Fighting the Wrong War

The futility of colonial protests

Nancy Xu (représenter Loyalist colonial columnist from New England)

Will you succumb to Propoganda?

The conflicts in Boston have spurred calls for resistance from some critics and all out revolution from others. Yet in times of strife, radical propaganda will do little to resolve the disputes at the heart of our grievances. Thus, fellow colonists, we must realize that maintaining ties with Great Britain can be mutually beneficial economically as well as politically, but for such an arrangement to maintain our interests, we must turn to diplomacy rather than violence.

("The Boston Massacre," engraving by Paul Revere, propagandist of the radicals. Can a defensive shot really be a massacre?)

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Our Oldest Ally

Contrary to the popular headlines of the past weeks, Britain's recent tax levies have not stifled our profits - in fact, imperial mercantilism has served to both create and raise our home economies. Without royal charters or crown subsidies, our thoroughly British ancestors would not have gained the opportunity to build the cities we now inhabit, the shops we now keep, or the ships we now sail. Generations may separate us from our initial cultural heritage, but the guaranteed economies provided by the mother country - and the assured materials we return - were the seeds of a thriving economy from which we continue to benefit. The taxes are not unsubstantial, but they are a drop in the bucket of the revenue gained by using Britain's system to create colonial products.

(A battle of the French and Indian War, Colonial and British soldiers united.)

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Can we afford to provoke the world's strongest navy?

One must also acknowledge the consequences of rebellion in future relations. Great Britain stands as the world's strongest empire with expansive territories, armies, and a formidable navy. And while some claim their faults in the French and Indian War leave them vulnerable to colonial tactics, England's generals are just as likely to have learned from those encounters as we have, making their masses of troops even stronger. Should we choose the most destructive of paths, our untrained militias would surely scatter under the gunfire of a thousand trained soldiers. Even Rev. Samuel Seabury writing in support of more autonomy for our colonies in his paper Great Britain not Intimidated, acknowledges that while war has an "old Oliverian glory in it...[peaceful coexistence] is certainly the most prudent course. It will save this province, and probably the whole continent, from desolation and destruction." Great Britain as a sometimes-demanding mother country remains the preferable alternative to Great Britain as an enemy in battle.

(English Ship in Action with Barbary Ships, 1680 painting by Willem van de Velde)

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What will come of our complaints?

There is also the matter of our own colonial disparities. We may call for greater parliamentary representation in order to lower taxes, but while these seem to be reasonable requests, the differing requirements and conditions of each colony complicate the matter beyond Otis' slogan. What acts shall we deem fair or oppressive? Will we prioritize tax reductions for New England's merchants, or should the Chesapeake first gain cuts to agricultural exports? As for those few extremists seeking a complete break with England, how do these so-called revolutionaries intend to govern a collective as disparate and diverse as our fair colonies? As Charles Inglis' The Cost of Revolution so concisely displays, "the whole of our exports from the Thirteen United Colonies, in the year 1769, amounted only to £2,887,898 sterling; which is not so much, by near half a million, as our annual expense would be were we independent of Great Britain." We cannot afford to rebel without accounting for the losses of our economy.
We have grown for more than a century with the guidance of Great Britain. Who wishes to risk all we have accomplished over the price of a few coins?