American Elephants

When Did We Become Americans? by The Elephant's Child

The word “American” was first used to denote a person of European descent living in British North America only in 1765, but became common after that. Previously people had been citizens of various British colonies.

There was no “United States” at that time. There was a Continental Congress and a Continental Army and Navy. The states had agreed to a basic framework of government in 1781— the Articles of Confederation — to replace the administration of the Second Continental Congress. The power was invested in Congress, members were appointed by state governments  and served at their pleasure. It had no power to tax. Foreign nations noticed that America was essentially powerless and they took advantage of that fact.

John Steele Gordon notes that “it was by no means the least of the lucky breaks that the United States has had in its history was the time at which it came into existence and established its fundamental laws:”

In one of history’s great coincidences, Adam Smith published
The Wealth of Nations in 1776. It destroyed the intellectual underpinnings of the mercantilism on which the economic policies of Western nations had been based for two hundred years.

It showed in example after example, each more powerfully argued than the next, that unfettered trade, both within and without the country, and a government that did not take sides as individuals competed in the marketplace resulted in greater prosperity for all and thus greater power for the country as a whole. Many of the Founding Fathers had read Smith, and all knew the thrust of his arguments.

The United States was new and didn’t have all sorts of long-established monopolies and systems to be dismantled. No entrenched aristocracy, and being new, was open to new ideas. It was easier to adopt the ideas of Adam Smith into its politics and economic system than it was for other Western nations. Just one of the lucky breaks we got at the establishment of the Nation.

The Sound of War: America Finds a General by The Elephant's Child

WilliamDiamond's Drum
June 16, 1775.

“When the Congress convened in the morning, John Hancock, from the chair, informed Washington of is appointment and expressed the hope of the Congress that George Washington, Esquire, would accept their choice of him as General and Commander-in-Chief of the forces raised and to be raised for the defense of America. The Colonel bowed, took a paper from his pocket and read:”

Mr. President: Though I am truly sensible of the high honor don me in this appointment, yet I feel great distress from a consciousness that my abilities and military experience may not be equal to the extensive and important trust. However, as the Congress desire, I will enter upon the momentous duty, and exert every power I possess in their service, and for the support of the glorious cause: I beg they will accept my most cordial thanks for this distinguished testimony of their approbation.

But, lest some unlucky event should happen unfavorable to my reputation, I beg it may be remembered by every gentleman  in the room, that I this day declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with.

As to pay, sir, I beg leave to assure the Congress that as no pecuniary consideration could have tempted me to have acce3pted this arduous employment at the expense of my domestic ease and happiness, I do not wish to make any profit from it; I will keep an exact account of my expenses; those I doubt not they will discharge ,and that is all I desire.

And so it began.

“On June 23, Washington wrote a short note to his “Dearest,” and armed with his commission and instructions from the Congress, mounted his horse for the long ride northward to his army.”

from Rebels and Redcoats.

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