The Instigator
Con (against)
3 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
8 Points

United States Bias Regarding Revolutionary War

Do you like this debate?NoYes+5
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/26/2010 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,819 times Debate No: 10963
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (30)
Votes (2)




Greetings to all readers, and my opponent. Good luck and have fun. Keep it clean.

There are several biases of the American Revolutionary War that annoy me, so I thought I would bring it out in a debate. I will address the biases, and my opponent can proceed in whichever he chooses, though I'm quite sure that we needn't bicker over semantics.

I'll list the biases I intend to address in an orderly fashion, and only address them in-depth in later posts.

1. Many American Christians produce programs or make statements that portray only the American forces praying in the Revolutionary War/1812 and the like. In essence, they portray that God was on their side in these wars, and make no mention of why God should be on the side of the English. Is this a historical truth? I think not!

2. While viewing the Christianity aspect, why are all the Founding Fathers portrayed as religious men whom could do no wrong? I intend to prove that not only were people like Benjamin Franklin were not Christians. And some of them were only after their own ambitions, rather than that of a forming nation.

3. The US Minutemen truly started the war.

4. The Boston Massacre was not a massacre, but a misfortune caused by the colonists themselves.

5. The often frequently overlooked treatment of Loyalists. I notice that most Yankees conveniently overlook this.

6. The dishonourly guerilla warfare conducted by the Rebels.

7. Why is the Battle of Saratoga considered a 'Turning point' in the war? The incompetant fool Burgoyne is turned back to Canada. I would say that's almost a success for the English, not having him on their leadership lists in action, anymore.

8. The Rebels being consistantly labelled 'Patriots' rather than 'Rebel', by citizens of the United States.

9. Misconceptions about brutal anti-guerilla fighting tactics used by English chaps such as 'Banastre Tarleton' (this is mostly because of Gibson's film, 'The Patriot').

10. The 'great victory' of John Paul Jones. Which was rather a misfortune, I think. Jones was an incompetant pirate with a large crew. He should have been placed in irons long before that seafight with the HMS Serapis.

I'm sure there are many more. Good luck, once again, to my opponent.


As many people have noted in the comments section, it is not entirely clear what your resolution is. I am assuming it was not simply that the United States is biased in its views toward the Revolutionary War because stating that a nation views itself favorable is hardly a debate. Instead I am going to assume for the sake of debate that I am expected to refute my opponent's claims of these specific cases of bias. I am also not sure whether or not I am expected to address one or all of the biases. As such I will address all of them briefly and I will expect my opponent to specify in the next round whether I am required to argue one or all of his statements. If in fact I am to try to prove all and not just one of his statements false, I expect that voters will understand that proving the majority (6/10) of these claims false would warrant a successful debate since in any other instance I would hardly be expected to refute every one of my opponent's arguments.

1. My opponent has not provided a source for this and I do not consider it to be common knowledge so for the time being I am not accepting the validity of this argument. However Christian groups regularly portray God as being on their side so even if this is true this is not at all unusual. Religions are almost by definition biased, but this attitude does not reflect on the attitudes of an entire nation. As an American and an Atheist I do not believe that God was on the side of the colonists and from a historical standpoint I certainly don't think religion had anything to do with the war. I doubt many American Christians would make this assertion either. Almost no one would consider the American Revolution to be related to religion.

2. There is certainly a cultural meme in the United States of glorifying the Founding Fathers, but with the exception of George Washington (who was instrumental to the war effort) this has little to do with the war or bias against the British. Though men like Franklin, John Adams, and Jefferson supported the war, they were on a large part not directly involved. These men are revered more for their contributions to the infant nation than their limited role in its creation.

3. Provide evidence. No reputable Revolutionary War text that I have read offers a clear answer to as to who started the war. In the battle of Lexington and Concord, both the British and the Colonists acknowledged that violence could very well result from their actions. Weapons in this time period were extremely vulnerable to malfunction and misfire so it is entirely likely the first shot may have even been accidental (1).

4. Armed troops fired on unarmed civilians. No doubt that the Colonists started it and no doubt that it was used as propaganda, but that fact remains. I fail to see how soldiers firing on rioting civilians can possibly be considered a 'misfortune' rather than a massacre.

5. My opponent fails to demonstrate how the treatment of Loyalists is overlooked. Most college and AP level US History textbooks do discuss this. I don't think I'm expected to provide every possible example of when the treatment of Loyalists in the Colonies is not overlooked. As an American I am fully aware of the violence committed against Loyalists during the war.

