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1775: Revolution And Realignment

American Revolution. Historian Kevin Phillips looks at American politics then and now from 1775.

Rebroadcast: Originally aired December 4, 2012

Percy's rescue at Lexington, 1775. (Amos Doolittle)

Percy’s rescue at Lexington, 1775. (Amos Doolittle) 

1776 gets super-top billing in the telling of the American Revolution. The Declaration of Independence. July 4th. Fireworks.

Historian and political analyst Kevin Phillips says hold on a minute. If you really want to understand the American Revolution, you have to roll the tape back a bit. To where all the groundwork of revolution lies.

To 1775, he says, and the infrastructure of rebellion. Phillips knows American politics well. Republican, Democrat, old, new. Now he goes to the heart of it.

This hour, On Point: Kevin Phillips on American Revolution.

-Tom Ashbrook


Kevin Phillips, author, historian, and political commentator.  Author of “1775: A Good Year For Revolution.”


Author Kevin Phillips in the studio. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Author Kevin Phillips in the studio. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

From Tom’s Reading List

The New Republic “Kevin Phillips, a keen analyst of American politics, is also a historical sociologist in the best sense of the term. The ways in which our society is both constituted and divided, not only in the present but as a consequence of history, have long been his concern.”

The Boston Globe “I would say people in Massachusetts and Boston, in particular, are predisposed to believe in THE IMPORTANCE OF 1775, but perhaps not in the fullness of its 13-colony context. By early 1775, people were really feeling — I don’t want to say invincible — but they truly believed that their arms would be strong and JUSTICE WOULD PREVAIL. That was very much the mind-set, and it guided people in the Revolution.”

Excerpt from “1775″


Cool, Cool Considerate Men by Paul Hecht and the 1176 Chorus

Bunker Hill by Mark O’Connor

Chester by William Appling Singers

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  • DrewInGeorgia

    I see you.

  • Potter

    while we are busy celebrating our Revolution, look at what is happening in the streets of Cairo. Those people care about their government and about all the things our country fought for and stands for. My question is do we anymore?

    • jefe68

      So do these people:
      July 1st, 2013 – On the day 70,000 jobless North Carolinians are stripped of their unemployment benefits, 80 are arrested while thousands gather at the NC General Assembly to say, “Enough is enough!”


      • TomK_in_Boston

        Well, part of the problem with the Irish guy in Egypt, Morissey, is that he and his pals in the Islamic Brotherhood were changing a secular gvt into an Islamic gvt. He and that NC legislator have the same goals. I wish we cd keep religion out of politics! I don’t want Islamic nations or Christian nations. 

        • John Cedar

          While your hatred for Christianity is commendable, Christian nations have a much better track record of governing than Muslim nations and both have a better track record than godless nations.

          • jefe68

            You mean like secular nations such as Denmark, Japan, Taiwan, Sweden, Norway, and Canada to name a few.

            Not mention our nation, which was not founded on or about religion despite what all the right wing christians say.

          • HonestDebate1

            You are correct. Our way is better than theirs but many will defend oppression of women and beheadings.

          • jefe68

            Like who?
            This ones for you…
            “Jesus Thinks You’re A Jerk”

          • HonestDebate1

            I love Zappa. Which country does he rule?

          • jefe68

            The shame is you don’t get Zappa, do you.

            Did you listen to that tune?

          • HonestDebate1

            You have pre-conceived notions about me as well as the art form of  music. Zappa was a genius. At one tIme I had that album, yes I’ve heard the song.

          • TomK_in_Boston

            Did you see the Nazi belt buckles with “Gott mit uns”? No doubt about who that god was.

            Your remark is illogical. Wanting religion out of politics is not hatred of anything. It’s just the American tradition.

          • Tyranipocrit

            Your comment is absurd.  Your ignorance atrocious. You are just wrong wrong wrong. 

            Where do you get the idea that he “hates” christianity”–ad what if he did?  would you waterboard him?  Incarcerate him?  Blacklist him?  crush is chest with  a stack of boulders?

      • Steve__T

        Agreed Jefe the state legislature is out of hand, it more than morally corrupt.

        The protests are meant to demonstrate a push back against an “extreme” agenda that includes cuts to education, social programs and unemployment benefits; rejecting Medicaid expansion; new restrictions on voting and labor rights; and restarting the death penalty. N.C. leaders are pushing for new restrictions on voting access while opening the door to more Big Money influence in our elections. The are openly defying their constituency and doing what they want, not what the people elected them to do.

        • HonestDebate1

          Aren’t you here in NC? The Democrats have run the place for a hundred years. Republican now have both houses and the governorship. Our last governor wanted to suspend elections and then tried to say she was joking.

          Look for things to improve to some extent despite the horrendous federal administration.

