The reason our revolution was the opposite of a directionless, violent mob running wild in the streets is that the dominant American culture was Anglo-Saxon and Christian. Even while fighting “the British,” as we now call them, Americans considered themselves British with the rights of Englishmen, who bore the tradition of the Magna Carta.
In fact, one rebel explained that he was fighting the Redcoats to protect his house by saying, “An Englishman’s home is his castle.”
They just wanted to be free of meddling from the Crown. Having been born and raised in the distant and expansive American colonies, Americans objected to the high-handed way King George was dealing with them. They didn’t hate the king—to the contrary, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton dispassionately acknowledged that the English political system was better than most others in the world.
Our revolutionary document, the Declaration of Independence, is a religious document through and through, with the colonies demanding rights entitled to them by “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” As founding father James Wilson put it, the “will of God” was the supreme law of nations.
Consequently, the Declaration cites “certain unalienable rights” given to men “by their Creator.” For the “rectitude” of their intentions, the drafters appealed to “the Supreme Judge of the world.”
The Declaration reads like a legal brief, with causes of action and prior attempts at resolution enumerated, and a specific demand for relief: We’d like to go our own way please, Supreme Judge of the World. One can read the Declaration of Independence centuries later and understand the whole point.
Admitting that “Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes,” our Declaration sets forth “a long train of abuses and usurpations” by the Crown. The purpose of the document was to explain America’s case to the world, because “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
Manifestly, the French couldn’t care less that the rest of the world was appalled by them.
Stating that facts “submitted to a candid world” would prove that the king was attempting to create “an absolute Tyranny over these States,” the Declaration concisely listed abuse after abuse, including the Crown’s quartering soldiers, protecting the king’s soldiers from charges of murder, and depriving Americans “in many cases” of trial by jury.
These were rights well familiar to the British, inasmuch as they came from English common law and were enjoyed by British citizens.
Significantly, among the Declaration’s enumerated grievances was that the king had encouraged mobs. As the document puts it, the king had “excited domestic insurrections amongst us,” including uprisings by “merciless Indian Savages” whose idea of warfare was “an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”
The Americans’ complaints were clear, as was their objective: separation from the British Crown in order to establish their own government. This was not a rash decision. As the authors explained, they had tried other approaches: “In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms,” but those requests were “answered only by repeated injury.”
Fifty-two of the fifty-six signers of the American Declaration were orthodox Christians who believed in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, or as they would be known today, “an extremist Fundamentalist hate group.”
The Declaration was written on behalf of the thirteen colonies unanimously and signed by each member of the Continental Congress, name by name, beginning with the famously supersized signature of John Hancock. These weren’t anonymous brutes chopping off the breasts of princesses in pursuit of “fraternity” or some other amorphous concept.
Our revolutionary document was inspired by God—as put by John Adams, a signatory and second president of the United States. He said,
“The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”
The French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was inspired by a paranoid hypochondriac who denied divine revelation and original sin: Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
The very logic and clarity of the Declaration of Independence were qualities specifically rejected by Rousseau. “One of the errors of our age,” Rousseau said, “is to use reason in bare form, as if men were only mind.” Yes, much better to fire up a crowd with emotional appeals.
Thus, Rousseau recommended using “signs that speak to the imagination,” complaining that words make too weak an impression. “[O]ne speaks to the heart far better,” he said, “through the eyes than through the ears.”
This is the essence of how one riles up a mob—by using images, not words. (Republicans drove the car into a ditch.) Rousseau perfectly describes the governing strategy of all mob leaders, from Robespierre to Fidel Castro to today’s Democratic Party.