British View of American Independence

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Imported, Nov 12, 2003.

  1. Imported

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    H8Monga: I was wondering from our friends across the little big pond, what is taught about the American colonies fighting for independence? Is it looked upon as a defeat and loss or with pride that the mother country's daughter grew up big and strong? I've wanted to know this. Thanks.
     
  2. Imported

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    tracksuitboy: Independence?  You're indepedent?  Blimey, how the world has changed!

    < tut tuts to himself and goes back to his corner of the room muttering "whatever next" >
     
  3. Imported

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    tracksuitboy: Hapi,

    I don't remember being taught anything about the War of Independance - obviously Americans will be taught it as it is a major part of your history but for us Brits it is a relatively small matter.  In my secondary education we concentrated on British history 1815-1945, so clearly the war was outside of the time frame.

    Most of my knowledge of the war has come from reading or seeing things on TV.  We thought the New World should be ours (blimey, in those days Great Britain thought it should own the whole world ... mind you, we had a fair portion of it!).  You fought us and we lost.  To me it's no big deal.  Yes, we lost a war but then we made up for it later, particularly during 1914-1918 and 1939-1945!

    Perhaps Longtimelurker or another bright Brit may be able to contribute here.

    TSB
     
  4. Max

    Max New Member

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    I remember that there was a big exhibition staged in Greenwich around the 300th anniversary back in the 1976 ... but I agree with TSB, that the American war of independence doesn't feature very strongly in the UK mindset .. you may think because it's one we lost.

    But in my generation we seemed to start way back with the Romans and Hadrian's Wall at Primary School, and by the time we got to the 18th century they seemed to run out of steam. Later, funnily enough I studied exactly the same period as TSB; maybe things haven't changed much.

    These days they would be far more likely to study what most affected the lives of the people ... in the 18th cent. this was not the colonial war but the Agrarian and Industrial Revolutions.
     
  5. Imported

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    longtimelurker: Maybe it's something that is covered more in more advanced levels, but my political history GCSE (16 y o exam) covered 1st & 2nd world wars, rise of communism and US and Russia as superpowers (dealing with Vietnam, Cuban missile crisis, cold war etc.).

    In fact, the only issue with loss of empire that I remember studying at school was Ghandi and the Indian resistance in RE.

    As tracksuitboy mentioned, this is something that features a lot more prominently in your country's history than ours - after all, at the height of empire we ruled over about 50% of the world's population, covering every loss would be a bit excessive!
     
  6. Ralexx

    Ralexx Member

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    ***One non-British, two answers :

    1. The American Revolution (and the subsequent independence) is studied in Roumania (6th grade = 12 y.o., 10th grade = 16 y.o.) and even France.

    2. An American journalist told a British minister in 1930s : « You, the British, are an invincible nation. You were defeated only by us, the Americans, in 1776. But we were English in those times. »***
     
  7. Imported

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    tracksuitboy: [quote author=Raal Lexx link=board=99;num=1068625567;start=0#5 date=11/12/03 at 10:36:44]
    2. An American journalist told a British minister in 1930s : « You, the British, are an invincible nation. You were defeated only by us, the Americans, in 1776. But we were English in those times. »***
    [/quote]

    I'll second that! Don't mess with the Brits!
     
  8. Imported

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    nsh001: I avoided history at school, so don't remember much about the US war of independence. Probably regarded more as the story of a grossly incompetent King than anything to do with the US.

    As others have said, it's not a big deal. If there hadn't been a war of independence, the position today would still have been much the same. Except maybe the USA would be more like Canada or Australia, and some of us wonder whether that would be an improvement. :D
     
  9. Imported

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    7x6andchg: Well...we'd have that extra U in words...and we'd say shed-ual.

    Well, yes...but one has to admit, given the CURRENT state of affairs, this loss looms larger than most.

    I find it fascinating that your history courses don't particularly concentrate on it....although, in concert, I'm one of the few people I know who can name the last 6 British monarchs in reverse chronological order.

    7x6&C
     
  10. Pecker

    Pecker Retired Moderator
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    I always figured that the Brits would teach that the Empire had simply emancipated a spoiled child.

    :D

    Pecker

    When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
     
  11. Imported

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    longtimelurker: [quote author=7x6+C link=board=99;num=1068625567;start=0#8 date=11/12/03 at 15:27:24]
    Well, yes...but one has to admit, given the CURRENT state of affairs, this loss looms larger than most.
    [/quote]

    But I'm not so sure about how the Americas stood in terms of wealth generation in comparison to the rest of the empire at the time. I mean - it was a long way away, so was difficult to transport goods to/from and it was settled as basically undeveloped land. Other colonies, for instance in Africa, would have much larger mineral wealth, a larger population to work it and would have been easier to collect returns from.

