Stanley Weintraub: American Revolution Talk

Historians in the News

Stanley Weintraub, who entertained us superbly with his talk on his previous book, George Washington's Christmas Farewell, was equally fascinating in his discussion of his latest work, Iron Tears, America's Battle For Freedom, Britain's Quagmire -- the story of the British home front during the American Revolution. He startled everyone by suggesting that George III might be considered one of America's founding fathers. That was what he was called in America and in England before the Revolution. The title underscored the king's central role in the struggle to retain the 13 rebellious colonies, a war that soon put the monarch on a collision course with a substantial number of his subjects. Stanley reported he was amazed by the freedom the British press, which published scathing satires of the king and his ministers. Soon the opposition took to the streets. Stanley called the "Gordon riots," a huge outbreak of violence in 1780, a turning point in the British home front's perception of the war and the way it was threatening the nation's stability. The Yorktown surrender made it clear the war was unwinnable but George III still resisted American independence. He eventually changed his mind. In the archives in Windsor Castle, Stanley found a hitherto unpublished manuscript, in which the king grudgingly accepted a separate America with the hope that its trade would be more valuable to Great Britain than the literal possession of its soil. Stanley closed by reporting that the book has been well received in England -- though they insisted on calling the war "the American rebellion" in the English edition. They still won't admit it was a revolution!

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