War for Independence - History

War for Independence - History

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Indians in North America took various positions during the War of independence: some supported the Colonists, some the British and some remained neutral.

War for Independence

War for Independence
With the Declaration of Independence as its fuel, America entered a war for independence with Great Britain: the Revolutionary War. Throughout the war, America developed its first real feelings of nationalism and ended up being victorious in its fight for freedom.

Advantages/Disadvantages for Britain: The British were well equipped, well trained, and well disciplined. They had a strong navy to land troops, transport troops, guard communication and supply lines. Also, they had a large sum of money which could be used to hire foreign mercenaries. However, they were outnumbered by the U.S.

Advantages/Disadvantages for U.S.: Many colonists knew how to use firearms. They had a superior rifle range and accuracy over the smoothbore British muskets. Washington was a highly respected, experienced commander-in-chief, and they were fighting in their own territory. However, their naval power was less than that of Britain.

Loyalists/Tories: They were Anglican clergymen, ethnic and religious minorities, government officials, and some wealthy merchants comprised the Loyalists. About one-fifth to one-third of the population remained loyal to Britain. They felt that war was unnecessary to preserve the rights of the colonists, and maintained a respect for the monarchy. The majority of ethnic and religious minorities, however, were supporters of the revolution. Eighty thousand Loyalists left, leaving their positions for others.

John Adams: He was one of the first men to propose American independence when the Revolution began. Moreover, he served on the Committee on Independence, and also helped persuade the Second Continental Congress to adopt the Declaration of Independence. In Congress and in diplomatic missions abroad, he served the patriot cause.

Abigail Adams:
Even though she had a scarce formal education, she was among the most influential women of her day, particularly as a leader of fashion and social mediator. She was the wife of John Adams, and mother of John Quincy Adams. Also, she challenged the lack of equality for women and was a strong advocate of the Revolutionary War.

Mercy Otis Warren:
Before the imperial crisis, she was known for her nonpolitical poetry, but soon began writing political satires in the early 1770s. In doing so, she challenged the assumption that women were naturally dependent on men. The subordination of women, which was taken for granted, later became the subject of debate.

George Washington and the Revolution: George Washington created the Continental Army that had fought against the British. He was a strong influence in persuading the states to partake in the Constitutional Convention, and he used his prestige to help gain ratification of the Constitution. He earned a good reputation from the French and Indian War in 1763. His early military experience taught him the dangers of overconfidence and the necessity of determination when faced with defeat.

Edmund Burke: In 1766 he was elected to Parliament. Almost immediately Burke sought repeal of the Stamp Act. He urged justice and conciliation towards the American colonies in a pamphlet, Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, and in two speeches, "On American Taxation" and "Conciliation with America".

Benjamin Franklin and the Revolution: From, Pennsylvania, he served on the Committee for Independence in 1776. Moreover, as a prime minister to Britain, he along with John Adams and John Jay, signed a peace treaty between the U.S. and England, which concerned new American borders, on November 30, 1782.

Lafayette: The Marquis de Lafayette’s close connections with the French court in 1778 indicated that Louis XVI might recognize U.S. independence and declare war on Britain. After France and the United States entered into an alliance against Great Britain, Lafayette returned to France to further the granting of financial and military aid to the Americans.

George Rogers Clark: George Rogers Clark led 175 militia and French volunteers down the Ohio River and took several British forts along the northwestern Ohio Valley in the spring of 1778. He was a surveyor and a frontiersmen who also led successful military operations against Indians allied to the British on the western frontier.

Benedict Arnold:
He led one of the Continental Armies into Canada but was defeated. A fervent patriot, he later turned into a traitor. With 400 men, he attacked Fort Ticonderoga in April of 1775, along with Ethan Allen, who raised an army for the same purpose, but without command.

Robert Morris: When the United States, under the Articles of Confederation, was unable to prevent national bankruptcy, Congress turned to him. Hoping to panic the country into creating a regular source of national revenue, he engineered the Newburgh conspiracy along with Alexander Hamilton.

John Paul Jones: United States Captain John Paul Jones attacked the British territory, which raised American morale and prestige. He also led the famous ship, Bonhomme Richard, against Britain’s ship, the Serapis, in which the war was brought to England’s shores, boosting American morale and credibility.

The War at Sea: American captains such as John Paul Jones fought in this War at Sea during the War for Independence against Britain. Despite Britain’s naval advantage, on September 23, 1779, Jones engaged the British frigate, the Serapis, in the North Sea. This was the most famous naval battle in the war.

Continental Army:
Composed of colonial men, the Continental Army consisted of less than 10,000 men prepared for duty at one time. Out of the potential 250,000 men living in the colonies, the Continental Army was quite diminutive at the dawn of the war. Led by George Washington, this army fought in various battles such as Valley Forge.

Native Americans in the Revolutionary War:
The colonists’ expansion into the Ohio Valley drove the western Indians into allying with the British. In the East, the Iroquois in New York were neutral until 1777, when the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy split, leaving all but the Tuscaroras and most Oneidas on the side of the British.

Black Americans in the Revolutionary War: About 5,000 blacks served in the army and navy, mostly New England freemen, and fought in every major battle of the war. However, the South feared possible slave revolts, which inhibited use of blacks in the South. Governor Dunmore offered freedom to slaves who joined the British army.