    Just taking into account the current situation would just sound like a 'hah, we ruled you once, you know!' - not a very constructive attitude to take to say the least!
     
  12. Imported

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    7x6andchg: No...very true. But hindsight is always 20/20.

    I, for one, wouldn't mind being a bit more like Canada sometimes. ;D
     
  13. Imported

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    gigantikok: In regards to American independence not being a big deal in the UK:

    Well, history is written by the winners, for sure. We won, so we make a big deal out of it here. But i suppose you are right, it is one war you guys over there lost, so I see no reason why your culture would pump up the historical event more then it needs to be.
     
  14. Imported

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    SpeedoGuy: While I'm proud the Yankee rebels had the courage and perseverence to win the fight against the King's troops and establish a new nation, we shouldn't forget a large measure of assistance from the French army and navy made it possible. Not that the French monarchy was all that enamored of a rabble of backwoods merchants and frontiersmen, but, rather, assistance to the Americans would in turn weaken the British Empire.

    SG

    p.s. I thought my history classes did a decent job on illuminating distant past events such as the revolutionary war and adoption of the constitution. On the other hand, I felt I had been shortchanged on coverage of relatively current events (say, since WWII). It seems reading up on recent history is left mainly to the students themselves, if they are interested. I sure was.
     
  15. Imported

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    7x6andchg: Very true, SG....and yet we still call them Freedom Fries...for such a young nation, we tend to forget what little history we have, IMHO.
     
  16. Imported

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    SpeedoGuy: Hey that reminds me while we're on this subject...

    Brits and Euros:

    Remembrance, and even celebration, of wars and battles long past is somewhat of an industry in the U.S. For example, every summer we have thousands of average citizens dressing up as Civil War soldiers and organizing into brigades that stage mock battles against each other in parks on major holidays. Sometimes hundreds of participants are out there marching and maneuvering and firing as the real combatants did. These demonstrations come complete with authentic uniforms, firing weapons and even full size cannon which are filled with gunpowder and fired.

    I've never had much interest in participating in this kind of thing (I'd rather just go hiking) but I've seen a couple of the "battles" and they are impressive and noisy.

    Anyway, does anything like this happen in the UK or Europe? Or is the memory of so many wars too recent and vivid for there to be much interest in such things.

    just interested

    SG
     
  17. Max

    Max New Member

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    Yes Speedo,

    But you need to remember that European countries have a whole lot more history, so it is less natural for us to concentrate on any one particular bit of it.

    But we have Civil War societies ... otherwise sensible men (and women) roaming over large areas of countryside dressed in 17th century costume fighting the battles of the 1640s between Charles I and Parliament.

    Roundheads v Cavaliers. But that meant something a bit different when I was at school ;) and would put most of you American males definitely in the Roundhead camp, from what I've read on here.
     
  18. B_DoubleMeatWhopper

    B_DoubleMeatWhopper New Member

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    [quote author=Max link=board=99;num=1068625567;start=0#16 date=11/12/03 at 21:54:32]But we have Civil War societies ... otherwise sensible men (and women) roaming over large areas of countryside dressed in 17th century costume fighting the battles of the 1640s between Charles I and Parliament.
    [/quote]

    Guess what, Max? We have English Civil War societies here in the US, too! Some American historical reenactors prefer the Cavalier era over others, so we have Americans dressing as Charles I, Henrietta Maria, Cromwell, etc., and playing out the events as a festival.
     
  19. Ralexx

    Ralexx Member

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    Messieurs ! Why do I have a feeling there isn't that much written in US history books about France's role in the American independence... :p Lafayette, Rochambeau, the peace treaty at Versailles, Benjamin Franklin, etc. As a poll revealed in 1995, 80% of the questioned Americans stated that "France had no role in 1776-1783". Which is, uugh, completely wrong...
    Well ? (Just wondering for the sake of my adoptive nation... ;))
     
  20. Imported

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    throb919: En contraire, mon frère Radu! "Lafayette" in various spellings is one of the most common place names in the United States. Fayetteville, North Carolina, is home to the largest military installation in the world, Fort Bragg. We do, in fact give props to France for their role in the Revolution. (And a shout-out to Javier and his peeps, too. The first foreign aid the US was ever involved in was as a recipient, accepting a loan from The Netherlands when we were struggling. Dank u!)
     
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