Notions

Independence

The origin and essence of the conflict between England and the colonies- Its origin came to be as early as 1651 when the English Government enacted the Navigation Acts. It meant that all trade routes made by the colonies were only going to England, barring foreign trade. There was also King Philip’s War (occurred in New England), in which the Americans had to fight against the Wampanoags, with little to no support from England. Taxes were being created and raised, which surprisingly did not affect the colonies. The Molasses Act of 1733 imposed taxes on the molasses trade just so their British product could be cheaper than the French West Indies’. The Currency Act restrained the use of paper money, the Sugar Act added more taxes to the sugar trade, and the Stamp Act required that all almanacs, pamphlets, and other official documents have stamps. 1 500 British soldiers were stationed in the colonies during a time of peace, which was politically looked down upon. The American people had to pay them their full pay with tax money, which the Americans didn’t like. But their main problem was that they didn’t have any representatives in the Parliament so they couldn’t send that message to the government.

Boston Tea Party of 1773- The parliament enacted the Tea Act in 1773, which was made in response to the Dutch selling their tea at a lower price to the colonies. They were being forcefully sold to merchants as a form of tax. Most of the time, the tea was turned back, but governor Thomas Hutchinson refused to allow this. One of the shipments was ordered to spread the tea to the dock merchants, but that was dismissed. The ship stayed anchored until a group of men called the Sons of Liberty on December 16, 1773, dressed as Native Americans led by Samuel Adams boarded the ship, and dumped all the boxes of tea leaves into the sea. This action became very prominent in the patriotic lore of America.

Declaration of Independence July 7, 1776- It was mostly drafted by Thomas Jefferson and presented by the Second Continental Congress. The statement took place in Pennsylvania State House in Pennsylvania. It states that all the 13 states within the American continent are not under British rule. It was signed by all representatives of each state. Before this, on July 2, 1776, there was the Lee Resolution, in which the Congress members all voted for the creation of an independent set of states. The declaration stated 27 colonial grievances that justified this turn of events. It was written mostly against the reigning monarch at the time, King George III. They demanded a change in their situation, as many of their rights were dismissed or not cared for.

Revolutionary War 1775-1783, reasons, outcome- The war started in Concord April 19, 1775, when British forces tried to disarm the city, yet faced the Massachusetts militia who resisted against them. In March 1776, the armies besieged Boston, making the Redcoats evacuate. The army became known as the Continental Army, with George Washington being appointed the rank of Commander-in-Chief. The army attempted to invade Quebec, yet failed. The British led a counter-attack on New York, successfully capturing it. From Quebec, John Burgoyne ordered an invasion to isolate the New England Colonies. Due to Sir William Howe’s choice of leading his army to Philadelphia, Burgoyne lost at Saratoga in 1777. This was a major impact in the war, by gaining support from the French, also becoming their new ally. One decisive naval victory (Battle of Chesapeake) in Yorktown, Virginia gave the Whigs Party in England the upper hand. They were anti-war, so in 1782 they voted to end all aggression towards the American colonies and on September 3, 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed. It says that Great Britain recognizes the colonies as sovereign states rather than their own territory.

Articles of Confederation of 1781- It was the first constitution made by the original 13 states. It, in short, wished to preserve sovereignty and freedom. A weak central government was established by the Articles. This became apparent after the conflict between the army and the Shays’ Rebellion. It showed how limited their power was.

Constitutional Convention of 1787- To try and fix the problems with their government, representatives had a meeting in Philadelphia on May 25, 1787, which became known as the Constitutional Convention. Although they all came to change the Articles, it was clear that it needed to be completely replaced under the Constitution. And on March 4, 1789, the central government was replaced by the federal government; a big improvement from the restricted powers. A new chief executive, courts and taxing powers were established.

US Constitution and the Bill of Rights- The Constitution is the supreme law of the US. It is consisting of 7 articles: The President, Supreme Court, Other Federal Courts, Rights and responsibilities of state governments, The relationship between states and federal government, Shared the process of the constitutional amendment, State ratifications.

The Bill of Rights is made up of 10 of the first amendments made by the Constitution. It was written as a response to the Anti-Federalists, by adding to the rights already written in the Constitution. The concept of this bill was built upon by earlier documents, like the Magna Carta and English Bill of Rights. Representative James Madison studied problems within such declarations and with this knowledge, fixed some inconsistencies within the amendments and his own proposed amendments were added as additions to the Bill of Rights.

The role of George Washington- (1732-1799) Before the Revolution, George was training county militias and had a disdain towards the British. And right after he heard that the war started, George immediately departed to Mount Vernon on May 4, 1775, to join the Continental Congress. In the war itself, he was nominated by Samuel and John Adams to be the newly made Continental Army’s Commander-in-Chief. For his first feat, he was ordered to besieged Boston, with which he succeeded. In the Battle of Long Island, Washington and his army suffered heavy casualties, so they were forced to retreat. Later on, in both the Battle of Trenton and Battle of Princeton, he emerged victoriously. His most famous battle would be in Saratoga, where George was able to capture General Burgoyne after a few losses. George Washington’s undoubtedly most well-known role is being the first president of the US. During his term, the National Bank was established, Thanksgiving became an official holiday and the term “Mr.President” became official. George was described as a listener; he tolerated his opposition and also listened to their complaints. He spoke regularly with other departments for advice.

