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The American Revolution: Conflicting views from Britain

Paul Simon writes: "Pennsylvania seems cluttered with cities named after British moderates: Not only Pittsburgh but Wilkes-Barre, etc. For a great read on how these moderates failed and gouty, gouchy hard-liners prevailed in England, I recommend the appropriate sections of Barbara Tuchman's The March of Folly".

My comment: Let's be fair Wilkes-Barre was named after British parliamentarians John Wilkes and. Isaac Barré, both strong defenders of the American colonists. Wilkes could scarcely be called a moderate. He is viewed as the founder of British radicalism, and even American sources describe his attacks on George III as scurrilous. He was like Tom Paine, and, like Paine he ended his life an unpopular man. Let us be fair to George III. The problem with him was that his mother was constantly telling him "George, be a King". Actually, farmer George was popular. The picture of him in the movie "The Madness of George III" is gross, like judging Woodrow Wilson by this acts when he was ill. Isaac Barré was different from Wilkes. He made virulent attacks on Pitt from the right, but later came to be devoted to him. He defended the colonists as Sons of Liberty, a label which became popular in America. The critics of the colonists cannot be dismissed as "gouty. grouchy hard-liners". Many of them, like Samuel Johnson, were very honorable men. Political labels depend on the labeler. In the U.S., communist revolutionaries used political labels different from those used by moderate and conservatives. Even among the last two there are differences. Conservative Republicans despise "Rockefeller Republicans", the kind of Republicans I prefer.

Ronald Hilton - 9/20/01