Saturday 6 February 2010

Why King George III did not deserve to be overthrown

A gentleman called, I think, Mr Mulvaney (who wrongly identifies me with someone else) points out to me a most interesting article about the American Revolution.

It is by Jonathan Kolkey and is entitled:

Did King George III Deserve To Be Overthrown?

It is here:

and it demolishes many myths about that Revolution, not least that there were any genuine grievances against King George III - and certainly now worthy of revolution.

I warmly recommend it.


Anonymous said...

What about when he went insane?

Seán D Rafter said...

What about the fact that he was Protestant?

Tribunus said...

What about it?

(1) There was a regency and it came long after 1776 (and he had porphyria not insanity); and

(2) If being a Protestant was a disqualification for rule then the American Founding Fathers, who were even more Protestant, were even less qualified than King George III. In which case, you make a case for keeping the king!

Aaron Taylor said...

Thank you for posting this; it looks like an interesting article!

Unknown said...

Although I am inclined to agree that the Americans lacked just cause for going to war against England, I must point out that King George III was not overthrown, at least not simply speaking.

I suppose you could say that he was overthrown "as king over the colonies", but he wasn't overthrown in the way that Louis XVI, for example, was overthrown. Rather, the colonies withdrew themselves and their land from under his rule.

Tribunus said...


That King George III was overthrown as the sovereign of America is beyond doubt.

That the Americans were not in a position to overthrow him as King of Great Britain is irrelevant.

What's your point, John?

Or are you just splitting hairs?

If you are a traditional Catholic then you will acknowledge, as does St Thomas, that no subject has the right to overthrow the legitimate, constitutional monarch or government.

And the monarch does not become "illegitimate" simply because some of his subjects begin to think that he is.

If it can be shown that the ruler is an usurper who made himself king or governor without regard to the lawful constitution of the state then he can be overthrown and a the real king or governor restored.

Restoration is legitimate but revolution is always evil.

And even restoration may only be attempted if the other just war criteria are met e.g. proportionality or likelihood of success.

George Washington said...

If we want to talk about Catholic moral theology, how do you explain the seizure of Native American lands through chicanery or outright theft, the decimation of NA culture and the introduction of slave culture into the American colonies? Then, after two centuries of settlement, the British import European war (French and Indian war) creating unjust taxation, civilian massacres of the frontier and the seizure of Canada from the French? Review these facts and the foreign usurper, Hanoverian and mad George III - not the rightful rulers in GB - the Stuarts are - deserved to be treated just as the Brits treated everyone else - native Americans, African slaves and multi-ethnic Americans to say nothing of eight centuries of Irish oppression and Catholic persecution. Remember Cromwell who sits in all his glory outside the Houses of Parliament opposite Westminster Abbey. He truly represents the British attitude towards people not British. He should have been hanged rather than celebrated.

Tribunus said...

Dear well-meaning but alas typically ignorant Yank who so aptly names himself after the great usurper Washington.

I like America and I like Americans but it never ceases to amaze me how little you know about your own history. You have been fed pap since your earliest years – both literally and educationally – so that you now seem ignorant of the most elementary truths of history and your ignorance as a nation expands with the width of your obese girths as you feed upon pap food and pap history.

And it is quite obvious that you have not read the article to which I drew everyone’s attention. If you had you would not be asking the questions that you ask.

Let me try (if it is possible to get through the pap and fairy floss) to enlighten you, if I can.

The seizure of native American lands was done far more by Americans than by the British. Indeed, during the War of Rebellion, the Indian tribes sided with the British, knowing full well what the revolutionary Yanks would do to them.

And so it was.

Revolutionary America was far crueller to the Indians than ever the Protestant British were.

And whilst Britain abolished the slave trade in 1837, and Lord Chief Justice Mansfield had earlier forbidden it in the UK in Somersett’s case in 1766, America had a war to keep it going. Indeed, in Dred Scott’s case, the US Supreme Court ruled that a slave was not a US citizen.

