Tuesday, December 31, 2013

FDR's Policy Toward the Soviets

The Czarist regime which dominated Russian during the nineteenth century, and during the first few years of the twentieth century, was a cruel and paranoid regime. Even if the personality of the last Tsar, Nicholas II, was somewhat more humane - such is the hypothesis of some biographers - it was too little, too late. The Tsarist secret police mercilessly hunted anyone who seemed to be possibly involved with any critique of the government, arresting quite a few innocents along the way. This police force was known for brutal interrogations, beatings, and killings; suspects who survived to trial were not given what Western Civilization calls 'due process,' and were sentenced to long years in labor camps, where few survived their sentences, or were simply sentenced to death.

Beyond chasing anyone who seemed likely to be critical of the government, the Czar utterly ruled out any reforms in his government which might move it in the direction of a republic with freely-elected representatives. His relations with the Duma - Russia's nominal parliament with little real power - went from bad to worse, as he refused to acknowledge the Duma as having any authority, and he dissolved it. Liberties like freedom of speech and freedom of the press were unknown. Although intended to prevent the government's overthrow, the Czarist regime's oppressiveness actually gave cause to revolutionaries.

Given the Czarist regime's harshness, it was no surprise that many western observers initially hoped that the 1917 revolution would give rise to a more humane government. The rhetoric put forth by Lenin and the other Bolshevik leaders sounded as if it would lead to the types of political liberties favored by Western Civilization.

But it soon became clear that the Soviet dictatorship would be no improvement over the czarist regime. By some metrics, it would be worse. The communist government of the Soviet Union murdered Russians by the millions. Freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech essentially disappeared. The Russians who had been oppressed by the czarist regime soon realized that they were being maltreated with even more brutality by the communists. Western observers who had hoped for progress under the Soviet Union saw Russia dissolve into a nightmare of cruelty.

By the time western governments, including that of the United States, realized which type of ruthless government was dominating Russia, it was too late. The results of the 1917 revolution were firmly in place. Not only did the communist dictatorship - which allowed no meaningful elections, but gave elaborate pretenses of such - have a secure grip on power in the Soviet Union, but it had also installed spies inside the United States government.

Although it was clear, equally to foreign policy specialists and to the ordinary citizen, that the Soviet government was no friend either to political liberty generally or to the United States specifically, policy makers inside the State Department were under the influence of misinformation given to them by Soviet agents who had obtained influential posts inside the government.

In addition to these moles, who were in two-way communication with the KGB and other Soviet agencies in Moscow, there were also sympathizers: those who were so infatuated with communist ideology that they continued to support Lenin and Stalin even after their atrocities became public.

There was a significant number of knowing and willing agents, both in the State Department and in other offices inside the United State government. There was also a large number of sympathizers, regarded by the Soviets as intellectual dupes, who were neither employed by, nor in direct contact with, Soviet intelligence agencies, but whose activities were certainly helpful to the Stalinists.

Among the agents on the Soviet payroll were State Department officials like Alger Hiss, Julian Wadleigh, Laurence Duggan, and Noel Field. They reported to agencies like the NKVD, the GPU, and the OGPU. Among those who, having a fondness for communist ideology, helped the Soviets without being on the payroll of the Soviet intelligence agencies and without direct contact to those agencies were men like Harry Hopkins, who perhaps never released state secrets to the Soviets, but who, wittingly or unwittingly, nudged United States policy in directions favorable to the Soviet Union.

Hopkins, for example, was convinced that the United States could form a "friendship" with the Soviet Union, even as Stalin was directing his spy networks to undermine the U.S. government. Hopkins hoped that the United States could render "assistance" to the Soviet Union, encouraging such friendship, even as the Comintern, an agency of the Soviet government, plotted the overthrow of the U.S. government. Policy documents formulated under the supervision of Harry Hopkins, and transmitted by Hopkins to President Franklin Roosevelt, contained these words and ideas.

By continuously feeding such misinformation to FDR, Roosevelt's policy views were nudged into a direction which played into the hands of the Soviets. To be sure, not all of Roosevelt's advisors were keen on Russian communism, and some of them warned the president about the dangers. Historian Medford Stanton Evans and Herbert Romerstein write:

Seeking Soviet “friendship” and giving Moscow “every assistance” indeed summed up American policy at Teheran and Yalta, and for some while before those meetings. The most vivid expression of Roosevelt’s ideas to this effect would be quoted by William Bullitt, a longtime confidant of the President, and his first envoy to Moscow. Bullitt recounted an episode early in the war in which he suggested to FDR that American Lend-Lease aid to Russia might provide some leverage with a balky Kremlin. To this, according to Bullitt, the President responded: “I have just a hunch that Stalin doesn’t want anything but security for his country, and I think that if I give him everything I possibly can and ask nothing from him in return, noblesse oblige, he won’t try to annex anything and will work for world democracy and peace.” (Emphasis added.) Bullitt, who had learned about Stalin the hard way in Russia, tried to dissuade the President from this view but was not successful.

The pro-Soviet advisors inside the Roosevelt administration mocked those who warned about the dangers of Stalin, even as Stalin was orchestrating a manmade famine in the Ukraine which would kill millions, and even as Stalin was preparing to team up with Hitler against the United States. The Soviet agents in the State Department ridiculed those who attempted to alert FDR to Stalin's sinister activities, scorning them as backward-looking. Any data about Soviet butchery was countered with reminders that the czarist government hadn't been that much worse.

After the 1917 revolution, a civil war between the "White Russians" and the "Red Russians" lasted from 1917 to 1923. The White Russians had hoped to dislodge the Bolsheviks, while the Red Russians were the communists who hoped to solidify their hold on power. During and after that war, which the White Russians lost, emigres from the White Russian side gave useful data to the State Department. The data from the White Russians complemented data gathered by Americans like William Bullitt on the ground in Russia.

As the ever-grimmer picture of Lenin's and Stalin's butchery and aggressions emerged, the pro-Soviet faction in the State Department worked to discredit the data offered by the White Russians.

When U.S. and Soviet diplomats met, three issues were on the table. First, the Soviet destruction of freedom of religion was extending even to visiting U.S. nationals on Russian soil. Second, the Comintern was continuing to organize subversive groups to attempt violent overthrows not only of freely-elected western governments, but also of the Chinese government. Finally, the Soviet government had confiscated and nationalized assets belonging to U.S. citizens which happened to be on Russian soil at the time of the revolution.

Although these human rights violations were flagrant and glaring, the pro-Soviet elements within the State Department still worked to steer the negotiations to the advantage of the Soviets. Historian Jean Edward Smith writes:

Because the career diplomats in the State Department - many of whom had spent the last fifteen years hobnobbing with White Russian emigres - were still imbued with nostalgia for the czarist past, Roosevelt handled the negotiations himself, first through Henry Morgenthau, then through William C. Bullitt. Morgenthau, as head of the Farm Credit Administration, dealt with the Soviet trade organization Amtorg; Bullitt with Boris Skvirsky, the senior Russian commercial representative in the United States. As a result of these covert discussions, FDR invited Soviet foreign minister Maxim Litvinov to Washington for direct negotiations in early November. The ostensible outstanding issued involved freedom of religion for Americans in Russia and the continued agitation for world revolution mounted by the Comintern. The real sticking point was the restitution of American property seized by the Soviet government in its nationalization decree of 1919. Roosevelt and Litvinov compromised. The agreement is known as the Litvinov Assignment. The Soviet government assigned to the United States its claim to all Russian property in the United States that antedated the Revolution. The United States agreed to seize the property on behalf of the Soviet Union, thus giving effect to the Soviet nationalization decree, and use the proceeds to pay the claims of Americans whose property in Russia had been confiscated. The constitutionality of the assignment was twice challenged before the Supreme Court, but in both instances it was upheld, the "taking clause" of the Constitution not withstanding.

Two factors shaped FDR's policy: first, pro-Soviet sympathizers in the State Department directed a continual stream of misinformation to him; second, his declining health stole his resilience and stamina and predisposed him to look for easy solutions rather than strive for diplomatic gains.

The Supreme Court was willing to go along with Roosevelt's policy toward the Soviets because it already had been at the receiving end of FDR's ability to bully the court. The two challenges, 1937 and 1942, to Roosevelt's deal with the Soviets, indicated that the U.S. government would be complicit in aiding the Soviet nationalization policy in seizing property which belonged to private citizens. Assets belonging to Russian citizens - assets which happened to be on U.S. soil - were seized, thus denying the rights of those citizens. The Soviet government had stolen assets both from U.S. citizens from Russian citizens, assets which happened to be on Russian soil at the time of the revolution. FDR would use the U.S. government to complete the theft by seizing any assets on U.S. soil which happened to belong to a Russian citizen. He would use the proceeds to pay the claims of American citizens whose property on Russian soil had been stolen by the Soviet government. But he was paying them with stolen cash. The Supreme Court did not have the stamina to resist Roosevelt's action; it knew that it would be bullied into submission for contradicting the Roosevelt administration, just as it had been bullied into approving the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, after striking down its clone, the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933.

