[Marxism] [Pen-l] Lord Dunmore and the Ethiopian Regiment

Mark Lause markalause at gmail.com
Sat Feb 16 12:17:01 MST 2013


No reason for an American revolutionist not to know about
Pennsylvania, the epicenter of the most revolutionary features of of
the independence movement.

Unlike the other large colonies, Pennsylvania was a proprietary colony
rather than a royal colony.  That is, the colony itself was not the
king's but the Penn family's.  As a result, it developed with a great
deal of the independence denied the royal colonies.  This meant that,
as the tensions developed with the king, the proprietary government of
Pennsylvania remained steadfastly opposed to independence, even as it
hosted the Continental Congress.  With the tacit support of some of
the New Englangers, the local factions opposed to the dominant
families there tried but railed to wrest control of the proprietary
government in the Assembly elections of 1776,  Since there would be no
independence without Pennsylvania's coming over, the Congress passed a
strange resolution in May 1776 authorizing the people of the colonies
to overthrow those institutions not up to the exigencies ofthe times.

Thereafter, Tom Paine and the other "nobodies" in Pennsylvania simply
organized a government of their own.  The Committee of Privates--a
revolutionary body in the militia--called for a new state convention,
which met in Carpenters Hall and adopted their own Constitution.  The
pro-independence forces in the Continental Congress seated
representatives of this new government which, of course, favored
independence.

However, the new authorities in Pennsylvania adoped a distinctly
radical document (was later adopted by political allies in Vermont).
It even debated adding an article to the Bill of Rights declaring that
enormous accumulations of wealth threatened liberty and asserting that
a free society had to place limits.  For the next few years, it sought
to regulate bread prices and do other things usually associated with
the most radical features of the French Revolution.  As part of that
process, it adopted legislation to get rid of slavery.

Nor was it alone.  Other American states followed.  Because of this,
Vermont came into the Union as the first state never to have had
slavery, and many more were to follow.  This was so, in large part,
because the new United States government barred slavery from the
Northwest Territory.

My point here is that being reductionist about the First American
Revolution strikes me as more than ahistorical.  The legacy of the
Revolution should be what it was--contested ground--and not something
to be simply conceded to the Tea Partiers, Lost Causers and latter day
Tories.

ML




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