But I’m reasonably confident a world in which the revolution never happened would be better than the one we live in now, for three main reasons: Slavery would’ve been abolished earlier, American Indians would’ve faced rampant persecution but not the outright ethnic cleansing Andrew Jackson and other American leaders perpetrated, and America would have a parliamentary system of government that makes policymaking easier and lessens the risk of democratic collapse.
.. The main benefit of the revolution to colonists was that it gave more political power to America’s white male minority. For the vast majority of the country — its women, slaves, American Indians — the difference between disenfranchisement in an independent America and disenfranchisement in a British-controlled colonial America was negligible.
.. In 1775, after the war had begun in Massachusetts, the Earl of Dunmore, then governor of Virginia, offered the slaves of rebels freedom if they came and fought for the British cause. Eric Herschthal, a PhD student in history at Columbia, notes that the proclamation united white Virginians behind the rebel effort.
.. Anger at Dunmore’s emancipation ran so deep that Thomas Jefferson included it as a grievance in a draft of the Declaration of Independence. That’s right: the declaration could’ve included “they’re conscripting our slaves” as a reason for independence.
.. For white slaveholders in the South, Simon Schama writes in Rough Crossings, his history of black loyalism during the Revolution, the war was “a revolution, first and foremost, mobilized to protect slavery.”
.. the policy enraged American settlers, who were appalled that the British would seem to side with Indians over white men. “The British government remained willing to conceive of Native Americans as subjects of the crown, similar to colonists,” Ethan Schmidt writes in Native Americans in the American Revolution. “American colonists … refused to see Indians as fellow subjects. Instead, they viewed them as obstacles in the way of their dreams of land ownership and trading wealth.”
The US refused to make them American citizens for a century. And then, of course, it violently forced them into reservations, killing many in the process.
.. Most tribes sided with the British or stayed neutral; only a small minority backed the rebels. Generally speaking, when a cause is opposed by the two most vulnerable groups in a society, it’s probably a bad idea.
.. And parliamentary democracies are a lot, lot better than presidential ones. They’resignificantly less likely to collapse into dictatorship because they don’t lead to irresolvable conflicts between, say, the president and the legislature. They lead to much less gridlock.