The Instigator
Farooq
Con (against)
Losing
18 Points
The Contender
WaximusMaximus
Pro (for)
Winning
30 Points

The American Revolution was justified

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/3/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 14,752 times Debate No: 1328
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (16)

 

Farooq

Con

In America the 4th of July is a huge holiday, celebrating the declaration of independance for 13 of the 16 British colonies on the North American continent. The founding fathers are praised for their controbutions to democracy, patriotism, and heroics during the American revolution that started in 1775 AD.

But were them and their really all that great? Although I am no pacifist one must realize that engaging in a violent conflict without good reason is not often the wisest choice.

The rebels say they were fighting for freedom, economic liberty and democracy, but were they really? Even if one does not consider blacks people, the majority of citiznes in colonial america (though slight) were actually loyalists and supported maintaining ties to Britain. If you are not an evil racist however, and consider Native Americans and Negroes people with the right to put int their two cents than the vast majority of Americans would not be in support in the revolution (generally the British abolition/black rights movement was far stronger than its American counterpart and the Natives were terrified the colonists would press further across the Appalaichians, which London had for the moment forbidden).

Lots of history books complain about the taxes colonists were forced to endure, though they weren't really bad and the living standard in colonial america was far higher than old England's. The really just wanted representation, but didn't need to resort to such radical methods.
WaximusMaximus

Pro

The American Revolution was fought primarily over representation. The American colonies were denied representation in a growing empire in which they were legitimate subjects.

1. Virtual Representation: This was the key argument between the colonies and Parliament. London maintained that the colonies were represented "virtually" along with all other subjects of the Empire even though the colonists had no vote and no members to seat in Parliament. So long as Parliament continued the policy of statutory neglect the colonies were free to determine most of their policies for themselves the issue was not very important, but as Parliament attempted to assert power over the colonies over the course of 12 years the situation snowballed.

2. Taxes: The infamous Stamp Act was also joined by the Townsend Revenue Acts. Both acts were boycotted by the colonists in a peaceful gesture asserting their rights. However, it should also be noted that the Sons of Liberty were also formed during this period. While these men were involved in illegal activities it should be noted that most colonists were never members of the Sons of Liberty and many did not support their illegal activities.

3. The Boston Tea Party and Intolerable Acts: The Sons of Liberty were responsible for the Boston Tea Party. An angry Parliament quickly passed the Intolerable Acts, which among other provisions punished the entire city of Boston, and by economic extension, the entire colony of Massachusetts for the actions of the Sons of Liberty. Also, the government of Massachusetts was brought under direct control from London. Almost all positions in the government were now appointed by the Royal Governor or the King. This in turn generated widespread fear in the other twelve colonies over arbitrary changes in their governments being enforced upon them by Parliament.

4. Navigation Acts: The Navigation Acts listed curtain items that could not be legally produced in the colonies, only in Great Britain. Beyond the clear injustice in regulating the potential professions of any given individual based on only geographic location these acts were enforced by Vice-Admiralty Courts which did not provide for a jury trial.

The stage was set for violence in 1775. All of these measures had impacted the colonies in the space of 12 years. Going from almost total control of their own affairs the colonies were now under the growing authority of Parliament and the King. With the Massachusetts Government Act in effect the other colonies were unsure of their own futures. When the British Army advanced towards Concord to confiscate the arms of the local militia the die was cast. Blood was shed and the War had begun.

Even after the fighting had begun the Second Continental Congress offered King George the Olive Branch Petition offering for negotiating and reconciliation. The King rejected American offers with the Proclamation of Rebellion, declaring the colonies to be in "open and avowed rebellion".

The American Revolution was a reluctant revolution. Taking almost 12 years to come to blows with the British government and even after bloodshed offering for peace. The issue at the heart of the controversy was whether or not Parliament could exercise control over the colonies without representation from the colonies. After a series of failed policies Parliament resorted to force and the colonies responded. It was at this point the Revolution became justified. When a government must deploy it's army to enforce laws on a population which has no voice in that action is unjustified. That is what happened at Lexington and Concord.

