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The Civil War of 1776


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civil-war-1776-charles-c-w-cookeNational Review:

The central question in the history of the English-speaking peoples has been where power is to lie. Is it to be invested in the people and exercised through a parliament, or is it to be enjoyed by kings and emperors? On July 4, we celebrate the efforts of men who steadfastly plumped for the former path.


The “long train of abuses and usurpations” that the Declaration of Independence served to enumerate relate to more than merely the balance of power: among other things, the discontents of the 13 colonies objected loudly to the violation of individual rights to which British subjects had become happily accustomed, and they were greatly vexed by the unwillingness of administrators in England to arrive at political outcomes with which they were willing to comply. Nevertheless, the document’s hottest fire is directed without apology at the monarchy, which was perceived to be undermining the sacred autonomy that its signatories considered their birthright. Diverse as they were, the colonial “Systems of Government” that Thomas Jefferson regretted were being “altered” by British intrusion were steeped in that country’s parliamentary tradition, many territories having used the opportunity afforded to them by London’s long period of “wise and salutary neglect” to institute a form of self-government that, for its day, was extraordinarily advanced. As we have learned from antiquity, men will fight more fiercely for the preservation of what they have known than they will for the acquisition of something new. The British in America were apparently willing to tolerate a good deal of arrogation. Their assemblies, however, were off-limits.Scissors-32x32.png

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