Hi, welcome back, make yourself comfortable. Last time, we talked about the way ideas in Europe in the 1760's and 1770's, were raising lots of arguments about the power of kings, about liberties, and privileges. Those arguments are also spreading to the other side of the Atlantic world. Today we're going to talk about some things happening in British North America. All of you know a little bit probably about what happened in the American Revolution. It starts with some violent skirmishes west of Boston, Massachusetts in 1775. But as we talked about earlier let's go past the what happened very quickly to the why. Well, it's happening because a lot of the Americans are unhappy. Let's kind of reflect a little bit on why they're unhappy. Remember this is the map of British North America after the Seven Yearsï¿½ War, after the Peace of Paris signed in 1763. Just a reminder, look at the position of British North America. These enormous claims that the British have; Britain now claims all of this. And then, these particular thirteen colonies are in this area in the dark pink. If you focus in on those thirteen colonies, this is a map of the colonial economy. But where it's really valuable to me is it just shows you how thinly populated these places are. This is a pretty good expression of where the people are living along the coast. And they're really all looking outward. You see they very much feel that they're part of an Atlantic world. They're facing the Atlantic. That's where they're sending their goods, and that's where they're receiving their goods. So as they face the Atlantic world, they feel like they're part of greater Britain. They're concerned that they have the rights of Englishmen. And, in fact, about a third of the population of, sort of, greater Britain would include the population of the people living in British North America. When they think about the rights of Englishmen, they're not thinking about the rights that are kind of set down in some sort of bill of rights. There's not like a formal written document. They're thinking about liberties and privileges handed down by custom and tradition, especially the great arguments that had convulsed England during the civil war of the 1600s and the Glorious Revolution of the 1680s. We don't need to go into all of the detail of that. The point is, they feel like they have a lot of customary rights and traditions, mainly to have the king's power balanced by the power of Parliament. That is, this idea of the intermediary that we've talked about before, so that royal power just simply isn't unchecked. But who's the intermediary if you're living in these colonies in this part of British North America? You don't feel like the London Parliament is taking care of your rights. Instead you look to the councils and assemblies that you have in each of these particular colonies. You look to them as the people who are supposed to be consulted by royal representatives and balance the untrammeled exertion of royal power. So when the king starts levying taxes to build up the revenue for his Fiscal-military state, the Colonists aren't objecting because their tax burdens are so high. In fact, they're not paying as much taxes as people living in England are paying. Of course, they don't want to pay taxes. But they partly are objecting to the fact that, where is the authority that's taxing them? Who are the citizens here? It seems like. The king can just levy taxes and he just bypasses their little colonial assemblies, as if they were of no importance whatsoever. Who are their intermediaries? They don't have any. So all through the 1760s, they're arguing about this. The king imposes some taxes, he repeals the taxes, he imposes some new taxes. So, here's an illustration, a contemporary illustration, of what's famously known as the Boston Tea Party. This is an episode in 1770 in which some men of Boston dressed up as Indians and boarded a vessel bringing some boxes of tea to Boston, and threw it into the ocean because they wouldn't pay the tax on it. Of course, not only are they objecting to the tax they're being forced to pay, in which they felt they had no voice at all; they're also objecting, too, a little bit to the British monopoly of trade that's forcing them to buy tea only from the East India Company, at the East India Company's price, and of course some of these men of Boston constantly engage in private smuggling to get around these government imposed monopolies. So when you read in all these documents written by the colonials in the 1770s about their objections to tyranny, what they mean by tyranny is: no check on royal power. Understand, their colonial assemblies are not what we would call democratic. They're kind of sort of elected. They have just different procedures that are designed to ensure that the assemblies are made up of, oh, some selection of the notable white men of the colony. Men of property. Men who should be looking out for the interests of their colony. Parliament in England is not much better. It wouldn't pass any kind of muster for what we would consider a representative institution of the people. Their notion is that these intermediaries represent the good and the great of their local colony who are supposed to look out for the rights and privileges of propertied men and, of course, these propertied men claim to speak on behalf of the people. But increasingly, they're also infected by these ideas that, you know, what really: the sources of authority come from us. That, the king rules over us through some sort of social contract, an idea that they like many others are picking up from language written