To deal with your argument on African Americans I would point out that Britain only abolished all slavery in the 1830's. There were many other corners of the Empire, specifically the Caribbean, were slavery was far more brutal than the colonies and would continue to be so for 50 years after the Declaration of Independence.

As far as Native Americans were concerned they were all still sovereign nations, independent political units onto themselves. While they may have occupied territory claimed by Britian they were dealt with via treaty. They were not subjects of the Empire.

Most of the sources I've come across have said that the loyalist population was somewhere between 15%-33%. Historian Robert Middlekauff says: "In no colony did loyalists outnumber revolutionaries. The largest numbers were found in the middle colonies: many tenant farmers of New York supported the king, for example, as did many of the Dutch in the colony and in New Jersey. The Germans in Pennsylvania tried to stay out of the Revolution, just as many Quakers did, and when that failed, clung to the familiar connection rather than embrace the new. Highland Scots in the Carolinas, a fair number of Anglican clergy and their parishioners in Connecticut and New York, a few Presbyterians in the southern colonies, and a large number of the Iroquois Indians stayed loyal to the king."
Debate Round No. 1
Farooq

Con

in the 13 colonies that rebelled the numbers are closer to about a third of the white population (though historic polls of African Americans would make it about double that) by the slight majority I meant the British American white colonists alltogehter, that is to include Acadia in Quebec.

However one of your most faulty assertions is that the British really weren't that beloved by African-Americans. That is pretty much false. It is true that the Jamaicans and West Indian sugar-colonies tended to treat Africans with less repsect than their Norhtren neigbours, but such impressions were not shared in Britain proper. Already by this time Bill Wilberforce and Tom Clarkson were spear-heading a large scale aboltion (at least of the slave trade) movement, which helped incline many traditionally conservative planters and their allies to need to push their own agenda in Parliment. Had the colonies given representation in London no doubt they would have delayed human rights reformations such as this for many more years to come. Also when the revolution started heating up, London declared any slave that could make it to British controlled soil would be free. This naturally made the Negores (which made up a ocnsiderble portion of the population) very supportive and is a policy very similar to Lincoln's declaration that all rebel slaves were free (Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri were orginally allowed to keep there's) and yet historically yankee people love Lincoln, but despise Lord North. If you think the Americans had the right to declare their independance and resisit violently, why wouldn't you think the same about the Confederates? i will expand on this later.

There also many benefits of having British rule. When Americans declared their independance they sought to launch invasions into the Ohio valley (euphensim used: settlers), thus leading to contiuous wars and human right violations. To ensure peace was kept in that part of the world, it was London's policy to frobid colonism of the Ohio Vlaley. as history tells us, it was a good idea.

As for your allegations of unfair taxes, that is riduclous. All British colonies were taxed, and the ones suffered by the Yanks were not particualry heinous. David McCullough as well as many other historians agrees that their compalints were ridiculous. Americans had the highest living quality.

All through, one must also remember that war should only be entered extreme circumstances, a few extra taxes that everyone else in the Mepire pays doesn't justify violence against the social order.
WaximusMaximus

Pro

Alright, your numbers do make more sense now. Still, out of the Thirteen Colonies, assuming the high number of 33% for the loyalist population, and accepting your number of only 1/3 of the population in open rebellion that would leave 1/3 undecided at the beginning of the War. Many of that undecided 1/3 made up their mind after word came home that redcoats were firing on colonists. At that point you needed to pick a side. As far as the Acadians in Canada they had only tenuous connections to the colonies. They were a relatively recent acquisition of the Crown and were ruled without any representation whatsoever. For the most part they were French and neutral. They had no business if Englishmen wanted to kill Englishmen.

