Front Page Titles (by Subject) 117.: On the North American Revolutionary War - Judgments on History and Historians
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117.: On the North American Revolutionary War - Jacob Burckhardt, Judgments on History and Historians 
Judgments on History and Historians, ed. Alberto R. Coll (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999).
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On the North American Revolutionary War
(I) Once the Americans truly believed that America existed for their sake and belonged to them, it did not even take the doctrine of “no taxation without representation” to bring about their revolt as soon as they were strong enough. Actually, however, the moving spirits wanted to break away from England, and the tax business was only the most welcome pretext.
A very characteristic thing was the prolonged preservation of the semblance of legality in the rebellion.
There was a striking disparity between the great personal freedom and political rights of the Americans and their commercial tutelage and exploitation up to that time.
Only one thought is impossible and inconceivable in that period: that England should have given these colonies their freedom without being admonished, on its own initiative. After all, only a short time previously it had triumphantly had new territory in America transferred to it. Too, England might have had to defend these areas at a later time if some other sea power wanted to establish itself there, e.g., the same France that later sided with the colonies.
And so the most powerful politicians and political economists of the world of that time simply had to pay dearly for experience, too.
To be sure, without foreign aid the Americans would initially have been defeated, but hardly for long. And then, the very fact that they found and accepted such foreign aid is a characteristic of people such as they were.
The originally so divergent backgrounds and political and social difference, as well as the non-English, Dutch, and refugee elements, had already been largely smoothed out.
(II) Without French aid and the European naval war North America would certainly have been subjugated. Thereupon the whole political and economic life of England would have had to be oriented toward the permanent suppression of America. England would have become a sort of military state. However, the French Revolution, which would have come anyway, probably would have induced America to rebel again, but presumably so soon that England would have had to take a stand long before 1793 and join the Coalition. Anyway, in England itself the military state would have had to defend itself against a revolution. The America (United States) of 1783 had only one and a half times the population of New York today. It surely had no inkling of its future reciprocal relations with Europe, although people must have known immediately that the successful revolt had a moral meaning for Europe generally. And this state had inscribed into its founding documents the “pursuit of happiness” as an aim of the life of peoples.