Indeed, Somersett’s case was one of the reasons that the American rich decided to revolt. They feared losing their right to own slaves. Of them – and particularly of Thomas Jefferson – did Dr Johnson, that British Tory and loyalist, ask “why is it that the yelps for liberty come loudest from the drivers of slaves?”.

To make matters worse, the American rebels pretended to be acting in the name of freedom and Magna Carta when, in fact, they were – like all revolutionaries – merely acting for their own narrow, private and personal benefit.

The Americans compound their dishonesty by peddling the most grotesque lies about their Hispanic neighbours to the South, inventing a whole black legend about slavery which would be much more aptly applied to themselves.

In fact, the Spanish Empire outlawed enslaving the Indians within 5 years of Cortes liberating Mexico in 1507 and did so in the Laws of Burgos.

What did the Americans do? In 1625 they actually legalised slavery and the slave trade in Massachusetts! This was the first US colony so to do.

Tribunus said...

As to Canada, the French and Iroquois Wars broke out over control of the fur trade long before the British were in charge and it is ridiculous for an American to complain about Canada since America has more than once invaded with a view to annexing Canada (e.g. 1812 when they lost and the British burnt and whitewashed the White House, and later in the Fenian invasions).

Still more ridiculous is it, given that one of the so-called “intolerable acts” of King George III was to grant to French Canada full freedom to practice the Catholic religion. The American revolutionaries so hated this that they cited it as a reason to rebel against King George.

Do you see what complete tommy-rot you have imbibed and now regurgitate?

Equally silly, is your claim that the Americans were unjustly taxed. Rubbish! They were the most favourably treated of all Britain’s colonies and the least taxed. Indeed, the Boston Tea Party was a revolt by rich Americans because the British wanted to abolish the tariffs that made tea unjustly expensive for ordinary people and enriched the already rich American traders.

The Boston tea party was a revolt of the rich against the poor!

And for an American to speak about “massacre” is so grossly hypocritical as to be breath-taking. What did your benighted President Andrew Jackson do to the Indians? He sent them on the illegal and unconstitutional “trail of tears” to the West where more than half died. This had been declared illegal by the US Supreme Court but America’s Chief Executive simply ignored his own Supreme Court! Beat that!!

Don’t lecture us about slavery and mistreatment of natives, boy!

Even more ridiculous, still, is your inference that the American revolutionaries supported the Stuarts. They did not. They hated the Stuarts even more than the Hanoverians and that because they were Catholics!

That is why Flora MacDonald, she who had nursed and hidden Bonnie Prince Charlie, when she went to America supported King George and not the revolutionaries. She could spot a parcel of rogues and villains when she saw them! And she knew that the Unitarian republic would be far worse than an Anglican monarchy, especially as the latter had softened under King George III.

Fatuous in the extreme is your claim of 800 years of Irish oppression. The English Catholic King Henry III invaded Ireland in 1171 at the invitation of King Dermot MacMurrough and had the backing of the Pope. There was no serious oppression until the arrival of that anti-Catholic Protestantism that was the very creed which animated the puny souls of your American revolutionaries!

Most fatuous of all is your inference that the American revolutionaries rejected Oliver Cromwell. The opposite is true! He was their very model! They predicated their whole revolution upon his principles and upon the Whig principles of the English revolutions of 1642 and 1688.

If anyone truly represents the attitude of Cromwell it is your American revolutionaries and it is notorious to the rest of the world – could you blind ones but see it – that it is all too often America that has an “attitude problem” toward the rest of the world.

And if anyone deserved to be thoroughly hanged it was the rebellious American revolutionaries who began the unseemly rush to grab money, land and power which has – ever since – been the chief hallmark and characteristic of the American republic.

My friend, separate yourself from your more ignorant compatriots and go and learn some history – including that of your own country!

Tribunus said...

Now, my friend, do you see how very little you know of your own country's history?

Volpius Leonius said...

If the Jacobites are right then King George was not the lawful king in the first place.

