07 May 2008

America is a great country1.  However, it is not a perfect country.  One of the things that gets my goat about it is how Americans commonly refer to the American War of Independence (which is what it was) as the American Revolution (which is what it wasn’t)2.

So, I was rather pleased to come across this (

<1MB) marvellous bit of revisionism from

Russ Roberts’s EconTalk with William Bernstein

The Boston Tea Party as the world’s first anti-globalisation riot.



1.  See America is a great country, by me.

2.  A little challenge I like to set people who think it was a revolution is to see if they can come up with ways in which after the war Americans were freer than their British counterparts.  I get a lot of mumbling and very few answers.

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  1. I believe it’s called the “American Revolution” to remind us that Americans-as-a-group have been revolting for the past 231 years, so far ?

    (innocent grin)

    Posted by Alasdair on 24 May 2008 at 02:29am

  2. It wasn’t a war of independence when it started. It took Thomas Paine, writing anonymously, in the pamphlet Common Sense to give the idea of independence any kind of widespread currency. The idea of secession developed after the conflict had begun.

    “...ways in which after the war Americans were freer than their British counterparts…” is not a valid measure of whether or not something was a revolution. It’s arguable that the French revolution led to reduced freedom, for example.

    Posted by Peter Risdon on 24 May 2008 at 10:43am

  3. One might also mention the Russian Revolution. 

    Revolutions aren’t about being more or less free in general terms, they’re about being free of something.  After the American Revolution, the Americans were free of the British Monarchy.  Whether the Presidency was better or worse than the Monarchy is immaterial.

    Posted by Squander Two on 30 May 2008 at 01:25am

  4. Well, let’s see at the time.  The average Brit didn’t have the right to free and unfettered speech.  Speaking against the crown was considered sedition and punishable by prison or death.  The average Brit didn’t enjoy a truly free press as the crown could and did shut down the press at will.

    The average Brit was not allowed to keep and bear arms. 

    The average Brit was required when so ordered to quarter troops in their homes.

    The average Brit’s home, business and person was eligible to be searched at any time without showing cause.

    The average Brit did not have the right to not speak in court.  In fact was required to give evidence against himself.

    The fact is that the US Constitution and it’s amendments acknowledged considerable freedoms and basic rights that weren’t available to their British cousins of the day.

    Posted by Maldain on 22 July 2008 at 11:49pm

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