In the end, FDR knew better. He was savvy and cosmopolitan - he'd spent more time in Europe than many of his State Department appointees. But his illness sapped his strength, and his agreement with the Soviets was the easy way out - appeasing the Americans whose property had been confiscated by the Stalinists - and the easy way out was more appealing than insisting on a principled diplomatic stance.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

George Washington and the Synagogue

In Newport, Rhode Island, stands the nation's oldest synagogue, built in 1763. Its age, and its symbolic significance for religious freedom, are already enough to make it noteworthy. But it has added importance because George Washington visited it, and did so to underscore the nation's commitment to free worship. Eric Tucker, writing for the Associated Press, reports that

The history of the synagogue starts with a group of Sephardic Jews who arrived in 1658 in Rhode Island - a colony founded by Roger Williams and his followers on the principle of religious tolerance. They established a congregation, and the synagogue was built a century later designed by Newport architect Peter Harrison, whose other notable buildings include King’s Chapel in Boston.

The tradition of freedom of belief began with the early settlers like Roger Williams and William Penn, and was carried forward to the next generation of colonists. Religious freedom was a widespread value among the colonists. In New York, John Rogers, during a 1783 sermon, declared that

Another instance of the divine goodness to us, and which we may not pass unnoticed, is, his providing us in 'New York with so good a constitution, for the securing our inestimable rights and privileges. I do not say it has not its imperfections ; but it is upon the the whole, equalled by few, and surpassed by none of the constitutions of the sister states, in wisdom, justice, and sound policy. The rights of conscience both in faith and worship, are fully secured to every denomination of Christians. 'No one denomination in the state, or in any of the states, have it in their power to oppress another. They all stand upon the same common level in point of religious privileges. Nor is this confined to Christians only. The Jews, also, which is their undoubted right, have the liberty of worshiping God in that way they think most acceptable to him. No man is excluded from the rights of citizenship on account of his religious profession. Nor ought he to be.

Washington's visit to the synagogue set a clear tone for the new nation. As the war was winding down, Washington's presence in the building was a message that Jews and Christians in America, despite differences in belief, had a common heritage which would form the foundation for a natural law view in which personal freedom and individual liberty would be goals of the political system. After visiting, George Washington wrote to the leaders of the synagogue:

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

The depth of Washington's consideration of the congregation which met in the synagogue is manifested in the fact that his first visit to the location was in 1781, and his letter to them was written in 1790. Clearly, the group had a significant spot in Washington's mind. The degree of religious freedom to which he was committed was astounding at that point in time: Rabbi Mordechai Eskovitz notes that in the 1700's, Jews in the United States "had the privilege of praying as free citizens," while the rest of the world "didn't have much religious tolerance." In the two centuries following Washington's visit, while a few other nations in the world embraced the notion of religious freedom, the relative situation remained much the same: while America strives to offer unprecedented levels of freedom to its citizens, much of the world remains oppressed by governments which restrict, regulate, and tax. Eric Tucker writes that

U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower also attended services at Touro, as did poet Robert Frost.

Leaders like Eisenhower defended the Judeo-Christian value of tolerance against Soviet Communism during the Cold War in the twentieth century, and we defend it against the terrorist attacks of Islamofascism in the twenty-first century. The Touro synagogue in Rhode Island has became an enduring symbol for this struggle, and for the need to defend freedom against the inevitable attacks on it. Perhaps Robert Frost was considering the need to dedicate one's self to liberty's defense when he wrote

But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,

The United States must keep its promise, remaining vigilant despite fatigue, defending the peculiarly Judeo-Christian concepts of freedom and liberty. That is the nation's duty.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

James Otis Discusses Taxes

James Otis was born in Massachusetts in 1725. His father was also named James Otis, and sometimes he is listed as "James Otis, Jr." but often the "Jr." is omitted. Although he was disabled by the time the fighting began in 1775, he was pivotal in the developing events leading up to the revolution. One of his contributions was his precise and articulate formulation of the grievances against the British government.

Basing his argument on ideas drawn from the Magna Carta and from the English Bill of Rights of 1689, James Otis clarified the argument that the taxes on the colonists were unfair because the colonies had no voting representatives in Parliament. Otis was probably the first to say or write the phrase "no taxation without representation" - but the evidence is not conclusive. The oldest surviving text with that phrase is dated February 1768: a London magazine's account of a speech. But Otis was widely read and discussed in English political circles, and the author of that speech may well have gotten the phrase from Otis. It is confirmed that Otis wrote "Taxation without representation is tyranny" and other similar phrasings of the thought. Historian Les Standiford writes:

However, the concept of the basic unfairness of being taxed without the consent of one's elected representatives had certainly been eloquently expressed by the Boston assemblyman and attorney James Otis, Jr., as early as 1764 in a pamphlet of protest, The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved. Otis framed his argument by asking, "Can there be any liberty where property is taken away without consent?" Then he began his answer with a second question: "Is there the least difference as to the consent of the colonists whether taxes and impositions are laid on their trade and other property by the crown alone or by the Parliament?"

Having graduated from Harvard College in 1743, James Otis had been practicing law in Boston since 1750. In 1761, he gained fame by mounting a legal challenge to "writs of assistance" issued by the British government. These documents were search warrants which allowed English tax officials nearly unlimited access to the homes of colonists. Neither the specific home to be searched, nor the object of the search, were specified; British bureaucrats were entitled to barge into anyone's home, with no notice, and look for anything they pleased. James Otis may be the spiritual father of the fourth amendment, which reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

In May 1761, Otis was elected to the legislative body of Massachusetts, and would be reelected continuously as long as he was fit. Like many of the early revolutionaries, his arguments were based, not on his rights as an American, but rather on his rights as a British subject. This reveals the degree to which the early protesters were still trying to work with the British system. Only when it became clear that they would never be granted appropriate representation in Parliament, and only when it became clear that the British would continue to ravage the colonists and trample human rights by means of taxation, that independence became the goal, instead of correcting the behavior of the British government. Les Standiford quotes Otis:

For Otis, it was a simple matter, though he made his case with passion: "I can see no reason to doubt but the imposition of taxes, whether on trade, or on land, or houses, or ships, on real or personal, fixed or floating property, in the colonies is absolutely irreconcilable with the rights of the colonists as British subjects and as men ... for in a state of nature no man can take my property from me without my consent: if he does, he deprives me of my liberty and makes me a slave. If such a proceeding is a breach of the law of nature, no law of society can make it just. The very act of taxing exercised over those who are not represented [emphasis added] appears to me to be depriving them of one of their most essential rights as freemen, and if continued seems to be in effect an entire disfranchisement of every civil right."

In 1762, Otis published one of his most famous works, a book titled A Vindication of the Conduct of the House of Representatives of the Province of Massachusetts Bay; in it he articulated the view that the colonists should not be taxed to pay for the defense of the colonies by English soldiers and by the English navy, because the colonists could protect themselves with their militias, do it better, do it at less cost, and do it without creating the misery which the drunken and harassing English soldiers inflicted upon the colonists. He drafted documents which were sent to London to explain the rights of colonists according to British law, and he was a member of the Stamp Act Congress. He published two more books, The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved and Considerations on Behalf of the Colonists, and his speeches and writings were influential within the growing revolutionary movement. He wrote:

The sum of my argument is: that civil government is of God; that the administrators of it were originally the whole people; that they might have devolved it on whom they pleased; that this devolution is fiduciary, for the good of the whole; that by the British constitution this devolution is on the King, Lords and Commons, the supreme, sacred and uncontrollable legislative power not only in the realm but through the dominions; that by the abdication, the original compact was broken to pieces; that by the Revolution it was renewed and more firmly established, and the rights and liberties of the subject in all parts of the dominions more fully explained and confirmed; that in consequence of this establishment and the acts of succession and union, His Majesty George III is rightful King and sovereign, and, with his Parliament, the supreme legislative of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, and the dominions thereto belonging; that this constitution is the most free one and by far the best now existing on earth; that by this constitution every man in the dominions is a free man; that no parts of His Majesty's dominions can be taxed without their consent; that every part has a right to be represented in the supreme or some subordinate legislature; that the refusal of this would seem to be a contradiction in practice to the theory of the constitution; that the colonies are subordinate dominions and are now in such a state as to make it best for the good of the whole that they should not only be continued in the enjoyment of subordinate legislation but be also represented in some proportion to their number and estates in the grand legislature of the nation; that this would firmly unite all parts of the British empire in the greater peace and prosperity, and render it invulnerable and perpetual.

James Otis, along with Sam Adams and Patrick Henry, seemed to realize, more than some of their fellow founding fathers, the power of the emotion among the colonists. He perhaps realized early what others realized later: that the time was ripe for a revolution, and that the colonists had been subject to such abuse for so long a time that they were ready to riot, to throw valuable cargo into Boston Harbor, and to start a war for independence. Les Standiford reveals that Otis was even ahead of Benjamin Franklin in understanding the revolutionary sentiment among the people:

If Otis was calling for colonists to boycott the tax, however, shortly after the act's passage the British were taking steps to see that the desperately needed funds would in act begin flowing into the national coffers. Even Benjamin Franklin miscalculated the depth of passions loosed in the colonies, it seemed, for he went so far as to nominate a Philadelphia friend, John Hughes, to serve as stamps distributor for Pennsylvania. It was only when word reached Franklin that an angry mob had surrounded Hughes to prevent him from assuming his duties and another had marched on Franklin's own home, threatening to burn it down, that the envoy began to understand that a profound shift in Anglo-American affairs had taken place.

Sadly, James Otis was struck on the head by a British officer in 1769. He was disabled from that time forward, although he lived until 1783. By the time he died, the United States was free and independent, thanks in part to his work.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Tuscarora War: Lessons Learned

The numerous small wars involving Indians - “Native American tribes” - prior to 1775 present a challenge to the historian. There is quite a bit of data about some of them, but discerning patterns in that data is difficult. Historians Allan Millett and Peter Maslowski write:

In the hundred years prior to the American Revolution, colonists fought other wars strictly against Indians. For example, in 1711 the Tuscarora Indians in North Carolina launched a surprise attack that began the Tuscarora War (1711-1713).