6. In what way is guerrilla warfare dishonorable? Does my opponent contend that guerrilla warfare in general is dishonorable or that the means by which the Colonies conducted guerrilla warfare was dishonorable? Either way he has failed to support this statement and has left us with no reason to believe it. Guerrilla warfare did contribute greatly to the success of the Rebels do in any case it would not be biased to portray this as such.

7. I don't wish to get into a dissertation on the battle of Saratoga itself, but it is considered the turning point of the Revolution largely due to its large scale political implications. In a tactical sense the defeat at Saratago cut the British forces off from one another. More important, however, is the fact that France saw this as an indication that the Colonies were capable of winning the war. French support for the Colonies was instrumental in winning the overall war, including the final major battle at Yorktown. (2) (3)

8. Literally speaking, the Rebels were patriots. A patriot is defined as, "a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion." (4) Though you can argue that they were legally British citizens, you would be misunderstanding the attitudes of the day. Very few of the Colonists had even been to Britain so it is absurd to assume they would consider it their nation or homeland. Thomas Jefferson often referred to his home country as Virginia, an entirely rational view at the time since the Colonies did not exist as a nation and he certainly couldn't call himself British. In any case many some of my American sources describe the forces of the Colonies as Rebels and this term is certainly not taboo in America.

9. I think it would be safe to contend that the views of Mel Gibson and his movies do not reflect the views of the America as a whole. Are Americans as a whole biased against Romans because of how they are portrayed in Passion of the Christ? What about how Native Americans are portrayed in Apocalypto? If my opponent is trying to prove that any amount bias exists somewhere in American culture than this would support his argument, but that resolution makes for an impossibly one-sided debate.

10. John Paul Jones' record as a naval commander does not seem to support this. He was consistently victorious in his endeavors. His capture of the Serapis was due to both luck and tactical success. The Serapis had hard greater firepower than his ship and most of the firepower of his own vessel was lost during the engagement, but by closing in and attaching to the Serapis he was able to negate most of its firepower. The fact that a frigate on Jones' side can to assist him can be considered a misfortune for the British, but it does not demean his skill as a naval commander. (5) I would also like to see my opponent offer an argument explaining why Jones should have been 'placed in irons'.

Conclusion: It goes without saying that there will be some form of bias in viewing history. However, my opponent creates an exaggerated view of how he believes that Americans view the Revolutionary War. His examples are largely not examples of bias at all, and those that are do not reflect on the beliefs of America as a whole. It hardly makes sense that Americans would view the Revolutionary War from a British point of view, and if they do not this is not an example of bias. It is obviously not possible for me to disprove the existence of bias anywhere in American culture. However, in order for my opponent to prove his contentions, he must be able to demonstrate that they are both bias and that they are widely accepted in American culture. As it stands he has not fulfilled both of these requirements for any of his contentions.


Debate Round No. 1


Very good opening argument, Grape. You've summed up an argument to oppose exactly what my contention was, and how I wish to go about this debate.
It is, of course, ludicrous to debate on whether or not the US is biased toward itself, as, quite simply, that is blatantly obvious. One can see in the almost cult following of George Washington alone that the US chooses to portray its history in a favourable manner.
I would, indeed, like to address all of these and possibly more. I also believe that six out of ten would be a reasonable amount to prove false, though I think you will find this very difficult.
You are correct, I have provided no evidence for point 1. This is because I merely summarized my contentions in the first post. Being an atheist will undoubtedly cripple you in this argument as you would not be familiar with Christian programs or assertions.
My opponent states "Christian groups regularly portray God as being on their side so even if this is true this is not at all unusual." You are correct, it is not unusual. But consider the mindset of the time, shall we? At this time, everybody believed that God existed. That was unquestionable. Every person had a prayer and simply knew that God did, indeed exist. To not believe was unacceptable. Even deists such as Ben Franklin acknowledged God, though he used God for his own purposes and propaganda, and he never became a Christian, as many people did not do. Many people were atheistic, but this does not mean that they denounced God. This said, wouldn't both sides believe God to be on their side? I think it is common knowledge that every Professional English Regiment had a Regimental chaplain. Most soldiers had a Bible or New Testament tucked away in their rucksack. Though they may not have been able to read them, the soldiers believed God to be on their side. This was a right of theirs, as it was of the Rebels. Which leads to my contention. In Christian literature, programs and assertions, God is only portrayed as being on the side of the rebels. The US Christian children's radio program, 'Adventures in Odyssey' has multiple Revolutionary War stories. In every one, God is portrayed to be on the side of the Americans and the English portrayed to be the 'bad guys'. They handily exempt the obvious fact of chaplains and Bibles, not to mention personal belief, of the English soldiers. In essence, they portray God to be on the side of only the Rebels. It may not have been a 'religious war', per se, but it is portrayed that generals and people such as Washington prayed solely for God to be on their side. Yet, as mentioned, the praying English soldiers were not mentioned. I think we can all remember it mentioned that George Washington reportedly prayed with his commanders before every major conflict. Yet, are English soldiers and commanders mentioned as doing so? Of course not.
2. Of course there is. Not instrumental? I do believe that with the formation of the Continental Congress came the first serious discussion on a prolonged war. John Adams, Samuel Adams, George Washington, John Jay, John Dickinson, Peyton Randolph and many more were all instrumental to the political bearing of the Rebels. Franklin and Jefferson quickly became instrumental to the Second Continental Congress. Each is revered for the Articles of the Confederation, not to mention the secret thirty days in which they spent creating the Constitution of the United States. But this is beside the point. These men are not the heroes that they have been portrayed as. I could list their plethora of faults and misbehaviour. Many were deists and not Christians, as the misconception is largely created. Jefferson himself is accredited to the 'Indian Removal Plan', though his reputation is never sullied by fervent Americans in regards to this. Rather, they vent upon Jackson. Jefferson advocated rebellion if the Government didn't work out, he possessed slaves etc etc. I could go on, but the point is that these men were not necessarily deserving of the glory that they receive today.

