Breaking Glass

Lord Dunmore’s Revenge

In great historic cities like Charleston and Savannah, it is all but impossible to avoid memories of the Revolutionary War.  At every turn, you find commemorations of the triumphs and disasters of those years, of the heroes and villains of the national struggle.  On my recent journeys, though, I have seen those monuments and plaques with a new and troubled eye.  Might that glorious historical memory be ready for a catastrophic overthrow?  Clearly, this era is now set to be the next battlefront of historical revisionism.

We think, for instance, of the recent transformation of the Civil War, which only a few years ago was remembered in such heroic terms, but where the toxic issues of slavery and race have now had such an impact.  Who, today, is prepared to stand up for those who fought for the cause of human enslavement?  (Do not, please, argue about the actual causes of the war, a theme I have addressed previously.)  But surely, we might think, the Revolutionary War is an utterly different matter.  Was it not a paradigmatic struggle for human liberty and national aspirations, embodying at once the highest goals of Christian humanism and the Enlightenment?  So we might think.  But as an intellectual exercise, let us explore a worst-case scenario, so that we might prepare for future national debates.

Look at the successes of revisionism in the very short space of just the past...

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