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Monday, 13 September 2010

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He doesn't seem to understand the Boston Tea Party, though. It followed the reduction of the import duty on tea to nearly zero. Consequently the tea smugglers couldn't earn a dishonest living any more and so attacked the shipping in the harbour.

Keown's point comes up often in American schools. Alistair Cooke, in his "America", mentions something similar, and matter-of-factly adds that the British government had every right to raise taxes, even without representation in Parliament. Frankly, I agree, in part because Cooke is such a pleasant writer that it's hard not to. You're not expecting one of those national apologies, are you?

DM, I think you got things wrong. The import duty was reduced in England, to enable the East India Company to compete with Dutch Tea. To make up the differnce, the tax in the colonies was increased. Wiki has a good summary:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Tea_Party

Alas, Gentlemen, my ignorance on the subject disbars me from any useful comment but I would like to congratulate both Prof. Keown and his opponent, Mark Tooley, for an impeccable debate. Both of them made their points, and counter-points, with verve but always within the bounds of courtesy, to the benefit of outside ignoramuses like me. Oh, that the global warming debate could have been conducted on similar lines!

Dom, I took my account straight from Hugh Bicheno's "Rebels & Redcoats: the American Revolutionary War (2003)". He mocks as deliberate lies much of the account of the war with which Americans are indoctrinated in school - such as the cause Boston Tea Party - but unfortunately doesn't provide me with a coherent account of why the War did happen. Or if he did I didn't notice it. Maybe it's too late, and a coherent, accurate account can't be pieced together now. Anyway, the truth is presumably not terribly important - the untruths do their harm, and their good, whatever the truth was. After all, after a couple of hundred years of Americans declining to turn any critical intelligence to the business of what did happen and why, it seems pretty daft to think that they might suddenly take an interest now.

Be fair, 'DM', it's no different to the mythology that enshrouds and befogs Magna Carta which, had the robber barons concerned even guessed part of where it would all lead, they would have torn it up on Runnymede. Anyway, it was quickly ignored and was only restored later, with several pages cut, when poor old King John died of the shits. None of it was exactly ennobling!

DM, do you remember what Bicheno did to the Falklands War?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2006/apr/01/history.highereducation

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