by Rick Bretz
In this case, the Founding Fathers of the United States said, “Yes, we want a revolution.”
To prove it, rebels dumped tea in the Boston Harbor, protested the Stamp Act and wrote a “Declaration of Independence.” The citizens of the 13 colonies were just getting started.
Reading books about two important figures in history from opposing sides gives a reader a view into the minds of these figures and why certain decisions were made.
The books, Revolutionary: George Washington at War and The Kings and Queens of England offer two opposing views and offer some insight as to why Washington chose the revolutionary path and why King George the III preferred the hard-line approach in dealing with the colonials.
For George Washington, the author points out that London’s military elite refused to grant him a full commission after serving courageously during the French and Indian War. This caused GW to simmer with a hatred towards Britain’s establishment that drove him towards risking it all in a long revolutionary gambit that succeeded but not without gambling with his life, property and wealth.
The Kings and Queens of England
The Kings and Queens of England cover all the Kings and Queens of England from Alfred The Great who succeeded to the throne in 871 to the current monarch, Queen Elizabeth the II, who succeeded to the throne in 1952. The author, Ian Crofton, has planned this book in sections so each monarch has a timeline of accomplishment or milestones, a biography and a description of their reigns for further explanation.
The section on King George III, who came to the throne in 1760 and lasted until 1820, describes his royal family and his mindset toward the colonies. His parents and grandparents, from the Hanoverian royalty tree, were more German than English and spoke German and spent more time in their Hanoverian Estates than in England.
The succession moved to Hanover, now modern-day Germany, due to the Church of England Protestants and the Vatican Catholic troubles that began with King Henry VIII’s fight with the Pope over divorcing his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. With the death of Queen Anne in 1714 and the Stuart house, the House of Hanover began with King George I who spoke German and preferred living in his homeland rather than London.
By the time King George III ascended to the throne, he considered himself an Englishman and spoke the language rather than German. In fact, he was born in London in 1738.
The section on King George III outlines why he lost the colonies. It came down to bad advice from his inner circle and backing his ministers to a fault. The book on George Washington gives a scenario that might have prevented the American Revolution. If King George had visited the colonies on a goodwill tour, he might have been able to meet with a few of the Founding Fathers in Virginia, Philadelphia, and Boston and negotiated a settlement. King George was not about to travel to the United States because of the societal class ladder and ruling due to the divine right of God. That would have meant capitulating to the revolutionary element and showing weakness from the Crown.
The Washington book by author Robert. L. O’Connell describes the first days of the revolution after the British warships docked and invaded Boston and New York. He illustrates that the British commanders knew the terrain better than the Continental Army leaders. That bit of information is surprising since the reader would have thought it would have been the opposite. The defenders should know their own territory.
Revolutionary: George Washington at War and its author, O’Connell, research a specific time period in the Founding Father’s life. He researches Washington, the ambitious youth, the soldier, and how he was selected for the top military position. The book also covers how he made decisions, how he chose his staff and how he fought and strategized in battle. The one trait that comes forward throughout is that Washington listened to his commanders and subordinates. Many times, Washington wanted to attack but held back and regrouped to fight another day based on his war counsel’s advice.
Both books are worth the time spent for a good weekend read. Looking at leaders from both sides of the pond can shed light on how the colonies were lost and why the Founding Fathers pushed the issue.