          • jefe68

            You have this draconian right wing government that has legislators that want to suspend the 1st Amendment, and turn the state into a christian state. 

            Lets add: new restrictions on voting and labor rights.

            Not to mention the extreme new anti-woman’s health law.

            That’s progress in your mind?
            You keep saying “that’s sick”, well the government of NC is doing things that are not only sick they are most likely unconstitutional.

          • HonestDebate1

            Oh BS, that case cannot be made. The NAACP just wants to continue to hold blacks down and keep them on the plantation. That’s coming to an end because the people of NC resoundingly voted the scoundrels out. It’s time we showed people respect and judge them by the content of character but those judging by the color of skin are fighting to prevent it.

          • jefe68

            You are wrong, period.
            What do you call this piece of unconstitutional crap, pay attention sections 1 and 2.

            SECTION 1. The North Carolina General Assembly asserts that the Constitution of the United States of America does not prohibit states or their subsidiaries from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.

            SECTION 2. The North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the State of North Carolina, its public schools, or any political subdivisions of the State from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.

          • jefe68

            Then there is this article which asks a good question:
            What is it about GOP state legislators that drives them to create laws that have no hope of surviving constitutional scrutiny yet always succeed in running up millions in legal fees to be paid by taxpayers on the way to failure?


          • HonestDebate1

            Dude, you made a claim and posted a video that doesn’t exist. That’s what I replied to.

            As far as the proposed legislation goes if it’s not constitutional then it won’t hold up. Bev wanted to suspend elections to preserve majorities, that didn’t hold up. Obama wanted to impose a mandate under the commerce clause, that didn’t hold up either. 

          • jefe68

            A video that does not exist?
            Than what was that I posted, vapor…

            These folks in NC have been protesting for a while, I guess you think they don’t count. 
            I have news for you buddy, they do.

          • HonestDebate1

            Suretheycount, sodothe voters that changed leadership.

            what about the Tea Party?Do they count?

          • Steve__T

             How much money and time spent on this can we afford? Since its unconstitutional. How many people could the state help with jobs?

            No Honest answer to that. Just blame it on Obama.

          • HonestDebate1

            The State should get out of the way and not create busy work jobs at taxpayer expense.

          • Steve__T

            The case is already made. And the NAACP is not fighting for blacks but all who are affected by these rulings, Black, White, Red, Yellow and Brown. Do you know any person who has been looking for work in this state and not found any? they may have just lost their benefits, that means house car whatever insurance they could afford. Whole family’s will be uprooted and displaced.  It has nothing to do with the color of skin. That’s sick. You have no respect for your fellow man. The content of your character is disgusting, and full of bigotry and lies.

          • HonestDebate1

            Yes, I know plenty who have not found work. I blame Obama. It will only get worse with Obamacare. That’s why King Obama went against the legislature and delayed the employer mandate by decree. After the midterms he won’t care.

            The NAACP doesn’t give a damn about anyone but Democrats. The fact that they are tax exempt is a disgrace.

            Speaking of which the CBC is another disgrace. Legislators are elected to represent all of the people. There is no Congressional White Caucus, that would be rightly viewed as racist.

          • Steve__T


          • HonestDebate1

            If that fantasy evercomestrueI’llbethe first to condemn it.

      • Potter

        North Carolinians have a lot more to protest.  They wake up when their entitlements disappear. They should look at how their state is gerrymandered against the will of the people.

        The Great Gerrymander of 2012

        • jefe68

          True that.

    • Don_B1

      @jefe68:disqus @TomK_in_Boston:disqus @Tyranipocrit:disqus @Potterw:disqus @johncedar:disqus @HonestDebate1:disqus 

      The United States also urged the military not to remove President Morsi and now faces the distinctly unpleasant consequences of calling what the military did a coup as it would require the United States to halt its payments of $1.5 billion as part of the Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty. By taking away that financial support, even as badly used as it is, would only make the economic problems of average Egyptian worse.

      There are aspects of a coup in what has happened in Egypt, but as shown in the OpEd below, the seeds for it were planted two years ago (with the military’s haste and ineptness) and with the writing of the Constitution:


      The big test now is whether the Egyptian military can rise to the occasion and conduct itself in a more balanced, judicious way and begin the creation of independent institutions that can give Egypt a stable political process that will allow all its citizens the dignity of being able to express themselves and seek the life that most benefits all its citizens.

      Four additional opinion pieces:





      Many of the comments are perceptive also.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    “1176 Chorus”?

    Without even looking, I’m sure we’ll be listening to the “1776 Chorus”.

    Boffo show, which does the near-impossible of making dramatic something we all know the outcome of.

