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Tophatdoc
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sengejuri
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History Revisited #003: Americans did not decisvely win the American Revolution

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/14/2014 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 751 times Debate No: 49107
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Tophatdoc

Pro

This debate is part of a series which I call "History Revisited." I as Pro will be arguing the Americans did not decisively win the American Revolution. Rather the war ended in a draw rather than a surrender of the British forces in the region of the Thirteen colonies.

Round 1: Acceptance Only.
sengejuri

Con

I accept, good luck!
Debate Round No. 1
Tophatdoc

Pro

I would like to thank Con for accepting this debate. I as Pro must argue that "Americans did not decisively win the American Revolution." I have the burden of proof of showing that Americans didn't win decisively.

1. Americans didn't win majority of the major battles. Nor did the Americans win any battle that determined absolute victory.

Americans only won 9 out of 24 of the major battles that happened during the American Revolution[1]. None of the battles the Americans won determined an end to the war. It is commonly mistaken that the Siege of Yorktown decided the outcome of the war with a surrender of the British forces under Lord Cornwallis. This is simply not true. The Siege of Yorktown was in 1781, the war did not end until 1783.

[1]http://www.theamericanrevolution.org...

2. The American strategy was based on attrition and surprise not direct battle with the British army.

The general strategy that the Continental army used was to tire out the British forces by constantly being on the run. Other times the Continental Army would engage in surprise attacks. The Continental Army was not a professional army. Nor did the Continental Army have regulars. The Continental Army could not fight the British army directly blow for blow. This would of resulted in far many more losses for the Continental Army. I give two examples below showing the American hit and run or guerrilla warfare strategy in various situations.

2A.American Strategy in the South
A good example of this would be how Major General Nathanael Greene constantly retreated from the British army in the Carolinas. Their objective was to harass the British and not exchange blows directly until the British were tired of the chase. This how the Americans would be able to defeat the British at Cowpens and King's Mountain[2]. A direct confrontation would of led to many casualties and possibly more defeats.

[2]http://www.revolutionarywararchives.org...

2B. American Strategy that led to the victory at the Battle of Trenton.
The infamous Battle of Trenton was a surprise attack on the day after Christmas[3]. The Hessian forces did not stand a chance since it was so early in the morning and the day after Christmas. Allegedly, Hessian forces were running outside not fully dressed for combat. The Americans won the battle based on surprise. If the Americans hadn't won the Battle of Trenton they might of lost the war due to the importance of it.

[3]http://www.revolutionarywararchives.org...

3.Guy Carleton in New York.

The British still controlled New York and several other places throughout the colonies. The British could of continued to wage war if they wanted to.

4.The British could of reinforced their armies or invaded from the sea.

The British invaded several times from the sea throughout the American Revolution. The British invaded from the sea in order to attempt to subdue the American South. The British invaded from the sea to capture New York. It appears after 1781, that the British parliament did not desire to keep the war going in the West at the same time battling in India and in Europe because they were at war with the French and the Spanish as well since they supported the Americans. The British decided to not reinforce their forces in North America.

5. It was a draw not a win.

The Treaty of Paris was a draw. The British did not surrender after an individual battle or campaign. The British sought peace after the long fight with the Americans, Dutch, French, and Spanish. The British sought peace not a surrender. It was peace that was brought about as the result of the Treaty of Paris.
sengejuri

Con


Thank you Pro for opening the debate.


Pro uses the terms "win," "decisive," and "draw" in their argument. However, since Pro gave no definitions for these terms, I will provide my own.


Win (Victory): I will define victory as the achievement of a central goal that one’s opponent is trying to prevent.


Decisive: Since we are discussing an American military action, it only makes sense to define “decisive” with American military doctrine. According to US Army ADP 3-0 Unified Land Operations, “Decisive operations lead directly to the accomplishment of a commander’s purpose [1].” In other words, a decisive victory is one that leads directly to the accomplishment of a combatant’s goal.


