I've been reading a great book called Rough Crossings, which is really a kick in the head. It sort of helps explain for me, why I somehow never have been too interested in the American Revolution or at least the myth of it that is currently known. What was born in 1776 was the possibility of a great free country but one that so deeply flawed and corrupt that it took a much more terrible war to start to set it right.
One little fact that tells the story is that If you were a black American, you would have gained your freedom faster if England had won the Revolution!! In fact, thousands of American slaves fought for England with the hopes of being free-- including many owned by the founding fathers.
"Lord Mansfield, Chief Justice of the Court of King's Bench, had to judge whether the abduction was legal or not under English Common Law as there was no legislation for slavery in England. In his judgement of 22 June 1772 he declared: "Whatever inconveniences, therefore, may follow from a decision, I cannot say this case is allowed or approved by the law of England; and therefore the black must be discharged." It was thus declared that the condition of slavery did not exist under English law. This judgement emancipated the 10 to 14 thousand slaves in England and also laid down that slavery contracted in other jurisdictions (such as the American colonies) could not be enforced in England."
England was in fact the birthplace of the serious abolitionist movement which by 1807 had outlawed the slave trade in the British Empire and unleashed the power of the Royal Navy to stop it. In 1834 all slavery was ended in all of England's colonies.
These are the words of Frederick Douglass.
"What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy -- a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour."
Here is a great review of the book printed in The Guardian in London which rightly question's our "cartoonish", simplistic knowledge of history.
"For the New York of 1776 that Schama describes is under temporary British control, a safe haven for tens of thousands of fleeing blacks who see a far better hope of salvation in Britain's King George than a nascent American republic. And who, having fought for the British in uniforms bearing the insignia 'Liberty to slaves', will risk death in the water attempting to reach their army's disappearing evacuation ships rather than return to the mercy of their former masters."