Wayne Lee has written an article comparing and contrasting the methods of Tuscarora and the Cherokees, two Native American tribes, as they defending their territories.

The Tuscarora were party to a war, approximately two years in length, against the English and some Indian tribes allied with the English. The centerpiece of the Tuscarora defensive strategy was a large fortification. Professor Lee’s description of the fortress is impressive, so powerful was its defense; when it was place under siege, it inflicted significant casualties on its attackers:

IN 1713, the second year of the “Tuscarora War” found the Tuscaroras facing continued joint English-Indian attacks on their villages along the Neuse River and Contentnea Creek in eastern North Carolina. Over the course of the war the Tuscaroras had progressively refined their traditional defensive palisades, culminating in the complex fortification near the town of Neoheroka. Now besieged in that fort, and threatened with ever closer trenches, siege works, cannon, and even an underground mine, the Tuscaroras resisted desperately. They burrowed out underground bunkers, dug countertrenches, made arrowheads of broken glass, and inflicted significant casualties on the attacking force with constant fire from both muskets and bows. The final furious assault by the English and their Indian allies took three days. They stormed the fort, set it afire, and killed or enslaved its nearly one thousand inhabitants.

Yet fall the fort did, and when it fell, the Tuscarora suffered significant casualties and many of them became POW’s. The fort had been operated by over one thousand Tuscarora, and all of them wound up either dead or doing forced labor.

By contrast, the Cherokee, made guerilla-style raids the centerpiece of their defensive strategy, and did not focus their efforts on building fortifications. After two years of fighting, the English were willing to negotiate a peace treaty; the Cherokee suffered only an estimated sixty to eighty deaths.

Lee points out that we cannot speak of a “monolithic ‘Indian way of war’” inasmuch as we see divergent approaches in the examples of the Cherokee and the Tuscarora. Various groups not only had different methods, but they were redesigning their methods continuously as they understood more about European methods. Lee gives examples to stress the multiplicity of forms used by the Indians: guerilla, large fortification, and large-scale battle formation are three of the modes he mentions. He points out the they were flexible enough to vary tactics as the situation demanded, e.g., between large and small groupings.

He argues that previous historians had, while diverging on their descriptions of Indian warfare style, converged in terms of portraying the Indians as have a limited palette. Lee contends that the Indians worked with a large array of options, being conversant with a number of different tactics, and that we cannot paint a narrow picture of the “Indian way of war.”

The Tuscarora War began with Indian attacks on settlers around the towns of Bath and New Bern. The Tuscarora targeted English settlers, as opposed to Germans and Swiss who were also in the area. Lee contends that the Indians were making a point with the attacks, and saw military actions as symbolic and as a warning to the English, whose settlements were encroaching ever more on Tuscarora territory. The English, Lee writes, responded very differently, seeing this as a declaration of war, and something rather like total war, which would not cease until there had been a decisive defeat of one of the belligerents. Thus the English responded with large military formations to the Tuscarora raiding parties. The Tuscarora withdrew to their massive fortification, Hancock’s Fort. Surrendering this under pressure, they withdrew to a second defensive position, a fortress at Neoheroka. This illustrates one weakness of the Tuscarora strategy – because it is organized around a defensive fortification, the only actions available are surrender or retreat to a different fortification. No positive or constructive course of action – attack or offensive – is available. The ultimate Tuscarora defeat, according to Lee, offers a “lesson,” that a “European-style siege” will “likely overcome a native fortification.” The Indians lacked artillery and other key pieces of technology; they also lacked experience. The Europeans had been perfecting siege techniques for centuries.

The outcome of the Tuscarora war caused the Tuscarora to seek safer residence elsewhere. They migrated northward and joined the Iroquois nation – it was at this time that the “five nations” of the Iroquois became the “six nations.” Millett and Maslowski write:

The Tuscarora Indians, an Iroquois tribe, moved northward after their defeat by the whites and were admitted to the confederacy in the early 1720s. Thereafter the Five Nations became the Six Nations.

Despite their experiences in the Tuscarora War – or perhaps because of them – the Tuscarora, when the Iroquois Nation dissolved because of conflicts among the tribes about whether or not to support the United States in its war for Independence against the British, chose to support the bid for independence:

In the New York – Pennsylvania region the war shattered the Iroquois Confederacy as the Oneidas and Tuscaroras supported the United States and the other four tribes assisted the British.

Like the Tuscarora, the Cherokee had a tradition of defensive warfare, and constructed significant fortifications, documented by the earlier Europeans to arrive in the area of South Carolina, North Carolina, and the areas that would become Georgia and Tennessee. This defensive pattern persisted into the early 1700’s, when the Cherokee allied with the English in various small conflicts. The Cherokee actually requested that the British built a fort in Cherokee territory, apparently so that, in case of attack, the Cherokee would have a place to which to flee for safety. In 1758 and 1759, relations between the English the Cherokee deteriorated seriously. Frictions arose first between individual settlers and small bands of Cherokee: on neither side did the combatants represent the official policy of their respective nations, and diplomacy continued well despite the small but continuous casualties adding up. Finally, an actual war erupted in 1760, when, according to Wayne Lee, the

attacks became serious enough to attract imperial attention, and General Jeffrey Amherst, the Commander-in-Chief in North America, dispatched a force of regulars to Charlestown in 1760, commanded by Colonel Archibald Montgomery, to mount a punitive expedition.

Having witnessed the defeat of the Tuscarora – they mentioned it in their negotiations with the British – the Cherokee adjusted their tactics and “shifted to a ‘new’ defensive strategy,” abandoning reliance upon major fortified strongholds, “avoid the approaching force, abandon the village,” hide in the woods or other natural geographic refuge,

and then harass the enemy — cutting off stragglers, and (for European enemies) targeting supply lines. The Cherokees had not entirely changed the role of war within their society, as the outbreak of the Cherokee War demonstrated. What they had done was to change their way of dealing with large-scale European military intrusion.

by means “of long-distance sniping.” This change of strategy worked well, and led to the very opposite of the situation in which the Tuscarora had found themselves: the Indians laid siege to Fort Loudoun in which British soldiers were put on the defensive, “eventually forcing its surrender.” The new tactics worked to the extent that compared to the Tuscarora, “the Cherokee had escaped major damage.” While there were some Cherokee casualties, they were minimal, “compared to the disastrous defense of Neoheroka.” After negotiating a peace with the British, “the Cherokees proceeded to rebuild their towns and replant their corn.”

Lee’s bigger point is that Indians had a number of approaches in their arsenal of military theory: Lee contends that it is too narrow speak of an “Indian way of war,” inasmuch as the ‘Native Americans’ were constantly adjusting their strategies and tactics. Lee writes that the events of the Tuscarora and Cherokee “reveal a more complex and flexible response.” When the Cherokee saw that “a palisaded village could become a deathtrap when surrounded by English muskets and put to the torch,” they turned to other familiar courses of action. Given the broad range of actions in these conflicts, Lee asserts that the Indians displayed “an extraordinary flexibility.”

The Tuscarora reliance on fortifications reminds one of the Maginot Line and its stunning failure to defend France. One might hazard a generalization that since the large-scale introduction of gunpowder, which has made sieges more lethal, major fortifications have been less secure. One would need to review more cases before asserting such an extrapolation; certainly, many fortresses fell to sieges before gunpowder. One could make an even broader generalization about the notion of defending a place at all, and whether such defense is quite likely to fail based on centuries of experience.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sugar, Taxes, and Currency

In the "long train of abuses and usurpations" which caused intolerable hardship in North America's thirteen colonies during the 1700's, and which finally caused the American independence movement, a variety of harms were inflicted on the residents of North America by the king, by the Parliament, and by both. It is a significant interpretive question, whether one holds the crown, the Parliament, or both guilty of the violations which led to the American Revolution. In any case, both the human rights and the civil rights of the colonists were violated. Again, the question is open whether it was the actual misery caused by the taxes, or whether it was the principle that such taxes were enacted in a legislative body which contained no representatives from the thirteen colonies, which ultimately provoked the colonists to action. Historian Les Standiford writes that

In any case, at the same time that Parliament approved the Sugar Act (which also added other duties and allocated funds for the upgrading of the British customs service), Grenville warned that there might be further measures proposed in the following session of Parliament, among them a tax for appending an official stamp on most legal documents, newspapers, and magazines used in the colonies. Such a tax, in Grenville's eyes, was nonregressive and would affect no specific group unduly. Furthermore, a number of such taxes had been levied by Parliament upon its citizens to no particular uproar.

George Grenville, who had become prime minister in 1763, was overly blunt in his manner. He made no effort to soothe or assuage the colonists, but merely informed them that they would have to pay this tax, and that they would likely have to pay even more in the future. Had Grenville attempted in any way to persuade the colonists to accept the tax - rather than merely telling them that it would be levied - he might have had a chance of getting them to go along with it. But his abrupt manner did nothing to persuade the colonists to accept the taxation. Grenville falsely reasoned that, if the British citizenry went along with such taxes, the colonists should too. Grenville ignored the fact that the British citizens had elected representatives to the House of Commons, while the residents of North America had not.

Each of the thirteen colonies had sent representatives to London, who were free to listen to the proceedings, and to sometimes to lobby members of Parliament, but who had no vote in Parliament. Among those representatives was Benjamin Franklin. Taxation seemed inevitable. The French and Indian War had been costly. Those bills needed to be paid. The ongoing defense of North American colonies, subject to attacks by the French or by the Spanish or by the Native Americans, would also be costly.

