Book Review: The American Revolution: A Grand Mistake

The American Revolution: A Grand Mistake, by Leland G. Stauber

One must exercise great caution if one reads a book that receive warm praise from the likes of Maoists like Howard Zinn, most famous for his execrable People’s History of The United States, as such praise would immediately signify that such a book is likely to be immensely biased towards an unacceptable political worldview. That said, it is best to judge a book by its contents, and not merely by its supporters, and by that grounds, one’s cautions and concerns are fully justified by surprisingly honest prose that can only be explained by the fact that this book is written in such a respect that it clearly was written for a given audience that is already estranged from the patriotic ideals of the Constitution and America’s founding and wishes to refound our nation as some kind of socialist people’s republic. It is likely the author’s intention for his book to appeal to a given audience, of which I am most certainly not it, or else the book’s forthright and candid prose encouraging drastic and wicked political disorder to the extent of seeking to further the means of the New Deal supporters through revolutionary means and seeking to use the issue of slavery to discredit those who support America’s existing constitutional order with its hostility to activist government, its consensual character, and its system of checks and balances that strongly resist drastic change, would have been downplayed for reasons of political correctness [*].

It is hard to overstate how much this book harps on the issue of slavery. To be sure, this reviewer of the book is no friend to the political system of the South, nor to the system of plantation slavery [1]. That said, the author appears set on denigrating the American Revolution based on a set of troublesome principles. For one, the author seeks to connect anti-capitalist rhetoric with the tradition of anti-feudalism that led to a support of activist government among the commonfolk of Europe, as a way of encouraging socialism in the United States (and Canada). Additionally, the author heaps a great deal of scorn on the practical limitations of voluntary union that required concessions to slavery interests in the American South. In general, the author is uncomfortably hostile not merely to the system of plantation slavery in the American South, but also appears to denigrate the South precisely because it is there where opponents to his system of socialism from above, which ironically enough would make people the slaves of an oppressive and tyrannical government that sought to preserve some kind of paternalistic veneer. The author’s hostility to slavery appears to be a tactical move to appeal to blacks as well as to create an atmosphere of hostility against any political party or ideology that is supported by contemporary Americans of that region. The author’s discussion is clearly focused on an activist capture of the Democratic party for the purposes of “good government,” defined as government that is more intrusive, more regulating, and with blatant efforts at redistribution of wealth.

In terms of its structure, the book is written in a highly imbalanced fashion. First, in the introduction, the author introduces the issues, namely that the American Revolution appears to have influenced a hostility towards increased power to government that makes socialism unpalatable and politically unacceptable to a large portion of America’s population. The first chapter then discusses the British orbit and its shift from Empire to Commonwealth, claiming that the United States could have had dominion status if it so wished, and seeking to muddle the reality that America had to face misrule and oppression on the level of Ireland, and that a Canadian-style dominion status had little appeal among members of the British parliament [2]. Then follows a lengthy and repetitive chapter on the exit of the United States from the British orbit, and a somewhat smaller but equally repetitive chapter on the legacies of the American Revolution, many of which are highly inimical to the socialism that the author would prefer. After this the book comes quickly to its conclusion in looking at the conservative consequences of the American Revolution and a program for future Democratic Revolution in the United States that is highly hostile to any good government like that enjoyed by the United States during its history.

At its core, this book represents a clear and forceful dissatisfaction and disapproval of several key aspects of the American founding. One of them is the fact that Americans, for very good reason, have a high distrust of any intrusive and highly activist government. Authority, in fact, cannot be trusted and obeyed blindly; authority of any kind must prove itself to be worthy of trust and respect through respect of human dignity and freedom, service to those it wishes to lead, and clearly evident and solicitous concern for the well-being of those it wishes to lead before its legitimacy can be granted. Another is that the authors of the book show no interest in frequent elections or in the dependence of governments upon popular consent, or the consent of smaller political units. A government that wishes to rule by grounds other than consent is, by definition, a government that wishes to establish its rule on intolerable coercion. Not surprisingly, in light of the political aims of the author and his clique of socialist fellow travelers, the book shows a great deal of hostility to the natural rights theory of the American Revolution, simply because the widespread belief in inalienable rights is a direct threat to the interests of the author in promoting a government that takes the place of an ultimate authority, not accountable to God or to the people, and from whom all rights and privileges spring from, entirely alienable depending on interests of state. In light of this clear and pernicious political doctrine, the fact that the book points out the human imperfection of the Founding Fathers is not in any way valid, for we do not honor others by their perfection in holding to their ideals, for we all fall far short of perfection, but rather that the ideals one holds to are good ones, and that one acts as best as possible as one can to those good ends. On such grounds, this book promotes a revolution that would be a far grander and far more destructive mistake than the American Revolution ever could be, in spite of the fact that a consensual and voluntary union required the acceptance of abhorrent practices of plantation slavery, at least for a time, with the hope of ultimate extinction. We can only hope that the evil plotting of the author and his cohorts meets a similar fate of ultimate extinction.

[1] See, for example:

[2] See, for example:

[*] As a random aside, I am taking this opportunity to support literacy, as a means to successfully deal with the deceitful plotting of those like the author of this book:

Literacy Day

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About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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