- The origin and essence of the conflict between England and the colony – Before the French and Indian War, the American colonies had been left more or less to themselves. During this time, they got used to having relative autonomy and came to see it as a right. At the same time, the colonies were growing in population and economic strength and becoming less dependent on the “mother country.” After the French and Indian War, the British needed funds to pay for the war and other costs of empire. They felt the Americans should help to pay so they imposed taxes and tried to increase British control of the colonies to ensure the smooth flow of revenues. This need came into conflict with the expectations the colonists had built up over the years.
- Boston Tea Party of 1773 – Political protest by the Sons of Liberty ( The secret society, which was formed to protect the rights of the colonists and to fight taxation by the British government.) in Boston in 1773. The demonstrators, some disguised as Native Americans, in defiance of the Tea Act ( The principal objective was to reduce the massive amount of tea held by the financially troubled British East India Company in its London warehouses and to help the struggling company survive) , destroyed an entire shipment of tea sent by the East India Company. They boarded the ships and threw the chests into the boston harbor.
- Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776 – Document, adopted by the Second Continental Congress in Pennsylvania on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies (who were at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain) regarded themselves and thirteen newly independent sovereign states and were no longer under British rule. Instead, they formed a new nation – USA. John Adams was a leader in pushing for independence. The term „Declaration of independence“ is never used in the document itself.
- Revolutionary War 1775-1783, reasons, outcome – Aka American War of Independence. Armed conflict between the thirteen colonies and great britain. France, eager to get revenge after suffering a heavy defeat in the Seven Years’ War, signed an alliance with the new nation in 1778, which proved decisive in the ultimate victory. The origins of the war were in the resistance of many Americans to taxes, which they claimed to be unconstitutional, imposed by the British parliament. Protests escalated into boycotts and culminated with the Boston tea party. The Patriots responded by setting up a shadow government that took control of the province outside of Boston. Twelve other colonies supported Massachusetts, formed a Continental Congress to coordinate their resistance, and set up committees and conventions that effectively seized power. In April 1775 the battles of Lexington and Concord, in Middlesex County, near Boston, began open armed conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen of its colonies.
- Articles of Confederation of 1781 – The Articles of Confederation was an agreement between all 13 original states in the United States of America that served as its first constitution. Its drafting began in 1776, it was completed in 1777 and ratified in all states by 1781. It established a confederacy between the states and defined its name as being the United States of America. Interestingly, the amount of articles in the documents are equal to the number of states at the time, 13. The articles allowed the confederacy to be more organized, to be able to direct the American Revolutionary War, to conduct diplomacy with Europe and to manage affairs with the Native Americans. According to some key nationalists, however, the articles did not give the state enough power, which led to it being replaced by the United States Constitution later on.
- Constitutional Convention of 1787 – The Constitutional Convention took place in 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The convention was initially intended to revise the Articles of Confederation, however, some in favour of creating an entirely new government. The result of the convention was the United States Constitution. The convention tackled many problems, such as how to elect the president and whether there should be power invested into one president or multiple leaders.
- US Constitution and the Bill of Rights – The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States of America. It was created in 1787 and is still in use to this date. It was ratified in 1788. It originally was comprised of seven articles. Its first three articles describe the federal government’s three branches: the legislative (the bicameral Congress), the executive (the President) and the judicial (Supreme Court). The fourth to sixth articles describe the rights and responsibilities of states and state governments. The seventh article describes how federal procedure should be ratified. The US Constitution also includes 27 amendments. However, originally, the constitution only had ten amendments. These ten original amendments are referred to as the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights was introduced to address the objections of those who were concerned that the state might be gaining too much power. The Bill of Rights grants guarantees of personal freedoms and rights.
- The role of George Washington – While still in his teens, Washington became a land surveyor, which helped him gain a basic grasp on mathematics and topography. This would later serve him well as a military commander. His involvement began as early as 1767, when he first took political stands against the acts of the British Parliament. Throughout his career as an army leader, Washington had to worry about organizing and maintaining an army in the first place, let alone having military success with it.His greatest feats as a commander were the surprise attacks on the garrisons at Trenton (December 26, 1776) and Princeton (January 3, 1777). These victories helped the patriots regain their morale immensely.