Tribunus said...

Nice Maltese Cross, Volpius!


...if you had read my reply to George Washington and/or any of my posts on revolution you would not make the comment that you now make.

Better still, read what St Thomas says in the original about just war and revolution.

Put simply the proper position is this:

You cannot go on forever claiming that Dynasty A is the true one and that Dynasty B is false or else there would simply never be peace and good government.

In all systems of law, there are doctrines known as "prescription" and "adverse possession".

By the former one gains possession of property by long use and occupation.

By the former one gains possession of property after use and occupation for a shorter period but without opposition from the original owner.

The reasoning is simple: there must be finality in disputes or else peace and reconciliation is never achieved.

Actually, by your reasoning the Jacobites are not entitled.

The Plantagenets have a better title.

And the Anglo-Saxon race of Cerdic better than them.

And the Welsh kings better than them.

And the pre-Welsh Celts before them.

And so on ad infinitum.

It is the same in Ireland.

They claim that the British ruled illegitimately for 800 years, even though their own King Dermot MacMurrough invited the English to invade and that with the blessing of the Pope who was concerned at the immorality and chaos of post-Brianite Ireland.

But the Milesians (the Míl Espáine or Goidelic Celts who are the present Irish) took Ireland from the Tuatha Dé Danann by deception and battle so what makes them entitled?

And the Tuatha Dé, in the invasions which begin with the Lebor Gabála Érenn, are the fifth group to settle Ireland, conquering the island from the Fir Bolg.

So the Fir Bolg have a better claim.

And so on, and so on...

So where do you stop?

The answer is that you use a bit of that rare thing - common sense!

And that is what the laws of prescription and adverse possession are designed to do.

Unlike the 2 previous monarchs, King George III was a much more mild and reasonable king,

He began to allow the repeal of laws oppressing Catholics, he live a virtuous family life, he gave Cardinal Henry Stuart, Duke of York, a pension and his government ruled America very generously and mildly - too mildly as it turned out.

The enriched Americans, far from being grateful, merely seized power for themselves in a fit of grotesque ingratitude, arrogance and power-hungry pride and self-interested greed.

In addition, after the death of the Bonnie Prince, his brother, the Cardinal of York, eventually began to soft-pedal his claims to the throne and - after his death - the Stuart line no longer made any claim on the throne of Great Britain.

If the Stuart line ceased to make any claim then it is pretty fatuous for others to do it on their behalf.

The Hanoverians was certainly legitimate once the French Revolution has happened and all Europe needed to unite against the new, diabolical enemy.

In the judgement of Flora MacDonald, George was legitimate King in America in 1776 since she opposed the American revolutionaries.

And this was the woman who nursed and protected the Bonnie Prince when he was in hiding in the Highlands.

In short, Volpius, the facile answer, of the sort that newspapers prefer, is rarely the right one.

But most preposterous of all is the argument advanced by the likes of Washington above that King George III was not the legitimate Stuart king and so it was OK for the Americans to revolt.

The American revolutionaries hated the Stuarts even more than the Hanoverians.

The American rebels were revolutionaries not restorationists.

Volpius Leonius said...

And what about the fact that George was a rebel himself?

Tribunus said...

Against whom?

Volpius Leonius said...

Against the King of Kings.

Unknown said...

Dear Tribunus,

I suppose I was just splitting hairs, really.

My only point was that the American revolution was at least not quite so diabolical a thing as the French version of the same.


Geroge Washington said...

Sorry for the delay but can you give me that rationale for the British colonizing American and expropriating the land from the native Americans? Roger Williams in 1635 or so was incensed with the way the natives were treated by the British and their governors. I really don't want to hear that might makes right or that other European nations were doing it. Is imperialism moral? Millions of people from India and Palestine to the Americas were exploited by European powers primarily driven by profit considerations. If the British 'took' NA immorally and ignored the prior property rights of the natives, then they 'lost' through revolution only lands that theirs illegitimately.