Invasion of Canada: U.S. General Richard Montgomery forced the British to evacuate Montreal in 1775 and invade Canada. A second force led by Benedict Arnold invaded the land by combining an attack on Quebec however, it was a failure in that Montgomery was killed, Benedict was shot, and one-third of the colonial troops were killed or captured.

Battle of Bunker Hill (Breed’s Hill): Three British generals arrived in Boston in May, 1775 to assist General Gage. After two failed British attacks on Breed’s Hill, the colonists ran out of ammunition, and the British succeeded. The colonists now had two choices: to commit to a full-scale revolution, or to accept the rule of the British.

"Bonhomme Richard" and the "Serapis": John Paul Jones took command of a rebuilt French merchant ship and renamed it the U.S.S. Bonhomme Richard. On September 23, 1779, he engaged the British frigate, the Serapis, in the North Sea. This was the most famous naval battle in the American Revolution.

Conway Cabal:
United States Major General Thomas Conway wrote a letter to General Horatio Gates that revealed a military side of the Conway Cabal, which aimed at the removal of Washington as the leader of the Continental Army. Conway later resigned after subsequent public revelations, and was replaced by Friedrich von Steuben.

Reasons for the French Alliance of 1778: France entered into two treaties with America, in February, 1778. The first was a treaty of goodwill and commerce, and granted most favored nation status to one another. The second treaty was the French Alliance of 1778, to be effective if war broke out between Britain and France.

Saratoga: British General John Burgoyne felt overwhelmed by a force three times larger than his own, and surrendered on October 17, 1777. This forced the British to consider whether or not to continue the war. The U.S. victory at the Battle of Saratoga convinced the French that the U.S. deserved diplomatic recognition.

Valley Forge: American survivors from the Battle at Brandywine Creek marched through Valley Forge in early December, 1777. The Continental Army marched through Valley Forge while the British army rested miles away in Philadelphia. After the arrival of Baron Friedrich von Steuben, the Continental army emerged from Valley Forge.

Hessians: They were German mercenaries who were comprised of approximately 30,000 soldiers in the British army during the Revolutionary War. They fought among 162,000 other Britons and loyalists but were outnumbered by the 220,000 troops of the Continental Army.

the "black" regiment:
They were a group of dignified clergymen who preached against British tyranny and resistance to British authority in 1765. Because sermons were such a common form of communication, nearly every colonist saw public fasting and communication and were infected with the idea that it was a sin not to reject Britain.

General Thomas Gage:
He was the commander in chief of Britain’s military forces in America from 1763 to 1775. In April 1775, he issued the order for British troops to march on to concord and seize American weapons stored up there. During his career as commander in chief, he was appointed as the new governor of Massachussetts.

British Generals: Henry Clinton, William Howe, John Burgoyne: General Howe planned to set up headquarters in New York in 1776 but was delayed by Washington’s escape to Long Island. General Burgoyne was trapped at Saratoga in 1777 and was forced to surrender. General Clinton succeeded Howe as commander in chief in 1778.

Yorktown, Lord Cornwallis: Washington, along with Admiral de Grasse’s French fleet, trapped British General Cornwallis on the Yorktown peninsula. The Siege of Yorktown began in September of 1781, and ended when Cornwallis realized that he lost three key points around Yorktown and surrendered.

League of Armed Neutrality: The empress of Russia, Catherine II, made a declaration in 1780, restricting the category of contrabands to munitions and essential instruments of war. She also secured the freedom of the navigation of neutral nations, even to ports of belligerents. The U.S. could not join because it was fighting in the Revolutionary war.

Treaty of Paris, 1783: Great Britain and the United States signed the Treaty of Paris, which brought an end to the American Revolution, on September 3. Great Britain recognized the former 13 colonies as the free and self-governing United States of America.

French and British intrigue over U.S. boundaries (in Treaty of Paris): France and Britain shared much interest in American territory following the War for Independence. The French wanted to further continue their residence in Virginia, which led to further dispute between them and the colonists.

social impact of the war:
Women did not receive the status implied by the American Revolution’s ideals. Though the Revolution was fought in the name of liberty, slavery still existed, creating a paradox between the slavery and the freedom. However, slavery virtually ended in the North during the Revolutionary era.

How Revolutionary?: Even though the former colonies were joined under a central government provided by the Articles of Confederation, they still acted independently in various areas. Some state constitutions were identical to the English charters that had governed them. On the other hand, the idea of the separation of church and state grew stronger, toleration of religious minorities became more prevalent, inflation became widespread, industry was stimulated, and trade with foreign nations increased.

Disestablishment, Virginia Statue of Religious Freedom: Thomas Jefferson worked on the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom after independence was declared. It became a law in 1786, and was the model for the clause in the First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of religion. Separation of church and state became more popular.

New States Constitutions:
It was necessary for the former colonies to assemble new state governments after the fall of British authority in 1775. Massachusetts voters insisted that a constitution were made by a convention rather than the legislature, in hopes of implicitly making it superior to the legislatures. Most state constitutions included a bill of rights, although the constitutions ranged from extremely democratic models to unicameral legislatures.

Newburgh conspiracy:
The new nation under the Articles of Confederation was in a financial crisis. Through the Newburgh Conspiracy, which was engineered by Alexander Hamilton and Robert Morris, the army, whose pay was overdue, threatened to force the states into surrendering more power to the national government.