To Franklin and a number of his fellow colonial envoys, the prospect of some tax being levied seemed inescapable. After all, the recent rebellion of tribesmen led by Chief Pontiac in the just-acquired territories of New France had reminded most responsible officials on both sides of the divide that someone would need to pay for maintaining a peacekeeping force on the colonial frontier. One knotty question remained, whoever: who?

The colonists in North America offered two facts for consideration: first, it was necessary to note that the officials sent from London to oversee taxation and regulation in North America were men of little or no ethical standards; second, the colonists could defend themselves better, and at lower cost, than the soldiers being sent to colonies from England.

Part of the colonists' antipathy to the revenue-boosting measures was attributable to a growing distrust of those who were sent from England to handle their principle affairs. As one American who had been living in London for a time wrote in a 1758 letter, "most of the places in the gift of the Crown have been filled out with broken Members of Parliament, of bad if any principles, pimps, valets de chambre, electioneering scoundrels, and even livery servants. In one word, America has been for many years made the hospital of Great Britain for her decayed courtiers, and abandoned, worn-out dependents." Paying for necessary services was bad enough, but the prospect of turning over one's hard-earned pennies to schemers and incompetents was to most colonists simply beyond the pale.

Although the colonial militiamen were capable of defending the colonies, their expertise was ignored by the British army. Why should the colonists be content to have their abilities ignored, while being ruled over by officials so corrupt that London had seen fit to send them to America as a way of getting them out of England?

Likewise, the concept of paying for a permanent garrison of 10,000 British troops on the borders of Canada and the bayous of New France raised hackles among many. The prevailing sentiment was that colonial militiamen, among them a certain George Washington, had proved themselves to be as capable as, if not more able than, the king's troops in the sort of irregular actions that had characterized much of the fighting on the frontier during the French and Indian War. Yet for all the ability of the colonial fighters, it was nearly impossible for a colonial militiaman to obtain a commission in the king's army.

If historians are divided as to whether the blame properly lies with the king, with the Parliament, or with both, it is an even more obscure question about how much of the blame, if any, lies with the population of Britain. Did the ordinary farmer or tradesman in England have knowledge of, influence on, or an opinion about, what was happening in North America? And to which degree? To a middle- or lower-class citizen of a town like Ringwood or Manchester, North America must have seemed infinitely far away, and the policies concerning it either abstract, or filled with unintelligible minutia, or both. Ordinary Englishmen might have resented the colonists, because Englishmen had traveled uncomfortably far from home to defend the colonies, and some Englishmen had died there. But ordinary Englishmen might have felt some kinship with the colonists - colonists who were, after all, Englishmen who'd simply been transplanted. Les Standiford continues:

From the opposite standpoint, few Britons gave the colonies much thought at all. The primary political concern of the nation was outmaneuvering its traditional rivals: Holland, France, Spain, Prussia, Germany, and Russia. Where the colonies registered at all, it was primarily among the merchant class. There was a fair amount of profitable trade with the colonies, though the perception was that the colonies were certainly on the receiving end, there only to be profited from. In short, in the minds of most Britons, the colonies existed primarily for the benefit of the mother country, and the colonists who sent there should be pleased at whatever benefits they might accrue from association with the most powerful nation in the world.

The question to be investigated, then, is whether the Parliament and the king accurately represented the English citizenry in oppressing the colonists. In any case, however, the egregious violations against the colonists inevitably provoked the revolution. Taxation was inhumane, both in principle and in practice: in principle, because the colonists lacked representation in Parliament; in practice because it amounted, simply, to the government stealing the property of ordinary citizens.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Civil Rights Hero: Calvin Coolidge

The presidency of Calvin Coolidge began unexpectedly with the death of President Warren Harding in August 1923. As vice president, Coolidge took the oath of office and became president, taking over the Harding administration in mid-term.

Although Harding’s years as president have been overshadowed by a series of financial scandals - mostly surrounding oil drilling rights in the “Teapot Dome” area - historians have discovered that Harding himself had nothing to do with the fact that the Secretary of the Interior, Albert Fall, received funds in a manner which was unethical and illegal. Harding either didn’t know about payoff, or found out about it only shortly before his death. Although there is no proof, some historians have speculated either that the news shocked Harding badly and caused his death, or that Harding perhaps committed suicide upon learning of the scandal. But good historians don’t engage in speculation.

In any case, the scandal diverted attention from the Harding administration’s many worthwhile achievements. During the Harding years, the United States made significant progress toward reducing taxes, reducing the national debt, reducing government spending, and reducing the annual budget deficit. This led to better economic conditions, especially for the lower and middle classes, who experienced rising real income.

President Harding also took significant steps in the realm of civil rights. Before Warren G. Harding took office, African-Americans had suffered greatly under the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, who had been in office from March 1913 to March 1921. Wilson’s goal had been to undo the progress which Blacks had experienced during the Reconstruction Era. Some federal operations - the Post Office, for example - had been integrated or de-segregated. Wilson’s administration reintroduced segregation into these federal offices. Wilson had also worked to deter African-Americans from applying for admission into colleges and universities. Most notoriously, Wilson had praised the KKK in an essay he had written. Wilson also praised The Birth of a Nation, a film which was understood by many as praising the Klan, although it has never been quite clear whether the film’s director, D.W. Griffith, had precisely that intent. Wilson had also discouraged attempts by Republican congressmen to pass anti-lynching laws.

African-Americans were encouraged by the Harding administration’s departures from Wilson’s racist policies. Coolidge continued Harding’s work of ensuring civil rights for Blacks. While both Harding and Coolidge sought these advancements in civil rights, the two presidents worked in different ways, each according to his style and personality. Harding was a popular speechmaker, and used his skills to address large audiences, boldly stating that African-Americans held full and equal citizenship. Coolidge, by contrast, lived up to his nickname ‘Silent Cal’ and spoke little on any subject, including civil rights. Whereas Harding was a man of words, Coolidge was a man of action: both were needed; both moved the cause of civil rights forward. Coolidge took a firmer stand against the Ku Klux Klan and promoted anti-lynching legislation. Historian Robert Ferrell writes:

Coolidge may not have seen many blacks in Vermont or even in Massachusetts, and his position on injustice did not stand out on the grand tablet of presidential utterances on that subject. Harding had at least shown some interest and said some good things and, if only in contrast to Wilson, looked good on the issue. Coolidge’s predecessor had gone down to Birmingham, spoken to a mixed audience of whites and blacks, and said, “let the black man vote when he is fit to vote; prohibit the white man voting when he is unfit to vote.” He advised his audience to “lay aside any program that looks to lining up the black man as a mere political adjunct” and asked for “an end to prejudice.”

Coolidge’s support for African-American civil rights was highlighted in the 1924 election. When the Democrats publicly embraced the KKK at their national convention, the Coolidge administration, in the form of Charles Dawes, began to speak decisively on the matter. Dawes, who had been a general during WWI, was Coolidge’s nominee for vice president. As Coolidge’s running mate, and as national candidate for vice president, General Dawes overruled some cautious voices within the party and spoke for the majority of the Republican Party in opposing the Klan. Observers wondered if Coolidge would support his running mate’s strong statements against the Klan; he did. Coolidge and his campaign cheerfully embraced the anti-Klan identity with the slogan ‘Keep Kool with Koolidge,’ mocking the KKK and letting the voters know that they would continue Harding’s quest for civil rights.

At the Madison Square Garden convention, the Democratic party refused to disavow Klan support, although Davis later made an anti-Klan statement, as did La Follette and Wheeler. General Dawes went to Maine, which was a notable Klan bastion, and told six thousand people at Augusta on 23 August that “I first desire to speak … relative to the Ku Klux Klan,” whereupon he made himself clear: “Government cannot last if that way, the way of the Ku Klux Klan, is the way to enforce the law in this country. Lawlessness cannot be met with lawlessness if civilization is to be maintained.” He had been told not to do so by party managers, but received an ovation. Afterward he visited Coolidge at the Notch, where political writers assumed that he was to be “spanked” for his Klan utterances. He later said that the president did not mention the Maine speech; the visit was a courtesy call. That fall, slogans adorned billboards, “Keep Kool with Koolidge” and Klansmen were telling one another that the Episcopal cathedral being built on Mount St. Alban’s in Washington was going to be the pope’s new home, where he could command the nation’s capital with field guns.

As the campaign continued toward the November election, the Democrat Party’s continuing connection with Klan encouraged Black voters to come to polling places in larger numbers, and to vote for Coolidge when they arrived. Historian Jonathan Bean writes:

The Ku Klux Klan was the hot civil rights issue of the 1924 election: it was a national organization directing its hatred not only at blacks, but especially at Catholics and others deemed less than “100% American.”

Coolidge’s habitual reticence meant that he did not deliver long fiery speeches against the Klan, but rather simply made it clear that he was opposed to the KKK. For Coolidge, one word was as good as a thousand. The voters seemed to understand this; they knew that a single “no” from Coolidge was more solid than a long tirade against the Klan. The Democratic candidate, John W. Davis, was pro-segregation and vocal about this stance. He continued to be active in politics and law after losing the 1924 election, and

Davis is best known for defending segregation in the Brown v. Board case.

Meanwhile, Coolidge took another swipe at the Klan by linking freedom of religion to the struggle against racism.

Coolidge spoke eloquently of religious and racial toleration before a parade of one hundred thousand Catholics honoring the Holy Name Society. Klan leaders grumbled when the president refused to show up for their parade.