3. "This period of the American Revolution is much distorted in our history. This distortion is basically the result of the historian's point of view. The majority of the written accounts of those events were written by and for supporters of the American independence." ~ Description of Bias in regarding to this event.
"Lt. William Sutherland of the 38th Regiment and Lt. Adair of the Royal Marines, were confronted by an armed colonist who aimed his musket at them, pulled the trigger, but the gun misfired. Convinced that the colonist meant to kill them, they returned to the column and informed Major Pitcairn of the incident."

The Concorde hymn acclaims the first shot to a Minuteman. Though this is fictitious, it definitely demonstrates the bias. And relative to who actually fired the first shot, organized armed resistance called themselves up to fight the English. then, not only did they not stop, they hounded the English line all the way to Charlestown. Thus, it was actually the colonists who started the war. Even the action of Paul Revere demonstrated the escalated hostilities on the side of the Colonists. The English could merely retaliate.

4. The colonists were hurling lumber, debris and ice packed into snowballs at the sentry responsible for guarding the Custom House. The soldier then reportedly lashed out with his fist in defence. This, in turn, brought more belligerent colonists. Captain Preston and several soldiers came to defend the lone sentry and attempted to calm the mob. The mob, however refused. Perhaps, as you said, the unreliable guns of the time misfired. In any case, in the confusion one fired and the rest fired in formation as trained. Only five people died after provocation. Hardly elements of the propagandic 'massacre'. I think there was a riot a few years back in which three or four people were killed with dozens injured by high powered taisers and riot weaponry. Yet, this was not a 'massacre'. What's the difference? Propaganda and bias. There are armed riot squads everywhere. People do get killed, but not unless numerous people are killed in blatant gunning are they called a 'massacre'. Self defense and 'unfortunate', often.

5. I took two historical American curriculum's for two consecutive years, and only once did it briefly pass over the 'Tories', though it didn't deign to mention that the Loyalists were beaten, tarred and feathered, stripped of possessions and sent running (if they escaped alive). Also, many Yankees I've discussed the Revolutionary War with weren't familiar with Loyalist treatment, at all. Call this a complete ignorance of history if you will, it demonstrates the lack of coverage regarding loyalist treatment by rebels. One would never think that the Loyalists were once neighbours. I read when account where the Father of the household left on a trading venture, leaving his sick wife at home. the Rebels invaded his house, stole all of the furniture and left his sick wife to die on the cold floor. what kind of treatment is this? Over politics! And yet they are outraged when the Loyalists and English regulars begin anti-guerrilla tactics of their own. Note the VERY brief mention of the treatment of loyalists, other than the fact that they were 'expelled', on their own Wiki page!: Persecution not mentioned here at all:
Nor here:

I'm out of room, but please note lastly the words of my opponent "... how he Believes that Americans view". An attempt to understate the bias that I am demonstrating.

Stay classy and good show, thus far


I thank my opponent for his detailed response. I think it would be better to have made it five rounds considering the amount of content and the 8,000 word limit. Any of these topics would have made for a good debate on its own, really.

