ever knowing the long-term. But, we do what we can every step of the way, for this generation and the next.

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  2. Did they really believe they would succeed? In 1775, the Continental Congress sent the Olive Branch Petition (ironically 7/5/75). Washington lost every battle in New Jersey except Trenton (surprise attack) and Monmouth (stalemate). Congress fled Philadelphia for York as Howe took Philadelphia. I think it was far more than belief, it was determination.

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  3. The thing about a revolution is this. If you’re having on dependent upon “knowing” you’ll succeed, you’ll never begin. Of course, those who started the revolution believed, but it was an incredible struggle and many never saw next year. But they believed with all their hearts and wouldn’t quit, for whatever reason, many for family and future generations. A revolution is not a light thing. However, where we are, we each have the responsibility to talk sane, responsible, and encourage real thinking and action where needed. How the future writes itself we won’t know.

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