Happy Patriots’ Day

If you’re in Boston enjoying healing legal cannabis today, you can thank the traitors who rebelled against legitimate British rule in 1775 (marijuana is strictly illegal in the U.K.).

How did George III see the “patriots”? The Last King of America: The Misunderstood Reign of George III (Andrew Roberts) quotes the King writing in 1782:

I cannot conclude without mentioning how sensibly* I feel the dismemberment of America from this empire, and that I should feel miserable indeed if I did not feel that no blame on that account can be laid at my door, and did not also know that knavery seems to be so much the striking feature of its inhabitants that it may not in the end be an evil that they become aliens to this kingdom.

Good riddance to bad traitors, in other words!

Just 15 years before the Revolutionary War started, folks in Boston loved George III.

The widespread celebrations of George’s accession [in 1760] were particularly strong in Boston, capital of the King’s loyal Massachusetts Bay Colony. As the proclamation was read in which Boston acknowledged ‘all faith and constant obedience’ to the new King ‘with all hearty and humble affection’, the crowd shouted ‘Huzzah!’, militiamen fired three volleys, cannon from the harbour fort boomed and the town was illuminated in the traditional celebratory manner by placing candles in the windows of houses. The exertions Britain was making in blood and treasure to protect her American imperial brethren from incursions over the previous six years of what was then known as the French and Indian War were greatly appreciated. ‘I have been here about sixteen years,’ a Bostonian noted, ‘and I don’t know of one single man but would risk his life and property to serve King George the Third.’

Aside from marijuana laws, how has the U.S. diverged from the U.K. since 1775?

The U.S. has borrowed much more, as a percentage of GDP, than the British. What did George III have to say about that?

In one respect, however, George was not exaggerating: Britain’s ‘present load of debts’ amounted to over £74 million in 1753, to £77.8 million in 1758 and to £82.8 million in 1759, prompting a deep concern in Parliament over the nation’s creditworthiness, and reaffirming those fears in George that had been planted by Bute’s teachings and his father’s political testament. George wrote several essays on the subject in the second half of the 1750s, which in total covered no fewer than 557 pages. For the young Prince, revenue and expenditure profoundly affected national power and prosperity, and ‘to know this is the true essential business of a king’. The seriousness with which he and Bute approached this subject was no mere intellectual exercise; it was a blueprint for what they believed needed to be done about the economy once George became king and Bute his Prime Minister.

George’s conception of economics was staunchly conservative. He dreamed not of conquering great territories such as Canada and India, but rather of redeeming the National Debt and leading a great, unleveraged trading nation which would be ‘the residence of true piety and virtue’. His essays articulate his belief that the establishment of the Debt, in the reign of William III and Mary, had emerged from the cowardice of politicians in borrowing for William’s wars rather than incurring unpopularity by increasing taxation, which he characterized as a willingness ‘to live and die without the least regard to posterity, a way of thinking now become fatally prevalent’. As he wrote elsewhere, ‘The world ever produces wrong-headed individuals who would rather pay £10 imperceptibly than £4 out of their pockets at once.’ If there was a specific period when George conceived his low opinion of politicians for their short-termism, factiousness and pusillanimity – a general view that was to last throughout his reign and cause him a good deal of trouble – it was when he studied in detail the way the National Debt had ballooned in the six decades after the 1690s.

George likened the Whig governments’ behaviour in allowing this to happen to ‘a young spendthrift who eagerly compounds for a present convenience at the expense of any future encumbrance, however burdensome or reproachful’. Economics, for George, was profoundly moral. He denounced the first national lottery, of 1694, as ‘a most pernicious precedent, too often made use of since, as it serves not only to excite, but even authorize, a spirit of gaming in every man who is able to raise a few pounds, though perhaps at the expense of his morals, credit and character’.

(regarding this last point against state-sponsored gambling, see also If inequality is bad, why does the government run Powerball?)

The British thought that Europeans had stolen enough land from the Native Americans. The Patriots disagreed.

On 7 October 1763, possibly in part as a result of the Cherokee embassy the previous year, the British government made a decision that was to become one of the major causes of the loss of the North American colonies. Severely rattled by the still-ongoing Pontiac uprising in the Ohio Valley, and conscious of the promises made to Native American tribes that had supported Britain in the Seven Years War, Lord Halifax (who for thirteen years had been First Lord of Trade and Plantations) issued a proclamation to prevent the American colonists’ westward settlement. The whole continent to the west of a Proclamation Line, running from the Great Lakes down to the Gulf of Mexico and along the western slopes of the Appalachian Mountains, would be one gigantic Native American reserve where no American colonial settlement would be permitted. There was even an order for settlers then on the western side of the Line ‘forthwith to remove themselves’. This was a major obstacle to the expansion of American wealth and growth. Now, far from viewing the twenty battalions of British troops as being for their own protection, the colonists saw them as enforcing a new policy of boxing them into the seaboard colonies and preventing expansion from ocean to ocean.

