Perhaps due to July 4th and wanting to learn more about the meaning of the 4th, or maybe just by chance, I’ve been reading lots about the American Revolution and early America recently. I’ve read, as you’ve probably seen in my reviews of them, Founding Brothers, To Begin the World Anew, and A Wilderness so Immense in recent weeks. Now, I’ve read yet another and it’s one of the best yet. The Coming of the Revolution: 1763-1775 by Lawrence Henry Gipson is an excellent book about why political developments in the colonies and ham-fisted revenue gathering attempts from the Crown led to the American Revolution.
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And, as you’ll see in my summary and analysis of it, The Coming of the Revolution is excellent because it was written by Gipson in 1954. So, both it and the sources Gipson uses are high-quality, objective sources that speak to the truth of the issue rather than about social justice topics like slavery or relations with the Indians.
As a result, Gipson is able to concisely and truthfully use The Coming of the Revolution to tell the story of why the American Revolution began when it did and as it did. His book is an exceptional take on the traditional view of what caused the American Revolution; the idea that renewed British attempts to control the colonies and use taxes on them to increase revenue and pay down the debt from the Seven Years War caused the American Revolution.
Summary of The Coming of the Revolution
Gipson wastes no time in The Coming of the Revolution on irrelevant topics. Rather than discussing the morality of issues like wars with the Indians or slavery, as many modern authors do, he sticks to the real causes of the American Revolution.
Namely, those problems were new taxes created by Parliament and the response of the American colonists to them. The Trade and Navigation Acts, the Stamp Act, the taxes the crown put on sugar, the Tea Act, and more all inflamed popular sentiment in the Americas against the crown. Colonists saw those taxes as unjust and they, in large part, led to the revolution and break with England. No one likes paying taxes, especially Americans.
However, Gipson does not just baselessly and wholeheartedly criticize those new taxes in The Coming of the Revolution. Instead, he fully explores those taxes in The Coming of the Revolution; rather than baselessly criticizing them and calling them unjust, as many early American patriots and political thinkers did, Gipson describes why the colonists saw them as unjust and why the crown saw them as necessary.
To do so, he uses primary-source material from both the colonies and England, so you’ll hear from characters as diverse as Samuel Adams, William Pitt, and Edmund Burke. Those letters and speeches are instrumental in helping Gipson prove his point and show the reader the truth about the taxes Britain passes to bring in revenue from its North American colonies.
Furthermore, Gipson notes how some of the acts, especially the Navigation Act, were actually beneficial to the colonists. The consistent trade they created between the colonies and mother country was mutually beneficial and helped make America more prosperous than it otherwise might have been.
On that note, Gipson also goes to great lengths to describe how the taxes were very limited, needed because of the French-Indian War, the war that began George Washington’s career and which was fought to protect the colonies, and were carefully considered by Parliament. By doing so, Gipson shows that he is an objective writer that wants to educate the reader on the truth of the matter, not just one side of it.
In addition to discussing taxes and the colonial debate over them, Gipson discusses how the political culture in America at the time was conducive to revolution. As described in The Coming of the Revolution, Americans were governed mainly by local governments in which many citizens participated and made their voices heard.
So, when those voices turned against the crown, so did the local governments and so did the uninvolved citizens. Furthermore, because so many people participated in their own governments and councils, early Americans were ready to rule themselves and break from the Empire.
An example of that is the American boycott of English products, which is also described in The Simple Life by David Shi. Americans understood, because of their local representatives, that that boycott was their best chance of increasing their leverage against the English. And, because Americans then were united and cared about the same issues, they were all able to band together and avoid buying English products. How we are governed is as important as who we are governed by, and Americans were governed well by people in their communities that they knew and respected, so they were able to remain united and strive towards a common purpose.
Based on what evidence Gipson presents in The Coming of the Revolution, I finished reading it and was convinced that he is right that mainly taxes and American political culture led to the American Revolution.
Analysis of The Coming of the Revolution
As I stated in my summary of The Coming of the Revolution, I think the evidence Gipson presented in the book was very convincing and helped prove his point. Additionally, his full discussion of the issues involved and their various aspects made me think that Gipson was an objective writer rather than a biased one, which is always a positive when reading books about historical events. Those thoughts of mine on The Coming of the Revolution, and the content of the book itself led me to two opinions I thought would be relevant to my review of the book.
The first is that early Americans understood far better than modern Americans the dangers of and problems with high levels of taxation and debt. They knew that debt leads to the decay of society, high taxes stifle productivity and are unjust, and that it is the duty of citizens to fight against high levels of taxation. Modern Americans have forgotten all of that and are unwilling to fight against the ridiculous taxes imposed on us to pay for the welfare programs despised by James Madison and Benjamin Franklin. We need to read more books like The Coming of the Revolution so we understand that it’s our duty to fight those taxes.
The second thought I had is that we need more objective writers. Today, even in non-fiction, almost every writer has an agenda. Overwhelmingly, those agendas come from the left, I tend to think conservatives are better able to remain objective. But, whoever the writer is, far too many are unobjective and even site sources that are unobjective! If we are to learn our history and the lessons from it, then we need to learn the truth, not a writer’s opinion about history. Following the lead of Gipson in The Coming of the Revolution would be a great way to do so.
That’s not to say writers shouldn’t have a point. Gipson does- taxes and American political culture caused the revolution. Rather, it’s that whatever the point of the writer is, he or she should strive to prove it through laying the evidence out for the reader so that it can be understood and the reader can draw their own conclusion. If the writer is able to provide the proper evidence, then the reader will reach the conclusion the writer wants them to reach. If the evidence is unconvincing, they won’t. But, whether it’s convincing or not, the writer shouldn’t delve into editorializing.
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The Coming of the Revolution is excellent. Gipson’s writing style keeps you engaged but the book is packed full of information about early America and the causes of the American Revolution, which makes it a book that’s enjoyable and worth your time.
And, perhaps more importantly, it’s about subjects that Americans need to learn far more about. We seem to have forgotten our history and the main cause of that is that our teachers, as I wrote about in yesterday’s article on Robin Hood, don’t teach the truth. They instead editorialize and teach their opinions, not the truth.
Young conservatives, especially college conservatives, need to fight back against that and demand that professors and teachers teach the truth, not their opinions. If they need a guide for how to do so, Gipson’s The Coming of the Revolution would be an excellent guide.
By: Gen Z Conservative