Did the rebels in the American War of Independence acknowledge English Civil War rebel groups as an influence on their thinking?

Did the rebels in the American War of Independence acknowledge English Civil War rebel groups as an influence on their thinking?


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I asked before about Cromwell, who it seems was viewed negatively. What about the ideas of people like the Levellers, or more general republican ideas that existed in England at that time?


John Adams and Thomas Jefferson went on a tour of the English countryside in 1786. This is what Adams had to say about their visit to Edgehill and Worcester, the sites of two major battles of the English Civil Wars, in his diary:

Edgehill and Worcester were curious and interesting to us, as Scaenes where Freemen had fought for their Rights. The People in the Neighbourhood, appeared so ignorant and careless at Worcester that I was provoked and asked, “And do Englishmen so soon forget the Ground where Liberty was fought for? Tell your Neighbours and your Children that this is holy Ground, much holier than that on which your Churches stand. All England should come in Pilgrimage to this Hill, once a Year.” This animated them, and they seemed much pleased with it. Perhaps their Aukwardness before might arise from their Uncertainty of our Sentiments concerning the Civil Wars.

It should be noted that the battle of Worcester was led by Cromwell himself and marked the final defeat of the Royalists in the Civil Wars. It was fought under the banner of the Commonwealth/Republic, as the monarchy had long been abolished by then.

Another factoid relates to Algernon Sidney, a staunch republican who fought on the parliamentarian side in the Civil War. He initially opposed the execution of Charles I but later endorsed it. He was executed under Charles II for, among other things, writing an anti-monarchist tract. John Adams, who was far from a radical, thought very highly of Sidney and his writings. Some even claim Sidney's Discourses on Government was more influential among the Founders than the works of John Locke.

So I think it's safe to say the American Founders' sympathies lay firmly with the parliamentarian side in the English Civil Wars, including the republican period after the monarchy had been abolished. They may not have been as radical as the Levelers or supporters of Cromwell, but they were not mere English Whigs tracing their political lineage to the Glorious Revolution either.


George Washington

George Washington (February 22, 1732 [b] [c] – December 14 , 1799) was an American political leader, military general, statesman, and Founding Father who also served as the first president of the United States from 1789 to 1797. He led Patriot forces to victory in the nation’s War for Independence. He presided at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 which established the U.S. Constitution and a federal government. Washington has been called the “Father of His Country” for his manifold leadership in the formative days of the new nation.

Washington received his initial military training and command with the Virginia Regiment during the French and Indian War. He was later elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses and was named a delegate to the Continental Congress, where he was appointed Commanding General of the nation’s Continental Army. He led American forces, allied with France, in the defeat and surrender of the British at Yorktown, and resigned his commission in 1783.

Washington played a key role in the adoption and ratification of the Constitution and was then elected president by the Electoral College in the first two elections. He implemented a strong, well-financed national government while remaining impartial in a fierce rivalry between cabinet members Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. During the French Revolution, he proclaimed a policy of neutrality while sanctioning the Jay Treaty. He set enduring precedents for the office of president, including the title “President of the United States”, and his Farewell Address is widely regarded as a pre-eminent statement on republicanism.

Washington owned slaves for labor and trading, and supported measures passed by Congress protecting slavery, in order to preserve national unity. He later became troubled with the institution of slavery and freed his slaves in a 1799 will. He endeavored to assimilate Native Americans into Western culture, but responded to their hostility in times of war. He was a member of the Anglican Church and the Freemasons, and he urged tolerance for all religions in his roles as general and president. Upon his death, he was eulogized as “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” He has been memorialized by monuments, art, geographical locations, stamps, and currency, and many scholars and polls rank him among the top American presidents.


First Published 5 hours ago • Updated 5 hours ago

Doha, Qatar • Qatar’s emir looked over an assembly of Arab leaders Tuesday as both cordial host and impatient taskmaster. His welcoming remarks to kings, sheiks and presidents across the Arab world quickly shifted to Qatar’s priorities: Rallying greater support for Syrian rebels and helping Palestinians with efforts such as a newly proposed $1 billion fund to protect Jerusalem’s Arab heritage.

No one seemed surprised at the paternal tone or the latest big-money initiative. In a matter of just a few years, hyper-wealthy Qatar has increasingly staked out a leadership role once held by Egypt and helped redefine how Arab states measure influence and ambition.

Little more than a spot to sink oil and gas wells a generation ago, Qatar is now a key player in nearly every Middle Eastern shakeout since the Arab Spring, using checkbook diplomacy in settings as diverse as Syria’s civil war, Italian artisan workshops struggling with the euro financial crisis, and the soccer pitches in France as owners of the Paris Saint-Germain team.

As hosts of an Arab League summit this week, Qatar gets another chance to showcase its swagger.