The Indonesian independence movement began in May 1908, which is commemorated as the "Day of National Awakening" (Indonesian: Hari Kebangkitan Nasional). Indonesian nationalism and movements supporting independence from Dutch colonialism, such as Budi Utomo, the Indonesian National Party (PNI), Sarekat Islam and the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), grew rapidly in the first half of the 20th century. Budi Utomo, Sarekat Islam and others pursued strategies of co-operation by joining the Dutch initiated Volksraad ("People's Council") in the hope that Indonesia would be granted self-rule. [15] Others chose a non-cooperative strategy demanding the freedom of self-government from the Dutch East Indies colony. [16] The most notable of these leaders were Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta, two students and nationalist leaders who had benefited from the educational reforms of the Dutch Ethical Policy.

The occupation of Indonesia by Japan for three and a half years during World War II was a crucial factor in the subsequent revolution. The Netherlands had little ability to defend its colony against the Japanese army, and within only three months of their initial attacks, the Japanese had occupied the Dutch East Indies. In Java, and to a lesser extent in Sumatra (Indonesia's two dominant islands), the Japanese spread and encouraged nationalist sentiment. Although this was done more for Japanese political advantage than from altruistic support of Indonesian independence, this support created new Indonesian institutions (including local neighbourhood organisations) and elevated political leaders such as Sukarno. Just as significantly for the subsequent revolution, the Japanese destroyed and replaced much of the Dutch-created economic, administrative, and political infrastructure. [17]

On 7 September 1944, with the war going badly for the Japanese, Prime Minister Koiso promised independence for Indonesia, but no date was set. [18] For supporters of Sukarno, this announcement was seen as vindication for his collaboration with the Japanese. [19]

Under pressure from radical and politicised pemuda ('youth') groups, Sukarno and Hatta proclaimed Indonesian independence, on 17 August 1945, two days after the Japanese Emperor's surrender in the Pacific. The following day, the Preparatory Committee for Indonesian Independence (PPKI) elected Sukarno as President, and Hatta as Vice-President. [20] [21] [22]


We, the people of Indonesia, hereby declare the independence of Indonesia.

Matters which concern the transfer of power etc. will be executed by careful means and in the shortest possible time.

Djakarta, 17 August 1945 [23]

In the name of the people of Indonesia,

[signed] Soekarno—Hatta

(Translation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, October 1948) [24]

Revolution and Bersiap Edit

It was mid-September before news of the declaration of independence spread to the outer islands, and many Indonesians far from the capital Jakarta did not believe it. As the news spread, most Indonesians came to regard themselves as pro-Republican, and a mood of revolution swept across the country. [25] External power had shifted it would be weeks before Allied Forces shipping entered Indonesia (owing in part to boycotts and strikes, in Australia, on coaling, loading and manning Dutch shipping from Australia where the Netherlands East Indies Government in exile was based). These strikes were only fully broken in July 1946. [26] The Japanese, on the other hand, were required by the terms of the surrender to both lay down their arms and maintain order a contradiction that some resolved by handing weapons to Japanese-trained Indonesians. [27] [28]

The resulting power vacuums in the weeks following the Japanese surrender, created an atmosphere of uncertainty, but also one of opportunity for the Republicans. [27] Many pemuda joined pro-Republic struggle groups (badan perjuangan). The most disciplined were soldiers from the Japanese-formed but disbanded Giyugun (PETA, volunteer army) and Heiho (local soldiers employed by Japanese armed forces) groups. Many groups were undisciplined, due to both the circumstances of their formation and what they perceived as revolutionary spirit. In the first weeks, Japanese troops often withdrew from urban areas to avoid confrontations. [29]

By September 1945, control of major infrastructure installations, including railway stations and trams in Java's largest cities, had been taken over by Republican pemuda who encountered little Japanese resistance. [29] To spread the revolutionary message, pemuda set up their own radio stations and newspapers, and graffiti proclaimed the nationalist sentiment. On most islands, struggle committees and militia were set up. [30] Republican newspapers and journals were common in Jakarta, Yogyakarta, and Surakarta, which fostered a generation of writers known as angkatan 45 ('generation of 45') many of whom believed their work could be part of the revolution. [29]

Republican leaders struggled to come to terms with popular sentiment some wanted passionate armed struggle others a more reasoned approach. Some leaders, such as the leftist Tan Malaka, spread the idea that this was a revolutionary struggle to be led and won by the Indonesian pemuda. Sukarno and Hatta, in contrast, were more interested in planning out a government and institutions to achieve independence through diplomacy. [31] Pro-revolution demonstrations took place in large cities, including one in Jakarta on 19 September with over 200,000 people, which Sukarno and Hatta, fearing violence, successfully quelled. [32]

By September 1945, many of the self-proclaimed pemuda, who were ready to die for '100% freedom', were getting impatient. It was common for ethnic 'out-groups' – Dutch internees, Eurasian, Ambonese and Chinese – and anyone considered to be a spy, to be subjected to intimidation, kidnap, robbery, murder and organised massacres. Such attacks would continue throughout the course of the revolution, but were most present during the 1945–46 period, which is known as the Bersiap. [33] [34] [35]

After the Bersiap in 1947 Dutch authorities attempted to retrieve the bodies of the victims and several survivors of the period provided legal testimony to the Attorney General office. Due to continued revolutionary warfare few bodies were found and few cases came to court. Around 3,500 graves of Bersiap victims can be found in the Kembang Kuning war cemetery in Surabaya and elsewhere. [ citation needed ]

The Simpang Society Club Surabaya was appropriated by the Pemudas of the Partai Rakyat Indonesia (P.R.I.) and made into the headquarters of P.R.I. commander Sutomo, who personally supervised the summary executions of hundreds of civilians. An archived eyewitness testimony of the events of 22 October 1945 states:

Before each execution Sutomo mockingly asked the crowd what should be done with this "Musuh (enemy) of the people". The crowd yelled "Bunuh!" (kill!) after which the executioner named Rustam decapitated the victim with one stroke of his sword. The victim was then left to the bloodthirst of boys 10, 11 and 12 years old. . [who] further mutilated the body." "Women were tied to the tree in the back yard and pierced through the genitals with "bambu runcing" (bamboo spears) until they died.