George had distributed large silver friendship ‘peace medals’ to the chiefs of Native American allies and trading partners during the Seven Years War and was not willing to betray them. Yet the exponential population growth of the thirteen colonies meant that Americans were looking to move westwards across the continent. In the almost inevitable struggle between the American colonists and the Indigenous Nations on the other side of the Appalachians, Britain had attached herself to what would be the losing side for the short-term gain of the fur trade. It was now very much in American colonists’ interests that the taxes to pay for the British troops should not be raised, so that the Proclamation Line could not be policed. The first and most obvious losers from the Proclamation were those speculators who had intended to develop the land between the Allegheny Mountains and the Mississippi, among whom were Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, the Lee family and George Washington. In September 1763, Washington and nine other speculators had launched the Mississippi Land Company, with the intention of claiming 2.5 million acres in the Ohio Valley, covering what is today Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee.

(See George Washington, Mules, and Donald Trump: “the author reminds us that real estate speculator-to-president is not an entirely new path”)

Slavery was a substantial difference between England and what became the U.S.

Forty-one of the fifty-six signatories to the Declaration owned slaves at one point in their lives, and Thomas Hutchinson wrote that he ‘could wish to ask the delegates of Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas how their constituents justify the depriving more than an hundred thousand Africans of their right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness’.

So… we fought for the rights to smoke dope, keep slaves, borrow and spend wildly, and steal land from the Native Americans.

19 thoughts on “Happy Patriots’ Day

  1. If only King George had the unlimited credit line of the mortgage backed security. Back all your debt with home equity, don’t count home equity as inflation, & the sky’s the limit.

    • But the Portuguese were also up to their necks in blood and treasure looted from Africa and elsewhere.


      And let’s not get started with the Dutch!


      At least America is moving in the direction of Amsterdam in terms of drug law liberalization, so I guess lots of healing marijuana solves all the problems. We know that folks in Silicon Valley have been micro-dosing on psychedelics as a performance enhancer, so how long can it be before you can buy some healing ‘shrooms to go with your essential marijuana in Cambridge, Massachusetts?

      All I know is that at least one side of my family’s hands are relatively clean: they arrived here in the late 1800s in steerage on a steam ship and were pig and dirt farmers in an area of MA that was so rock-strewn and unimprovable that basically nobody wanted it. Unfortunately not all my family members escaped Europe in time, and later were conquered and basically enslaved and/or killed by the Nazis – and then the Communists!

      I think these DNA outfits that test people’s genes to track their lineage should offer a: “Who did your family members enslave, and who among them were enslaved at one time or another?” Then everyone can read that sordid history of blood and plunder and smoke some healing marijuana.

  2. “So… we fought for the rights to smoke dope, keep slaves, borrow and spend wildly, and steal land from the Native Americans.

    Was a 1776 Patriot a right wing conservative or left wing liberal democrat ?

    In other history, patriots settling into Texas were not supposed to be bringing their slaves but they could not help themselves,

    “Annotation: In a letter describing the situation in Texas, Santa Anna denounces Texans who continue to bring slaves into the region, and who circumvent Mexican law by calling slaves apprentices.

    Mexico’s Leaders Condemn Slavery in Texas
    Digital History ID 3657
    Author: Santa Anna


  3. The history of the Confederate is being erased from America’s history. Statues, paintings and flags are being removed from public views and in text book, the Confederate are now discussed as the dark decades in America’s history. However, there is no mention of our other founding fathers and leaders that have had slaves or have done worse to native American or British. Instead, they are our heroes!

    • @George A.: Nothing good ever comes from destroying history, as painful as it might be. It doesn’t solve anything, it only serves to prevent people who can learn from the past from doing so.

      I hiked up Stone Mountain in Georgia when I was a child. It didn’t make me into a Confederate from New Jersey, and I don’t want to see that monument destroyed! I had a long conversation with my father about the history of slavery in Georgia and the reasons for the Civil War during the walk. Now they’re ashamed to even show the sculpture and the website covers over the bas-relief with fireworks.


      At one time in this country, we thought margarine was health food, until it was found to basically be *poison.* So what do we do? Destroy all historical references to margarine?

  4. I love neo-Marxist authors that Philip is reading – those who developed land from zero gdp to the mightiest industrial superpower with no slave labor involved (aka west of Allegheny Mountains Pittsburgh, once worlds industrial centers and not a slouch nowadays either) are speculators, I guess vs righteous hard working proletariat of wall street, webmasters and BS writers: “speculators who had intended to develop the land between the Allegheny Mountains and the Mississippi, among whom were Benjamin Franklin…” I am getting (I am sure baseless) feelings that on this blog Franklin is regarded morally and intellectually below such great beacon of freedom and enlightenment as Putin. By the way, what exactly Franklin developed “between Allegheny Mountains and the Mississippi”, book printing enterprise? I thought that was in Philadelphia. Holy Zinn!

    • perplexed: But nearly all of what is good about the U.S. could have happened without a rebellion, no? Non-native people would probably have eventually settled farther west, but maybe in partnership with the Native Americans?

      Look at Canada! Despite frigid weather (we’re fixing that now!), they managed to thrive without ever going to war against the British.