  • Charles Vigneron

    I was aware of the first portion of this story as told by The Collins Papers, from a book published in 1917. This book concludes the story with Peter’s complete financial ruin, certain public disgrace. Perspectives in American Social History: American Revolution: People and Perspectives.
    My ancestor’s story is told on page eight. He began a store about 1760 for his retirement. British monetary policy changed shortly after. Seventy debtors that owed him money also bankrupted. They sold the store and goods at auction, the 300£ farm was sold at auction for 50£

  • velobill

    Just a comment about how people would either be loyalist or support the revolution.  In Connecticut, there was a strong pro-revolution movement East of the Connecticut river and which had trade ties with Boston, while communities closer to New York had a strong loyal feelings.  There was also a religious connection as CT had an evangelical Anglican church presence.  

  • Hal from East Boston

    Will this play.

  • hennorama

    Happy Fourth of July everyone!

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      enjoy the checkpoints as you celebrate freedom

    • Tyranipocrit


  • http://www.facebook.com/katherine.a.busch Katherine Ann Busch

    Does Kevin Phillips follow the Archdruid Report?

  • HonestDebate1

    “The Americans Who Risked Everything” – Rush Limbaugh Jr.


  • debhulbh

    The Native people of this country The Native America Indians, suffered just as the Irish did at the hands of the English and the Tibetans suffer today at the hands of the Chinese. Inability to practice their own culture, language, traditions….the inhumanity of it, all borne from greed.
     Mans inhumanity to man
    “More inhumanity (to man) has been done by man himself than any other of nature’s causes.” “Man’s inhumanity (towards man) comes from within, due to the lack of cardinal virtues.” “There is only one way in which one can endure man’s inhumanity to man and that is to try, in one’s own life, to exemplify man’s humanity to man.” “The inhumanity of man toward man is our greatest sin.” “Man’s inhumanity to man is equaled only by man’s inhumanity to himself.” “Man’s inhumanity to his brother is Our greatest sorrow.” “Man’s inhumanity to man crosses continents and decades.”]”Why do we hunt and persecute each other? Why is our world so full of man’s infamous inhumanity to man – and to woman?” “Man’s inhumanity to man shows only the weakness of the soul.” UnknownAnd we continue to wage senseless wars, and throw our fellow young men and women in prisons and lock them up for years  ( for first time nonviolent offenses..) insanity thy name is man…on and on it continues….

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      someone once said something to the  effect of ” if you want to see what it is like to live off the largess of the American government one need look no further than the plight of the American indian

      • Tyranipocrit

         if the gov is controlled by the 1% and corporate aristocracy–yes that would be true.  if on the other hand, the gov is controlled by the people or a pure democracy, native americans included, overall living and lifestyle would be dramatically improved–light years ahead of what we see today.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          that’s really an “if” for you? “pure democracy”? what is that?

          • Tyranipocrit

            direct democracy

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            giant national town meeting? I think another name for that is the tyranny of the masses

    • Tyranipocrit

       why do you think Tibetans cant practice their language?  I believe they learn Tibetan in school and speak it in public life.  While I think china is a burden to much of Tibetan society–some of these claims are just grossly exaggerated.

      • debhulbh

        To fully know and understand the language issue, (in relation to Tibet) read up on English ‘Planter’ settlers, affect on the Irish/Gaelic language, and the decimation of same over time. It takes time….

  • NOLALiz

    I will listen to this again. Thank you, Tom, again, for in-depth discussions. I admire the way that you handle calls, too. 

  • Middlepath11

    Comparing the Egyptian experience to the colonial American experience doesn’t quite sync for me because the Egyptian experience lacks a colonial overlord against which various interest groups can come together in common opposition.  I think the French revolution provides a more accurate comparison. In both cases the major conflict was an internal power struggle between a weak aristocracy and a growing, enlightened middle class.  What a wonderful show it would be to have Mohamed El Baradie and some of the young activists of the April 6th movement discuss the current power struggles in Egypt and the way forward to a durable democracy.  If I remember correctly, Mr Baradie emphasized the need for a new constitution with clear delineations of power before presidential elections in order to avoid a recurrence of autocratic rule.

    • Don_B1

      In both cases you mention, current Egypt and France after the Revolution, the opposition to the radicals was fragmented and therefore ineffectual. See the links I posted in my response to Potter at the beginning of this session of On Point.

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    interesting, I had heard previously that most people were not initially in favor of the revolution and that it was more the idea of wealthy 1%ers like paul revere and Jefferson and washington

    • Tyranipocrit

       only the 1% were interested in revolution.  The 99% were in revolt against the colonial 1%.  The 99% were excluded from democracy, participation, and property.  The 1% spent a great deal of time crushing and suppressing people’s revolts.  The people knew the colonial looting class was the same and worse–WORSE–than the British.  American people were brutally suppressed in many cases.  And pressed into war against the British.  The 1% used pirates and privateers to fight their war–terrorists.

  • John Cedar

    The Declaration of Independence reads like it was written today about Washington DC .

