As the birthplace of the world’s reigning superpower, it’s hardly surprising that 99% of studies regarding the American Revolution focus on North America itself. Such a perspective fails, however, to teach the full history of one of the first world wars. Although most Americans are aware that France was instrumental in their final victory over Great Britain, few understand just how truly global the conflict became after 1777.
Shift the focus to Britain immediately prior to the battle of Saratoga. The British public, and indeed much of its government, was utterly uninspired by the fighting in the Thirteen Colonies. Unlike previous wars with European enemies such as France and Spain, there was little national fervor or militaristic patriotism. Most viewed the conflict as an unnecessary civil war, and while actual sympathy for the American revolutionaries was low, many Britons either didn’t want a fight, or didn’t believe they could win without an unnecessarily large expenditure of resources.
The rebel victory at Saratoga changed the dimension of the war. Britain’s old enemies, France, Spain and the Dutch Republic, all sensed weakness and, within a number of years, had declared war. British opinion regarding the relevance of the fighting in America dropped even further, but now the public was galvanized by prospects of another battle for empire. The great victories of the Seven Years War were still fresh in many people’s minds.
Each of Britain’s enemies had become involved in the fighting for different reasons. The Dutch hoped to regain some of their former commercial glory, while supplying France and the American rebels. Britain declared war on the Dutch Republic in 1780, in what became known as the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War. The conflict proved to be a disaster for the Netherlands - the Royal Navy dominated the high seas, and only French intervention saved a number of Dutch colonies in both India and the Caribbean from being captured. By the war’s end the Dutch had formally ceded colonies in India to the British, along with free trade rights in the Dutch East Indies.
Spain, like France, entered the war seeking colonial expansion at the expense of an overstretched Britain. And unlike France and the Dutch, the Spanish were the only ones to end the war in an arguably stronger position. The so-called Anglo-Spanish War of 1780 - 1784 saw Spain take and hold the important British colony of Minorca, although their attempts to seize Jamaica ultimately failed. Also, they unsuccessful expended a large amount of resources attempting to recapture Gibraltar, which famously resisted during the Great Siege.
Like Spain, the French enjoyed moderate success seizing British interests in the Caribbean. However, the British offensive against France and its allies in India during the Second Anglo-Mysore War of 1780 - 1784 all-but ended the French colonial presence in India. Although the Indian Kingdom of Mysore didn’t lose any territory to the British, the French influence over them was badly shaken. Meanwhile in the Caribbean the battle of the Saintes proved to be one of the most important naval clashes of the war. A Royal Navy fleet smashed the very same French fleet which had won the Americans their victory at Yorktown a year earlier, ending the Franco-Spanish designs on British-held Jamaica. So unexpected was the defeat that some American revolutionaries considered asking Britain to recognize their independence in exchange for breaking their alliance with France. An invasion of the British channel island of Jersey was also defeated, and a Franco-Spanish plan to invade mainland Britain in 1779 was scrapped. By the war’s end, although some territory had been gained, France had almost bankrupt itself, setting the Bourbon kingdom up for a revolution of its own and the eventual end of the French royal line.
I am willing to give leeway on portrayals of Alexander Hamilton’s status as immigrant, tho, because even most of his biographers have failed to put him (and his mother) back into the context of what it meant to be an 18th century white West Indian living in Anglo-America. For the longest time I just thought Adams’s rants about Hamilton’s meanness, his being an upstart, and especially his obsessions with his sexuality was just Adams being weird, but once you realize this was A Thing applied to all white creoles from the “Torrid Zone,” (British and American literature at this time is full of fears of “creole degeneracy”) suddenly things started making a lot more sense. And considering that white West Indian men were considered by many British and Anglo-Americans as being exempt from the title of gentleman by virtue of being born on islands surrounded everywhere by blacks slaves and undesirable whites, and Hamilton’s obsession with keeping his reputation as a gentleman becomes more clear, on top of his illegitimacy.
Britain has always been multicultural! Romans, Britons, Picts, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Danes, Vikings, Celts, Normans. You know nothing.
I think this analogy is false in terms of contemporary “multiculturalism”, for several reasons:
“Multiculturalism” refers to different groups co-existing in the same country. Politically, “Britain” didn’t exist until 1707. A lot of the various groups you’ve listed had their own separate kingdoms on the island of Britain. For example, in the Kingdom of East Anglia you were expected to be an Angle, and in the Kingdom of Essex you were expected to be a Saxon. The Danelaw, the territory of Danish law, was autonomous before the English re-conquered it.
You’ve used synonyms to artificially pad out the number of groups. Picts were a type of Briton, and Britons were a type of Celt (though this term wasn’t applied to the Britons until the 18th century). Similarly, “Vikings” and “Danes” are the same people; the Vikings who came to Britain were mostly Danes, with some Norwegians.