With power, however, come tensions. Qatar has been portrayed as an arrogant wunderkind in places such as Iraq and Lebanon where some factions object to its rising stature, and Qatar’s growing independent streak in policy-making has raised concerns among its Gulf Arab partners. It also faces questions — as do other Gulf nations and Western allies — over support for some Arab Spring uprisings while remaining loyal to the embattled monarchy in neighboring Bahrain.

“The adage that money buys influence could very well be the motto of Qatar,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a professor of regional politics at Emirates University outside Abu Dhabi. “But it goes beyond that. Qatar also has learned the value of being flexible and, at the same time, thinking big.”

It’s hard these days to find a point on the Mideast map without some link back to Qatar.

In recent years, Qatar mediated disputes among Lebanese factions and prodded Sudan’s government into peace talks with rebels in the Darfur region. Qatar’s rulers even broke ranks with Gulf partners and allowed an Israeli trade office — almost a de facto diplomatic post — before it was closed in early 2009 in protest of Israeli attacks on Gaza. And Doha has been atop the Arab media pecking order as headquarters of the pan-Arab network Al-Jazeera, which was founded with Qatari government money in 1996 and is now expanding its English-speaking empire into the United States.

But it was the Arab Spring that opened the way for Qatar to stake out an even bigger role in regional affairs, filling the vacuum for regional powerhouse Egypt as that country was mired in turmoil after the revolution that ousted longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.

Qatar was among the few Arab states offering active military assistance to NATO-led attacks against Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya and, at the same time, was a key arms-and-money pipeline for Libyan rebels. In Egypt, Mubarak’s fall offered Qatar’s rapid-reaction outreach a head start over other Gulf states because of its longstanding ties with the now-governing Muslim Brotherhood.

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who attended the Doha summit, has turned to Qatar to help prop up the country’s stumbling economy.

“We expect that financial pledges will be respected,” Morsi said in a message to Qatar and other Arab countries that have promised money for Egypt.

Almost nothing happens in the Syrian opposition without a voice from Qatar, which has played matchmaker for a broader political coalition against Syrian President Bashar Assad and leads appeals to provide rebel fighters more heavy weapons in attempts to turn the tide in the 2-year-old civil war. On Tuesday, Qatar led the official transfer of Syria’s Arab League seat from the Assad government to the opposition Syrian National Coalition.

The New York Times reported Monday that the CIA has helped Turkey and Arab governments, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia, to sharply increase military aid to Syria’s opposition in recent months with secret airlifts or arms and equipment. The Associated Press also reported, citing American officials and others, that the U.S. is training secular Syrian fighters in Jordan in a bid to stem the influence of Islamist radicals in the splintered Syrian opposition.

To view Qatar’s rise as purely a triumph of extreme wealth gives an incomplete picture, analysts say. True, Qatar’s pockets are deep. The most recent budget surplus swelled to $26 billion and Qatar has one of the world’s most well-heeled sovereign wealth funds whose acquisitions include stakes in luxury brands such as Tiffany and the Valentino fashion house as well as David Beckham’s new club, Paris Saint-Germain.

But Qatar represents a shift in Arab clout toward a new style: A country squarely in the Western-leaning camp, but far more willing to embark on policies and plans that could ruffle the U.S.

“Qatar believes it doesn’t have to wait for others to try to shape the direction and conversation in the region,” said Theodore Karasik, a security and political affairs analyst at the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis. “That kind of confidence opens up all kinds of new political equations.”

A clear example was a centerpiece of the Arab League summit welcoming address by Qatar’s ruler, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who pledged $250 million toward a proposed $1 billion fund to defend the Arab identity and history of Jerusalem against an expanding Israeli presence in traditional Arab districts.

“The Palestinian, Arab and Muslim rights in Jerusalem are not negotiable, and Israel must realize this,” the emir said after telling other Arab states that it is their responsibility to kick in another $750 million.

Such Qatar-led initiatives are likely to deepen its influence among Palestinians and, indirectly, appear to further challenge Washington as the main outside policy-shaper in Israel-Palestinian disputes. Last year, Qatar’s emir traveled to the Gaza Strip with promises for funds and assistance that also sought to undercut Iran as the principal backer for Hamas.

Hamas on Tuesday welcomed the emir’s invitation to meet in Cairo with the rival Palestinian Authority for another round of reconciliation talks, which began last year in Qatar.

“Qatar has money to spend and the political will to use it as an extension of its foreign policy,” according to Karasik, the analyst. “That’s a powerful combination.”

The Qatar government guest book is a case in point.

Qatar has offered debt-battered Italy and Greece separate 1 billion euro ($1.29 billion) funds for small businesses and traditional workshops if the countries match the amount. In the past few months, the prime ministers of Italy and Greece have come calling in Doha with words of thanks.


Watch the video: Ten Minute English and British History #20 - The English Civil War