Draw: Pro argues the war ended in a draw. I will define draw in accordance with the Merriam-Webster dictionary: “The final result of a contest that does not have a winner.” Since I defined winning as achieving one’s goal, the absence of a winner means neither side achieved their goal.


I believe these definitions are very reasonable and I hope my opponent agrees. Even if they do not however, they failed to provide their own definitions within the first two rounds which by default gives me the initiative to do so.


I will save my rebuttals for round three and will begin with my opening arguments.


Before we can evaluate if either side achieved their goals and won, we must know what those goals were. Both British and American leaders at the time confirm the war was fought primarily over the question of independence. King George III made his war aims very clear in 1775 when he said, “blows must decide whether [the colonies] are to be subject to [England] or independent [2].” After the Battle of Bunker Hill that same year, King George III resolved “to put a speedy end” to what he recognized as the Americans’ revolt “for the purpose of establishing an independent empire [3].” Clearly, the chief and expressed goal of the British was to prevent American independence.


Unlike the British, the Continental Congress struggled to define what they wished to achieve. In 1775, the South Carolina delegate John Rutledge asked, “Do we aim at independency, or do we only ask for a restoration of rights [4]?” This confusion changed after a disastrous campaign into Canada when it became clear America could not win without foreign aid. To achieve this, Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee exclaimed, “It is not a choice then, but necessity that calls for Independence, as the only means by which foreign Alliance can be obtained [5].” On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress unanimously voted to ratify the Declaration of Independence [6]. What began as a war with confused motives became a war with one central, unanimous objective - independence from England.


Now that the goals of the Americans and British have been established – independence and the prevention thereof, respectively – we must look to the end of the war to discover its decisive result. On October 19th, 1781, the British and German garrison at Yorktown under General Cornwallis surrendered to American forces. While this event did not immediately end the war, it clearly and directly led to the British recognition of American independence.


After news of the Yorktown surrender reached England, the House of Commons moved to end the war. In 1782, Member of Parliament Henry Seymour Conway motioned that, “this House will consider as enemies of his Majesty . . . all those who shall endeavor . . . the farther prosecution of the offensive war on the continent of North America for the purpose of reducing the revolted colonies to obedience by force.” The motion carried by 19 votes [7]. Immediately after this resolution, the British began withdrawing their troops from America by abandoning Wilmington, Savannah, and Charleston.


On September 3rd, 1783, delegates from England and America signed the Treaty of Paris. The first article of the treaty states, “His Britannic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, . . . to be free sovereign and Independent States; that he treats with them as such, and for himself his Heirs & Successors, relinquishes all claims to the Government, Propriety, and Territorial Rights of the same and every Part thereof [8].” Simply put, the treaty that ended the American Revolution recognized the United States as independent from England.


By definition, the Americans won because they achieved their principle war objective of gaining independence from England. The surrender at Yorktown directly led to achieving this objective and therefore was a decisive victory by doctrine. Finally, England failed to accomplish its wartime goal of preventing American independence. Since one side succeeded and the other failed, it is impossible to characterize the American Revolution as a draw.


I eagerly await Pro’s reply.



[1] http://usarmy.vo.llnwd.net...


[2] Thomas, Peter. Tea Party to Independence: The Third Phase of the American Revolution, 1773-1776 (Oxford, 1991) 160.


[3] “The King’s Speech to Parliament” Oct. 26, 1775 (English Historical Documents)


[4] Diary of Silas Deane, May 16, 1775.


[5] Ibid., reference: Lee to Carter, June 2, 1776.


[6] Ibid., 119


[7] Ibid., 545


[8] http://www.ourdocuments.gov...


Debate Round No. 2
Tophatdoc

Pro

I would like to thank my opponent for attempting to provide definitions. But he did not provide definitions. Con only showed the usage of terms. Therefore I will provide the definitions, strictly according to dictionary definition.

Victory:"an instance of defeating an enemy or opponent"

[1]http://www.merriam-webster.com...

Decisive:"serving to put an end to all debate or questioning"

[2]http://www.merriam-webster.com...

