Celebrating Patriot’s Day is celebrating slavery, oppression, and death?

As a New Englander, let me wish all readers a Happy Patriot’s Day!

April 19, 1775 saw the Battles of Lexington and Concord and the start of the secession of British North America from Great Britain (this was virtuous and not to be confused with the traitorous secession of the southern states from the U.S. a few decades later).

The American Revolution was a great thing for some rich white people who got a lot of additional wealth and power. But celebrating the rich and white is out of fashion these days, no?

Consider the alternative fate of black Americans. Slavery in Europe had ended by 1000. Britain abolished slavery throughout its empire in 1833 (Wikipedia). Thus it seems that an entire generation of black Americans could have enjoyed freedom if the American Revolution had never occurred. (Arguably the colonists were some of the cruelest humans on the planet. They came from a place where slavery hadn’t existed for 500+ years and instituted slavery. That’s worse than growing up in a society where slavery existed, but not being an active abolitionist, no?)

How about Native Americans? A “steal land and power from Native Americans” day would not attract many public celebrants today, would it? Yet the American Revolution resulted in the elimination of Native American political power west of the Proclamation Line (see Wikipedia entry on the Indian Reserve).

What about non-rich white Americans? Hundreds of thousands might have avoided death in the Civil War.

By our current standards of vilifying the rich and white and celebrating victims, what is there to celebrate in Patriot’s Day?

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5 Comments

  1. Federico

    April 16, 2018 @ 12:45 pm

    1

    Dude is it a paid holiday? if so any justification is good enough. They were bad but they give us a paid holiday.

  2. philg

    April 16, 2018 @ 1:36 pm

    2

    Federico: Of course it is a paid holiday… for state and local government workers. See https://www.employmentlawhandbook.com/leave-laws/state-leave-laws/massachusetts/holidays/

  3. George A.

    April 16, 2018 @ 1:49 pm

    3

    Where is the outrage!!!

    We should demand the names and status of those “rich white people” such as George Washington and all those who followed him be REMOVED from history just like we are demanding for those Confederate South [1].

    [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Removal_of_Confederate_monuments_and_memorials

  4. dwight looi

    April 16, 2018 @ 2:13 pm

    4

    Eating a Banana is celebrating bigotry. Using sun cream is racist. Speaking English is praising Slavery. Yeah, I got that.

  5. Roger Bigod

    April 16, 2018 @ 3:55 pm

    5

    The historian David Hackett Fischer suggested that there was a low rank in the feudal system that was essentially slavery. It persisted in SW England which provided colonists to the southern colonies.

    I tend to think it was pure economics. Slavery was declining since the Renaissance, and had been rejected in Western Europe. It persisted in places with a lucrative, labor-intensive cash crop that needed year-round attention (tobacco, sugar cane, cotton). See a connection?

    My DAR grandmother had some big scrolls showing our descend from quality white folks. As a boy, I was mostly impressed by the calligraphy. One of the names was Jefferson, but I didn’t see much difference from, say, Millard Fillmore. I belatedly figured that out when JFK remarked that his gathering of Nobel Prize winners was the most impressive concentration of intellect in the White House since TJ dined alone. I assembled the whole thing when the internet became available, and read the economic history of tobacco. No one points out that they were treating the soil as a non-renewable resource and the whole enterprise disintegrated after 1750. That and slavery were the price for allowing Jefferson, Madison et al. education and leisure to devise the Constitution. A dubious bargain.

    My ancestry doesn’t include anyone famous, so I have effectively zero DNA in common with them, but some of the stories are entertaining. The patriarch had TJ, John Marshall, Henry (Lighthorse Harry) Lee and his son RE His mother-in-law by a previous marriage had writing genes — William Faulkner, Ray Bradbury, Willa Cather. Also, Sally Hemings and Booker Talliafero Washington. For making the most of his abilities and opportunities, Booker T was one of the most impressive.

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