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“Give Me Liberty an American History” by Eric Foner Essay

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Updated: Nov 13th, 2021

Introduction

In his book Give Me Liberty. An American History Eric Foner provides an in-depth analysis of the events, which shaped political and cultural landscape of the United States. In particular, we may discuss his views on the Revolutionary War, its causes and several controversies, which arose among the colonists. It is well-known that the struggle for independence was not supported by all the layers of the then American society. In point of fact, it was divided into several groups: Patriots, Neutralists and Loyalists (Foner, 211). They could not come to the consensus as to the struggle against the British rule. In this essay, we will try to present their argument, basing them on Eric Foners book.

Opposing views

In the chapter Resistance and Revolution, the author presents his own vision of the events and describes the peculiarities of the eighteenth century American colonial community and its stratification. In his opinion, those people, who called themselves Patriots, represented various classes of society; they belonged to very diverse backgrounds. The main peculiarity, according to the author, that all these people were more or less educated and rather well-to-do. Provided that they had met their opponents namely Loyalist in the spring 1775, they would have probably tried to persuade them to take their side. The would have advanced the following argument: at that moment, particularly, at the end of the eighteenth century American colonies were virtually autonomous, the British Empire was only formally present in the New World (Foner, 212).

Apart from that, they would have claimed that the United Kingdom put colonists in almost intolerable position, namely, the taxation without representation, because in fact, such policy of the British government entirely violated the so-called Bill of Rights. According to Eric Foner, the Patriots understood that dependence on the United Kingdom was no longer acceptable and such taxation policy will bring them to the edge of poverty. His overarching thesis is that their struggle was mostly motivated by financial reasons. In their turn, their opponents would have stated that the newborn state would not be able to exist without the help of the UK. As a rule, they are rather conservative people could not believe that someone could inflict a defeat on English troops. In their view, the colonies could not possibly achieve complete independence from the British Empire, because this country was arguable the world greatest superpower at least at that time. Thus, they decided to struggle against revolutionaries.

As regards, the neutralists, Eric Foner believes that these people harbored some doubts as to fighting against the British troops, On the one hand, they understood that the Colonies could do without the UK and but they did not believe in the success of Patriots (Foner, 218). It seems that neutralists were torn between Scylla and Charybdis. Their belonged to various social backgrounds but usually they were not very prosperous.

Additionally, Eric Foner thinks that many British officials knew about the problems of colonists, and the difficulties, which they had to surmount. Some of them were firmly convinced that the taxation without representation would be soon abolished. Nonetheless, they were absolutely certain about the outcome of the Revolutionary War.

Thus, we can arrive at the conclusion that in his book Give Me Liberty Eric Foner present the arguments of those people, who participated in the war. He thinks that this split was mostly due to the difference in priorities set by the social layers of the then colonial society.

Bibliography

Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty! An American History. Seagull Edition. W. W. Norton & Co. 2005.

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IvyPanda. ""Give Me Liberty an American History" by Eric Foner." November 13, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/give-me-liberty-an-american-history-by-eric-foner/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. ""Give Me Liberty an American History" by Eric Foner." November 13, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/give-me-liberty-an-american-history-by-eric-foner/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) '"Give Me Liberty an American History" by Eric Foner'. 13 November.

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