Draw: "A situation in which neither participant in a contest, competition"

[3]http://www.merriam-webster.com...[noun]

I think these definitions, directly from a dictionary should be sufficient.

"Before we can evaluate if either side achieved their goals and won, we must know what those goals were."

My opponent goes on talk about the goals of both sides. Goals are not what this debate is about. Otherwise the resolution would of been "The Americans did not reach their goals in the American Revolution." This is not a debate about goals and who may or may not have reached them. It is strictly a debate about whether victory for the Americans was decisive. This a debate is about outcomes not intentions.

Con throughout his Round 2 argument continues to argue about the intentions of the Continental Congress and the King George III. I will ignore this since it is not relevant to the issue at hand. Or perhaps I should say he has not connected it to the resolution at hand from my observation. I would be interested in his connection of it. If this is a miscommunication issue on my part; my apologies.

"On September 3rd, 1783, delegates from England and America signed the Treaty of Paris. The first article of the treaty states, “His Britannic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, . . . to be free sovereign and Independent States; that he treats with them as such, and for himself his Heirs & Successors, relinquishes all claims to the Government, Propriety, and Territorial Rights of the same and every Part thereof .” Simply put, the treaty that ended the American Revolution recognized the United States as independent from England."

I agree with Con that the American Revolution resulted in American independence. But was this decisive victory? No. The alleged "victory" was negotiated. The Treaty of Paris in 1783 granted the Americans independence when the British acknowledged it[4]. This is not a decisive victory because the Americans had to acknowledge the British as power to negotiate. That is not decisive. The outcome of World War II for the Japanese and the Germans were decisive victories[5]. The Allies made those two countries submit to unconditional surrender. The Allies did not negotiate the terms of surrender. The Allies were able to control the future of those countries exclusively due to their decisive victory. There was no negotiation from the Germans or Japanese when they lost.

[4]http://www.ourdocuments.gov...
[5]http://www.history.com...
[5]http://www.history.com...

The other reason why my opponent fails to address the Americans decisive victory was because of point #5 of my Round 2 argument.

"5. It was a draw not a win."


I said it was a draw for the reasons I provided. But there was something more lying underneath my claim. I was trying to get at that the American victory could not of been decisive. It could not of been a decisive victory because the War of 1812 happened which finally solidified American legitimacy[6]. It was the War of 1812 that was brought about the end of the dispute between the British and the Americans. The American Revolution did not end the dispute between the British and the Americans. The American Revolution did not serve "to put an end to all debate or questioning" as the definition of decisive says. Therefore , strictly by definition, the victory the Americans received was not decisive.
sengejuri

Con

Thank you for your response.

I assure Pro there is no confusion or miscommunication. I understand their position that the Revolution ended in a draw rather than an American victory. As such I regret that Pro believes exploring the goals of each side is irrelevant, because we cannot evaluate if someone won a war unless we understand what they were trying to win.

I appreciate Pro offering their definitions, yet I maintain mine are more accurate and useful. Defining Victory as simply defeating an opponent is too simplistic because we must then decide what qualifies as “defeating.” This is why I specified one side wins if they achieve their wartime goals while their opponent does not, thus mandating our exploration of wartime goals. Defining Decisive as “serving to put an end to all debate or questioning” is unhelpful in the context of war because we are discussing fighting, not questioning. This is why I defined Decisive according to military doctrine. I too offered the dictionary definition for Draw, so we are in agreement there. However, I am not attempting a semantics argument, so I will move on.

I will issue my rebuttals to each of Pro’s points in order.

1. Americans didn't win majority of the major battles. Nor did the Americans win any battle that determined absolute victory.

Percentage of battles won does not guarantee victory. For example, Hannibal won every major battle during his Italian Campaign against the Romans, only to find himself surrendering to them after his first defeat at the Battle of Zama [1]. Similarly, NATO forces militarily won almost every battle in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet still failed to achieve clear victory in either country.

