James Forsyth

The spirit of 1776

The spirit of 1776
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Today is, of course, Independence Day. To mark it the New York Times have, as usual, commissioned some historical op-eds. The one by Adrian Tiniswood is particularly worth reading. Here’s a taste:

“It is a fact rarely discussed on either side of the Atlantic that American colonists played a crucial role in the English Civil War, the bitter struggle between King Charles I and Parliament that tore England apart in the 1640s. The English Revolution — and that is just what it was — can be interpreted in all kinds of ways: as a religious fight between pathologically earnest Puritans and the Catholic-leaning bishops of the Church of England; as an uprising by a nascent merchant class determined to throw off the shackles of medieval feudalism; as right-but-repulsive Roundheads bashing the wrong-but-romantic Cavaliers.

It was all those things. But it was also a battle against the arbitrary tyranny of the crown that prefigured America’s own struggle for independence. And hundreds of American colonists cared enough about that struggle to sail back across the vast Atlantic, to build a city upon a hill — not in the frightening, alien landscape of Massachusetts but in the familiar fields and townships of England.” The spirit of 1776 was a continuation of the struggles of the English Civil War and the animating forces behind the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Tiniswood’s piece is a neat reminder of that fact.  

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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