A Spams Musings on where the UK and US began to diverge

#1
After joining this forum and reading many of the threads and posts over these past few months I have been intrigued by what truly separates America from England in a way that the Aussies, Kiwis, or the Canuks aren't (my apologies to the Scots and Welchmen, but England DOES call the shots in the UK). So, after reading Glad its all over's post on Americans and America I was inspired to post this thread. I believe that the separating of Americans from Englishmen is truly the result of the English civil war. In many ways we Americans are inheritors of Cromwell's vision of England. Americans would eventually create a republic in the new world, while England promptly invited Charles II to return upon the Lord Protector's death. Granted, As I understand it the English Republic was a rather unpleasant place to be for you run of the mill Englishman (what with the closing of the theater, the major generals running rampant, and all...)

But the fact remains that after the Civil war ended there was a net migration from Massachusetts BACK to a newly sanctified England, free of the evils of high churchmen, and a net migration of royalists to Virginia (which to this day is why the mascot of the University of Virgina is the cavalier.) The Restoration ended the hopes of the fire eating puritans, and migration once again resumed back to Massachusetts. As one of Bernard Cornell's interviews on a youtube video says "You (the Americans) didn't simply leave, you were thrown out."

The differences in culture and society are also very interesting to compare between Massachusetts and Virgina. Massachusetts was founded as a refuge for nonconformists to live out their lives free of the evils of dancing, theater, prostitution, and pretty much all fun in general. Ironically, Rhode Island and Connecticut had to be formed as refuges from the intolerance of the radical Puritans in Massachusetts. Remember that it was in New England that the American War for Independence began, and it was in Boston that the furor arose when Parliament tried to assert its authority over the 13 colonies.

On the other hand Virginia was formed as a commercial venture, as was the rest of the southern colonies. It was very much Anglican in its religious outlook and wealthy Virginians strove to create a stratified plantation society that aped at mimicking the class divisions in mother England. The southern colonies were extremely divided on the issue of revolution, and in many ways the war in the south resembled a civil war.

In summary I feel that such a large migration of radical non conformists to the new world is probably the major cause for the wide societal differences between the UK and US. so here are my questions

1. Does there seem to be a direct connection between the Puritans of New England and Cromwell's vision of England?

2. One of the major points of contention the colonies had with England was that of Parliament's role in the colonies. Namely, the colonies saw themselves as subject to the crown, but with their own colonial legislatures, and they seemed to view themselves more like the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands in their relations with Parliament and the crown. Do you think the rebel colonists were correct?

3. (this one is directed at Jumpin' Jarhead, Semper Fi, Sir) Did the Southern colonies seem to inherit more Cavalier's frame of mind with regards to their far more stratified societies?

4. Was the US civil war an American revisiting of many of the same societal tensions that the Brits had to fight out in their own civil conflict?

5. (maybe a bit of stretch, but bear with me...) The Republic of Ireland also seems to be similar to the US, in that it is an English speaking Euro-centric nation, but outside the fold of the commonwealth due to its violent means of achieving political independence. How is the Irish state viewed by the UK when compared to the more "loyal" Australia, Canada, and New Zealand? Why is Ireland not on-board with NATO and intelligence sharing like the US, UK, CAN, AUS, and NZ?

As always, thanks for your comments and insights
 
#3
5. (maybe a bit of stretch, but bear with me...) The Republic of Ireland also seems to be similar to the US, in that it is an English speaking Euro-centric nation, but outside the fold of the commonwealth due to its violent means of achieving political independence. How is the Irish state viewed by the UK when compared to the more "loyal" Australia, Canada, and New Zealand? Why is Ireland not on-board with NATO and intelligence sharing like the US, UK, CAN, AUS, and NZ?
Can only speak for myself but a story I heard long ago sums it up

In a bar in Kitchener during WW1 an Irishman was in the middle of a brawl with several Canadians when a German (Kitchener was originally called Berlin I think) dived in to fight alongside the gallant Irishman who promptly laid him out and told him to **** off as this was a family matter....

Now whether there is any truth in that I don't know, the idea's there, no matter how obstreperous the Irish are or how insensitive, haughty and just plain ignorant the Brits are we are kind of related and generally on the same side (see the number of Micks that have fought alongside us over the years)
 
#5
Can only speak for myself but a story I heard long ago sums it up

In a bar in Kitchener during WW1 an Irishman was in the middle of a brawl with several Canadians when a German (Kitchener was originally called Berlin I think) dived in to fight alongside the gallant Irishman who promptly laid him out and told him to **** off as this was a family matter....

Now whether there is any truth in that I don't know, the idea's there, no matter how obstreperous the Irish are or how insensitive, haughty and just plain ignorant the Brits are we are kind of related and generally on the same side (see the number of Micks that have fought alongside us over the years)
The main difference between us is.....we are good at Geography.
 