Pro also argues Yorktown was not decisive because the war continued until 1783. This is a poor measure of decisiveness. The battles of Vicksburg and Gettysburg are widely considered decisive in the American Civil War even though the war continued for two more years. Stalingrad is considered one of the decisive turning points of WWII, yet the war didn’t end until 1945.

As a final proof, my opponent’s own source calls Yorktown “a decisive victory” for the Americans (http://www.theamericanrevolution.org...).

2. The American strategy was based on attrition and surprise not direct battle with the British army.

Pro suggests a win only counts if you fight conventionally. This claim defines victory in terms of tactics rather than results, which is counterintuitive. Even so, the idea that the Americans waged a purely guerrilla war is a Hollywood myth. The Americans fought numerous direct, European style battles against the British such as Brandywine, Camden, Cowpens, and Guilford Courthouse, to name a few [2].

It is also wildly false that the Continental Army had no regulars. The Continental Congress established “The American Continental Army” on June 14th 1775 (the date is still celebrated today as the official birthday of the U.S. Army) [3]. These “Continentals” were full time soldiers who drew monthly wages (forty shillings a month for a 3-year enlistment in 1776) and wore uniforms [4]. Although they never approached the professionalism of the British regulars, they were regular troops nonetheless.

3. Guy Carleton in New York. The British could continued to wage war if they wanted to.
This point basically proves nothing. Yes, the British could have continued fighting if they wanted to, but they did not want to. They decided to withdraw their forces and recognize American independence. They accepted defeat.

4. The British could reinforced their armies or invaded from the sea . . . The British decided to not reinforce their forces in North America.

Once again, this proves nothing. Pro is exactly right by saying the British decided not to reinforce their efforts in North America. Rather, they withdrew their army and sought to negotiate. This is known as "Suing for Peace" which is typically considered a synonym for admitting defeat.

5. It was a draw not a win . . . the Treaty of Paris was a draw.

This is completely incorrect. The Treaty of Paris explicitly states King George III recognized America as sovereign and independent, and that he would immediately “withdraw all his Armies, Garrisons & Fleets from the said United States [5].” How can such an agreement be considered a draw? If you grant your enemy’s demands, give them your territory, and withdraw your armies, you have admitted defeat.

Finally, pro is presenting a false dilemma by saying unless a war ends in unconditional surrender, it was a draw. This is not only extreme but historically inaccurate. The Americans wanted independence, sovereignty, and the withdrawal of the British Army from the colonies. The British agreed to do all these things in the Treaty of Paris. The King even granted Americans fishing rights in British waters! [6] What other conditions would the Americans possibly have demanded? They got everything they wanted and more from the war. Once again, I contend that if your enemy gives into your demands, gives you their territory, and withdraws their army (as the British did), then that is not a draw, that is victory.

I look forward to Pro’s response in the final round.

[1] http://www.hnn.us...

[2] Stephenson, Michael. Patriot Battles: How the War of Independence was Fought. (Harper Collins, 2007)

[3] Ferling, John. Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence (Oxford, 2007) 39.

[4] Stephenson, Michael. Patriot Battles: How the War of Independence was Fought. (Harper Collins, 2007)

[5] http://www.ourdocuments.gov...

[6] Ibid.

Debate Round No. 3
Tophatdoc

Pro

I apologize but I will not be able to finish this debate. I have had migraines on and off this week for some strange reason starting Tuesday. I struggled to post the last two rounds. I started typing a few hours ago and just deleted it all because I could not concentrate. When I started the debate I wasn't sick but I have started getting more sick, my headache is too bothersome, and I definitely won't be able to finish. Again my apologies.
sengejuri

Con

My condolences to pro, I wish them a speedy recovery. Extend all arguments. Thanks for a spirited and fun debate.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by sengejuri 3 years ago
sengejuri
One correction: my "Ibid" for footnotes 5, 6, and 7 refer to the book "Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence" by John Ferling (Oxford Press, 2007). Forgot to write the title, my apologies.
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