On Sutomo's orders the decapitated bodies were disposed of in the sea, the women were thrown in the river. [36] The death toll of the Bersiap period runs into the tens of thousands. The bodies of 3,600 Indo-Europeans have been identified as killed. However more than 20,000 registered Indo-European civilians were abducted and never returned. The Indonesian revolutionaries lost at least 20,000, often young, fighting men. Estimates of the number of Indonesian fighters killed in the lead up and during the Battle of Surabaya range from 6,300 to 15,000. [37] The Japanese forces lost around 1,000 soldiers and the British forces registered 660 soldiers, mostly British Indians, as killed (with a similar number missing in action). [38] The actual Dutch military were hardly involved, [39] as they only started to return to Indonesia in March and April 1946.

War for Independence - History

The war began at Lexington and Concord, more than a year before Congress declared independence. In 1775, the British believed that the mere threat of war and a few minor incursions to seize supplies would be enough to cow the colonial rebellion. Those minor incursions, however, turned into a full-out military conflict. Despite an early American victory in Boston, the new nation faced the daunting task of taking on the world’s largest military.

In the summer of 1776, the forces that had been at Boston arrived at New York. The largest expeditionary force in British history, including tens of thousands of German mercenaries known as “Hessians” followed soon after. New York was the perfect location to launch expeditions aimed at seizing control of the Hudson River and isolate New England from the rest of the continent. Also, New York contained many loyalists, particularly among the merchant and Anglican communities. In October, the British finally launched an attack on Brooklyn and Manhattan. The Continental Army took severe losses before retreating through New Jersey. With the onset of winter, Washington needed something to lift morale and encourage reenlistment. Therefore, he launched a successful surprise attack on the Hessian camp at Trenton on Christmas Day, by ferrying the few thousand men he had left across the Delaware River under the cover of night. The victory won the Continental Army much needed supplies and a morale boost following the disaster at New York.

An even greater success followed in upstate New York. In 1777, in an effort to secure the Hudson River, British General John Burgoyne led an army from Canada through upstate New York. There, he was to meet up with a detachment of General Howe’s forces marching north from Manhattan. However, Howe abandoned the plan without telling Burgoyne and instead sailed to Philadelphia to capture the new nation’s capital. The Continental Army defeated Burgoyne’s men at Saratoga, New York. This victory proved a major turning point in the war. Benjamin Franklin had been in Paris trying to secure a treaty of alliance with the French. However, the French were reluctant to back what seemed like an unlikely cause. News of the victory at Saratoga convinced the French that the cause might not have been as unlikely as they had thought. A “Treaty of Amity and Commerce” was signed on February 6, 1778. The treaty effectively turned a colonial rebellion into a global war as fighting between the British and French soon broke out in Europe and India.

Howe had taken Philadelphia in 1777 but returned to New York once winter ended. He slowly realized that European military tactics would not work in North America. In Europe, armies fought head-on battles in attempt to seize major cities. However, in 1777, the British had held Philadelphia and New York and yet still weakened their position. Meanwhile, Washington realized after New York that the largely untrained Continental Army could not match up in head-on battles with the professional British army. So he developed his own logic of warfare, which involved smaller, more frequent skirmishes and avoided any major engagements that would risk his entire army. As long as he kept the army intact, the war would continue, no matter how many cities the British captured.

In 1778, the British shifted their attentions to the South, where they believed they enjoyed more popular support. Campaigns from Virginia to Georgia captured major cities but the British simply did not have the manpower to retain military control. And, upon their departures, severe fighting ensued between local patriots and loyalists, often pitting family members against one another. The War in the South was truly a civil war.

By 1781, the British were also fighting France, Spain, and Holland. The British public’s support for the costly war in North America was quickly waning. The Americans took advantage of the British southern strategy with significant aid from the French army and navy. In October, Washington marched his troops from New York to Virginia in an effort to trap the British southern army under the command of Gen. Charles Cornwallis. Cornwallis had dug his men in at Yorktown awaiting supplies and reinforcements from New York. However, the Continental and French armies arrived first, quickly followed by a French navy contingent, encircling Cornwallis’s forces and, after laying siege to the city, forcing his surrender. The capture of another army left the British without a new strategy and without public support to continue the war. Peace negotiations took place in France and the war came to an official end on September 3, 1783.

Lord Cornwallis’s surrender signalled the victory of the American revolutionaries over what they considered to be the despotic rule of Britain. This moment would live on in American memory as a pivotal one in the nation’s origin story, prompting the United States government to commission artist John Trumbull to create this painting of the event in 1817. John Trumbull, Surrender of Lord Cornwallis, 1820. Wikimedia.