#6
Re the NATO and int sharing thing. Ireland has declared itself neutral therefore no NATO and definitely no Int sharing. Now, I know there were many Irishmen who did join up in WW2 and many have subsequently joined the British Army. However, the Irish government also gave rather a lot of help to the Germans in WW2 so they have never been trusted with the Int sharing bit.
 

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#7
Don't know really where to start with this, but your reading of the English Civil War and Cromwell is somewhat misconstrued, the primary drivers behind the English Civil War was the tension between Crown and County over how power was wielded, the Crown under Charles increasing centralised power, tax raising and a top down approach to religion (see Arminianism and Archbishop Laud) which smacked of Papacy to the English Gentry. In a sense this was the forerunner of the issue of States Rights that was a major issue in the run up to the Third American Civil War (see below) and of course the Second American Civil War (The War of Independence - No taxation etc etc) English Civil War - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


With regards the the US Civil War (1861-65), it would be better envisoned as the 3rd American Civil War. 1st being, The Civil War (1642-51) - the American Colonies split along Royalist & Parliamentarian lines, in some ways a similar geographic division as the Third Civil War:



English Civil War - New World Encyclopedia

The Civil Wars also impacted on the English colonies in the Americas. One result of the wars was an increase in the number of Puritan migrants to America, whose policy of church-state separation and of religious freedom became enshrined in the constitution of the United States. However, just as there were advocates of different forms of “church” in Britain during the Civil War and Commonwealth period, so there were in the American colonies. Some favored Episcopalianism, some Presbyterianism, some Congregationalism. Phillips (2005) records that some Congregationalists held very strong convictions about the war: “hundreds of men from Massachusetts and Connecticut … sailed back to England in the 1640s to fight on the Puritan side against Charles I.” On the other hand, royalist Virginia, where the Episcopalians were strong, “welcomed Cavalier émigrés and expelled its Puritans.” Fighting even broke out within the colonies themselves—in 1655 a battle took place near Annapolis in Maryland between Puritans and Anglican-Catholic forces saw the Puritans win (Phillips 2005, 134). Phillips also points out how the same sides opposed each other during the American Civil War, when many Southern Episcopalians supported slavery and most Northern Congregationalists opposed it; the South tended to see society as hierarchical and the North in more egalitarian terms.

2nd, The American Revolutionary War
3rd, 1861-65 or The War of Northern Aggression as JJH describes it as.

The Republic aka the Commonwealth was not the intended outcome of the Parliamentarians, it was Charles' obstinacy that eventually drove them to throw off the monarchy.

I would suggest that the tensions implicit in the Civil War: Crown v County are still resonant in the American Political Psyche, as the drivers for the War of Independence, in the issue of States Rights in the lead up to American Civil War and the continued issue of the role the Federal Govt (Crown) has over the ennaction of Legislation across the US and her individual States (County).

In the UK this tension is not as palpable, or was not at least until recently with the rise in regional nationalism and the establishment of the Scottish parliament, Welsh and NI Assemblies.

In answer to your last question: Ireland is outside the Commonwealth as that is what her political leaders chose, withdrawing in 1949 when she became a Republic. She was not expelled due to the violence of the struggle for Independence. From the ouset she has chosen to be a Neutral Country. Despite what some say, despite a few familial squabbles the Irish and British are extremely close, there has been almost continuous migration between Ireland and the UK since independence, and Irishmen have served in the British Forces of their own volition and without hinderance - bar a few extra security checks during the Troubles.
 
#9
Well at least I will be dead and burned by the time we fully lose the American Colonies to the Spanish.

john
Every civilized Yank I know still secretly wish's he was British.
 
#10
Culture, history, tradition and education.

Canada, Australia and New Zealand retained theirs, the US rebelled against them.
 
#11
After joining this forum and reading many of the threads and posts over these past few months I have been intrigued by what truly separates America from Englandin a way that the Aussies, Kiwis, or the Canuks aren't (my apologies to the Scots and Welchmen, but England DOES call the shots in the UK).


As always, thanks for your comments and insights
Well, who could trust a nation built from traitorism ;)

Oh, and its Britain, not England.
 
#12
I would suggest that the tensions implicit in the Civil War: Crown v County are still resonant in the American Political Psyche, as the drivers for the War of Independence, in the issue of States Rights in the lead up to American Civil War and the continued issue of the role the Federal Govt (Crown) has over the ennaction of Legislation across the US and her individual States (County).
I had thought that the land owning gentry and the more rural parts of England supported Charles I and that cities and rising merchant class of the south east of England were Charles' opposition. More of a Crown v. City than Crown v. County
 
#13
Culture, history, tradition and education.

Canada, Australia and New Zealand retained theirs, the US rebelled against them.
So then what about Ireland? They also rebelled, are they also viewed as uncultured and uneducated?
 
#14
One could always say that we would have you back if you asked to join the Commonwealth and said sorry to her Maj. Mind you the back taxes would kill you and you would have to have the Queen back has head of state.
 
