Perhaps the best contemporary history of the American Revolution, along with that of David Ramsey, is by Mercy Otis Warren, a cousin of Abigail Adams, and sister of James Otis, who coined the phrase, “taxation without representation is tyranny,” and wife of James Warren. Not only was Mrs. Warren a historian, but also perhaps our first great playwright. Finally, her view of the Revolution is best appreciated in the light of the fact that she later became a staunch Anti-Federalist, rather critical of what she saw as John Adams “monarchical” tendencies.
Most importantly, she dated the beginning of the Revolution from that dreary October day in 1768 when British troops disembarked from troop ships in Boston Harbor, before a sullen crowd of angry Bostonians.
In an age when America’s “standing armies” are stationed not only in this nation, but in hundreds of bases abroad, it is difficult for contemporary Americans to comprehend the “radical” worldview of the generation that made the American Revolution.
A residue of the English Revolution of the previous century was the “no standing armies” in England act of 1694. Today, Americans cannot understand the importance of the Second Amendment outside of this long tradition of opposition to standing armies.
Faced with an opposition in both Ireland and the American colonies, British politicians and military leaders skirted such laws, much as today’s Neocons have done through elevating the power of the presidency, by placing a large standing army in Halifax, Nova Scotia, part of the fruits of the victory over the French in Canada.
At the apex of the North Atlantic Triangle, this “Rapid Deployment Force,” to use Jimmy Carter’s later imperial phrase, the “standing army” could be sent either against the relatively unarmed Irish, or the unruly Americans. It was this army to which Patrick Henry was referring when he asked what enemy the King had in this hemisphere that a standing garrison of 10,000 troops was necessary?
The Bostonians had soon enough found out. That occupation would soon lead to such events as the Boston Massacre in 1770, an inevitable consequence of such occupations whether in America then, or Iraq and Afghanistan today.
And, like those in the Middle East today, the Americans were “a people numerous and armed,” and unlikely to submit to an unending occupation by a standing army of British troops.
If President Obama wants to learn more about the hazards of ongoing military occupations, perhaps a good place to start is Mrs. Warren’s History of our own Revolution, which began as an opposition to the occupation of Boston, and escalated later against the notion that British troops could also control outlying villages such as Lexington and Concord! That 1,300+ pp. History is on the Internet, and can even be accessed from his beloved BlackBerry. It just might have some relevance to Afghanistan today!