C1: Unfortunately I must say I take a small amount of offense at my opponent's ad hominem assertion that if I am not a Christian I cannot understand the Christian perspective on this issue. I am aware that people were far more strongly Christian at that time, among both the Americans and the British. My opponent then asserts, via a rhetorical question, that both sides would view God as being on their side. This is true. However, the radio program is obviously not going to portray it as such. It is a right-leaning, Christian program targeted at children. I don't see how you could find a source that's more likely to be biased than that. Upon looking at their site, the summaries of episodes involving the American Revolution seemed extremely tame compared to what I expected; there was one reference implying God did not like unjust rulers (phrased as a question) and that was it. (1) Of course this is going to be biased, the whole point of it is to indoctrinate people (children) who don't know anything about what they're being taught. Of course it's going to be simplified to a simple good (God) vs. evil scenario. But by the time most American kids get older and take, say, high school US History, they learn that it isn't so black and white.

C2. With regards to the men my opponent mentions here, I meant they (excluding Washington) did little to contribute to the military victory that occurred. They did have a lot to do with starting the war and they did a lot after it. But during the war the influence of their political power was limited for obviously reasons. The reasons these men are glorified are overwhelmingly not related to the military. If my opponent had argued as the premise of his debate that these men were not worthy of the praise they are given than I would agree, but this debate is about American bias regarding the Revolutionary War. By and large the things these men are credited for did not occur during the war or else were not related to it. Despite this, I still feel the need to address a few claims. The Articles of Confederation are usually portrayed negatively and as a mistake because they created a government that was too weak, which is why they were replaced in the first place. And it was Andrew Jackson, not Thomas Jefferson, who signed the Indian Removal Act and destroyed the system of checks and balances by ignoring a Supreme Court ruling that protected the rights of Indians. (2) Jefferson's hands may not be clean but Jackson is a far worse offender.

C3: What my opponent refers to here is two British scouts encountering one man. Is the entire army responsible for the actions of one man? This is especially relevant considering the disorganized nature of the American forces. Also, the fact that the Concord Hymn (a fictitious, pro-American source) attributes the first shot to the Minutemen seems to prove that there isn't an American bias as to who started the war. This hymn clearly does not blame the British However, this particular point is starting to seem like a bit of a red herring to me anyway. The issue of who started the war does not necessarily boil down to who fires the first shot. In a situation of rebellion, it is easy to always portray the rebels as the ones that started the war. Why would the British start the war if they were happy with the status quo? Of course, the British passed legislation to maintain the status quo that they understood the potential consequences of and they were willing to use force to uphold their authority. (3) Unless my opponent can prove that the British rule of the Colonies was just and the Rebels had no legitimate grievances, I think they played enough of a role in starting the war that from the American point of view it was their fault. In terms of today's definitions, it would take what even I would consider to be extremely leftist views to argue that the economic interference by Britain was appropriate.

C4: The fact that people are killing in riots today does not mean that we should not frown upon historical riots in which people were killed. The issue that arises from the comparison isn't that the Boston Massacre is being called a massacre, it's that other riots with killings aren't. When unarmed civilians are killed by killed by an armed police force, what should this be called? Unfortunate, my opponent suggests. Self defense, considering the risk that a rabble of civilians throwing wood and ice poses a squad of soldiers from the best army in the world. Perhaps beating the crowd back with truncheons or even using bayonets if the situation got out of hand would have been justified, but a total of 11 people were shot. (4) I really don't see how it requires bias to condemn such an event. At the very least one would have to assume both sides were at fault, and then it wouldn't be biased for Americans to favor themselves in a grey issue.

C5: I find it surprising that none of the classes my opponent took mentioned the mistreatment of Loyalists. I have taken classes where the forms of humiliation use by the Patriots were described as extremely painful and potentially fatal, including a video about an innocent man's house being burned down. However, this type of anecdotal evidence is invalid. As far as the Wikipedia references are concerned, Wikipedia does mention the ill treatment of Loyalists:

"In areas under rebel control, Loyalists were subject to confiscation of property, and outspoken supporters of the king were threatened with public humiliation such as tarring and feathering, or physical attack. It is not known how many Loyalist civilians were harassed by the Patriots, but the treatment was a warning to other Loyalists not to take up arms. In September 1775, William Drayton and Loyalist leader Colonel Thomas Fletchall signed a treaty of neutrality in the interior community of Ninety Six, South Carolina.[12] For actively aiding the British army when it occupied Philadelphia, two residents of the city would be executed by returning Patriot forces."

They do not seem to be pulling any punches here. This is brief, yes, but the article discusses a wide variety of other topics about Loyalists and doesn't go into great detail about any of them. Overall, I do not believe my opponent has proven that Americans as a whole are uninformed about the mistreatment of Loyalists (not at least not more uniformed than they are about most things :-P).

I understand my opponent did not have room to argue all ten of the points. All other arguments are extended.