- The role of Thomas Jefferson – Thomas Jefferson belonged to the 5-man committee for drafting the Declaration of Independence. On his own draft of a Virginia constitution, he wrote a statement of the colonists’ rights to rebel against the British Government and the rights of every man to freedom. Jefferson was critical of changes to the document, like the removal of a long paragraph that blamed the slave trade on King George III. The paragraph sparked a massive debate among the delegates in charge of the writing the Declaration of Independence. Being part of writing the Declaration of Independence became the defining moment in his life.
When it comes to the historical accuracy of “The Patriot”, Alex von Tunzelmann, a historian and a writer for The Guardian, is not too convinced. In fact, she is not convinced to the slightest. In her unpleasantly titled review “The Patriot: more flag-waving rot with Mel Gibson”, she talks about accuracies and inaccuracies of the movie. She compares the main ‘hero’ of the story – Benjamin Martin and the main ‘villain’ Colonel Tavington. She describes the character that is Benjamin Martin as such: “Martin is based on a sanitised composite of several historical militiamen, most obviously the “Swamp Fox”, Francis Marion.” And she describes Tavington: “In contrast to the virtuous Martin, the British Colonel Tavington (Jason Isaacs), based on the real Banastre Tarleton, is a sneering, sadistic monster.” She continues: “Tarleton was accused of various evils – including firing on surrendering troops at Waxhaw Creek – but the deeds attributed to Tavington here are wholly made up.” With this point, I couldn’t help but absolutely agree. During the movie, the fact, that the Americans were made as heroic and ‘greatest on Earth’ as possible and the British exactly the opposite, was almost tangible. In my opinion, it was incredibly obvious. Von Tunzelmann also mentions the historical accuracy of the infamous scene where Tavington orders the innocent to be burned alive inside a church: “In one scene, Tavington herds noncombatant men, women and children into a church, locks the doors, and sets it on fire. /…/ It is, however, nothing like anything that happened in the American Revolution. It’s a disgraceful attempt to sow the seed of a completely unfounded conspiracy theory, implying that the fact nobody has ever heard of the British army burning a church full of innocents in South Carolina doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Well, it didn’t.” Several reviews, including von Tunzelmann’s, compare the scene to an actual event where the Nazis burned French villagers alive in a church during WWII. For example, Kayla Webley for Time Magazine, talking about the infamous scene: “No such thing ever happened in the Revolutionary War. /…/ not only did the film paint a portrait of the British as cruel killers, it compared them to history’s worst: the Nazis.” This once again proves my point that the movie, and especially the characters were very inaccurate due to the excessive patriotism of the United States. Another historical fact that, in Alex von Tunzelmann’s opinion, was butchered in the movie, was slavery and the sheer disregard for it. She writes: “According to The Patriot, slavery was practically nonexistent in South Carolina and really not that bad, anyway. /…/ It took the civil war to end slavery in the US, almost a century after The Patriot is set. Even then, South Carolina was on the wrong side, being so attached to slaveholding that it was the first state to secede from the Union after Abraham Lincoln’s election.” During a time where slavery was one of the biggest issues, an issue, that has even left its mark in today’s world, near 200 years later, it ought to have been focused on more than just showing a slave enlisting for the war. And when slavery was addressed, it was addressed incorrectly, as South Carolina was one of the bigger states of slavery. I would like to end this text with a quote from Ben Fenton’s review of this movie – “Truth is first casualty in Hollywood’s war”.
Truth is first casualty in Hollywood’s warBen Fenton, The Telegraph
Ben Fenton, The Telegraph – https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/1343851/Truth-is-first-casualty-in-Hollywoods-war.html Alex von Tunzelmann, The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/film/2009/jul/22/the-patriot-mel-gibson-reel-history Kayla Webley, Time Magazine – http://entertainment.time.com/2011/01/26/top-10-historically-misleading-films/