With regard to George Washington.....When King George III heard Washington would resign his commission to a powerless Congress, he told the painter Benjamin West: "If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world."

Tribunus said...

There can be no rationale for invading and stealing the lands of others, particularly not by force.

However, it is fair to ask to what extent the lands of America really belonged to the natives. For instance, the Spanish went to California long before the British and took missionaries to convert the natives which they did highly successfully. They also took soldiers to protect the missionaries. It became clear that the natives did not have any sense of owning the whole of the land and so the Spanish government acquired the land, developed it and put a Christian government over it.

I do not see a problem with that, provided the rights of the Indians were not infringed. It is the duty of Christian chivalry to defend and extend the boundaries of Christendom, the Kingdom of Christ upon the earth (but only in a just way, of course).

The British did similar but often unjustly and in the name of heresy not true Christianity. That was not good but not always bad, either.

However, if you object to the British then you must object far more to the Americans who were far and away the most brutal and oppressive toward the native Indians.

Equally, Americans have exploited millions around the world purely for profit far more than have the British or other European powers.

Moreover, the European colonial powers did a great deal of good for their colonial possessions often providing them with good government, development, education, a good justice system and many other benefits of Christian civilisation.

They did not always do so and the good does not excuse the bad but their care and concern for their colonies far and away outstrips the pure and unalloyed greed of American dollar colonialism which has enslaved half the world for the primary purpose of fattening up already grotesquely over-fat Americans.

Your most fatuous argument to date is the one that claims that because A steals from B, then C may justly come along and steal the same thing from A.

This truly shows how weak your arguments in favour of the American Revolution really are that you justify theft on the basis that someone else had already previously stolen the land.

The argument has but to be stated for its absurdity to be instantly seen.

Did the Americans hand back the land to the native Indians. No. You know they did not.

And if further proof were sought, one need only look and see how appallingly the North Americans treated the native Indians. It was truly shocking.

As to the old chestnut about Benjamin West, what you self-deluding Yanks repeatedly fail to see is that King George III was scoffing at Washington and making an ironic remark.

But – sigh – irony is so often lost on Americans.

Please don’t take any of this as offence. It is not. I’m sure you are a very fine chap. Most Americans I know are. But they know so little of the true history of their own country, are brought up on fantasy instead of history and have an absurdly blinkered view of the world imbibed from their earliest years.

George Washington said...

We'll agree to disagree although I see the sincerity of your viewpoint. Nonetheless, we British and Americans are off exploiting the Afghans and Iraqis during the past decade in search of oil, strategic dominance and the bogus war of terror - shoulder to shoulder - so in the end, we are much more alike than different especially with regard to our political elites.

Peace, cousin!

Tribunus said...

Yes, true and fair!

And thanks for the debate - I always enjoy a good one!

Brtrask said...

Any way I could get a new link to this article? The link is not working at the moment. I find your viewpoints of American history very interesting and many of the points you make are points we make for the need of smaller government over here. Thank you.

Tribunus said...


I now get round to responding to another of your fatuous and ridiculous "one-liners".
If you think that the American revolutionaries were less rebellious to the King of Kings than King George III then you need your bumps read.

Next, if you think that only Catholic government is legitimate and that any other government may be overthrow by its subjects at will, at any time, then you further need your bumps read.

You also need to read and understand the basic elements of Catholic teaching on government and justice.

Government - any government - comes from God, unless it be illegitimate and unconstitutional. Even pagan government is legitimate in the eyes of God and reflects something of God Himself.

The government of King George III was not perfect but it was a lot better than some, far better than that of his father, King George II, and a million times better than the rapacious republic of the greedy, oppressive rich which was introduced by the American revolution.

The Pope himself, and the Church, recognised the government of King George III, as did his Catholic subjects who were still being oppressed during his reign (although far less so than before).

What makes you so arrogantly claim to know better than all these authorities?


Tribunus said...

Thank you Brennan.

Do you mean a link to this, my article or some other?