Chicago’s leading African-American newspaper, The Chicago Defender, praised Coolidge’s anti-Klan stance. Coolidge continued by delivering the commencement address at Howard University, a historically Black college. This was an amazing societal breakthrough: an incumbent United States president giving the graduation speech at an African-American university in 1924. Coolidge had not delivered bombast; rather, he had made it quietly but firmly clear that he was against the Klan and would act to promote Black civil rights. The voters rewarded him by returning him to the White House in November 1924.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Calvin Coolidge and Foreign Policy

The diplomatic efforts of the Coolidge presidency, taking place as they did between the two world wars and during the prosperity of the 1920’s, often receive less attention than they deserve, being overshadowed by the administration’s domestic matters. To be sure, Coolidge’s domestic policies are noteworthy: his repeated efforts to get Congress to pass anti-lynching laws, and his amazing ability to simultaneously reduce taxes, government spending, and national debt. Coolidge achieved several budget surplus years while in office.

In the realm of foreign policy, Coolidge was occupied by the world balance of power. Taking office four years and a few days after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, he was concerned to stabilize international relations in the wake of World War One. This brought him into some amount tension with America’s allies, especially France, who were intent on punishing Germany and relentless in demanding war reparations. Yet Coolidge saw that the ruthless terms of the Versailles Treaty, and the cruel strictness with which its terms were being imposed, could easily lead to another world war.

While Coolidge’s style in domestic policy may be described as “hand-on”, he prefered to delegate much of the diplomatic work. For this purpose, he assembled an excellent team. Charles Evans Hughes served as Secretary of State, starting before Coolidge took office until March 1925; before Coolidge took office, he negotiated a separate peace with Germany to avoid implicating the United States in the injustices of the Treaty of Versailles and led global peace and disarmament talks resulting in the signing of several treaties; under Coolidge, he worked to ensure that the United States would not recognize the Bolshevik dictatorship which had formed the USSR. Charles Dawes, Coolidge’s vice president from March 1925 to March 1929, had served as Director of the Bureau of the Budget under President Harding; he was then appointed to deal with the looming geo-financial crisis regarding Germany’s economy and created the Dawes Plan, which kept Germany and Europe economically sound for the rest of that decade.

In seeking to avoid the scenario in which France provoked another war by its harsh treatment of Germany, Coolidge saw himself as acting in America’s interests. He feared that the United States would again be dragged into a major land war in Europe. His policies were neither internationalist nor isolationist, as David Greenberg writes:

Secretary of State Hughes secured the president’s blessing to organize a commission of delegates from Belgium, France, Britain, Italy, and the United States to craft a solution. To lead it, Coolidge named the dynamic Charles Dawes, a wealthy financier who had been Harding’s economy-minded budget director. Though the president stayed out of the negotiations, he threw his weight behind the Dawes Committee and joined its fortunes to his own. Negotiations commenced in earnest in Paris in January 1924, and by early April a compromise emerged: in return for a withdrawal from the Ruhr, the Allies would restructure the German debt and reorganize the German central bank. Providing the critical ingredient, the United States would furnish Germany with the capital to help repay its loans. Despite criticism from isolationists like Hiram Johnson, who decried the meddling European affairs, Coolidge stuck with the plan.

Foreign policy influenced domestic politics, as is always the case. Having had no vice president during his first years in office, Coolidge selected Dawes at the 1924 Republican convention as his running mate as Dawes’s fame was on the rise because of these diplomatic achievements. Andrew Mellon, Secretary of the Treasury during Coolidge’s entire presidency, would see to it that Dawes continued to be influential in policy decisions. Amity Shlaes writes:

On June 7, even as the Republican Party was selecting its vice president, came the news that the German Reichstag had voted to support the Dawes Plan; it was another coup for Dawes and sealed Dawes’ candidacy. Mellon had a plan to give the vice president greater powers, including supervision of some bureaus and agencies, so that the executive need cover less. This appealed to Dawes.

Another crucial appointment made by Coolidge was Frank Kellogg as Secretary of State from March 1925 to March 1929. Coolidge initiated, and Kellogg organized, a conference at Geneva in 1927 in an attempt to limit arms. Approach by the French diplomat Briand with an idea of a bilateral treaty, Kellogg countered with the idea of a multilateral treaty which would finally involved 62 nations under the title “The Kellogg-Briand Pact.”

Coolidge saw Europe in the 1920’s as having the potential for another great war. Seeking to avoid that war, by stabilizing the global economy and by limiting the international arms race, was the impetus for much of Coolidge’s foreign policy.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Other Declaration

Prompted with the words 'Revolution' and 'Declaration', most students will produce the idea of the Declaration of Independence, written by the Second Continental Congress - rough draft by Thomas Jefferson, revisions by the committee - and dated July 4, 1776 - although not all the signatories placed their ink on the document that day.

There have been other documents titled 'declaration' and associated with various revolutions - notably, the "Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen" adopted in 1789 by the leaders of the French Revolution, to which was added in 1791 the "Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen" and the "Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen of 1793" - the relatively quick accumulation of which points to the intellectual confusion underlying the French Revolution, which was manifested in its failure, as it turned to mass murder and the denial of the very rights which it initially proposed as its cause.

More interesting, and more fruitful, would be the other declaration produced by the Second Continental Congress, a full year prior to the famous Declaration of Independence. That document bore the lengthy title,

A declaration by the representatives of the united colonies of North America, now met in Congress at Philadelphia, setting forth the causes and necessity of their taking up arms.

The text was largely a joint effort by Thomas Jefferson and John Dickinson. Although born in Maryland, Dickinson spent most of his life in Pennsylvania and Delaware. While one of his teachers was a Presbyterian, he gravitated toward Quakerism, his wife being a devout Quaker, but never formally joined the Society of Friends, having himself a moderate pacifism in contrast to Quakerism's radical pacifism. The text of the 1775 declaration highlights the connection between the French and Indian War and the American independence movement. While England claimed to have been acting in order to protect the colonies during that conflict, it had violated the rights of the colonists in the process. The inhabitants of the thirteen colonies claimed, as Englishmen, the rights set forth in the Magna Carta and the English Bill of Rights of 1689. Jefferson and Dickinson wrote:

If it was possible for men, who exercise their reason to believe, that the divine Author of our existence intended a part of the human race to hold an absolute property in, and an unbounded power over others, marked out by his infinite goodness and wisdom, as the objects of a legal domination never rightfully resistible, however severe and oppressive, the inhabitants of these colonies might at least require from the parliament of Great-Britain some evidence, that this dreadful authority over them, has been granted to that body. But a reverance for our Creator, principles of humanity, and the dictates of common sense, must convince all those who reflect upon the subject, that government was instituted to promote the welfare of mankind, and ought to be administered for the attainment of that end.

Accusing Parliament of exerting slavish and illegitimate power over the colonists, the text addresses the purpose of government. Governments exist to serve people, not people to serve government. A government can "promote the welfare of" its citizens by, in a roughly Lockean formulation, protecting their lives, freedoms, and properties. This, and the parallel formulation of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," is the understanding of welfare in the eighteenth century tradition of 'classical liberalism' which includes John Locke, Adam Smith and Thomas Malthus. The document's repeated allusions to slavery as a metaphor for Parliament's tyranny over the colonies also foreshadows the abolitionist movement which was even then already making itself felt. Jefferson and Dickinson refer to the original understandings under which the colonies were formed:

Our forefathers, inhabitants of the island of Great-Britain, left their native land, to seek on these shores a residence for civil and religious freedom.

The notions of freedom circulating in the American independence movement are always multivalent. Political liberty, economic liberty, religious liberty, intellectual liberty are all in the mix, and not always to be sharply distinguished from one another. Further, they should not be distinguished from one another, because, in order for any one of them to flourish, they all must flourish. Economic freedom and political freedom led to prosperity, and prosperity allowed the colonies to emerge successfully from the French and Indian War.

Societies or governments, vested with perfect legislatures, were formed under charters from the crown, and an harmonious intercourse was established between the colonies and the kingdom from which they derived their origin. The mutual benefits of this union became in a short time so extraordinary, as to excite astonishment. It is universally confessed, that the amazing increase of the wealth, strength, and navigation of the realm, arose from this source; and the minister, who so wisely and successfully directed the measures of Great-Britain in the late war, publicly declared, that these colonies enabled her to triumph over her enemies.

In the minds of the colonists, they were capable of defending themselves and had largely done so; they did not perceive the British army's intervention as decisive. In London, Parliament tended to view itself as having rescued the colonies. The colonists saw the British army as unnecessary, because they could have defended themselves, as troublesome, because hosting the English soldiers was a financial and a social burden, and as expensive, because after the war Parliament wanted to raise painful taxes upon the colonists to pay for the British military intervention. Parliament saw the colonists as ungrateful, refusing to pay for the soldiers who had saved them. Further, the colonists saw Parliament's legislative acts, and the king's directives, as violating what were by then long-standing legislative institutions in the colonies.

As in the 1776 Declaration, there is a list of grievances, and the 1775 list is similar to the 1776 list. The 1775 document cites Parliament's statement, in the 1766 Declaratory Act, that it has the

full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies and people of America, subjects of the crown of Great Britain, in all cases whatsoever

Jefferson and Dickinson then recount how the colonists have suffered from such legislations, how they have civilly and peacefully protested and petitioned for relief from such tyranny, and how the British government has brutally enforced such regulations and taxes upon the colonists. They write a narrative which explains how tax enforcement morphed into a cruel occupation by the English military of the colonial cities, chiefly Boston. The colonies responded to this tyranny:

We are reduced to the alternative of chusing an unconditional submission to the tyranny of irritated ministers, or resistance by force. - The latter is our choice. - We have counted the cost of this contest, and find nothing so dreadful as voluntary slavery. - Honour, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them, if we basely entail hereditary bondage upon them.

