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Modern British Perception of the American Revolution?

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#11 · Posted: 24 Sep 2009 17:46
cigars of the beeper:
Well, technically, stuff from that era is not truly "history," but is actually "prehistory." ...

And the fact that it's prehistory pretty much outlines what it is possible to know about those culture. The knowledge about prehistoric times is largely based on abductive reasoning. For example the fact that figurines of pregnant women are often found in archaeological excavations, is commonly interpreted to mean that quite a few prehistoric cultures had some sort of fertility cult.

However, it is possible that those figurines were dolls to play with. And there are countless other possible explanations for those figurines.

So no, mct16, it's not possible to know much about leaders of Native Americans before Columbus. However, it is possible to know something about the relationships between tribes. Certainly the remains tell if there's been commerce, cultural exchange or conflicts.

(And no, unfortunately I'm not an expert on prehistory of America, so I leave it for someone else to tell you precise facts about those cultures.)
cigars of the beeper
#12 · Posted: 25 Sep 2009 19:15
There are many great books on the history of Native Americans. A good recent one is 1491 by Charles C. Mann, which explores what Native American life was like right before Columbus came in and screwed everything up. Mann's main theory is that Native American culture and numbers were far greater than people had previously thought. An interesting book, if you're interested in the topic.
#13 · Posted: 15 Sep 2011 08:14
I don't think the British hold the American Revolution against the Americans.

Firstly, history is just that - history - and all you can do is learn from it, move on from it, and decide that the coming generations should not have any part of the strife that. Besides, they can't afford to stay mad at America till now; India could definitely have a bone to pick with Britain if you follow that logic - centuries of oppression would warrant some beef - and yet the countries get along just fine today.
Aristide Filoselle
#14 · Posted: 20 Sep 2011 17:41 · Edited by: Moderator
Great thread. At least for those who find history fascinating.
I'm interested in reading of other people's experience of learning history at school.
When I was in school, I studied no American history at all, and no European history post 1600.
I did a lot of ancient history, some Chinese history, some modern Middle Eastern and South African history, and some history of Europe in the late middle ages. I've always loved history, so have managed to pick up a passing knowledge of American history, and of more modern European history.
The thing about history is that there is so much of it that schools have no choice but to ignore most of it.
So it could probably be said that 99% or so of all history is glossed over in British Schools.

As for the American Revolution - I can only speak for myself. I come from mixed parentage. On the American side of my family, I understand that some fought on the side of the Revolution, others were Tories and opposed it. On the British side of my family, a lot of my ancestors probably supported the American Revolution.

I dislike violence, and think that the American Revolution was a bit of unnecessary violence. The ideals were great, but the violence wasn't, and the tendency to justify it today in the name of patriotism seems to me to be misguided. In the end of the day, I suspect that peaceful and constitutional means could have been used to achieve the same result. Of course they were rebelling against an imperfect regime, but Hanoverian rule in North America wasn't particularly horrible.

I have been very impressed when, as a tourist, I have visited places like Independence Hall in Philadelphia and Colonial Williamsburg, because the presentations of the tour guides have been very fair and balanced in their coverage of the events of the American Revolution.

However - I'm somewhat amused by the way that some (not all) Americans have managed to turn their rather embarrassing and disastrous "Operation Invade and Conquer Canada", (which many Americans of the time thought was a piece of stupid military adventurism) into a glorious war for freedom.

#15 · Posted: 20 Sep 2011 21:19
Aristide Filoselle:
"Operation Invade and Conquer Canada", (which many Americans of the time thought was a piece of stupid military adventurism) into a glorious war for freedom.

I expect that's how many will view the Invasion of Iraq about 200 years from now.
Aristide Filoselle:
I suspect that peaceful and constitutional means could have been used to achieve the same result.

I believe that Ben Franklin actually went to England in order to try and come to such a settlement but met with little success. It is said that he was a monarchist at first and only turned against the Crown when his efforts proved hopeless.
Anyone know a good "alternative history" book: What If the Americans Had Never Declared Independence? Just another ex-colony-turned-Commonwealth state?
#16 · Posted: 3 Dec 2011 05:13

What state do you live in? In New York we had to take two years of "Global Studies" which is world history. So we learned a lot of European history. Of course though in New York much of it is US-focused to. In 4th Grade we learn State History, 5th is American, 6th is World. 7th and 8th is more American, 9th and 10th are world, and 11th is another year of American. However, I'm also a history buff, and seek out history on my own. For example all Canadian history I know, I learned because I live near the border and watch a lot of Canadian TV (in fact my first exposure to Tintin was on a Canadian TV station).
#17 · Posted: 15 Apr 2012 13:38
there are no hard feelings

And now, George Washington has been named Britain's greatest ever foe in a contest run by the British National Army Museum to identify the UK's most outstanding military opponent.

