Saturday, July 4, 2015

Independence for Whom?

Independence Day it's called, in remembrance of a declaration some men made public in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776. But independence for whom, and in what sense?

The years of armed conflict known as the War of Independence or the American Revolution did not make the slaves independent, or the indentured servants, or the married women. So whose independence did it secure? Well, to compress a large story into a small statement, it secured the independence of big shots in the thirteen colonies from their former political superiors in London

When the British government tired of its attempts to maintain its authority among its troublesome North American subjects, the settlement it reached with their political representatives in 1783 put the local big shots in the saddle. It freed the big speculators in lands beyond the Appalachians -- chief among them being George Washington -- to carry out their private enrichment by controlling conditions there and by improving their ability to get away with their legal, quasi-legal, and illegal swindles related to those properties. It also put them in a position where, a few years later, they could mount a counter-revolution against their own revolution and gain a standing army and the power to tax their fellows.

In short, the American Revolution brought independence to the local big shots at the expense of those in Parliament and the Board of Trade in London. Of course, a great many other things happened, too, but the essence of the thing was a transfer of ruling political power, not anything that deserves to be called gaining genuine individual freedom.-Robert Higgs

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