Explaining their firm resolve to continue military action - hostilities had commenced in April 1775; Jefferson and Dickinson were writing after approximately three months of warfare - the colonists still maintain that there is some slight possibility of a peaceful reunion with the mother country. Even at this late date, the colonists might be persuaded to rejoin the British Empire if their representation in Parliament were guaranteed and effective, obtaining for them the full rights of Englishmen.

Lest this declaration should disquiet the minds of our friends and fellow-subjects in any part of the empire, we assure them that we mean not to dissolve that union which has so long and so happily subsisted between us, and which we sincerely wish to see restored. - Necessity has not yet driven us into that desperate measure, or induced us to excite any other nation to war against them. - We have not raised armies with ambitious designs of separating from Great-Britain, and establishing independent states. We fight not for glory or for conquest. We exhibit to mankind the remarkable spectacle of a people attacked by unprovoked enemies, without any imputation or even suspicion of offence. They boast of their privileges and civilization, and yet proffer no milder conditions than servitude or death.

To avoid misinterpretation, Jefferson and Dickinson clarify the objectives of the Second Continental Congress. Their goals, understood as the only goals of any legitimate government, serve to highlight the fact that the Crown has been negligent in executing its proper duties: thus the monarchy is guilty of omission, in not carrying out its proper functions, and guilty of commission, in acting tyrannically. The colonial military action is justified:

In our own native land, in defence of the freedom that is our birthright, and which we ever enjoyed till the late violation of it - for the protection of our property, acquired solely by the honest industry of our fore-fathers and ourselves, against violence actually offered, we have taken up arms. We shall lay them down when hostilities shall cease on the part of the aggressors, and all danger of their being renewed shall be removed, and not before.

The surprise, perhaps shocking in hindsight, is the equivocation, however slight, included in the document to the extent that a slight possibility is left in the text for a reintegration of the colonies into the British Empire. By July 1775, while the sentiment toward independence was strong, it was not solid enough among the representatives at the Congress to allow for an unconditional declaration. Indeed, the desire for complete independence was never unanimous among the entire population of the thirteen colonies, but by July 1776, it was the consensus of the leadership. The situation a year earlier was less solid, as James Srodes writes that

there also were sharp divisions even among those who were resolutely for a clean break and independence as to just what kind of new order was to be set up in its place.

Not only was there the open question of whether or not to seek complete political independence, but there was also the question of what type of government the colonies would institute once they had such independence. Not all of the members of the Second Continental Congress were classical liberals in the sense of John Locke; not all of them understood liberty as the primary goal.

There were those, like cousins Sam and John Adams, who wanted to create a kind of better England where the benefits and responsibilities of democracy would be reserved for the respectable classes of citizenry who would uphold the rule of law and the stability of society. But while England had offered a Whiggish model of orderly government, it had also sent the New World its “17th-century levelers,” those who thought no man should have too much while any man had not enough.

A clear choice lay before those who would form the future of the new nation. Would America choose freedom as its primary value, assigning to the government the task of protecting and maintaining economic liberty, political liberty, religious liberty, and the freedoms of speech and of the press? Or would America succumb to simply another form of tyranny, in which cruel taxes continued to inflict suffering on the residents of the colonies?

The politicking and negotiating between July 1775 and July 1776, i.e., between the two declarations, would decide. James Srodes tells us that

the plotting Adams cousins and their unlikely allies, the Lees of Virginia, who make a shaky and improbable alliance with a cast of conflicting and conflicted radicals from other colonies, some of whom were not even delegates to the Congress.

We might call Sam Adams, John Adams, and the Lee family the "freedom faction" among the various political views represented at the time. (Two of the Lee family, Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee, would be signers of the 1776 Declaration of Independence.) To reach a critical mass, and nudge the Second Continental Congress clearly toward both independence and a clear statement of liberty, they understood that

they could only get independence approved with the support of those town craftsmen, small merchants, debt-ridden farmers, newly arrived German settlers and, most unruly of all, the Scots-Irish who pushed ever westward looking for land that was free of cost and the constraints of English law. These were the men who ordinarily would be denied a vote, but they had formed themselves in to armed militias throughout the Colonies and were the backbone of Congress‘ own army. They had guns, and now they had the vote.

This freedom coalition managed, as we now know, to carry the day, and so it was that the United States was founded upon a series of texts which emphasized individual freedom and personal liberty. Had the freedom faction not won, it might have been that the United States would have gained its independence, only to subject itself to a tyrannous taxation as cruel as Britain's taxes had been. Thankfully, that was not the case.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Suffering under Tyranny

The inhabitants of North America suffered in many ways prior to 1775. As John Locke had noted a century earlier, people endure a lot of abuse before they finally rise up against their oppressors. The long string of mistreatment would, however, eventually be sufficient to start a revolution.

Although there were already injustices in the 1600's, the first three-quarters of the 1700's would prove to be an era of one insult or provocation after another. In the process of enduring this abuse, those living in the thirteen colonies would become all the more perceptive, learning to detect in each new tax or regulation the hand of tyranny. George III, king of England, was not the only tyrant; among several others was George Grenville, Prime Minister of Great Britain from April 1763 to July 1765. Historian Les Standiford writes:

Though the mother country had never levied any tax directly on its American dependency, various trade duties had been applied over the years. Earlier in 1764, in fact, Grenville had pressed for passage of the Sugar Act, a modification of a piece of 1733 legislation imposing a duty on molasses imported into the colonies from Britain. The new Sugar Act actually reduced the levy on molasses from 6 pence to 3 pence per gallon, a tactical move that Grenville hoped would find favor among colonists who had responded to the original act by smuggling most of their molasses past British customs agents - those few they were unable to bribe, that is.

England's economy was in a slump in the years after the French and Indian War. That war had ended in 1763. England and France were at odds with each other anyway, but the war was initiated when Prussia's Frederick the Great attacked Austria's Empress Maria-Theresa. The English were dragged into that European war because they were pledged allies of the Prussians, and the French likewise were pledged allies of the Austrians. With the English and the French fighting each other in Europe, it took little incentive to get English colonies in North America to fight against French colonies in North America. The land in the Ohio River valley area - desired by both sides - was more than enough motive. The Indians - the native Americans - fought from time to time as mercenaries for both sides. The English won the war, but at great financial cost. Wartime debts now had to be repaid. This burdened the British economy; Parliament sought to raise taxes to pay the debts, but taxes only made the economy worse.

Such taxation was doubly harmful to the residents of North America. First, they were taxed, which is detrimental in any circumstance; second, they were taxes by a representative body to which they were not allowed to elect any representatives! Les Standiford explains:

The "new" tax was roundly descried as onerous by the colonists, however, as their own economy suffered in direct proportion to the downturn in Great Britain. Trade with the distressed mother country was down, and with the war over and its associated free spending dried up, prospects were grim. Moreover, a theoretical objection was also raised by opponents to the measure when it was noted that the British Constitution excepted its subjects from "taxation without representation." Previous revenue-producing measures imposed by the British had been cloaked in the rhetoric of "trade regulation," but colonists argued that the Sugar Act was a bald-faced tax. And although the citizens of England might rightly be themselves taxed by the members of a Parliament that they themselves had elected, the colonists had no representatives in that body.

No less a luminary than Benjamin Franklin was sent to London to plead the colonial case. While the demand of the colonies was well-founded, based on the Magna Carta and the English Bill of Rights of 1689, the Parliament chose expediency over justice.

Each of the thirteen colonies employed a liaison to Parliament, an envoy - as was Franklin - sent across the Atlantic to lobby for its part of thirteen different sets of interests, but that was not the same thing as having a properly apportioned voting membership on the floor. "No taxation without representation" would of course become a rallying cry for the colonists, justifying a wide range of future actions. But whether it was the 3-penny sugar tax itself or the principle of the thing that sent the colonists inching down the road toward rebellion is an issue that has had historians wrangling ever since.

From this situation, it would become clear that nothing less than proper representation would constitute justice, and it would also slowly become clear that the thirteen colonies would need to begin working together as a unit. The British government could sometimes play the colonies against each other as long as they were thirteen uncoordinated colonies. The colonies had two evils inflicted against them, two injustices which they had to overcome: first, that they were taxed; second, that they were taxed without representation.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Catching Spies

The business of finding spies who've lodged themselves as "moles" in one's government is difficult. Once they've been caught, knowing what to do with them can be complicated, too. Many history students are familiar with the Espionage Act of 1917, passed through Congress at the urging of President Woodrow Wilson. With the Democrats controlling both the Senate and the House of Representatives, Wilson's desires were eagerly fulfilled.

The law has become a frequent textbook example of bad legislation - fueled by public fears during the war, and motivated by Wilson and other progressivists who simply saw it as a way to control people, the Espionage Act of 1917, renewed in a slightly different form in 1918, violated freedom of speech.

Most historians and most history books let the law slip from sight after the WWI era. But the law remained on the books, and found occasional uses. One such case was that of Mikhail Gorin, a Soviet spy who was sent to gather classified military information in the United States. In the Washington Post, Walter Pincus writes:

The spy, Mikhail Gorin, a Soviet citizen, came to the United States in 1936 as an employee of Intourist, the Moscow-run tourist agency, whose salary was paid by the Russian government, according to court documents in the early-1940s case. In the indictment and in the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, Gorin was referred to as "the agent of a foreign nation."

