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Theodore Draper is famous for producing good works of history. He has even received the Herbart Fesi Award from the American Historical Association for writing non-academic related history. This is an indication that his work is of high quality and covers a wide range of issues and dedicated results (Draper 1996). His depiction of the nature of American Revolution makes him one of the famous historical writers ever.
This book by Theodore Draper is the latest writing about American struggle for independence. The book treats the colonial period as the one of the colossal importance, as it led to maintenance of independence. It is mainly about the struggle for power that was put up by the Americans against the British who had colonized them. Draper also mentions the names of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine as those who contributed in a certain way towards the attainment of independence (Draper 1997).
The article is an attempt to review some of the articles and propaganda that were written in the 18th century due to the popularity of writing propaganda at that time (Gordon 2002). The articles were designed to cause public awareness and allow them to voice their opinions and make them take actions that were proposed by the propagandists. During the American Revolution, propagandists such as Thomas Paine wrote pamphlets and articles fueling the anger of the Americans and making them take action and struggle for independence.
For instance, Thomas Paine was able to show ability to express his opinions in words (Draper 1999). His pamphlet, 'Common sense' was written in the plain language and logical manner that make it simple for reading and comprehension even for poor-educated people. He argued that the British needed to relinquish power to the Americans, and his idea was so powerful that by June of the same year Continental Congress had became autonomous and in July of the same year the war for independence began.
Draper accounts for how the British tried to prevent the American Revolution, provoking wars in attempt to curve out de facto independence that was much awaited by the Americans. Draper gives an account of how the Americans wanted to have the authority over themselves and how the British were looking for the ways of controlling their own colonial goals.
This article tries to highlight some of the contents of the book 'The Struggle for Power' as well as some of the pamphlets that were written during the American Revolution (John 2008). It also tries to review some of the factors that culminated into attainment of independence from the British.
The novel 'Struggle for Power' was written by Theodore Draper and was published by American Vintage books in 1996. The author used mainly primary sources of information to illustrate the factors that contributed to the war (Medina et al. 2002). He further explains that the war between the Americans and the British was caused by the Americans’ desire to restore their independent from the British. In the book, the author appears to be unbiased in his attempt to illustrate the views of the Americans, the British or the French views. The author also explains that the war was triggered by the British form of colonizing America where public funds were placed under their control. The book thus emphasizes the actions of both the British and the Americans from that point until the war began. He states that it was not a difference in ideologies that navigated Americans in their acts, but the desperate wish to obtain independence (Medina et al. 2008).
He also provides the examples of radical Americans who still believed that they had been under the British colonialists until the independence was obtained. He makes the readers believe in their national backgrounds. Moreover, the author mentions a few turning points such as the Stamp Act and the Boston Massacre that were based on the perspectives as wide as those of King George III or Benjamin Franklin.
The book explains that initially the British allowed the Americans to have control over the local government activities such as law enactment or public administration. It was explained by the inability to manage the services that did not affect the rest of the British colonies because of the manner in which they were presented. The book also explains that the British did not provide any support to the activities carried out by the Americans due to their principle of ruling cheaply.
The book further illustrates that the Americans already started preparing for their independence over ten years ago (Draper 1996). The British had levied taxes and sanctions on the manner in which the Americans carried out their international trade. However, the Americans usually ignored or avoided most of the responsibilities. In addition, the British ignored the collection of taxes for military maintenance which were used to protect the Americans (Medina et al. 2002). Rather it was assumed that the Americans would contribute to the operations of the military by providing food to be used for their upkeep as well as for the needs of the troops. The consequence is that over the Americans there was no official agreement to have control.
Towards the latter half of the eighteenth century, the British drove the French away from North America. This resulted into the the Americans being set free from the British protection since they depended on them to prevent the French troops from attacking (Owen 1984). The author adds that the British were also conscious of the consequences of this action. They thus started speculating whether Canada or Guadeloupe needed to be snatched away from the French and be placed under protection of the British. Due to noewhig compliance of the Americans and that of Draper, he decides to investigate this matter deeply. He adds that the Americans did not actually fear the French in Canada. This is because their number was small in comparison with the American population. However, this small number could have been a threat but the Americans did not worry about them just as they did not show concern during the French and Indian wars when the French were seen as a threat (Medina et al, 1984). The concern of the Americans was that their economy was improving fast, making it more high-speed than any colonies or colonizers such as Britain. Draper explains that the war that resulted into the exit of the French that resulted into the inclination of the Africans to work under no control. In chapter 6 of the book, 'This Million Doubling' Draper explains the trend by showing that the British and the Americans observed America growing so rapidly that the balance of power was under threat, which made the Americans be more independent in their activities.