by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in which the ruler does certain things for you and in return for that you're bestowing the right to rule upon the ruler. You're giving him authority. So when the ruler just levies taxes on you, stations troops in your home, and there's just no process of consultation within the intermediary body at all, they're beginning to call that tyranny in the way they're thinking about liberty and privileges being stomped upon by the king. The remarkable thing when the revolution breaks out in 1775 is that the colonies have already formed a common cause. Not all the colonies. British Canada, recently freed from French rule, remains stoutly loyal to the crown. All the British West Indies, relying on British soldiers to keep the slaves from revolting, for one thing, all remain loyal to the crown; they're dominated by the crown's trade monopolies. It's these particular colonies in British North America, not including Canada, that form common cause. Rather than rely on a bunch of different colonial assemblies and councils, they even create a new intermediary body of their own. And they'll call this intermediary body a Continental Congress. This congress isn't elected in the way we would think about electing Congress today. Its representatives are simply chosen by the colonial assemblies. And the members of those assemblies are selected in a variety of ways designed to represent the propertied men of the colony. The point is the colonies see that they have common cause; they bind themselves together in order to stand up for the rights of Englishmen. And in 1776, these colonies will declare themselves to be independent of the crown. By the way, they don't call themselves yet a United States of America. They simply call themselves. a group of states really that are confederated together for the purpose of winning their independence. The course of the revolutionary war that follows can be pretty easily summarized. The British have a big advantage. They have the navy. Using their navy they can control the Atlantic sea coast. They can land their forces almost wherever they want to. The disadvantage they have is they can land their forces and try to chase the American revolutionary leaders, capture them, knock them out. But if they can't knock them out, it's hard for them to occupy large land areas for any significant period of time. And that kind of defines the course of the war. So the aroused colonists besiege the British in Boston; they leave. But the British immediately come back. And they're able to seize the most important city in the colonies, next to Philadelphia, which the British are also able to capture, and they almost destroy the Continental Army in a series of battles around New York; but they fail to destroy it. The Continental Army stays alive into 1777, and in 1777, Washington's army has a series of engagements in this area that essentially stays alive. The British mount another attack against New England coming from Canada, but it's actually turned back decisively in 1777. Hearing that news, France now joins the war, allying itself with the revolutionaries against the hated British. The British, using their sea born advantage, seize the important port of Charleston. They're marching up; they're chasing the colonists. There's some important battles: some the British win, some of the British just kind of get a draw. The British can't knock the colonists out. They're trying to hunt down the Continental Army. And eventually, though, the British find that, even though they can chase the colonists out of the way, they're also being chased themselves. They retreat back to a fortified position Here, at Yorktown, where then they're bottled up by the French fleet. Washington joins with other American forces coming from the South and the British forces, commanded by Lord Cornwallis, are forced to surrender in October 1781. At that point the British decide that an attempt to militarily subjugate the rebel colonists is pretty futile. [LAUGH] Here's an example of how the French illustrated the Battle of Yorktown. The big thing I want you to notice about this French illustration, they have a rather fanciful image in this engraving of Yorktown, you see up in the center of the picture, notice all those ships at sea: that's the French navy bottling up the British, and then on the ground they have, as they say, ï¿½the combined armies of the United States of America and France working together.ï¿½ But the way this war gets settled is really interesting and very important. The Americans get amazingly good peace terms that are struck in 1782 and finally signed, another treaty signed in Paris, in 1783. Just take a look, again, at the map. At the end of the war, yeah, the Americans have stayed alive, but the British still control New York. The British can still control harbors. There's tremendous tension between the different colonies as to what the terms for peace should be, the southern colonies holding out for some terms, the northern colonies holding out for others. Some of the colonies would like to make peace. Others would like to continue the war. In 1782, a ministry takes charge in London that actually thinks the British will be stronger for their world war against the French, the resumption of world war, if they can make common cause with their former countrymen. In other words a British government takes office that hopes for reconciliation. Give the Americans a generous peace. And their notion of a generous peace is to go ahead and cut a deal with the Americans in which, rather than trying to hold out and divide the colonies and drive