Friday, September 22, 2017
The Crimes of King George III
However, as we know, King George III is not remembered for any of that but rather as the man who "lost" America for the British Empire. If he is ever remembered for anything else it is most likely for being replaced by a regent at the end of his life on grounds of insanity. However, King George III is most remembered as the horrible "tyrant" whose alleged villainy was so great as to force otherwise peaceful and loyal colonists to take up arms against him and ultimately overthrow his authority in the thirteen colonies to establish the United States of America. As part of the propaganda war that ensured this would be the lasting impression of the conflict, the American Declaration of Independence, mostly remembered for a single silly and disingenuous line, included a long list of the "crimes" and examples of the terrible tyranny of King George III which justified the American War for Independence.
Most people, in either America or Britain, do not remember this part of the Declaration or think much on it and that is certainly all to the benefit of the American 'revolutionaries' as their laundry list of the King's misdeeds would certainly not stand up to scrutiny, certainly today. Of course, that is reason enough for us to do exactly that right here and now.
"Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world."
Start by casting yourself as the poor, unjustly maligned victim and the King as a horrible tyrant, no one can say that Mr. Jefferson was overly subtle in his style. Upon reflection, one might ask that if the King was so persistent in his crimes, his "repeated injuries and usurpations", why no one in any other part of the empire or his three kingdoms had risen in rebellion before? Needless to say, the word "Facts" should be taken with more than a grain of salt.
"He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only."
That certainly sounds bad but I cannot be the only one to also find it so vague as to be meaningless. What is being said here basically amounts to, 'he refused to allow good laws to pass and made life inconvenient for legislators'. Care to give any specific examples Tom? No?
"He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures."
This, again, I can only find humorous. It really makes the legislators seem a bit on the lazy side doesn't it?
"He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness of his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within."
I must confess, I love the description of opposing the King, "with manly firmness". Jefferson, however, is probably offending a great many homosexuals, feminists and trans-gender people with lines like that. Tsk, tsk, tsk Tom...
"He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands."
Aha! Here we come to some real tyranny; the King was trying to cut back on immigration! The horror! The horror! Of course, as soon as the U.S.A. was established, one of the first laws passed was the Immigration and Naturalization Act but no one likes to talk about that nowadays as it restricted citizenship to 'free White persons of good character'. Very problematic these days obviously.
"He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance."
Doesn't the second complaint rather contradict the first here? And as for the third, before you feel too sorry for the colonists remember that most of these "swarms of Officers" were assaulted, had their homes destroyed and were driven out of town by the patient and long-suffering colonists when they tried to to their jobs.
"He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power."
Yeah, who does he think he is, commander-in-chief of the military or something?!
"He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:"
Yes, he sent troops in to Boston after an armed mob destroyed a huge amount of private property and then allowed a quite fair trial for the soldiers who killed some civilians who were attacking them as part of another angry mob. Far from being a "mock Trial" Tom, one of your own cohorts acted as their lawyer because he believed they were in the right! And he did not cut off trade with all parts of the world unless you mean his closing of the port of Boston which, again, was done in retaliation to mob violence which the local authorities refused to prosecute or even apologize for.
"For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies"
Yes, this is true. It refers to Canada in which, via the Quebec Act, the King allowed the French Canadians to keep their own legal system and allowed them to freely practice their own religion. So what Jefferson is complaining about here is that the King was allowing French Catholics in Canada to administer their province as they wished and to have freedom of religion. What a creep, huh?
"For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people."
Again, yes, when you started behaving like criminals instead of loyal subjects, he started treating you as such. Yes, he started waging war on you *after* you killed his soldiers, assaulted his administrators and ransacked the property of those who were loyal to him.
"He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands."
Yes, he is fighting a war, a war which the colonists started by, I repeat myself, firing on government troops. As for the part about mercenaries, virtually every army in Europe employed mercenary regiments just as the United States itself would and still does.
"He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions."
Here Jefferson is referring to the offer of freedom to any African slaves who escaped their bondage and fought for the King, so Jefferson is blaming the King for any potential slave rebellion. I doubt many would sympathize these days. He also will not win many admirers by referring to the Native Americans as "the merciless Indian Savages". But, it is true, most Indians fought for the British as the King had recognized their right to all the land west of the Appalachians to the Mississippi River, lands which the Americans wanted to colonize. So, again, Jefferson is not entirely wrong here. Those merciless Indian savages did indeed fight for their land not to be taken from them.
"In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people."
Not true actually, the colonial petitions for redress, of which there were few, basically amounted to, 'give us what we want or we will break the law and do it anyway and it will be your fault if we do'. It should be clear though why Jefferson was so vague in most of his accusations as, on the rare occasion in which he does give a specific policy or at least be clear enough for the reader to divine what he is referring to, the colonists come off looking more like petulant jerks that "a free people". The King wanted British subjects to buy British goods, to support the British rather than the Dutch economy. He allowed French Catholics to worship as they pleased and he gave Indians the lands they occupied to avoid future trouble with them. When the colonists destroyed property or killed soldiers, the King responded to uphold law and order. That is basically what all of this comes down to but, when all of the Jeffersonian 'spin' is removed, the King doesn't look like such a tyrant, does he?