Economy

Thom Hartmann: The American Revolution Was the Original Brexit (Video)

The author of "What Would Jefferson Do?" examines the circumstances that led to American independence.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Thom Hartmann wants to dispel the mythology of how America became independent from Great Britain 240 years ago.

“The story that I heard when I was in school was that the thing that really flipped everybody was the Boston Tea Party in 1773. Prior to the Boston Tea Party, Thomas Jefferson had written a pamphlet called 'A Summary View of the Rights of British Americans,' which was basically how to be a good British subject while living on the North American continent. ... The book [outlined] some of the rights British Americans had—and should have—but it wasn’t talking about separating from England," Hartmann explained. 

At the same time, there was "substantial economic downturn—particularly in Europe—in [the] 1770[s]. These were basically major recession, minor depression years in the U.K., and the largest corporation in England was the British East India Company, and that corporation was really struggling... and the principal stockholders in the British East India Company were members of Parliament," Hartmann said.

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These British Americans "quietly accept[ed] British rule until Parliament’s enactment of the Tea Act in 1773, a bill designed to save the faltering East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a monopoly on the American tea trade," according to History.com, which, in turn, prompted rebellion.

In "A Retrospect of the Boston Tea-Party," which Hartmann reads in this segment, Josiah Quincy said on the night of the Boston Tea Party, Dec. 16,1773:

"Imagine not therefore, that you can bring this controversy to a happy conclusion without the most strenuous, the most arduous, the most terrible conflict; consider attentively the difficulty of the enterprise, and the uncertainty of the issue. Reflect and ponder, even ponder well, before you embrace the measures, which are to involve this country in the most perilous enterprise the world has ever witnessed."

“So in other words, they knew they were on the edge by taking on the East India Company, and thus, by proxy, the British government. They realized they were on the edge of a huge Brexit," Hartmann concludes. 

Watch:

Alexandra Rosenmann is an AlterNet associate editor. Follow her @alexpreditor.