Draper however is not clear in the point whether the British wanted to have a better control of the Americans. He only illustrates that the British were worried by the rate at which America was growing, making it to be more independent in management of its affairs. Draper also explains that the Americans had the willingness to attain independence by struggling and declaring that maintenance of the old status of affairs was beyond their tolerance limits (Diggins 1996).
He also illustrates how the Americans were yearning for new principles and rules that would form the base of their justification for the changes that they wanted to be used in ruling them.
The book was written in a simple tone that makes the reader be pleased to read and has a mixture of both primary and secondary reading stuffs.
Events that led to the American Revolution
1. The Boston Tea Party
This refers to an attack that was carried by the American colonists on the British Ships that were docked at the Boston Harbor. During the attack, a number of people who dressed themselves like Indians carrying tomahawks placed contents of 342 facilities into the bay. This occurrence caused lack of agreement between the colonists and the government of Britain and resulted in the beginning of the Revolutionary War. The American colonists carried out the raid on the ships because of the anger of the people of Massachusetts over the level of tax that had been levied by the British Government on tea that was brought into the colonies. Despite this, some ships still came into the harbor with such highly taxed tea. Since there was continuous arrival of ships carrying such tea at the harbor, colonists agreed to meet in town and agreed to stop importing tea. Governor Thomas Hutchinson was forced to send back the ships and his actions resulted into Boston Tea Party.
2. Boston Massacre
This was not massacre in real sense, rather Boston mob and British troops. However, the name 'massacre' comes from the fact that a number of colonialists were killed and others were seriously wounded. During the process, five men were killed in Boston by British soldiers who were involved in the event dubbed Boston Massacre. Following this, a number of men attacked a sentry guard who was in charge of the city’s costume store (John 2008). On seeing this happen, the British soldiers came to the assistance of the sentry guard. As a result, there was an exchange of shots from both sides resulting into the deaths of four people on the spot while four died four days later. Due the events of the exchange, Capt. Preston and his followers were arrested but later allowed to leave after the influence from Robert Auchmuty and his companions who defended them and ensured that they were tried fairly. Following this another two soldiers were convicted of manslaughter. This resulted into the American Revolution.
3. Townshend Act
In this act, taxes on commodities such as milk, tea, sugar, clothing and paper were increased. A new method of tax collection was also developed. During the colonial time, a total of four acts were agreed on by the parliament of Britain in order to bring a historic evidence of colonial rule through suspension of non-compliant activities and direct levying of taxes and other forced methods of collecting revenues. The British called the taxes the names of Charles Townshend who sponsored them (Draper 1997).
According to the Suspending Act, the New York Assembly could not conduct any business unless it followed the requirements of the Quartering Act for the sustenance of the British soldiers who operated there. In the second act, there were Townshend duties that were imposed in the form of direct revenue taxes that were charged at the colonial ports on such commodities as lead, glass, paper and tea (Diggins 1996). The next act was directed towards machinery of customs collection in the regions under the rule of Americans such as additional officers, searchers, vessels that were operated by coast guards, board Customs Commissioners who were all managed by the finances from the customs revenues. The other act involved ignoring duties on tea, so that it could be exported to other British colonies without charging taxes.
The effects of the act are that there was a threat to the established traditions of colonial government, particularly the act of taxation through delegate provincial assemblies. These acts were opposed in every place by protest in form of verbal accusations and violence, lack of accomplishment of responsibilities and continuous renewal of non-importation arrangements among traders. There was also an increased disagreement with the British enforcement agents particularly in Boston. Due to the extent of hostility towards the colonists and the instability of the changing British leaderships, there was evasion of paying taxes on all goods except tea, removal of Quartering act and withdrawal of troops from Boston, which resulted into reduced hostilities (Diggins 1996).
In the next three years, there were protests and boycotts within the colonies. These came to a climax on March 5, 1770 when outrageous colonists started hitting British troops with snowballs and rocks. In the process, the British troops started firing at the mob killing three of them instantly. Two other colonists perished because of injuries from their wounds. The soldiers who carried the act were charged for murder and their cases were scheduled to hold sometimes in the fall. Due to the defense of John Adams, they were released of their murder charges despite two of them were accused of manslaughter. Due to high level of tensions in the colonies to the point that there was little that could be done to control the situation, Parliament dismissed a number of Townshend acts in April 1770 leaving only tax on tea.