Personally, I would rather have had a vote on Britain's most outstanding military figure (Edward the Black Prince, Henry V, Francis Drake, Horatio Nelson, Montgomery), but I suppose they had to come up with something more original.
#18 · Posted: 15 Apr 2012 17:45 · Edited by: jock123
George Washington has been named Britain's greatest ever foe in a contest run by the British National Army Museum

It seems a curiously lop-sided sort of a poll to begin with; they provided a closed set of contenders, then ran a public vote, then a further closed selection was made from the top of the public poll by a panel. Setting aside some odd additional conditions (that required the candidate had to be post-17th century, but also required the enemy to have actually headed an army against the British, which was surely a rarity even in the 17th century, and which certainly ruled out Hitler), as Washington polled only two percent in the "popular" vote, I don't think this really tells us anything.
a vote on Britain's most outstanding military figure

Edward the Black Prince, Henry V, and Francis Drake weren't British: they were English... There was no Britain when they were around (hence the post-17th century limitation I suppose set by the original pollsters).

Actually, there'd be something to be said that both George Washington and Michael Collins were both technically British; George fought the Brits to obtain independence, and Michael Collins was fighting for it when he died (also, as the link says, he doesn't actually fit the conditions of the poll, as he didn't lead an army against the British on a battle-field any more than Hitler did).

I'd also like to jump back a it to the mention of the Pilgrim Fathers fleeing persecution: this shows one of the pit-falls of doing history at all - you end up with one side of an argument, or even a wholly fallacious spin on events which just gets accepted.
The Pilgrims weren't really being persecuted, they were just in dispute with other Protestants at the time, and were as hard on others as others were on them. Persecution is what happened to the Jews in Russia during the pogrom, and in Nazi Germany, and this just wasn't the case with the Pilgrims.
They decided that they were right, and that the Church of England were wrong, and that other Calvinists weren't hard-line enough, so they left to start their own place for English Dissenters - they didn't "flee", as no one was actually pursuing them, they just "went" (in fact they wandered about in Europe for a bit, in England, then in the Netherlands, then back in Britain, then off to the New world).
They also weren't at all interested in religious freedom, they wished to impose their own brand of religion in a manner wholly intolerant of the beliefs of others; in this respect they took some of their problems with them.
#19 · Posted: 15 Apr 2012 19:02
Harrock n roll:
I'd be interested to know how much it is taught in schools around the world.

Definitely not at all. Here, from elementary to high school, students are thought about Indonesian history (our own country history, of course), starting from the emergence of first Hindu kingdom Kutai in Borneo until the occupation by Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch explorer (and a brief year of British occupation, if you lot remembered... :D), and finally until the independence declaration, started with lots of physical and diplomatic fights started by the turn of the century (of course the struggle for independence had started before 20th century, but before that, the struggle was a regional, not national struggle). Indonesian history lesson doesn't stop at declaration of independence, there are still some history lesson afterwards, and it extends until the fall of Soeharto.

Back to topic. If I had any chance to know about American history, especially the independence part, I would know that from George Washington's World by Genevieve Foster. I found that book in my house when I was seven, and what attracts me to the book is (definitely) not the history itself. Rather, it was the beautiful illustration inside the book. Later on, when I was in middle school, reading some parts and chapters in the book helped me find out about American history (George Washington comic biography helps quite a lot too, I must say. Perhaps this helps lots of kids knowing that British Empire once occupied America, well if occupied is a right word).

the British did curb the power of the Maharajas, brought in the railways, dealt with the Thuggee and introduced more advanced forms of educations.

I heard that British occupiers were rather "kind*" compared with other European occupiers at the time (let's say, Dutch occupiers), for they provided good education to the occupied people. While this might be a good thing for the occupied people, let's not forget that the British are still occupiers, and occupiers are occupiers. No matter how benevolent occupiers might seem, they still have done something bad (or saying it simply, mean) to the occupied people, be it putting ridiculously high tax on valuable commodities (herbs and spices, perhaps, in case of occupation in most Asian region), injustice in trials, and so on. To apologize (or not to apologize) to the occupied country, I think it's up to the occupiers' conscience, for I think, it could have shown the occupiers' morality (and mentality) during their time occupying the countries (sorry if this sounds rather too harsh, I just want to tell suppressed occupied people's thoughts from my point of view).

*mind you, the word "kind" can be highly misleading here!
#20 · Posted: 2 Nov 2012 19:58 · Edited by: Moderator
Actually they do teach us history state from state.

In all the schools I have been to, we have two history courses we learn the entire time in school, and they switch back in forth.

In Virginia we learned about Virginian history, then we learned national history. It kept going like that I never learn anything new so thank you I wanted to know that as well.

I wish I could learn about the history of other countries. Now in Texas 7th grade Texas History and now in 8th we are learning U.S. history. So I think we need a different class for that time because I know all about my country’s histroy because it just repeats!!!

A nerd like me is always looking for something new once you know everything it gets boring.
Again thank you.

Moderator Note: We really appreciate your enthusiasm, but ask that you watch your spelling and punctuation when you post, as it can sometimes be difficult to understand the point you are trying to make; taking time to read through your message and check the spelling etc., before you post it woud certainly make things clearer! Your message has been corrected as best as possible.

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