"Also when the revolution started heating up, London declared any slave that could make it to British controlled soil would be free." This was clearly a war measure. No other slaves would be freed in the Empire by order of the government until the 1830's. If you can cut the legs out from under your opponents economy during a war most nations take advantage of it. As for Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation is in large part celebrated because it committed to the Union to the abolition of slavery. This would lead to the 13th Amendment banning involuntary servitude in the United States. This is another debate for another time.

I covered a lot more ground than taxes, didn't even really spend all that much time on them. The vice-admiralty courts, the Massachusetts Government Act, and the lack of colonial representation are much more important. Taxes were simply the root of the controversy because they were the means by which the British government attempted to assert control over the colonies.

As far as the altruism of the British government was the not reason the Ohio was closed to settlement. The lack of funds in the Treasury to provide military defenses for the new colonists was. During the conquest of both the Indian Subcontinent and Britain's African colonies the British never sneezed at using military force to achive their goals. To assert that the Ohio River Valley would have remained closed to white occupation for very long is doubtful.

There was certainly more at stake and behind the motivation for the American Revolution or any other. The circumstances are far more complex. I won't attempt to argue that American conduct during or after the Revolution was perfect, or even close to perfect. To assert that the Revolution was unjustified though, that is a sweeping claim to make.
Debate Round No. 2
Farooq

Con

By justified I mean of course that the benefits (both political and humanitarian) were to outweigh the negative effects. But was the Revolution qualifed to be justified and idealizied as they currently are in American culture? These are my primary arguements.

1) Violence and Causlties- any matter in which the lives of people are put at stake should not ever be taken lightly. Due to the rebels' inability to compromise and their warmongering attitudes by the end of the Revolutinary war they would see the deaths of 49,000 casulties and nearly as many maimed and wounded. Was it worth the awesome price?

2) Undemocratic Democracy- one of the main propaganda cries of the rebels during this war was that of preachin the values of freedom and democracy. Yet, if the colonies were democratic, why did they go agianst majority opinion (that was loyal to the Crown) and engage in such a heartless war? In addition by freedom many of the colonists meant they were merely scared of the growing aboltion movement in Britain, and had the colonists been given representaition in London (as the West Indians later were) how much longer would the pro-slavery lobby had lived on?

PS: And you don't think the Emmancipation Proclamation was a war measure too? Lincoln had promised not abolsih slavery, but used it as a threat agaisnt rebel states. When the South seceded, he merely kept his threat. The 13th Ammendment came later for other political reasons.
WaximusMaximus

Pro

WaximusMaximus forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Farooq 6 years ago
Farooq
Kay, Waximus, American Civil war it is. Do you wanna be the Rebels or the loyalists this time?
Posted by mindjob 6 years ago
mindjob
The British promised black slaves that if they fought against the Americans, they would be set free once the British won. As Pro mentioned, this was clearly a war tactic. It was the British themselves that turned slavery into a purely racial issue. Portuguese and Spanish colonies treated their slaves as business commodities, whereas it was the British who took the view that blacks were genetically inferior to white men. In addition, many slaves were inspired by the idea that "all men were created equal" and thought they would be freed after the revolution as a result. So I'm still left wondering how slaves felt more of an affinity for the British?

Even though the revolution was the result of taxes levied by the British parliament intended to get the American colonies to pay their fair share of the French and Indian war, the revolution was still justified if for no other reason than we speak English correctly.
Posted by WaximusMaximus 6 years ago
WaximusMaximus
Shoot! I was working on my responce and ran over time!

For anybody voting on this debate: Check out my previous arguments. I've pretty well covered both of the points presented in my opponent's closing.
Posted by Logical-Master 6 years ago
Logical-Master
Both sides are nearly equal to me, but I think my decision is tipped in the Con's favor since the Pro didn't post within the allotted time.
Posted by WaximusMaximus 6 years ago
WaximusMaximus
Fine with me. The American Civil War, right?
Posted by Farooq 6 years ago
Farooq
Phew! great debate! Should we try the civil war next?
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