Pamphlets written during American Revolution
1. Common Sense by Thomas Paine
This pamphlet was written by Thomas Paine and it was published in 1776 (Gunderson 1997). It is considered one of the documents that inspired the Americans to fight for independence. It inspired the Americans to fight for independence from the British and it was supported by the philosophy of natural rights by John Locke who said that independence depends on the willingness of the people and revolution is the factor that causes happiness. These expressions made the colonialists prepared to fight for independence despite lack of originality of the thoughts (Gunderson 1997).
While the article was being written, Pane was inspired to continue writing it by Benjamin Russ, a Philadelphia based physician who went through the draft, criticizing Benjamin Franklin and proposed the title for the pamphlet. He also arranged for the article to be published by Robert Bell. After its publication, the pamphlet made successful sales as at least one thousand copies were sold and Paine boasted that it was more popular than anything else since printing was invented. Whenever the pamphlet was read, it caused discussion about monarchy, the beginning of government, issues regarding constitution and self-rule (Draper 1997).
According to this article, formation of government is caused by a human desire to prevent lawlessness. However, government on its own can be diverted into malpractices such as corruption of people who formed it. It therefore advocates for a simple government for people to know its weaknesses and make the required corrections. In Britain, the people are the ones who control the government and not the constitution formed by the government, making it less oppressive than a monarch in Turkey does. His article explains that monarchy has resulted into corrupt virtue and poverty of the people as well as contributed to weak parliament and inability of the people to act correctly.
In the pamphlet, Paine explained that connection with England on political matters has caused harm to Americans and it would be more disastrous to reconcile with them. He therefore declares that the Americans can only obtain a better future through immediate liberation.
2. The Crisis by Thomas Draper
The pamphlet shows several arguments that are proposed by Paine. One of these arguments is that despite claiming independence, America is still in the crisis of being like a slave to Britain. The article explains that Britain has declared its right to tax and involve all cases and if this cannot be called slavery, then there is nothing that can be called slavery on this earth (Gunderson 1997). He explains in the article that the responsibility of America right now is to declare independence from Britain as fast as possible.
The writer's second argument in the pamphlet is that Middle colonies' supporters are common in the Tory political group and have made them the 'seat of war' by Britain. Tories were people who were loyal to the British and lived in the British colonies of North America and were in favor of the British during the revolutionary War. In the pamphlet, he shows his feelings against the Tories by saying that anyone who is a Tory is a coward and is driven by self-interest and men under such beliefs cannot save their people despite being cruel (Gunderson, 1997).
Paine also argues that there must be war and the American warriors have to win the war in order for the Americans to attain independence. He explains that the Americans were not prepared well for the war because they were not interested in fighting. Consequently, they did not form any fighting groups. He explains that the current situation requires them to fight for independence by coming together and help fight.
The book explains the exact thing that took place in that time in history when Americans were struggling from being ruled by the British to gain self rule. This gives the reader the impression of viewing the events that took place in the light by knowing the causes of the events that took place. It also allows the reader to place the events that took place during that time in a certain context in the current history (Draper 1997).
According to Draper, the controversies of the 1760's and the consequent revolutions in 1770's were only signs of lack of authority that was evident in the British ruling methods before the American Revolution. These include the expansion of colonies and prosperity of each generation that remained under the authority of the British. The colonies maintained stability and found that they were stronger than the British power. Draper examines these events as they take place from one generation to another according to the nature of balance of authority between British and the regions that it had authority over.
Draper illustrates forces of history moving continuously through time with one occurrence causing the next. The way in which Draper illustrates the speeches and writings of various leaders and scholars signify that the struggle of power between the British and the regions it had authority over could not be avoided.
Draper also illustrates how some people did not show interest or purpose of the revolution by making some schemes and proposals (Draper 1996). People knew the result of the revolution would be beneficial to them but they still made every attempt to make the colonies stay under the rule of their mother states. The truth of present history was strong enough to ensure that events took place according to the way it was supposed to move.
Concerning the British, Draper illustrates the approach that was used towards intimidating the colonies. For instance, the policy of Robert Walpole that was put in action between 1720's and 1740's was not aimed at promoting Parliamentary strength. At the same time, there were difficulties in the manner in which Britain was ruled as leaders served for short terms and decisions were becoming difficult to make. Consequently, the Revolution became stronger than the British authority because of lack of coherent and measured policy.