    • Philip, it not would be not much fun without the rebellion. You suggest omitting “pursuing happiness”, it never works on the long term.

    • @philg: I think what perplexed is saying is more like: “Yes, there was slavery in the United States but we fought a very bloody war that ended it.” And if you’re going to single out the U.S. and the conduct of people here, you should also remember the efforts of abolitionists and all the people who wouldn’t countenance it. I know that was one of the reasons my great grandmother came here: she was poor but America had fought a civil war that ended slavery.

      You should also look at the link to the map and see the proportion of the slave trade and where most of them went – by far – Brazil.

      As far as the economics of King George III are concerned, I say: “Right on!” and we would be a lot better off if he was still around to write op-eds blasting our politicians on both sides of the aisle about the moral consequences of impoverishing future generations to satisfy the whims of the current one.

      I don’t understand why the United States seems to be trending toward the Worst of All Worlds. It’s very disturbing.

    • @philg: I should also add that although my great-grandmother knew about the outcome of the Civil War in America, she went to her death believing that Man (meaning humanity) had not actually landed a spacecraft on the moon. She was a “moon hoax” person, possibly because she distrusted anything on television. I remember her saying that “God would not allow it.”

      So she grasped the importance of one of the most significant events of the 19th Century but would not believe one of the most significant of the 20th Century actually happened.

    • Philip, many Native Americans, those who are not living on communist-managed reservations, are thriving now. After talking to distant family who live there and communicating with Canadian expatriates in the states I am not sure that I could stomach living in Canada. I am sure Florida has many Canadian expatriates, they could reflect to you on why they are in Florida. At least you could read something like https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4820.Mayflower
      I read more work on American founding (if I recall the titles I will post it). There colonists went under British crown rule unwillingly, due to loosing war to Native Americans in 1670-th on their own without British help. Royal economic policies in the colonies caused economic stagnation that lasted for one century and caused and ended with US Revolution. So it is against your assertion that “all of what is good about the U.S. could have happened without a rebellion”.
      Interesting, Mayflower colonists were explicitly told by their spiritual leader to rather pay tribute to native American tribes then ask Royal help. Among other things medical doctor who was one of the leaders on Plymouth colony sucked out slime out of throat of a local Chief. The war was with the tribe that protected Mayflower colonists when they arrived, it was mostly due to misunderstanding what private property and court of law meant. native chiefs kept reselling land that they already sold and sometimes killed farmers whom they sold it. When called to court they thought it was war. In the war the colonists were assisted by the enemy Native American tribe that tried to kill Mayflower pilgrims when they arrived. Apparently the welcoming tribe thought to use pilgrims as a leverage in inter-tribe politics and warfare. The welcoming tribe was winning the war because it embraced technology and used most current percussion muskets that were supplied by free-traders while pilgrims sentimentally clang to their matchlocks. One of first political acts of Mayflower pilgrims when they arrived was an attempt on gun control (not for themselves, for someone else) – they tried to expel Dutch trader(s) who supplied guns to Native Americans, unsuccessfully. Creating a tribe was akin to creating a start-up: enterprising shamans tried to collect followers and become chiefs of their own tribes. The tribes that survived in Massachusetts to this day are those who tried to cancel Mayflower – they were on the right side when British forces intervened. Mayflower welcoming tribe was decimated and sold to Caribbean islands.
      Real history is much more interesting and insightful and pseudo-Marxist mush.

    • Anon, not sure why Hoover institution thought last year that nuances of British aristocracy is a pressing issue for American conservatives, classical liberals and all scared with advancement of wokism. But the citation above that lumps names, geography and straw-men notions about America matches worst examples of socialist indoctrination that tries to masquerade as intellectualism. I do not think that Philip here is talking about British aristocracy and imperial colonial politics nuances. Hoover review claims that the book is about British intricacies and perception of events in the colonies.

    • Anon, after seeing like elites and some of British elites support their own in spite of obvious unfortunate debilitation of unlucky individual and how it costed them and those who relied on them, I would not believe a single source on British aristocracy and try to read more about same event, if I cared

    • perplexed: I’m sorry that Andrew Roberts and British historians do not pass your intellectual purity tests.

    • Anon, you are inventing my position for sake of your argument. Based on the citation above the book seems to be at best worthless as an authority on American history. I am not sure about how valuable it is as an authority on British aristocracy and parliament in second half on 18th century, I do not really care about the topic.
      I suggest always to double and tipple – check sources and if necessary go to archives.
      I have seen very popular pseudo-historic book by an Ivy League historian that contained huge lies by omissions, artificial stacking of event and even direct lies that totally crocked the narrative to fit political ideas championed by the historian and his biases. In that case I have happened to study great deal of archives and evidence as history in question had greatly affected my family. Due to high academic credentials of that “historian” I do not think that his work was an outlier. I repeat, I suggest always tripper-check any historic work before forming opinions, if opinions are important.

  5. perplexed,
    Franklin and his son were part of a venture to develop the Ohio area, but it never happened because of the Proclamation by the Crown.
    Franklin had a long life and several careers, and disowned his Loyalist son (who died poor in London after being Governor of NJ before the revolution).

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