#15
One forgotten aspect is the 7 years war ("French and Indian War" in the US) Most of the colonies that formed the US were Protestant controlled. Upper Canada was British and Protestant, New France (Quebec, Acadia) were French and Catholic. The New England Colonists were overwhelmingly Protestant and were afraid that France could take over their area. After the French Defeat on the Plains of Abraham and with Lower Canada/Canada East in British control they had less to fear about the result of revolting against the crown. The French defeat was one thing that enabled the colonists to revolt.

Note: Remember that New York, a commercial center had many with strong loyalist sentiments. Many fled to Canada during after the US revolution.

Note re Caveliers/Roundheads in the US. Remember that Massachusetts was once two colonies, Plymouth Colony (S.E. Mass. and Cape Cod) and Massachusetts Bay Colony (ret of Massachusetts and what is now Maine). Plymouth was quite Puritan and Roundhead, Mass. Bay was a bit more tolerant of varying religious beliefs although also Protestant. Colonies were later unified as a Royal colony with stronger crown control.

The maritime provinces of Canada, separated from Upper Canada by Quebec, always maintained very close ties with New England due to geography, religion, language and commercial ties.
 
#16
The real differences are in what we know:

1. We know that priests are all lying, kiddy fiddling con men!

2. We know that God does not write golden books which subsequently disappear and he's never been to Utah.

3. We know that "McDonalds Drive In" is a suggestion not a command.

4. We know that European addresses do not all need to be qualified, i.e. Paris France, London England. Paris New Jersey is OK, you can call it what the **** you like. (That said "New York, New York" gets sung enough).

5. We know that Socialism, despite it's many faults, is not Satanism.

6. We know that Jesus, if he ever existed, is most unlikely to have been an antisemitic white supremacist.

7. We know that in order to move one man and his dog at a maximum speed of 55 mph, an ancient 5.6 litre normally aspirated push rod engine in a two and a half ton car on shit roads, is probably the stupidest solution available.

8. We know that nudity in your own home is not a crime and that married couples may reasonably be expected to go to bed naked.

9. We know that the world is more than 4000 years old and that Darwin was pretty spot on with his theory.

10. We know that Sarah Palin would get it, and I'm not talking about the presidency.
 
#18
I think the differences began to appear with the changing attitudes to religion in the New World and have been reinforced by our differing experience of WW2.

In Britain we have the established church whose main role has been to enforce the status quo and act as the wellspring of the power of the ruling classes.

Power here has historically been fixed in the Monarch, but it is the church which has always validated the divine right of the crown.

As someone said during our Civil War, 'no bishop, no king, no aristocracy'

They promoted an angry and frightening God who created a natural order and woe betide anyone who attempted to change things or step outside their alloted role in society.

However when God was exported to America by the Puritans he soon became a more benevolent figure who, while still distant, could generally be relied upon to help those who helped themselves.

This engendered a sense of self confidence and rightious entitlement which, for example, had no problem with the genocide of the American Indians and the annexing of California from Mexico.

It produced the self reliance and work ethic that has served the US so well, but it also led to idea that Yanks have of being a special people living in God's own country which is the single characteristic which winds everyone else up so much.

Our national experience of WW2 was primarially a bonding exercise which engendered a real feeling of society and led directly to our creation of the welfare state, specifically the NHS.

The US was then a full on racist state with blacks specifically banned from either fighting in the armed forces or holding skilled jobs on the home front, but due to the courage of their white armed forces still managed to plant the Stars and Stripes right on the top of the moral high ground.

The emergence of the ghastly Stalin's USSR only reinforced the
US's self image as God's chosen people which Regan was particularly keen on.

However there is a harshness and a brutality inherent in the 'God helps those that help themselves' 'winners only' attitude which has led to a nation deeply divided by humungous inequality at home and behaviour abroad that has lost every cent of that moral authority gained from WW2.

We created Aus, NZ and Canada in our own cultural image and they have broadly stuck with it so we are much closer to them in countless ways than to our American cousins who have become, frankly, foreign.
 
#19
Americans are often suprised at the hatred they attract overseas. "How can anyone not like us, we're really nice people?"

A combination of short sighted national foreign policy, which focuses entirely on "Whats in it for U.S.?" Ignoring the problems caused in foreign states and the aggressive commercial impact from firms like Monsanto who seek to control the worlds entire food supply and drive poor 3rd world farmers into bankrupcy or other commercial palladins like Union Carbide.

These companies are regularly getting away with murder and are fiercly protected by the US government when challenged. They make sure that America has lost the hearts and minds campaign even before it's started.
 
#20
I heard a very interesting snippet on the radio recently. When talking about banking reform and banks bleating that they base themselves in US or UK on an uneven (regulatory) playing field, the commentator remarked that no business ever seems to be on the upper side of an uneven field!
 

Similar threads

Latest Threads

Top