Americans celebrated their victory, but it came at great cost. Soldiers suffered through brutal winters with inadequate resources. During the single winter at Valley Forge, over 2,500 Americans died from disease and exposure. Life was not easy on the home front either. Women on both sides of the conflict were frequently left alone to care for their households. In addition to their existing duties, women took on roles usually assigned to men on farms and in shops and taverns. Abigail Adams addressed the difficulties she encountered while “minding family affairs” on their farm in Braintree, Massachusetts. Abigail managed the planting and harvesting of crops, in the midst of severe labor shortages and inflation, while dealing with several tenants on the Adams’ property, raising her children, and making clothing and other household goods. In order to support the family economically during John’s frequent absences and the uncertainties of war, Abigail also invested in several speculative schemes and sold imported goods.

While Abigail remained safely out of the fray, other women were not so fortunate. The Revolution was, in essence, a civil war fought on women’s very doorsteps, in the fields next to their homes. There was no way for women to avoid the conflict, or the disruptions and devastations it caused. As the leader of the state militia during the Revolution, Mary Silliman’s husband, Gold, was absent from their home for much of the conflict. On the morning of July 7, 1779, when a British fleet attacked nearby Fairfield, Connecticut, it was Mary who calmly evacuated her household, including her children and servants, to North Stratford. When Gold was captured by loyalists and held prisoner, Mary, six months pregnant with their second child, wrote letters to try and secure his release. When such appeals were ineffectual, Mary spearheaded an effort to capture a prominent Tory leader to exchange for her husband’s freedom.

Men and women together struggled through years of war and hardship. But even victory brought uncertainty. The Revolution created as many opportunities as it did corpses, and it was left to the survivors to determine the future of the new nation.

Another John Trumbull piece commissioned for the Capitol in 1817, this painting depicts what would be remembered as the moment the new United States became a republic. On December 23, 1783, George Washington, widely considered the hero of the Revolution, resigned his position as the most powerful man in the former thirteen colonies. Giving up his role as Commander-in-Chief of the Army insured that civilian rule would define the new nation, and that a republic would be set in place rather than a dictatorship. John Trumbull, General George Washington Resigning His Commission, c. 1817-1824. Wikimedia.

New British Strategy in North America - 1781

General Henry Clinton, a now lone General in the war against the Colonies after the surrender of Lord Charles Cornwallis, received new orders from London. Having a meeting with his most senior officers, General Clinton had no choice but execute the new plans of strategy and tactical operations which were designed to be harsh and brutal but now necessary if Britain wanted to continue the war. Destroying Rebel ports, towns along the east-coast, inspiring and regulating Loyalist forces into waging a massive guerrilla war. Strongly aiding and supplying Native American allies in their fight against the Colonials, promising them return of lost land.

Robert I (1306–29)

In several years of mixed fortunes thereafter, Robert the Bruce had both the English and his opponents within Scotland to contend with. Edward I’s death in 1307 and the dissension in England under Edward II were assets that Robert took full advantage of. He excelled as a statesman and as a military leader specializing in harrying tactics it is ironic that he should be remembered best for the atypical set-piece battle that he incurred and won at Bannockburn in 1314. The Declaration of Arbroath of 1320 is perhaps more informative about his methods. Ostensibly a letter from the magnates of Scotland to the pope, pledging their support for King Robert, it seems in reality to have been framed by Bernard de Linton, Robert’s chancellor. In committing Robert to seeing the independence struggle through, it likewise committed those who set their seals to it. Some of them were waverers in the national cause, whether or not Robert had proof of this at the time, and his hand was now strengthened against them.

In 1328 Robert secured from England, through the Treaty of Northampton, a recognition of Scotland’s independence the following year the pope granted to the independent kings of Scots the right to be anointed with holy oil. However, Robert also died in 1329. By the appropriate standards of medieval kingship, his success had been total, but, because of the nature of medieval kingship, his successor was left with the same struggle to wage all over again.

War for Independence : A Military History

The American victory in the Revolutionary War came as a surprise to people all over the world. Believing that successful wars were fought by professionals and aristocrats, they could not understand how ragged and hungry troops of ill-assorted civilians were able to defeat one of the world's strongest professional armies.

This book is an effort to explain how and why that upset was accomplished. Alternating with scene and summary, the narrative has pace and proportion. Battles fall into campaigns, and campaigns interpret strategy. Commanders are deftly characterized, and flashes of insight illuminate victories and defeats. There emerges a picture of American soldiers as tougher and more deeply motivated fighters than the uncommitted British and German professionals. The book also demonstrates how highly prized were the rights that the revolutionists sought to confirm or establish, and serves as a reminder today that some ideas are worth risking life for.

"What is most amazing about this excellent history is Prof. Peckham's ability to retell these . . . legendary events . . . in a way which enriches and absorbs the reader."—Robert Kirsch, Los Angeles Times

Lies My Teacher Told Me: The True History of the War for Southern Independence

We Sons of Confederate Veterans are charged with preserving the good name of the Confederate soldier. The world, for the most part, has acknowledged what Gen. R. E. Lee described in his farewell address as the “valour and devotion” and “unsurpassed courage and fortitude” of the Confederate soldier. The Stephen D. Lee Institute program is dedicated to that part of our duty that charges us not only to honour the Confederate soldier but “to vindicate the cause for which he fought.” We are here to make the case not only for the Confederate soldier but for his cause. It is useless to proclaim the courage, skill, and sacrifice of the Confederate soldier while permitting him to be guilty of a bad cause.