This case was part of a larger trend, in which various Soviet spies, like Alger Hiss, gathered information for the KGB and other Russian intelligence agencies, while journalists like I.F. Stone, also known as Izzy Stone, directed the public's attention away from communists efforts to destabilize the United States government. Such journalists and spies received payment from the Soviet government. Historians Medford Stanton Evans and Herbert Romerstein write:

The first major Communist penetration of the American government occurred in the 1930s. The Communist Party USA had been founded more than a decade before, encouraged by Moscow and financed through such helpful go-betweens as Julius and Armand Hammer. But the party of that era was small, ineffective, and far outside the national mainstream, mostly headed by leaders who were foreign born, with a membership tilted to émigrés, many of whom could not speak English. Its chances of infiltrating federal agencies, or other important institutions, were meager.

Seeing that their efforts were weak, the Soviets improved their spying game. Mikhail Gorin would be part of that upgrade. The Washington Post report continues:

Gorin received reports from Hafis Salich, a Russian-born emigre who had become a U.S. citizen and worked for U.S. Navy intelligence in San Pedro, Calif., as a civilian investigator. In the course of the relationship, Gorin paid Salich $1,700, which came from Soviet government funds.

Meanwhile, the Soviet spying effort was improving in other ways. Moscow saw that it would be necessary to get native-born U.S. citizens into their employ, who would be less conspicuous, and who would more easily gain confidence and security clearances from various agencies in the United States government, as Herbert Romerstein and M. Stanton Evans explain:

All this began changing in the 1930s, chiefly though not entirely as a result of the Great Depression. Thanks to the political/economic crisis of the age, a lot of people would become disillusioned with capitalism and the American system in general and begin casting about for something different. A number of these would be attracted by the pat and seemingly cogent “class struggle” slogans of the Marxists and the claimed successes of the Soviet Union, and decide that Communism was the answer they were seeking. This would in particular be true with certain members of the intellectual classes, and at some prestigious centers of higher learning.

Sensitive and classified military information flowed to Moscow. The Washington Post tells us that

Salich, according to court documents, provided Gorin with the contents of over 50 reports that, among other things, detailed the activities of Japanese military and civil officials and the movements of fishing boats suspected of espionage.

Eventually, caught, Mikhail Gorin would appear before the United States Supreme Court, indicted under the Espionage Act of 1917.

The Supreme Court, in its opinion in the Gorin case, said the reports "gave a detailed picture of the counter-espionage work of the Naval Intelligence" and could assist a foreign government in checking on U.S. "efficiency in ferreting out foreign espionage."

The Soviets realized that they had to work to be ever less noticeable, planting their moles deeper, and finding ways to subvert reputable Americans. A better class of spy would be formed from well-educated, socially connected, U.S. citizens who could be persuaded to betray their nation by selling secrets to the Soviets, as M. Stanton Evans and Herbert Romerstein write:

Meanwhile, the Communist Party USA was undergoing a makeover of its own at the behest of Moscow and American party chief Earl Browder, downplaying its more violent aspects and presenting itself as a peaceful, democratic group of patriotic nature. Given cover by the 1930s proliferation of party-sponsored front groups that seemingly blended Red revolutionary concepts with less threatening leftward causes, the Communists appeared to many unfamiliar with such tactics as simply promoting a more rigorous version of widely held progressive notions.

But even the hapless Mikhail Gorin would have his day. Convicted by a lower court, his conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court. Yet, as the Washington Post tells us, he got away:

After being convicted and losing his appeal in the Supreme Court, Gorin was sent back to the Soviet Union rather than having to serve his six-year sentence in a U.S. jail.

One wonders who made the decision to release Gorin rather than make him serve his sentence; one wonders how and why that decision was made.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Red Scare - Causes and Coverups

Historians use the phrase "Red Scare" to refer to more than one period of time. The first was roughly from 1919 to 1921. But what visibly erupted in 1919 had been brewing invisibly for some time. A coalition of socialists, communists, and anarchists had been working to find ways to destroy both the American concept of political liberty and the economic system of the United States. This plot had been encouraged by the communist revolution which had gained control of Russia, and by some aspects of President Woodrow Wilson's progressivism.

The socialists and communists of this era were not simply people who preferred a different economic or political views. They were agents working for, and sympathetic to, the government of the Soviet Union, and who were actively working to overthrow violently the United States government.

This coalition was joined by people from an extreme segment of the labor union movement. This segment was quite different from the mainstream of the organized labor movement. The mainstream of the collective bargaining movement sought better hourly wages, protection from unwarranted dismissal, safer working conditions, and the like. By contrast, the extreme segment of the movement sought to confiscate factories, leaving their current owners penniless, and to take control of the government, inspired by the phrase "dictatorship of the proletariat" from Marxist texts.

The first steps in the Red Scare were bombings and strikes. The bombings were, then as now, a typical terrorist tactic, and had been used as far back as the 1880's by a loosely-organized world-wide anarchist movement. The Red Scare's first wave of bombings took place in 1919, as Glencoe's history textbook explains:

In April, the postal service intercepted more than 30 parcels containing homemade bombs addressed to prominent Americans.

The socialists learned from their mistake - from the fact that their bombs were intercepted before they reached their targets - and worked more subtly the next time:

In June, eight bombs in eight cities exploded within minutes of one another, suggesting a nationwide conspiracy. One of them damaged the home of the United States Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer.

Although it was clear that these "bombings were the work of radicals trying to destroy the American way of life," the multifaceted nature of the coalition did not allow the public to conceptualize this as the activity of a single group. There were numerous factions at work, as Cengage's history textbook explains:

This radical surge did not mean, however, that leftists had fashioned themselves into a single movement or political party. On the contrary, the Russian Revolution had split the American Socialist Party. One faction, which would keep the name Socialist and would continue under Debs's leadership, insisted that the radicals follow democratic path to socialism. The other group, which would take the name Communist, wanted to establish a Lenin-style "dictatorship of the proletariat." Small groups of anarchists, some of whom advocated campaigns of terror to speed the revolution, represented yet a third radical tendency.

Terrorist-style bombings were one tactic of the socialists; strikes were another. By 1919, the notion of a strike was already fairly well defined. Mainstream labor unions used strikes to temporarily stop the operation of a factory in order to gain better wages and working conditions. But the coalition of socialists and communists conceived of a new type of strike, one designed to transfer ownership of the factory to the workers, and designed to restructure the government. This was a very different type of strike indeed. The radical coalition, according to Glencoe, intended to use

strikes to start a revolution. Seattle's mayor, Ole Hanson, for example, claimed that the Seattle general strike was part of an attempt to "take possession of our American government and try to duplicate the anarchy of Russia."

There was, in any case, a direct link between the extremists in the United States and the fledgling government of the Soviet Union. The Industrial Workers of the World, known as IWW and as the "Wobblies", orchestrated some of these massive strikes, and its leaders, in more than one case, fled afterward to the Soviet Union for protection. The IWW leaders interfaced with a specific part of the Soviet government:

The Soviet Union established the Communist International in 1919 - an organization for coordinating Communist parties in other countries.

Already in 1918, the communist intentions toward the United States and other western democracies were clear: the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk created a separate peace between Germany and Russia, allowing Germany to direct more resources toward the western front, which translated directly into more deaths among American and other allied soldiers. Already responsible for increased casualties in war, the socialists were now responsible for the deaths resulting from the terrorist bombings, and for the deaths resulting from the strikes and their accompanying riots.

Communists were conspiring to start a revolution in the United States. Americans had been stunned when Communists seized power in Russia and negotiated a separate peace agreement with Germany. Many Americans viewed this as betrayal, and hostility toward Communists increased.

Emboldened by their success, the socialists went further the next year:

In September 1920, a bomb made of 100 lbs. of dynamite and 500 lbs. of steel fragments exploded in New York City, killing 38 people and injuring 300 others.

The ties between the radical trade unionists and the Soviet government became more clear. Cengage's history book notes that:

Longshoremen in San Francisco and Seattle refused to load ships carrying supplies to the White Russians who had taken up arms against Lenin's Bolshevik government.

This broad and unwieldy coalition included the communists, the socialists, the extreme unionists, and the anarchists, among others. They differed from, and argued with, one another on some points. In general, however, from the gritty slums to "the radical circles that gathered in apartments and cafes," they agreed on central goals: "its participants wanted to revolutionize," not merely to elect different parties, as a way "of building a radical political party and accelerating the transition to socialism."

The tactic of the strike was, for these socialists, not the same as it was for mainstream labor unions. In a mainstream strike, organized labor temporarily brought work in a factory to a standstill, hoping to convince the owners and managers of the factory to pay better wages and to improve working conditions. By contrast, in a radical socialist strike, the strike was not against the owners and managers of a factory, the strike was against society itself. The goal was not better wages and better working conditions; the goal was to transfer ownership of the factory without recompense and to restructure the government: a very different type of strike indeed! Historian Howard Zinn writes:

The IWW idea of a general strike became reality for five days in Seattle, Washington, when a walkout of the 100,000 working people brought the city to a halt.

An entire major city was held captive. Clean clothes and decent food were nearly impossible to obtain; citizens were forced to roam about in dirty clothes, scavenging whatever they could to eat. The unions patrolled the streets, forbidding most automobile traffic.

