Lord Black has a fascinating piece on American politics. As a fervent supporter of the Crown, I found this part particularly interesting. Though I still a strong supporter of the United States, I am not a fan of revolution and prefer Canada s United Empire Loyalist past.
The American genius for showmanship and spectacle began with the Revolution and has never abated. After its splendid introduction, Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence descended swiftly into a blood libel on the American Indian, and an excoriation worthy of the Nuremberg prosecutors, of King George III, the awkward, unstable, but likeable “Farmer George.”
Jefferson even included in his original arraignment of the British monarchy the shameful importation of slavery into America. It was suggested that given his status as a slaveholder, this was hardly appropriate. The later notorious fact of his dalliances with comely female slaves, who provided six of his nine progeny, and his failure to emancipate them in the 50 (to the day) years that he lived on from July 4, 1776, would have made such an allegation especially hollow. (If the Americans had delayed their revolution until a few years after Jefferson’s death, the British abolition of slavery would have applied to them and it would have been disposed of a good deal less painfully than with the death of 700,000 Americans in the Civil War.)
Early America enjoyed, perhaps, a little more participatory local democracy than Britain, and had a slightly broader electorate and already the highest standard of living in the world. But the revolution so rapturously mythologized by Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry and others, was really, as Washington, Franklin, Hamilton, Madison and Adams did not forget, a somewhat grubby contest over taxes.