"Margaret" wrote:Part of the problem here, I think, is the seeming obligation to write about the American Revolution from a patriotic American perspective which never questions the rightness and greatness of the Revolution, enshrining it in a haze of rag-tag majesty and sacrifical glory. This sort of thing tends to quash true literary depth. I'd love to see a Wolf-Hall style treatment of the Revolutionary War that would plunge us back into the time period so effectively that, while reading, we might almost forget who ultimately prevailed. Taxes, I think, were just one of many issues that upset American colonists, but then as now, anger tends to crystallize over money as one of the more concrete symbols of oppression, real or imagined. I think many colonists felt disrespected by the English government over a broad range of issues, and disrespect can often arouse a fury that would seem out of proportion to the actual monetary impact of a tax. Anytime an issue arouses enough passion to lead to a war, there should be the potential for a humdinger of a good novel - if a writer approaches it with the freedom to portray the characters and the issues unhampered by what amounts to a hallowed origin myth.
Those are all good points. It doesn't just boil down to "taxation without representation"; rather, that was the crucible for larger emotions and tensions that had been building for several years. Many (but far from all) colonists felt the British government was using them like a parasite rather than letting them grow and develop according to their own best interests, which had been the status quo for the first 150 years of the colonies' existence. The colonists who felt this way protested, the British ignored and then overreacted to their concerns, the cycle repeated a few times, and things spiraled downward to bloodshed.
This is a hard dynamic to capture in a novel, compared to the arguably more tangible, clear-cut, more uniformly understood issues that led to the Civil War. In the Revolution, people fought for one side or the other (this was also a civil war, remember) based a wide variety of motivations: ideology, economic interest, family allegiance, pre-existing local feuds, community defense, etc. It would be interesting for a novel to address the Revolution through those diverse lenses, how the Revolution changed those characters and what the outcome meant for them. It's my understanding that Sally Gunning's The Rebellion of Jane Clarke
is a pretty even-handed treatment of many of these issues.
In the case of my WIP, my characters live on the frontier, where their motive is simple self-preservation against Tory and Indian enemies. Ideology doesn't mean much when your crops are burning and your children are missing. That said, the real people they're based on stayed on the side of independence when it might have been easier and safer to switch.