The city now stopped functioning, except for activities organized by the strikers to provide essential needs. Firemen agreed to stay on the job. Laundry workers handled only hospital laundry. Vehicle authorized to move carried signs "Exempted by the General Strike Committee."

Seattle was one example; riots took place in cities around the country, accompanied by bloodshed and death. While often beginning as a strike, the specific issues of the strike (wages and working conditions) usually took a back seat, and then gradually disappeared altogether, in a cloud of other demands: take ownership of the factories away from their current owners with no payment in return; restructure the government as a "dictatorship of the proletariat."

Yet the roots of the radical socialist movement in the United States, like the phrase "dictatorship of the proletariat", go back even further, before the foundation of the Soviet Union. Professor Harvey Klehr writes:

The two most successful 19th-century radicals were Edward Bellamy and Henry George. Bellamy’s utopian novel, Looking Backward, eschewed notions of class struggle and was permeated with notions of the Social Gospel. George, whose single-tax program put the blame for America’s problems on land speculators, appealed powerfully to Irish immigrants. Large-scale industrialization and increasingly violent labor confrontations in the 1880s set the stage for the growth of the first substantial radical parties. Radicals were weakened because of incessant fights between purists unwilling to compromise and “opportunists” willing to accept small, immediate gains.

The hallmarks of the socialist movement seem to be, first, unwieldy coalitions whose factions hardly coordinate with each other, and, second, a persistent tendency toward violence. An exact

discussion of the Socialist Party of America reiterates the political problems radicals faced. Its base was among midwestern Protestants, both skilled workers and tenant farmers, and New York Jewish garment workers; it had messianic visions, but conservative social views. Neither its radical wing nor its reformist wing could surmount these internal tensions. Oklahoma had the most politically successful Socialist party in the country before World War I, but the party was destroyed when the small farmers who formed its core decided to march on Washington to seize the government after the U.S. declared war. The Green Corn Rebellion (the marchers planned to subsist on corn en route) was quickly suppressed and socialism in Oklahoma became a distant memory.

Inevitably, when one branch of the socialist coalition would soften and seek to obtain its goals by purely democratic means - speeches, elections, legislation - the other branches would nudge it back toward a more forceful version of fomenting the socialist revolution.

In Milwaukee, socialists captured city hall and remained in power for decades. But the largely German brewery workers at the party’s core were derided by other radicals as “sewer socialists” because of their inevitable need to focus on the mundane tasks of governing a city. Even the charismatic national leader of the Socialist party, Eugene Debs, was too smitten with Marxist notions of the inevitable collapse of capitalism to accept the idea that political reform was the best route to victory. And, in his romanticism, Debs embraced the Industrial Workers of the World (the Wobblies), whose bloodcurdling rhetoric thrilled those who hated capitalism but terrified more moderate socialists.

This romantic desire for a revolution which, if not directly violent, would at least be an illegal rebellion permeated the movement from the sweatiest of factory workers to the upscale neighborhoods in which armchair socialists lived in luxury. Wealthy and well-educated, and having no first-hand experience of either labor or life in a factory town, these backers of socialism understood the movement from a strictly theoretical point of view. Because theoretical economics eventually and inevitably becomes just a bit boring, the occasional bomb, riot, or death appealed to these hypothetical socialists.

Another wing of the Socialist party also scorned moderation. Around the turn of the 20th century, a new cultural Left was emerging in America, centered in Greenwich Village and championing modernism in the arts, sexual freedom, and secularism. Its newspaper, The Masses — which was not

in fact read by the masses, but which circulated mainly among the college-educated holdovers from Woodrow Wilson's progressivism, and among those for whom even Wilson had not been quite edgy enough - this newspaper "scorned compromise, much preferring the Wobblies to the boring sewer socialists."

Among the leaders of this movement, several opted to move permanently to the Soviet Union when their criminal activities in the United States were discovered. William Haywood, known as Big Bill Haywood, had been convicted in late 1918; by 1921, his conviction was still working its way through the appeals process, but it was clear it would stand. He violated the terms of his bail and left for the Soviet Union. Upon arrival there, he was given a post as a highly-placed advisor on labor topics in Lenin's government. Later, he helped to found the Kuzbass Autonomous Industrial Colony, an experiment in workers' control in the Soviet Union. His warm reception in the Soviet Union, and his immediate placement into positions of power and influence there, confirm that he had already been a loyal employee of the USSR for some time prior to his presence in that country.

Likewise, after a strike at a textile mill in Gastonia, North Carolina, in which socialist union leaders had killed a police officer, Howard Zinn writes:

sixteen strikers and sympathizers were indicted for murder, including Fred Beal, a Communist party organizer. Ultimately seven were tried and given sentences of from five to twenty years. They were released on bail, and left the state; the Communists escaped to Soviet Russia.

There were no ordinary union leaders: the mainstream of the collective bargaining union was not sympathetic to the Soviet Union or to the socialists. One must carefully distinguish between mainstream organized labor and the socialist communist extremists on the fringe of the union movement. Writing in the Washington Times, Matt Patterson notes that

for a time in the 20th century, American unions turned from this seedy past to become defenders of economic freedom. As Ivan Osorio, labor expert at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, notes, “During the Cold War, the AFL-CIO, Teamsters and most major U.S. labor unions were staunchly anti-communist. In fact, the AFL-CIO under Lane Kirkland worked closely with the Reagan administration to aid the Solidarity movement in Poland."

Mainstream labor unions are friendly toward capitalism and toward free markets, understanding that these are the source of wealth which they hope to procure for their members. Extremist labor movements, by contrast, seek to establish some form of socialism, and in alliance with communists and anarchists, hope to seize ownership of factories - and the means of production in general - with no recompense to their owners; they hope to restructure government into a dictatorship of the proletariat, and have no qualms about murder, bombing, hostage-taking in the form of a general strike, or alliances with powers which, like the Soviet Union, have explicitly declared a goal of overthrowing the government of the United States.

This movement - partially funded and partially directed from the Soviet Union; killing civilians in major cities by means of terrorist bombings; holding an entire major city captive for five days without clean clothes, food, or the right to move about town; and causing deaths around the nation in riots - was clearly a major symptom of the danger posed by socialism and communism in the years after 1918. Why, then, the astute reader will ask, has so little been presented about this in certain history textbooks or in certain history curricula? Why have the tales of terrorist bombings, conducted by a socialist coalition, not been included in our educations? Why has a narrative about the citizens of Seattle living as prisoners in their own homes been hidden?

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The War That Created Freedom

To understand the American Revolution, one must begin much earlier than the actual start of hostilities in April 1775 at Lexington and Concord. The French and Indian War - the North American analogue to the Seven Years' War - was the immediate context. That war, ending in 1763, began as a spat between Frederick the Great of Prussia and Maria-Theresa of Austria. France was drawn in as an Austrian ally, and England entered the conflict as a Prussian ally. Tension already existed in North America between the British colonies and the French colonies, as both wanted the area around the Ohio River Valley. The English won, but only after losing several disastrous campaigns early in the war. The victory was expensive in terms of money and lives.

After the war, the English were determined to milk every bit of money it could get from its colonies to recoup the costs of the war. The colonists living in North America, however, were now confident in their own military skills, and resented have to pay for the alleged protection of the British army. The colonists could defend themselves, and the English soldiers stationed in the colonies not only failed to contribute to any meaningful defense of those colonies, but rather created problems among the colonists, because the English soldiers were badly behaved. Historians Allan Millett and Peter Maslowski write:

Britain's triumph in the Great War for Empire contained the seeds of the American Revolution. England emerged from the war with an expanded empire and a staggering national debt, much of it resulting from the struggle in North America. Britain wanted to administer its new empire with maximum efficiency, which in part meant enforcing the Navigation Acts, a series of laws designed to regulate colonial trade for the mother country's benefit. Americans had consistently violated them through smuggling and bribery. Strict enforcement would help alleviate England's financial distress but would crimp the colonial economy.

Tired of abusive regulation from Parliament, tired of confiscatory taxes from the Crown, and tired of harassment from British regulars stationed in North America, the colonists, confident in the skills of their militiamen, were ready to take action, but understood that their forces were numerically smaller, less well equipped, and less well trained than the English redcoats. The training would be gained when Washington appointed a German, the Prussian Baron and General von Steuben, to educate his men in up-to-date tactics and techniques. The numerical and financial deficits would never be totally addressed: the American army remained chronically short of men, money, and equipment throughout the war. This required that Washington use strategies which fit his army's circumstances. He could not challenge the British to a head-on war of attrition. He could, however, exploit attrition of a different kind. Historian Russell Weigley writes:

The most familiar visual depiction of Washington as a general is probably Emanuel Leutze's version of him, wrapped in muffler against freezing December as he crosses the Delaware on Christmas Day, 1776. Whatever documentary or esthetic misgivings the painting may occasion, its popularity is appropriate enough, for it suggests the essence of Washington's way of war, a strategy of attrition. The passage over the Delaware to raid the Hessian barracks at Trenton was the most successful single example of his chief stock in trade of active war, the erosion of the enemy's strength by means of hit-and-run strikes against his outposts.

Not the type of attrition which appeared in the WWI, WWII, or the American Civil War - Washington's strategy of attrition was a harassment strategy, almost a guerilla strategy. His numerically smaller force, underfunded, could continually surprise the British with raids and attacks on their posts, while avoiding as much as possible direct engagement with the main forces on a battlefield. The English officers began the war overconfident, and the English soldiers were less motivated than their North American counterparts. By war's end, the English officers were disillusioned, and their men fought with less devotion than the Americans in Washington's Continental Army.