a hard bargain, they say: if you'll grant peace, we'll more or less give you borders that will let you have all of this. All of this territory. The British need to trade Florida back to the Spanish, partly because the Spanish are doing well in this part of the world during the war, allied with the French. And partly because it has to do with the deal for land in the Mediterranean that the British want to hold onto. But this is a great deal for the Americans. By getting the British out of Florida, by getting the British out of most of this area, instead of the British having an iron grip north, west, south of the fragmented colonies, the colonies have now secured at least a claim to all this land up to the Mississippi, where they confront the relatively weak Spanish empire. Alright. One more point about this peace settlement that's worth dwelling on. What I want you to really notice is the fact that the Spanish hold New Orleans. They hold this area here. Why is that important? If the Americans actually want to expand to the west, the only way they can get their goods to market, since overland transportation is just about impossible, especially over mountains, is rivers. They've got to ship their goods down the Ohio River to the Mississippi and out. If you want to settle places that will be called Kentucky, around here, you've got to have an ability to get your goods out. The Spanish control the outlet to the world. Another aspect of how lucky the Americans are is that they're able to cut some fortunate deals with the Spanish that keep this open. Indeed, a lot of Americans settling in places like Kentucky are inclined to become Spanish citizens because the government of Spain controls their future. One of the ways the Americans stayed together is by managing their relations with Spain until they can form a new country. Now let's talk a little bit about the country these Americans choose to create. Remember, during the revolution this is like 13 separate states who happen to have common cause, kind of an alliance of states binding themselves together to overthrow British rule. And now that the war is over, they have Articles of Confederation to try to keep working together in this Continental Congress. But it's breaking down. The big decision they make in the late 1780s is, rather than breaking up either into 13 states or three states or four states, because there are lots of different interests and arguments among them, they decide they live in a really dangerous world; and in this really dangerous world, the key decision they need to make as a foreign policy decision is to stay together in a union. Think of this union almost more like the way we'd look nowadays at the European Union. That's the way they thought of it back then as our states are kind of binding ourselves together in this thing we'll call a Constitution. We're going to constitute ourselves in a new community. Here's a copy of the Constitution. The lines at the very top of the Constitution you can see, ï¿½We the People,ï¿½ it goes on to say, ï¿½of the United States, in order to form a more perfect unionï¿½; that's the headline of this document. This is worth dwelling for a moment on all of the compromises they have to make in order to put together this union. Madison himself, James Madison, who was a principle author of the constitution, was deeply unhappy with the way the document turned out because it seems so riddled with compromises from the way heï¿½d originally drafted it. Madison had the insight that this needed to be a compound republic. A republic of republics. These thirteen constituent republics binding themselves together in a federation that's a wider republic, with limited powers over all the thirteen republics. That's not all. Some of the republics want slavery, they want more representation in the federated assemblies. That's a huge source of controversy; they'd come up with an unsatisfactory compromise on that, in which the slaves get to count as three fifths of a person for purposes of determining representation, but of course the slaves don't vote, and so on. So riddled with compromises in order to hold together this union. That's the most important thing for them. We want to stay together for common strength. There is another really interesting set of compromises they make. Even in the way they set up their federation. Rather than try to get the federated government to speak with one voice, instead they assume it's going to represent a lot of different interests. So they create one body of the Congress that is meant to represent, in a way, the upper classes and be a source of stability, its members chosen by the various republican assemblies of the constituent republics. And then, there's another part of the Congress that will be directly elected, of course, by men of property. And then, there is yet another branch which is the President, this citizen sovereign that they've created. And all these different powers are separated. They expect there to be constant arguments, and they have divided powers so that no one power can be dominant. In other words, theyï¿½ve specifically decided that they don't want to speak with one voice, that they're going to divide up the powers of government so that this federation can never turn into another one of these hated tyrannies. That's just a really interesting philosophical concept on how to set up a democratic republic. It turns out to be an enormously powerful set of ideas. That's enough for now. In our next talk, I'm going to dive a little more into some of those really powerful ideas, words like ï¿½libertyï¿½ and ï¿½common sense.ï¿½ See you then.