With the exception of the Romans, you’re talking about closely-related ethnic groups indigenous to Northern Europe (the Romans were of course from Southern Europe, unless you get all your information from BBC documentaries where they find one black skeleton from Roman Britain and bang on about it for ten minutes, even though race is just skin colour so how do they know). Angles, Saxons and Jutes are the three main tribes of the Anglo-Saxons, but you’ve listed them as separate tribes to pad it out. Citing Angles, Saxons and Jutes as examples of historical diversity in Britain is like citing Sioux, Blackfoot and Navajo as examples of historical diversity in America. The Anglo-Saxons and Vikings were West Germanic and North Germanic, the Danes came over from roughly the same area the Anglo-Saxons had come from earlier. The Normans (“North Men”) were descendents of Vikings who had stopped off in Normandy for a century and a half before coming to England.
These groups were far more similar and assimilable than the groups in the “multiculturalism” that’s touted today. The Treaty of Wedmore stipulated that the Danes were to become Christian. The English didn’t accept Heathen temples cropping up in the middle of London, they didn’t start taking their English kids along to worship Thor in diversity class, which is what happens now with Muslims. The Normans looked the same and had the same religion. They spoke French at first, but eventually started speaking English. While I suppose one could argue that a class distinction remained from the Norman Conquest and families with French-derived surnames still tend towards an upper class, after a couple of centuries “Normans” had dissolved as an ethnic identity in England.
But I think the most important point is that these groups all came into Britain by force, against the will of the natives. When the Romans invaded, the natives resisted. When the Anglo-Saxons invaded, the natives resisted. When the Danes invaded, the natives resisted. When the Normans invaded, the natives resisted. The Romans who were massacred by Boudicca’s Britons in 61 AD, or the Danes who were massacred by Æthelred’s English in 1002 AD, probably didn’t see this historic “multiculturalism” the way you do. So while you can say Britain has a long tradition of being invaded, it also has a long tradition of not wanting to be invaded.
At the end of the day, the English didn’t invite the Vikings to come over and do-the-jobs-they-wouldn’t-do and celebrate diversity under a rainbow of tolerance. The Vikings turned up uninvited and started killing and stealing, and the English fought them off, sometimes successfully, sometimes unsuccessfully. So these historical precedents are hardly appropriate to use to advocate multiculturalism today! In fact I think bringing them up is shooting yourself in the foot. The Vikings raped and plundered, and you think that’s similar to what Pakistanis and Somalis are doing to the English now? Fair enough, you said it.
This logic of “Britain’s always been multicultural because of Normans etc coming in the past, so therefore you can’t oppose Somalis etc coming today” is like saying if someone once broke into your house then you can’t lock the door. By which I mean, it’s absolute bollocks and insulting to everyone’s intelligence.
I’d like for more of Hamilton’s biographers to examine how his identity as a West Indian Creole might have affected his interactions with the American-born Founders. Because going by the British and American pamphlets/literature/plays at the time, there is a definitely clear stock white West Indian archetype that’s used over and over again, that combines the West Indian plantocracy with the undesirables and poor whites shipped to the Islands, to make: the exotic, swarthy (read: ambiguously brown), hotheaded, buffoonish, cruel, avaricious, rakish libertine, who is always a threat to Anglo society. Basically serving as a way for white Britons and white Americans to distance themselves from their own slave societies by showing how terrible the West Indians were by comparison; how the hot climate made them hot-tempered, and the racist insinuation that being surrounded by “licentious” African slaves rubbed off and made white Creoles degenerate sex fiends (to contrast with the “virtuous” “pure” Englishmen and Americans, who weren’t “contaminated”, because even abolitionist literature of this time period still managed to be racist), and eventually the focus shifts from any antislavery message the work might be trying to convey, and instead focuses on Creole degeneracy for its own sake, especially in the case of works geared towards an American audience, who desperately wanted to show that, despite their own slave-owning ways, they were still properly Anglo.
Such you get a pamphlet like from James Otis:
“At the head of all these islands (for there is no distinction made) stands Jamaica, in truth a conquered island; and as such this and all the other little West India islands deserve to be treated for the conduct of their inhabitants and proprietors with regard to the northern [American] colonies divers of these colonies are larger than all those islands together, and are well settled, not as the common people of England foolishly imagine, with a compound mongrel mixture of English, Indian, and Negro, but with freeborn British white subjects, whose loyalty has never yet been suspected.”
“Those in England who borrow the terms of the Spaniards, as well as their notions of government, apply this term [creole] to all Americans of European extract; but the northern colonists apply it only to the islanders and others of such extract, under the Torrid Zone.”
Works of fiction were quite typical in their portrayals as well. Perhaps most famous was Richard Cumberland’s comedy, The West Indian, which we know George Washington, John and Abigail Adams, and even Philip Hamilton saw. The eponymous character, the libertine Creole Belcour, says:
“Miss Rusport, I cannot invent a lie for my life; and, if it was to save it, I cou’dn’t tell one: I am an idle, dissipated, unthinking fellow, not worth your notice: in short, I am a West Indian.”
