Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Traditionalists and the American Founding

Now this is provocative. (Via Joshua Snyder)
George III was an essentially decent man with an inherited condition that made him first unstable and ultimately quite mad. He was a far more patriotic and honest ruler than any US president of the past 100 years. In my view, supported by considerable evidence, the American Revolution began as a project of conspiratorial Yankees who had been plotting treason for years. They only succeeded when the British government overreacted and created sympathy in the South for the Yankeee traitors. One branch of my family were Tories, not because they liked George III: In fact they did not regard him as legitimate–as indeed, he was not–but they were Scots who had given their word and they fled to Canada. Even some Scottish supporters of the revolution were rabbled and mistreated. (I too belong to a persecuted minority). There were elements of good and bad in the revolution, and it is as naive to claim that it was essentially conservative, as Russell Kirk did, as to insist that it was essentially radical, as leftists and some Catholics do. It was a very mixed bag. There were men of honor both in North and South, but there were also free-thinkers and libertines like Franklin.


MadMonarchist said...

The famous Catholic and conservative Republican William F. Buckley Jr was once asked which side he would have been on in 1776. He said, with some thought, that he believed he would have been on the side of Washington but also added that he was, in general, opposed to revolution on principle and said that if the British had captured Washington they could have hanged him and been completely justified in doing so.

My own opinion is that there is much about the American Revolution (actually a War for Independence) that was unsavory and unjustified. I probably would have been among the Tories myself. However, as far as "revolutions" go it was a pretty tame one -no monarch actually lost his throne, there were no massacres and no effort to totally remake society based on some artificial utopian model as happened in France or Russia. Given that one cannot change the past, even for as diehard a monarchist as myself, it seems better to accept what happened and try to make the best of it.

The Western Confucian said...

Thanks for the link! Well said, MadMonarchist.

Theodore Harvey said...

Interesting, though as a staunch unreconstructed Tory Loyalist (and fan of HM George III) myself who wears black on the Fourth of July, I get weary of Catholics criticizing (a very small number of) other Catholics for being excessively monarchist, as if this were a major problem in the contemporary Church. Surely idolatry of the American state and "Democracy" in general is much more common and a far more serious problem among Christians today.

Dr. Fleming's comments are largely accurate, as are those of my friend "MadMonarchist," but while we indeed have to live with what happened in 1775-83, we don't have to be happy about it. It is true that there were a variety of ideological strains among the American Revolutionaries, some of them relatively "conservative," but revolution is still evil even without a Reign of Terror...and if you look at the treatment of the Loyalists, things weren't too comfortable for them as Dr. Fleming himself implies.