Friday, June 5, 2009

A New Voice From The Jail

It seems I am now, in addition to everything else, a blogger. I am going to blog here for a year, no more, and then turn over my podium to someone else. My plan is to write sporadically about history in general and the history on our little island in particular, and about what’s happening at the museum. But it’s a certainty that I will wander afield from time to time, and maybe even stir up some controversy. It seems I have this need to be outrageous from time to time, and I intend to indulge. Who wants to read boring stuff all the time? And expect grammatical miscues and the like, I am a Blogger, not an English Major!

Now for a little history. I have been reading, well rereading in fact, Rough Crossings; Britain, the Slaves, and the American Revolution by Simon Schama. Great book about the American slaves who joined the British Army and fought to keep America British.

We are taught that Washington’s defeat of Cornwallis at Yorktown ended the war and the path to independence was straightforward. It was not. The Brits still garrisoned Savanna, Charleston and New York, and Washington lacked the resources to do a damn thing about it. In fact, the British army in 1781 could go anywhere in the thirteen colonies it wanted. More than half the colonies in fact were still pretty strong loyalists. The Brits had a huge pool of willing recruits in the black American slaves, who had proven to be good and loyal soldiers. They could have just continued on until the hardcore patriots either had all given up, and were all executed.

For the first year or so after Yorktown, the Brits dithered. And then a government came to power that just wanted to get rid of the colonies. Good riddance! It was a failure of British will, not a failure of British arms that resulted in US independence.

It was essentially what happened to the French 150 years later at Diembienphu, but that’s a story for another day.

I thought this first bog maybe should be generous, but expect something more succinct in the future...or not.

-Jim Longacre, Local Historian