The rich colonist in the English colonies made a discovery. They found that by creating a nation, a symbol, a legal unity called the United States; they could take over land, profits, and political powers, from the British Empire. In the process they could hold back a number of rebellions and create a consensus of popular support for the rule of the new and privileged leadership.
When you think of it this way, our Founding Fathers, created the most bad ass system of control over it’s people, ever to be created in the free world.
Starting with the Bacon Rebellion in Virginia, by 1760, there had been 18 uprisings aimed at overthrowing colonial governments, 6 black rebellions from South Carolina to New York, and 40 various riots. More and more non-wealthy people were starting to uprise against the rich. It was starting to get out of hand.
City tax list shows that by the early 1770′s the top 5% of Boston’s taxpayers controlled 49% of the city’s taxable assets. In Philly and NYC too the wealth was also concentrated. Court records showed that when those wealthiest did die they usually left about 20,000 pounds. (Equivalent to about $5 million today)
In 1763, with the British kicking the French’s ass in the French and Indian War, The Brit’s could now focus on the colonies, and since it just fought a war it needed money. The colonies trade amounted to 500,000 pounds in 1700, and 2,800,00 pounds in 1770. So the colonies were less in need of British rule, and the British were more in need of Colonial wealth. The elements were there for conflict. The rich were pissed because they were getting heavily taxed by the Brits, and the poor were pissed because the poor were not rich, come on, that should have been an easy one. The rich needed to unite the people, and war could do that.
The Revolutionary leadership distrusted the mobs of the poor, but knew a coming revolution would have no appeal to the slaves and the Indians, and would have to woo the poor whites to a revolution.
This would not be an easy task, since general enthusiasm for the war was not strong. While much of the white male population went into military service at one time or another during the war, only a small fraction stayed. It was estimated that most grew weary of the war and that perhaps a fifth of the population was treasonous. John (who’s brother made more money in beer) Adams had estimated a third opposed, a third supported, and a third neutral to the war.
The Revolutionary Army could not count on the South, because they had to use the militia to control slavery. The men who first joined the militia were hallmarks of respectability. Excluded from the militia were friendly Indians, white servants, blacks, and free white men who had no stable home. But desperation led to recruiting the less respectable and desirable, but many people did not show up for duty in the militia and many were jailed and were only released when they pledged to fight in the war. Someone called to duty could provide a substitute or get out of it by paying 5 pounds, which caused riots in the colonial social classes. George (who was a huge land baron like Ted Turner) Washington’s wanted the troops to know the strict distinction from officers and enlisted, and if you fall out of line you will not get 1 but 40 lashes.
The Americas lost the first battles, Bunker Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Harlem Heights, the Deep South; they won small battles at Trenton and Princeton and then in a turning point a big battle at Saratoga, New York in 1777. Washington’s frozen Army hung on in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, while Benjamin (The Rupert Murdoch of his time) Franklin negotiated an alliance with the French.
(Win a Date with)Alexander Hamilton, an aide to George Washington at the time said,” …our countrymen have all the folly of the ass and all the passiveness of the sheep… They are determined not to be free… If we are to be saved, France and Spain must save us.”
The War turned to the south, where British won victory after victory until the Americans aided by the French Army, and with the French navy blocking off the British from supplies and reinforcements, won the final victory of the war at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781.
With the war over, this would not be the end of the civil unrest between the poor and the wealthy, but our independence was won.
Creative Flare: Thinksquad (yes I got on my 16 pieces of flare)