Reasons for the Revolutionary War, as typically taught in American schools:
• The American people were fiercely independent. They wanted to do things for themselves. They didn’t want the British government, which was an ocean away, telling them how to live their lives.
• A combination of harsh taxes and the lack of an American voice in the British Parliament gave rise to the famous phrase “taxation without representation.”
• Americans started stockpiling guns and ammunition in violation of British laws. Their defense of such a stockpile led to the shots fired at Lexington and Concord and the beginning of the Revolutionary War.
On June 22, 1772, nearly a century before the slaves were freed in America, a British judge, with a single decision, brought about the conditions that would end slavery in England. His decision would have monumental consequences in the American colonies, leading up to the American Revolution, the Civil War, and beyond. Because of that ruling, history would forever be changed. This book is about that decision and the role of slavery in the founding of the United States.
– from Slave Nation: How Slavery United The Colonies And Sparked The American Revolution, by Alfred and Ruth Blumrosen
“You can’t handle the truth.”
– from the 1992 movie A Few Good Men
Truth hurts. And this might be one of the more hurtful truths an American can learn: a major reason for the Revolutionary War was the protection of slavery.
That’s not something they teach in the schools. But our history lessons might look different in the future, if more people read the book Slave Nation: How Slavery United The Colonies And Sparked The American Revolution, by Alfred and Ruth Blumrosen. (The book cover is to the left.)
The Blumrosens, former lawyers for the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice, have a background in equal employment law. Over the course of their careers, they developed an interest in the historical causes of America’s racial inequities. The result is this book, which applies a lawyer’s insight into what they show to be a disturbing aspect of American history.
The main point of their book is that the American colonists-particularly Southern colonists-were afraid that the British government would abolish slavery. And that this fear was a major reason for the colonists’ desire to break away from Great Britain.
Here’s the problem with the way the Revolutionary War is taught: much of the story about the War centers on the northern colonies, particularly Massachusetts, where pivotal events such as the Boston Tea Party and the Boston Massacre took place, and where the term “no taxation without representation” originated. And there’s no doubt that Massachusetts was a flashpoint in the coming war of independence.
But there were 13 original colonies, and the southern colonies had a unique interest of their own to worry about: protecting their “right” to keep slaves.