Although their cause was lost it was a good cause and still has a lot to teach the world today.

In this age of Political Correctness there has never been a greater need and greater opportunity to refresh our understanding of what happened in America in the years 1861–1865 and start defending our Southern forebears as strongly as they ought to be defended. There is plenty of true history available to us. It is our job to make it known.

All the institutions of American society, including nearly all Southern institutions and leaders, are now doing their best to separate the Confederacy off from the rest of American history and push it into one dark little corner labeled “ Slavery and Treason.” Being taught at every level of the educational system is the official party line that everything good that we or anyone believe about our Confederate ancestors is a myth, and by myth they mean a pack of lies that Southerners thought up to excuse their evil deeds and defeat.

It was not always so. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Jimmy Carter were not ashamed to be photographed with a Confederate flag. Dwight Eisenhower wrote a letter rebuking and correcting someone who had called R.E. Lee a traitor. In the newsreels of World War II and Korea our flag can be seen painted on fighter planes and flying over Marine tents. In the first half of the 20th century every single big Hollywood star played an admirable Confederate character in the movies at least once.

Those days are gone forever as you well know, although I doubt if you know how really bad it is. When we had the controversy over the flag in South Carolina a few years ago, some 90 or more historians issued a statement declaring that the war was about slavery and nothing but slavery and that all contrary ideas are invalid. They claimed that this was not simply their opinion, it was irrefutable fact established by them as experts in history. They did not put it exactly this way, but they were saying that our ancestors were despicable and that you and I are stupid and deluded in thinking well of them.

There are a hundred different things wrong with this statement. These historians are not speaking from knowledge or evidence, they are merely expressing the current fashion in historical interpretation. It is a misuse of history, indeed an absurdity, to reduce such a large and complex event as the War for Southern Independence to such simplistic and self-righteous terms. Historical interpretations change over time. Fifty years ago the foremost American historians believed that the war was primarily about economic interests and that slavery was a lesser issue. Fifty years from now, if people are still permitted to voice ideas that differ from the official government party line, historians will be saying something else.

Remember this. History is human experience and you do not have to be an “expert” to have an opinion about human experience. Furthermore, the kindergarten lesson of history is that human experience can be seen from more than one perspective. Never let yourself be put down by a so-called expert who claims to know more about your ancestors than you do. The qualities needed for understanding history are not some special expertise, but are the same qualities you look for in a good juror—the ability to examine all the evidence and weigh it fairly.

And history is not some disembodied truth. All history is the story of somebody’s experience. It is somebody’s history. When we talk about the War it is our history we are talking about, it is a part of our identity. To tell libelous lies about our ancestors is a direct attack on who we are.

It is right and natural for all people to honour their forefathers. We have every right to honour our Confederate forebears because they are ours, but there is more to it than that. We Southerners are especially fortunate in our forefathers. They not only won a place in the hearts of us, their descendants. They also won the lasting admiration of everyone in the civilized world who values an indomitable spirit in defense of freedom. That is why our battle-flag, which is being suppressed in this country, appeared spontaneously at the fall of the Berlin Wall and among peoples celebrating their liberation from communism.

Our Confederates are admired by the world to a degree seldom granted to lost causes. I find that thoughtful Europeans speak respectfully of the Confederacy, as did Winston Churchill. Foreigners have a great advantage in judging the right and wrong of the War between the States. They do not automatically assume that everything Yankees do and say is righteous, true, and unselfish. They view Yankees without the rose-coloured glasses with which Yankees view themselves.

The most basic simple fact about the War is that it was a war of invasion and conquest. Once you get clear on this basic fact, everything else falls into place. This is no secret. It is plain in the record. The rulers of the North openly declared that it was a war of conquest, to crush and punish disobedience to government, to create a powerful centralised state, and to keep the South as a captive source of wealth for Northern business and politicians. Lincoln’s pretty words about saving government of, by, and for the people are window dressing and the exact opposite of the truth. This is not preserving the Union. It is using war to turn the Union into something else that it was not meant to be.

The U.S. government, under the control of a minority party, launched a massive invasion of the South. They destroyed the democratic, legitimate, elected governments of fourteen States, killed as many of our forefathers as they could, deprived them of their citizenship, subjected them to military occupation, and did many other things that no American, North or South, could previously have imagined were possible.

Though they had four times our resources, they were not able to defeat our men, so the U.S. government launched an unprecedentedly brutal war of terrorism again Southern women and children, white and black. The war was so unpopular in the North that thousands of people were imprisoned by the army without due process, elections were conducted at bayonet point, and they had to import 300,000 foreigners to fill up the army.

This was the war—a brutal war of conquest and occupation against the will of millions of Americans. Was the reason for this the righteous desire to free the slaves?

I want to talk about the Constitution and the rights of the States as our forefathers understood them. No subject in American history has been more neglected or dealt with more trivially and dishonestly, and yet there are not many subjects in American history that are more important. The more one studies it, the clearer it becomes that our forefathers were right. The Southern understanding of the Constitution has never been refuted. It can’t be. It was simply crushed.

According to the Declaration of Independence, governments rest on the consent of the people, who may alter or abolish them when they no longer serve their rightful ends. This is the bedrock American principle.