My opponent is trying argue that the American view of the Revolutionary War is biased while overlooking the fact that there are often two perfectly reasonable points of view on an issue. If it is Americans who are so biased, why does he call the shooting of innocent civilians simply a misfortune? Why does he criticize the treatment of Loyalists while referring to similar actions by the British, only in passing, as 'anti-guerrilla tactics'? My opponent's argument does not seem to be centered on dispelling bias, but on asserting a different bias. None of the historical context my opponent has cited is clear cut enough that it does not support two valid points of view. I continue to hold that the American view of the Revolutionary War is not unusually biased, accepting a pro-self view and the romanticizing of history that occurs everywhere.

Debate Round No. 2


1stLordofTheVenerability forfeited this round.


Unfortunately my opponent had to forfiet this rather close debate due to personal circumstances. All arguments are extented.
Debate Round No. 3
30 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by 1stLordofTheVenerability 6 years ago
Oh. ha ha, I guess it was. :P

Yeah, I'd like to debate on this topic, again, except more refined, so I'll send you a PM when able. : ) Congradulations.
Posted by Grape 6 years ago
I voted myself 7 points not because I deserve it but because it was a forfeit. Someone voted 1st Lord more points and I don't want it showing up as a defeat.
Posted by Grape 6 years ago
No problem really. This is unfortunately the second or third good debate in a row where my opponent ran into trouble and forfieted the last round. Don't worry about me being terribly offended, but I was raised Christian so it was kind of a faulty assumptions. I look forward to good debates in the future.
Posted by 1stLordofTheVenerability 6 years ago
My sincerest apologies about forfeiting the round, Grape. I had full intentions of continuing, but we had surprise company today, and I couldn't get online to post my argument. I had all but nine and ten complete...

Please, due to my err, no matter how outstanding my arguments or true my views, give Grape the victory.

Also apologies for offending you, Grape. I merely meant that you, being an atheist, would have difficulty with that part of the debate as you're not exposed to such programs, ideas, assertions and neglections on the part of Christians. Thus it would be difficult to debate it. You overcame the difficulty well.

Also, I would like to try this debate in a refined manner with five rounds, if you would care to debate on the same topic with me, again. Perhaps PM me and then we can formulate a clear basis upon which to debate.


1st Lord
Posted by Grape 6 years ago
I learned the same things as mongeese and I'm not even from Texas. The only difference is I don't remember a reference to either side praying. However, this is just as ancedotal as Con's argument.
Posted by mongeese 6 years ago
Let's see how my own history experience compares to this:

1. We were given scenarios in which Americans were praying for God's help. It was kind of implied that the British would do the same thing. No textbook actually put God on any one side, though.

2. I already knew of the slaves of Washington and Jefferson. I know of Adam's unconstitutionality.

3. Why do the first shots even matter? I didn't even bother to remember who fired the first shots.

4. We were given the facts on this one. The Boston Massacre was when colonists were attacking British redcoats with random projectiles, and the British retaliated. We were then taught about Paul Revere's propaganda over the issue. However, we were not propagandized ourselves.

5. We learned that Loyalists were mistreated, yes.
Posted by 1stLordofTheVenerability 6 years ago
I'll have to support my next five arguments in the next round. Apologies that I couldn't get them all in now.
Posted by 1stLordofTheVenerability 6 years ago
"This was covered thoroughly in every class that has mentioned the American Revolution. I don't know what you're talking about."

That's queer. I took two historical American curriculums for two consecutive years, and only once did it briefly pass over the 'Tories', though it didn't deign to mention that the Loyalists were beaten, tarred and feathered, stripped of possessions and sent running (if they escaped alive). Also, many Yankees I've discussed the Revolutionary War weren't familiar with Loyalist treatment, at all. As Mongeese stated, maybe it's because you live in Texas. ; )

My apologies to all for obscuring my contention. I wish to address all ten biases, but not simply the fact that they are, indeed biases, but how they actually occurred. Grape has summed his contention well in Round 1. I will respond in turn. This is going to be an interesting debate. Thanks for the comments and 'plusses' - keep them coming. :P
Posted by SexyLatina 6 years ago
Most of this was unconventional to me, for I learned a very different Revolutionary War story.

Therefore, I deny that this is all (or even most) taught everywhere.
Posted by Grape 6 years ago
The whole premise of this debate is very confusing but I presume in the next round Con will explain it in more detail. I seems to be implied that I only had to argue one of the contentions but I was unsure of this. If I am to choose one I will probably go with 7 as it will be easier to argue a clear-cut, historical issue.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Grape 6 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Vote Placed by wonderwoman 6 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:31