And we know this affected how some of Hamilton’s political enemies phrased their antagonism towards him. Like when a Clintonian journalist printed this attack, insinuating Hamilton was part-black:
“I have a son, who is a lad of tolerable capacity, and great shrewdness. This boy, who is about 12 years old, reads the Newspapers to me, every morning; I have taught this young shaver to turn all the frothy publications he meets with, into plain English, and, as a specimen of his improvement, I shall give you his interpretation of a piece which appeared a few days ago in the Daily Advertiser, written in the Creolian taste, by Tom S**t [Hamilton], a mustee, viz. ‘Mungo here, Mungo there, Mungo every where/ What a terrible life am I led.’”
And John Adams was infamous for always voicing his disapproval of Hamilton - especially his skills with money, his womanizing, and his national identity - in uncomfortably xenophobic ways:
“The Edinburg Reviews, as entertaining Romances to me as any of the former. These Fellows pretend to all Knowledge and they have a great deal. But they resemble their Creolian Countryman Alex Hamilton. They can hammer out a Guinea into an Acre of Leaf Gold.”
“After the War broke out this Scotch Creolian Boy crept into the Army as a Something, I know not what, whether a volunteer, an Ensign, an Aid de Camp a Scribbler or a Secretary, or a Colonel I neither no nor care, as an Adventurer, a hungry Wolf who had no other Way to Subsist himself or prowl for prey I believe.”
“You made that Westphalian Couplet yourself, Sleeping or waking, nobody but you could have dreamed or thought of: ‘Hogs of Westphalia are a saving brood/ What one lets drop, the other takes for food.’ It so perfectly and summarily comprehends the whole Genius and history of Party and Faction from the Ipso dixit of Pythagoras to the disciples of the Scottish Creolian of Nevis.”
“Every State in the Union has a party, like your ‘old wealthy native Citizens,’ who are Still Englishmen in their hearts, and will afford a mere American no Support. These factions from the Mississippi to St. Croix, have made it a fixed Principle, all along to hunt down every true American and every Revolutionary Character, as Soon as they possibly could, and get them out of their Way. They were all in one of these Parties taught to turn their Eyes for this purpose upon that Scottish Creole Alexander Hamilton as their head, and what he was to do with them or what they were to do with him I will not at present Conjecture.”
But so far, I’ve only read one work that has focused on how being a Creole in Anglo-America would have affected Hamilton, and there’s more here for biographers to explore.
The logic of ‘race as a social construct’ must be tightened and the focus sharpened. Just as it is unhelpful, to say the least, to euphemize racial slavery in continental Anglo-America as 'the Peculiar Institution,’ instead of identifying the 'white race,’ itself, as the truly peculiar institution governing the life of the country after emancipation as it did in slavery times; just as it is not 'race’ in general, that must be understood, but the 'white race,’ in particular; so the 'white race’ must be understood, not simply as a social construct, but as a ruling class social control formation.
Theodore W Allen, from #8 of his summary of his arguments in The Invention of the White Race
heres my plan for a new and improved world: a large coalition of world powers, think UK, EU, china, vietnam, mexico etc (russia will remain neutral but threaten to intervene with their full nuclear arsenal if america employs theirs) launch a ground invasion on the united states from all possible fronts and enforce the country to be broken up into 8 republics
in green: republic of new mexico, or north mexico. the official language will be spanish as well as english, and it will become an important bridge between latin america and anglo america
in dark blue: new england republic. to get the UK and EU on board with the invasion we might have to promise this to become part of the english commonwealth again, but migration from europe will be discouraged
in yellow: new african republic. all black american citizens will be offered, but not forced to adopt, citizenship. white americans will be forced to leave unless the new government approves their citizenship for being woke enough
in dark red: united states of the atlantic coast (USAC). not much to say about it as this will basically be the USA but smaller
in red: socialist federal republic of the great lakes. a yugoslavia style socialist repubic, without the IMF debt, will make the great industrial cities of chicago, detroit and milwaukee prosperous again, and completely free of ethnic conflict
in blue: burn it all to the ground. ive considered a united states of the pacific coast, like the USAC but more liberal, but really the world is better off without this entire region
in light blue: federated states of north america (perhaps the name the plains indians used for the regio would be better, but i dont know it). native reservations and communities gain complete autonomy, and their community leaders gain a veto in colonist-controlled regions. colonist-controlled regions also pay tax for land ownership to the native government. separated the natives would be weak, lacking in the military manpower to prevent colonist uprisings and rebellions, but as a federation they can be strong.
in orange (not pictured, puerto rico and US virgin islands): free territory of the carribean. bringing in a second golden age of piracy, this new state will inherit the majority of the former US navy’s ships and equipment. why? because it’s awesome as fuck, i love pirates
All chicanas are latinas but not all latinas are chicanas. In short, take the damn compliment and shut the fuck up. Tan bonita y bien mensa.
listen up you scary ass bitch you better watch the way you fucking came at me, writing to me anonymously fuck you and your compliment. “latino” comes from the word latin, which is a group of people from europe, anglos in America called us latinos because we speak spanish. The Indians referred to themselves as Meshicanos and even as Shicanos, giving birth to the term Chicano. that’s why I said what I said. If I said I’m a chicana I said it for a reason.