In every system there must be, at least in theory, a sovereign —a final authority for the settlement of all questions. All Americans are agreed that the people are sovereign. (Actually the people are not sovereign any more, which is part of the tragedy of our lost cause. Sovereignty is now exercised by the President and the Supreme Court .)

But if we say, as earlier Americans did, that the people are sovereign, what do we mean by the people? Our forefathers had a very clear answer to this. State rights was not, despite what they will tell you, something that was made up to defend slavery. It was the most honoured American tradition, implicit in the way the United States Constitution was set up and made valid. The right of the people of a State to exercise their sovereign will and secede from the Union was taken for granted at the Founding of the United States.

James Madison, called the Father of the Constitution, said that the Constitution should be interpreted according to the opinion of the people of the states when they ratified it, and that the Tenth Amendment, which limited the government to specific powers and left all others to the states and the people, was the cornerstone of the Constitution. Just before his election as President Thomas Jefferson drafted the Kentucky Resolutions which stated in absolutely clear language that sovereignty rested in the people of each state. He maintained this before, during, and after he was President. (I know of a case where a graduate student wrote about Jefferson’s and Madison’s position on State rights. A tenured professor of American history at a large state university told the student that he had made it up because it couldn’t be true. Remember this when you hear “expert” professors laying down the law about history.)

Even Alexander Hamilton, the greatest advocate of a strong central government, stated that the government would never have any right to coerce a State. Jefferson in his later years took it for granted that the Union would break up—probably into eastern and western confederacies. There was nothing wrong with that. The sacred thing was not the Union but the consent of the people, which might be better represented in two or three confederacies rather than one. What, after all, is wrong with Americans creating other Unions if that is what the people want?

If time allowed I could give you quotations from now until Christmas proving that the right of secession was clearly understood at the establishment of the Constitution and for long after. But let me try to illustrate my point.

In 1720 the people of South Carolina, acting through their own legislature and militia, exercised their sovereign will by declaring themselves independent of the Lords Proprietors who claimed to own their territory. In 1775, acting in the same exercise of their sovereign will, they threw out the King’s government and became an independent nation. And they made this good well before the joint Declaration of Independence by defeating a British attack on Charleston. In 1787 the people through a convention specially elected to express their sovereign will considered whether or not to ratify the United States Constitution. If you believe that government rests on the consent of the people, then this is the only place the consent could be given. And it was an entirely free act of a sovereign who could say yea or nay without responsibility to any other authority. They ratified the Constitution under the understanding that they were joining in a Union that would be of mutual benefit to all the partners. This was the will of the only sovereign, the people of each State.

In 1860, the people of South Carolina assembled once more in a convention and repealed their previous ratification of the Constitution, which as a sovereign people they were entitled to do. They were now once more an independent nation as they had been before they had given their consent to the Union. They did this because the Union was no longer to their benefit but had become a burden and a danger. They said: We have acted in good faith and been very patient. But obviously you people in control of the federal government intend permanently to exploit our wealth and interfere in our affairs. Our contract with you no longer serves it purpose of mutual benefit and is hereby dissolved.

As you know, our North Carolina people did not want to bring on a crisis. They did not rush into secession, though they were never in doubt about their right. Then Lincoln announced that the legitimate governments of the seven seceded States were not States at all but are merely what he called “combinations of lawbreakers.” According to him, the act of the people was merely a crime problem. Once you had accepted the federal government the consent of the people could never be exercised again . He ordered the States to disperse within 30 days and obey his authority, or else. The issue was now clear for our State and the sovereign people of North Carolina elected a convention that unanimously seceded from affiliation with the United States.

Our forefathers were right, and they knew they were right. Their Lost Cause was a loss for all Americans and for the principle that governments must rest on the consent of the people. Imagine for a moment how different our situation would be today if we were able to get together and disobey the federal government which has usurped our right to consent to our rulers.

But I am of good cheer. One of the bad South-hating historians recently whined in print that even though he and other brilliant experts have declared the truth over and over, people still continue to admire the Confederacy and honour that mythical Lost Cause. They think we are not as wise as they. Why, people still write novels and songs about Lee and even about his horse! Why doesn’t anyone write about Grant and his men like that? That they can’t understand this tells you what kind of people they are.

Here is our great advantage. Our Confederate ancestors are truly admirable, and decent people all over the world know it. Let’s always remember that.

About Clyde Wilson

Clyde Wilson is a distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the University of South Carolina where he was the editor of the multivolume The Papers of John C. Calhoun. He is the M.E. Bradford Distinguished Chair at the Abbeville Institute. He is the author or editor of over thirty books and published over 600 articles, essays and reviews and is co-publisher of www.shotwellpublishing.com, a source for unreconstructed Southern books. More from Clyde Wilson

The Battle of Sag Harbor In The War For Independence

Monument at the site of the Battle of Sag Harbor on Long Island. Dedicated May 23, 1902.

Long Island was a war zone during the American Revolution. At times, with tightening British military control of New York City and its environs, the glorious cause for independence appeared to turn into a lost cause for local Patriots and the American army.

A major battle had ended in defeat for the Patriots on the Heights of Guan. General George Washington and his army barely escaped capture through the fog of night. Thousands of Americans suffered from disease and infections from the deplorable conditions on British prison ships anchored in Wallabout Bay. Many died and their remains were committed to watery graves. Farther east, the farms and woods of Long Island witnessed clandestine activities by a rebel spy network that extended to Setauket while frequent confrontations between Loyalist and Patriot citizenry, many from the same families, resulted in death. Skirmishes and raids involving rival militias, the Continental Army, British regulars and Hessian mercenaries blanketed the plains and probed the shores from Hempstead to Montauk.

