The more I read books by Edmund Morgan, the more I am captivated by his narrative and find significant power behind his historical arguments. The Birth of the Republic, 1763-89, is no exception to this rule.
I bought this book hoping to gain a non-whig understanding on the American Revolution. All through high school I was taught to look at certain unconnected events as breeding grounds for Revolution. But as far as I have seen it took at least until up till about 1774 for any sort of idea of revolution would take place. PLUS! Unlike how we are taught to look at the tyranny of King George III, Morgan addresses the impact of Parliament.
Morgan talks about Parliament’s consistent pushing of their supremacy over the colonies. They continued to pass legislation and taxation that the colonies did not approve of. Where was the king in all of this? The King asserted that Parliament was the supreme body of British government, and to veto legislation that the Parliament passed against the colonies was practically begging for George III to be compared to the Stuart Dynasty by opponents in Parliament. Thus it appears that Morgan is painting the picture for us to look less at King George III and more at Parliament in terms of government causing for rebellion.
Certainly the king did interact with the colonies in some ways, the first thing that comes to mind is his rejection of the Olive Branch Petition by the First Continental Congress and declaring the colonies in rebellion; however, what led the colonists to taking thoughts into action — Morgan asserts — was the colonists’ disconnect with the idea of virtual representation and denying Parliament’s right to tax and by the same standard eventually denied their right to legislate.
I found it interesting when some of the colonists proposed the idea of ruling themselves the same way that the Scottish Parliament legislated Scotland but still served the same King as England did. Even when the colonists declared themselves independent from the King of England, they left the door open for them themselves to have a monarchy. This is the kind of stuff I can’t wait to talk about whenever I teach my own history classes!