Everyone Always Has Their Reasons

From The Devil's Disciple, by George Bernard Shaw:

The year 1777 is the one in which the passions roused by the breaking-off of the American colonies from England, more by their own weight than their own will, boiled up to shooting point, the shooting being idealized to the English mind as suppression of rebellion and maintenance of British dominion, and to the American as defence of liberty, resistance to tyranny, and self-sacrifice on the altar of the Rights of Man. Into the merits of these idealizations it is not here necessary to inquire: suffice it to say, without prejudice, that they have convinced both Americans and English that the most highminded course for them to pursue is to kill as many of one another as possible, and that military operations to that end are in full swing, morally supported by confident requests from the clergy of both sides for the blessing of God on their arms.

Who was right? Who was wrong? And how many died?


  1. This isn't quite related to what Rachael posted, but lately I have been thinking that--far from refuting pacifism--the American colonists were just about the best group of people to try nonviolent resistance. With people like Thomas Paine writing letters to the English newspapers, and people like Edmund Burke agreeing with the colonists (right? I hope I have the right century at least...), do you mean to tell me the Crown would have sent the troops necessary over the Atlantic to crush a completely nonviolent rebellion? E.g. the colonists just refuse to pay the stamp tax. What do the British do? Start bayoneting every 100th person to make an example?


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