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Thomas Jefferson announced once to a friend that he was not afraid “to follow truth wherever it may lead.” Author James C Thompson proves himself a Jeffersonian by doing just this.

Thompson is currently finishing the fourth book in his four-part American Revolution Series, which he characterizes as “an American history for the 21st century.”

Thompson calls his history “forensic” because, while piecing together what really happened in America during and after the insurgency Sam Adams launched in 1764, he has examined and corrected numerous folklore “facts”. Was John Adams right, for example, when he assured Jefferson that the American revolution occurred in the minds of the America people and that it was over before the war for political independence began?

Was Professor Bernard Bailyn right in claiming that King George III roused his American subjects to rebellion by plotting to deprive them of their political rights? Are folklore historians right when they say that Thomas Jefferson was a Lockean and borrowed the rights logic he incorporated into the preamble of the Declaration of Independence (that all men have “certain unalienable rights” that include “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”) from Locke’s Second Treatise of Government? (None one of these claims is true!)

Thompson’s history is fresh because he draws on his training in Philosophy to pinpoint the impulses that motivated the men who made America. What did Sam Adams really believe and where did he get his ideas? What was Thomas Jefferson thinking when he wrote the Declaration of Independence and what did he do after he severed America’s political bands with England?

Who was John Dewey and why was he so influential before and after World War One? And why did most influential American historians become Communists in the wake of the Russian Revolution?

If you want to understand how America became what it is today, you need to understand these things. This is not easy, however, because there is virtually nothing about them in the designer histories on your library’s bookshelves.

Historians joke that “nothing changes faster than history.” Thompson proves it with his fact-filled narratives about the men who made American what it is today.

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Revolutionaries Depend on Propaganda to Advance Their Causes:

Propaganda has always been an important tool for revolutionaries. To the extend they succeed, it is usually because they use propaganda to shape public opinion in support for their causes. It exists in many forms:

1. Symbolism:

A famous example of symbolism during the American war of political independence was Christopher Gadsden’s rattlesnake logo. He created it in 1775 to symbolize patriotic resolve and to bolster popular support for the patriotic cause. Its influence grew through the American Revolution, and it is still a potent symbol. Banners with Gadsden’s coiled rattlesnake and motto (“Don’t tread on me”) still proclaim that their carriers intend to defend themselves and warn aggressors to stand back.

2. Demonization:

In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson condemned King George III saying, “a Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.” The King’s supporters were also vilified, and being villains, it was acceptable for patriots to threaten and abuse them. Tens of thousands found the danger they faces so great that they abandoned their homes and even fled the country. The back cover of Thompson’s first book, The First Revolutions in the Minds of the People, presents a widely circulated illustration of Thomas Hutchinson, the last colonial governor of Massachusetts, running for his life from an angry mob of Boston patriots.

3. Appeals to Individual Rights:

The patriotic and independence movements were built on what Thompson calls “rights rhetoric.” What Thompson calls the first argument from right surfaced shortly after Parliament passed the Stamp Act in the spring of 1765. It is still widely recognized: No taxation without representation. This appeal was superseded in the early-1770s as Sam Adams and his compatriots shifted their efforts to achieving political independence. Thomas Jefferson subsequently immortalized Adams’ second argument from right in the preamble of the Declaration of Independence where he declared that whenever a Government deprives its people of their right to consent to the laws by which they are governed, “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

The Role of Propaganda in the American Revolution?

In the first book in his four-part American Revolution Series, James C. Thompson reconstructs Sam Adams’s ten-year insurgency against the colonial government of King George III.

Thompson confirms the objective of Adams’ protracted campaign with detailed research and citations. Adams sought to convince his countrymen that England’s Parliament and King were enslaving them by stripping them of their political rights. When Adams failed to coax his countrymen to turn against their King, he and his patriotic supporters used public violence and intimidation to suppress their loyalist opponents.

On 23 August 1775, King George III finally moved to restore order in his American colonies. On that day, he issued his “Proclamation for Suppressing Rebellion and Sedition.” It said in part, “We do strictly Charge and Command all Our Officers, as well Civil as Military, and all other of our obedient and loyal Subjects, to use their utmost Endeavors to withstand and suppress such Rebellion.”

Patriotic Propaganda was Backed by Superior Organization:

Thompson shows that Sam Adams was more than the foremost Locke scholar in the American colonies. Adams demonstrated his brilliance as a political organizer, Thompson reports, by expanding his patriotic network from a local band of cooperative thugs into an organization that controlled ninety percent of the territory in the King’s American colonies. And he did this in just six years!

This explosive growth owed to Adams’s ability to recruit leadership individuals from other colonies into his insurgency. The key event in this process was the “circular letter” the Massachusetts House of Representatives issued after Parliament enacted the Townshend Duties in the summer of 1767. In this letter, author Sam Adams argued that Parliament had (again) imposed a tax on the King’s American subjects without their consent and that this violated rights guaranteed to them by the British constitution. Adams’ letter was sent to the representative bodies of all the King’s American colonies. When several colonies supported it, they effectively nationalized resistance to British rule.

By securing the support of political leaders across the colonies, the quarrelsome Boston patriot harnessed their power to influence their constituents and the political weight of their growing numbers. The patriotic movement also gained the energy and political skills of intellectuals who believed that the English King had no right to meddle in the affairs of the American colonies.

The American Revolution was ignited by a few well-organized activists:

Author James C. Thompson argues that the American Revolution was not a “grassroots” event. Rather it was a carefully managed event in which an “energetic minority” sabotaged the King’s royal government and prevented its disorganized supports from saving it. As more territory came under the control of the insurgents, their self-appointed governments became established, and the power they wielded increased.

The rights of the people were never their primary concern. Accumulating the power to define the common good and make the law was. The record shows clearly that they did this by creating a well-organized network, using propaganda to build public support, and intimidating their opponents with carefully targeted acts of public violence. Their skillful use of these tool caused King George III to declare war on them. Then, against all odds, George Washington and his ragtag army won it!

Final Note – Importance of Propaganda and Organization in A Political Insurgency

Author James C Thompson agrees that the Americans who fought in the American Revolution loved Liberty and that they pledged mutually to each other their “Lives, Fortunes, and Sacred Honor” to secure their political freedom. However, he argues in his first book, “The First Revolutions In The Minds of The People,” that the men who orchestrated this world-changing revolution did so because they were determined to control the government they would create to replace the government of King George III.

We can know that they were not idealists by studying the methods they used to accomplish their objective—organization, propaganda, public violence, and intimidation. Thompson’s works encourage readers to examine America’s folklore history and become familiar with how it creates a past that is charming but substantially inaccurate. Those who let themselves believe it, Thompson suggests, leaves themselves open to becoming part of Alexis de Tocqueville 1840 prophesy.

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