This is a book alert. This book has new thinking you haven’t seen before. Hopefully these ideas will spread.
Gerald Horne’s recently-released “Counterrevolution of 1776” upends the prevalent US creation myth. It is a truly revolutionary study, a rare and precious thing, Doing away with the intellectual basis of domination is a major step toward destroying the system of domination itself.
Horne, a respected and prolific historian of slavery, tells the story of a British colonial economy in the Americas, (including the Caribbean as well as the mainland colonies) based on the highly profitable slave trade. Leading up to 1776, slaves’ relentless rebellions threatened this colonial system, and were, in effect, a revolutionary movement to end private property – the slaves themselves were the private property.
Horne shows the growing fear among colonists of upheaval in their enslaved work force. At the same time England, to maintain its Empire, was forced to move to abolish slavery. England’s moves toward abolition made the colonists’ fears of slave rebellion greater and were a significant factor in the colonists’ decision to declare their independence.
In 1763, England had also placed Indian land west of the Appalachians off limits to the colonists. George Washington, the richest man in the colonies, and other Founders were already heavily invested in land speculation in this area. Colonial leaders considered this restriction a grave offense against the colonies’ economic interests. As it turned out, soldiers in the Continental Army were later paid with stolen Indian land.
These moves by England fueled the call for independence, and made “the American Revolution” a counterrevolution against the aspirations of the slaves – not to extend freedom, but to preserve slavery. The counterrevolution also opened the way for unhindered expropriation of Indian lands by the colonists.
We’ve known for a long time that the official US mythology was nonsense. The story, that a group of wise and enlightened slave owners and their lawyers gathered to declare independence in the name of the inalienable rights of man and then to draft a constitution to guarantee these rights in their new republic, has been suspect for a long time. Slave-owners could only come up with a twisted system of “freedom.” Horne effectively explodes the official creation myth by showing that 1776 was a counterrevolution.
Along the way he throws light on other dark aspects of the nation’s history. Leaders of the Confederate States of America said that by seceding from the Union they were only following in the Founders’ footsteps. Horne shows they spoke the truth. He also muses on how the Confederacy lost the War Between the States militarily but won politically.
This is a history that can explain today’s headlines, as police continue to murder unarmed black youth with virtual impunity.
This is the most important book to come out since the rulers dispersed Occupy Wall Street.
Horne’s effort to set American history right reminds us: what has been taught as US history is little more than fairy tales and lullabies suitable only for putting children to sleep. Time to wake up.