The role of Thomas Jefferson- After a year being elected as a member of the Continental Congress, his duty was to write a draft of the Declaration of Independence, which was finalized on June 4, 1776. The declaration also allowed him to be elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, where he wrote the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1777. Even though it was not put up as an official law until 1786, it states that all forms of religion are allowed, eradicating the Anglican Church. Thomas also helped found the University of Virginia. During his time of presidency, Jefferson made quite a few accomplishments, such as decreasing the national debt by 30 million dollars in two years, The Louisiana Purchase and elimination of the Tripoli pirates.

Historical accuracy of the movie

“The Patriot” is an action-filled war film that gives a somewhat accurate overview of the American Revolutionary War through the eyes of its main protagonist Benjamin Martin. It is a movie that has received all sorts of feedback, both positive and negative, as it greatly depends on what the viewer is looking for within the movie. We can’t forget that the movie is not a documentary but a work of fiction and its priority is to entertain the audience.

First, we should give recognition to the movie makers for consulting with the Smithsonian Musem and creating the most accurate costumes for the actors to use. Nonetheless, this does not compensate for the great number of historical inaccuracies of the movie that have outraged quite a few film critics.”The Patriot” has a variety of inaccuracies thus we will start with the smallest of them. The American flag plays a great and symbolic role in the movie. In the last battle of the movie, we can spot soldiers carrying the iconic flag but in reality, the vast majority of flags used by the Continental Army were flags representing where their militia is from.

A motivator for black slaves to fight against the redcoats was the promise of freedom and a payment of 5 shillings for every month of service. Some would consider this a very crucial part of history that should be depicted correctly but indeed no such promises were made. Overall the movie stands to give a sort of an absurd view of the life of the black slaves. They are depicted as a happy and free working class, including the slaves of the protagonist Benjamine Martin. Possibly the biggest faulty within the whole movie is the burning of the Pembroke church and its locals. A happening that has no historical recording of any act of this brutality. Quite understandable why the Brits made a fuss about it.

The reviews of the movie tend to all agree on the fact that the historical accuracy of this movie is quite frankly just awful. “I am an American and I hated this movie.” A very one-sided statement, but the power in the given statement is overwhelming. “This movie is incredibly offensive to English and African Americans.” Both of these quotes are from the same author and show that even Americans themselves understand the defects this movie has. “This disgraceful propaganda and a gross distortion of history is a shame on those involved.” Another comment made by an American. It carries the same message in a more political manner. Americans and Brits understand that they are being fed lies and distortions which could have an effect on their relations.

Used reviews:
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0187393/reviews

Used materials:
https://prezi.com/slbacyezwq0w/historical-inaccuracies-of-the-patriot/

A visual depiction and its relevance to the topic

The image I have chosen is of a gruesome battle between the Continental Army led by George Washington and the Redcoats. We can see that both sides have already suffered some casualties, but clearly, the battle is still young. Most of the fighting was done from a short distance as the muskets were not very accurate. That is also why bayonets were fitted on to muskets and the usage of swords was quite common. A cloud of thick and distinctive smoke is covering the battlefield that is caused by shots taken from both cannons and muskets. Thus making it hard for the officers to identify their units from a distance. This being the exact reason why the redcoats wore red, as it was useful for distinguishing units. These kinds of battles were often strategically planned with the hopes of getting access to supplies, gaining more control over a region or outmaneuvering the enemy.

Discussion questions and answers

Q. What issue does Lord Charles Cornwallis have with Colonel William Tavington and what finally changes his mind?
A. Gentleman like fighting, too brutal, honor, “the ghost” mocked him.
Q. How does Benjamin save his men from Lord Cornwallis?
A. Negotiation, exchange for 18 redcoats, 9 lieutenants, 5 captains, 3 majors, 1 colnel
Q. According to Benjamin Martin, why is he a patriot?
A. He is angry about taxation without representation. Benjamin Martin reveals this at the beginning of the movie during the meeting where they are discussing whether or not South Carolina should go to war alongside Massachusetts and seven other colonies. Benjamin refuses to agree to let South Carolina go to war which leads to a man saying: “I understood you to be a patriot”. Benjamin replies with: “If by being a patriot you mean, am I angry about taxation without representation? Then, yes I am. Am I willing to go to war with England, then the answer is most certainly no.”
Q. Which event leads to John Billings shooting himself?
A. Tavington killing his wife and son. Why did he do it?
Q. What did Martin tell his two sons about shooting, when they were going to rescue Gabriel? And explain it.
A. Pick a small part of a target, that way if you miss YOUR target you still hit the target. Think of aiming at a coat button rather that the enemy.
Q. What gets Benjamin back in the mood to fight the British after Gabriel is killed?
A. He finds the American flag which Gabriel has been fixing.
Q. When the men are at the statehouse, what are they arguing about?
A. They are debating whether or not to pass a levy (tax) to fund an army the American Revolution.
Q. Tavington says he can never go back to England. Why?
A. Because he would be viewed as a dishonorable, brutal, un-British man for the extremely immoral things he is about to do (e.g., burn a church filled with women and children), and would be shunned by society. He’s willing to do this in exchange for a manor and land in America when (as he believes will happen) the British win the war.
Q. Where did the militia camp out?
A. Black swamp by the old Spanish mission
Q. How did Tavington find out where the militia camp was situated and what happened after that?
A. He negotiated with Pembroke villagers within their church and burned it down after.

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