This week at In The Past Lane, the history podcast, we explore look at the American Revolution from a different angle – the British angle. The reasons why the Americans won the Revolution are well known. But if we step back from this event and think about it in a larger, global context, one very large question emerges: how did Great Britain, a nation well on its way to becoming the greatest global empire in history, a nation that in 1776 was the foremost military power in the world, how did it lose the American Revolution? How did it lose a war to a small and disorganized collection of 13 colonies that began the war with no established army, no real means of financing a war, and no allies? Well, to help us arrive at the answer, I speak with historian Andrew O’Shaughnessy about his award-winning book, The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire.
Among the many things discussed in this episode:
The myth that the British lost the American Revolution because its military and political leaders were a bunch of bungling Brits
Why a British army of conquest (vs. an army of occupation) triggered intense and widespread popular resistance among the American colonists
How the efforts of everyday Americans as part of an insurgency helped to wear down and defeat armies of experienced British soldiers.
Why the leadership of George Washington was key to the American victory in the Revolution.
How it was the Continental Army and not the citizen Minutemen forces that defeated the British.
How in many ways the American Revolution was a civil war.
Why a sharp decline in support for the war effort in Parliament led the British to cut their losses and agree to negotiations the led to American independence.
How the loss of America in the Revolution was a minor setback in Britain’s rise as a global power.
Andrew O’Shaughnessy about his award-winning book, The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire (Yale Univ. Press, 2013).
Related ITPL podcast episodes:
017 Alan Taylor, American Revolutions
049 Gordon Wood on the relationship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson
041 Dean Snow on the pivotal Battle of Saratoga
028 Carol Berkin on the Crisis of the 1790s
023 Stephen Knott on the relationship between Alexander Hamilton and George Washington
Music for This Episode
Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (JayGMusic.com)
Kevin McCleod, “Impact Moderato” (Free Music Archive)
Blue Dot Sessions, “Sage the Hunter” (Free Music Archive)
Jon Luc Hefferman, “Winter Trek” (Free Music Archive)
The Bell, “I Am History” (Free Music Archive)
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