Patriot raids on the crown’s outposts on the island initiated in Connecticut. Americans crossed Long Island Sound at night. They navigated the bays and coves on its north shore, marched quietly to prevent discovery and penetrated fortifications across the width and along the length of the island. Throughout the war, the daring excursions generated several rewarding results for the American cause.

The Battle of Sag Harbor possessed these same tactics. However, in this fight, the Patriots faced the duel challenge of negotiating the twin forks at the end of Long Island.

Sag Harbor Raid

The Battle of Sag Harbor, also known as Meigs Raid, was a response to a successful British raid on a Patriot supply depot in Danbury, Connecticut, during late April 1777. The Battle of Ridgefield was part of that campaign. Associated with this battle are the celebrated ride of 16-year-old Sybil Ludington to turn out the Patriot militias and the heroism of General Benedict Arnold for the American side.

The Long Island retribution was organized in New Haven by Brigadier General Samuel Holden Parsons. According to his report to General Washington, a force of 234 men from several regiments assembled at New Haven under the command of Connecticut Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs. The troops rowed 13 whaleboats to Guilford on May 21. Rough seas and high winds prevented the force from crossing Long Island Sound until the afternoon of May 23. Two armed sloops and one unarmed sloop accompanied the raiders. Only 170 arrived near Southold on the North Fork of Long Island at approximately 6 p.m.

British troops had occupied Sag Harbor on the South Fork of Long Island since the August 1776 Battle of Long Island (also known as the Battle of Brooklyn). A strong defensive position had been established on Meeting House Hill. Earthworks protected about 70 soldiers attached to the Loyalist unit of Lieutenant Colonel Stephen De Lancey (the family spelling also is listed as de Lancy and Delancey). These troops were under the command of Captain James Raymond. The ships of the Royal Navy that patrolled the eastern end of Long Island Sound obtained provisions from Sag Harbor when anchored in nearby Gardiner’s Bay.

Following his arrival in Southold, Colonel Meigs scouted the area. He learned that most of the British soldiers had been dispatched to New York City and only the small force of De Lancey’s Loyalists remained at Sag Harbor. Miegs’ men carried 11 of the whaleboats across the island’s North Fork to reach one of the bays between the two forks. The boats were relaunched with 130 men rowing toward Sag Harbor. By midnight, the Patriots landed about four miles from the harbor. Meigs formed his men for the short march, arriving at the harbor at about two o’clock in the morning.

The commander then divided his force. One detachment stormed the earthworks on nearby Meeting House Hill. The second detachment of about 40 men was assigned to destroy British boats and eliminate or capture provisions.

The attack on the hill was conducted in silence with fixed bayonets. Only one shot was reported to have been fired by a soldier. At the waterfront, a British schooner of 12 guns opened fire on the Americans as they burned the boats. Twelve boats were destroyed. Six Loyalists were killed. The Americans did not suffer any casualties. The raiders grabbed 53 prisoners at the garrison and 37 at the wharf. The prisoners were evacuated to Connecticut.

Aftermath And Today

The victory at Sag Harbor marked the first significant American success in New York State since New York City and Long Island had fallen to the British. Additional Patriot operations, including raids and Washington’s spy network, continued on Long Island for the remainder of the war.

In recognition for his success, Colonel Meigs was awarded “an elegant sword” by the Second Continental Congress. A stone commemorating the battle was placed on the site on May 23, 1902.

Today, the hill that was occupied by the Loyalist garrison and attacked by the Patriots is a local cemetery. Many headstones date to the late 1700s and a considerable number of the interred are local Patriots. At the battle site, by blocking out modern intrusions, a visitor can gaze upon the slope of the property and visualize the fight for independence that took place here almost 250 years ago.

Mike Virgintino is the author of Freedomland U.S.A.: The Definitive History, the story about America’s theme park published by Theme Park Press. It can be found on Amazon, eBay, Goodreads and Barnes & Noble. Just click on pic for a direct link to Amazon.

A listing of the Revolutionary War soldiers interred in the cemetery.

A headstone for a Revolutionary War soldier on the site of the Battle of Sag Harbor.

The Battle of Sag Harbor at the end of Long Island occurred on this hill that is the final resting place for local Patriots who fought for independence.

Great American War for Independence Activity Ideas

I love these books so I can find extra activities to toss into my lessons. Plus, many of the books also contain lots of interesting information that I can share with my students. Also look for "George Washington for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities" (For Kids series) by Brandon Marie Miller, "The American Revolution" (History Comes Alive Teaching Unit, Grades 4-8) by Jacqueline Glasthal, �sy Simulations: American Revolution: A Complete Toolkit With Background Information, Primary Sources, and More That Help Students Build Reading and . Deepen Their Understanding of History” by Renay Scott, 𠇊merican Revolution (Hands-On History)𠇛y Michael Gravois, “Revolutionary War Days: Discover the Past with Exciting Projects, Games, Activities, and Recipes𠇛y David C. King, and “Hands-On History: American History Activities” by Garth Sundem.

Watch the video: Unabhängigkeitserklärung der USA 4. Juli 1776 Zahlen schreiben Geschichte ARTE