normally do not reply to my critics on the Internet. Readers deserve
not to be exposed to personal rants and rejoinders, except on forums,
which I recommend avoiding. This is not a forum. But this time,
I am making an exception, for it proves my original point: the English
expect Americans to forgive and forget — literally forget —
what they did to us on two occasions: 1776-1783 and 1812-15. It
was basically our fault.
Gibson has violated this rule, and the English don’t like it one
Monday, July 17, my article on “Britain’s
Prison Ships, 1776-1783” appeared on lewrockwell.com. It was
immediately picked up by a forum on freerepublic.com.
The first response to it was from a man so typical of the English
snobocracy that he ought to apply at central casting. He wrote:
North is a poor advert for your American education system if he
has a PhD in colonial history and doesn’t know about prison ships.
ignorance related to the death rate on board those ships, and to
the systematic policy of establishing this murderous rate. Here
I cite Hamilton Fish’s essay, which I referred to in my original
essay: “If we estimate 1,000 were exchanged, 100 escaped, and 200
more permitted to go free through bribery or parole, the percentage
of death amounted to 75 percent, as compared with Andersonville
and Elmira prisons of 33 percent in our Civil War. The death rate
of French and British prisoners of war in German prison camps was
not more than 15 percent, and actually less for American prisoners.
The estimated death rate on the Jersey was 85 percent.”
you all go off into the usual anti-British patriotic frenzy, bear
in mind that this was two hundred plus years ago. Neither the
use of prison ships nor deaths in custody were specially reserved
for “American patriots” by the British. Unfortunately, they were
all too common — read John Prebble’s “Culloden” to find out
what happened to the prisoners of the ’45 rebellion — very
similar if on a smaller scale.
see. We should let bygones be bygones because the English did the
same thing to all of their enemies. There was no discrimination
you can manage to remain open-minded for a few seconds before
descending into your patriotic froth, try to use your imaginations
and see things from the other side for a minute. Your “patriots”
were traitors, as far as the British authorities were concerned.
I hardly think you can pretend that the US government of the 18th
Century would have been any more humane in similar circumstances
towards traitors — particularly in view of some of the goings
on in prison camps in your Civil War.
loyalists (Tories) were not subject to such atrocities as the prison
ships during the war or after the war. They lost their property
in a lot of cases after the war. But the supposed one-third of the
population who supposedly opposed the war did not leave, nor were
they driven out.
this is not to justify in any way the horrific treatment of those
prisoners (or many other prisoners, criminal or political —
the difference was not so clear-cut then — in the 18th Century).
But in many ways we have moved on since then, and to indulge in
a froth of anti-British fervor today over this kind of thing is
exactly equivalent to those on the left who try to whip up guilt
over what was done to American Indians over the century or so
after these events.
I’ve had my say. Now you can all go off and get all excited watching
false pretend-history in Braveheart and Patriot. But better not
think about the fact that if the British had granted Parliamentary
seats to American landowners and taxed them a bit less, your “patriots”
might still be “British.”
so what? They refused to grant Parliamentary seats or reduce colonial
taxes because, in terms of their famous unwritten Constitution,
they did not have to, that is, they figured we couldn’t do anything
about it. They were wrong. They were, as always, too clever by half.
critic says that Americans should let bygones be bygones, also as
usual. (They have been saying this since about 1816.) “Why dredge
up ancient history?” he asks. “We aren’t like that any more.” No,
they aren’t, mainly because they got the snot kicked out of them
by the Germans, twice, and both times had to call on us to beat
up the nasty brutes. Then a bald guy in a loin cloth, who drank
a cup of his own urine every morning, took India away from them.
(In my more bizarre moods, I envision Anita Bryant doing an ad campaign
for Gandhi’s favorite morning beverage: “Put a little sunshine in
your life!” By far, the best book on Gandhi is Richard Grenier’s
Nobody Knows.) Pretty soon, all that the English had left
to kick around was Northern Ireland.
very good reason to dredge up all this “old history” is because
Americans have forgotten most of it. This includes Mr. Clinton’s
ambassador to London, who, on the day I submitted my prison ships
essay to lewrockwell.com, publicly begged forgiveness by the English
for the supposedly overly harsh message of The Patriot. This
was reported by the electronic
bailed out the English twice in this century, at enormous cost in
dead Americans, swollen budget deficits, grotesque income tax rates,
and the loss of our liberties.
did we get in response? Imported cars like the Hillman Minx. (English
cars are to the automotive world what English cooking is to the
culinary world.) We got Peter Sellers and John Clease. This was
good, but they weren’t worth two world wars. We got Sean Connery,
but he’s a Scot, so I don’t think he really counts. Had it not been
for those Alec Guinness movies, 1951-58, the English would not be
even close to even.
Gary North is the author of Conspiracy: A Biblical View,
which discusses the 20th century’s Anglo-American alliance.
Download a free copy at www.freebooks.com.