  • http://www.facebook.com/dhrosier Dreighton Rosier

    Simplistic descriptions of democracy make great propaganda slogans but are dangerously misleading in real life.  It is disappointing that so much of the thoughtful analyses of current events focus on the superficial, simplistic slogans without discussing the complexities of democracy that are relevant to specific applications.

    Egypt is an excellent model for that discussion.  For there to be democracy all citizens must have more than a vote at the ballot box, they must be allowed to have an effective voice in the process.  Decades of repression created a society in which only the Muslim Brotherhood was prepared to prosecute their agenda.  The greater part of Egypt’s population was fractured for all of the right reasons, competing ideas for democracy were rife and discussed among so many citizens it has been an incredible display of interest.

    • Don_B1

      The multiple problems today stem from the hasty writing of the Egyptian Constitution and the unwillingness of the non-Islamic factions to work together. For the Egyptians to avoid a failed state these mistakes must be avoided this time.

      Please see the links in my response post to Potter at the beginning of this webpage.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dhrosier Dreighton Rosier

    The hardship suffered by “Native Americans” as a consequence of the invasion of the Western Hemisphere by West Europeans is only one of a long history of similar migrations throughout the time of the society of man, starting with tribal enslavement before the first men came out of Africa or wherever.

    If anyone must play the blame game please be sure to consider the full scope of time.  Where  should you start?  Pre-history centuries were the occasion of cave men taking residence in the British Isles and further North.  Genghis Khan reached Moscow and (memory?) St. Petersburg.  Only the supreme being knows the travesty visited on various societies in Asia as tribes sought out new living areas, including the Pacific islands.

    There are more Native Americans alive today than were present when the first Europeans landed in the Western Hemisphere.  Yes, measles and other diseases that had been minor inconveniences in Europe did kill thousands of Native Americans, but so did syphilis and other diseases contracted from Native Americans kill many thousands of Europeans, most resident far beyond the range of the people who had the initial contact.

    • Tyranipocrit

       it is different because we consider ourselves a civilized people with laws and morality and “God’s” virtues or civilized virtues–an education.  It is significant because we are still talking about relatively modern times–not prehistoric or the dark ages.  Your dismissal of such things only suggests you condone a continuation of such behavior and systematic killings.  Are you in the 1percent by chance or just a cheerleader for them and genocide?  Your argument is pathetic and much of the reason why such inhumanity is tolerated around the world. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    I like the part when it talks about how hunting apparel became popular before the revolution

  • Tyranipocrit

    On this 4th of July, are you resolved to live in a free and democratic society, independent of global corporate rule?
    Will you act to shut down the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other
    efforts by the owners and managers of global corporations to replace We the People with We the Corporations?

     The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) will dramatically undermine the housing rights of Americans

    The intention of the TPP is to enhance and protect the profits of
    medical and pharmaceutical corporations without regard for the harmful
    effects their policies will have on human health.

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) threatens to undermine the FDA

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a global corporate
    coup that undermines democracy and makes corporations more powerful than
    government.  It creates a “trade tribunal” system that allows
    corporations to sue governments for expected lost profits resulting from
    environmental, labor, health, consumer protection and other laws. The
    judges in the tribunals will be corporate lawyers on temporary leave
    from corporate job in order to rule on cases brought by corporations and
    then returning to their corporate job.  This rigged rule of law system
    will prevent countries from acting in the public interest and for the
    protection of the planet.  The TPP undermines
    the rule of law.

    • Bluejay2fly

      I work in a blue collar job and am subjected all day long to people’s paranoid delusions about the UN plotting to ban our guns, the World Bank making us use a banking chip implanted in our hands (the mark of the beast), and also rants about the one world order and the end times. Perhaps I have missed some truth here. I always thought our sovereignty would never be willfully given away to foreign organizations but as long as some “americans” can make money it may be a reality. In essence the profit motive is the encouragement for more globalization and increased interest in exploiting the labor and environmental loopholes. 

      • Don_B1

        It sounds like you are being exposed to just about every (false) conspiracy theory that is out there.

        What is going on is that the wealthy are using the current economic distress to scare the populace into believing that only by giving up their real freedoms (to have a good job with a living wage and adequate healthcare that will not bankrupt them) so that the wealthy (the 1%), who received 7% of the annual earnings in 1970 and now receive 23% of those earnings, can further take more of the pie for not creating the jobs that are needed. [Note that in the two years following the 2008 financial crisis, the top 10% received 95% of the increased earnings.]

        Note that the Tea/Republicans are totally against any tax increases and for drastic cuts in the safety net spending that basically helps the middle class bridge hard times such as what happened following the financial crisis of 2008, when companies were cutting jobs in a race to cut costs as sales of goods and services fell through the bottom.

        When my spending is your income and your spending is my income, if we both simultaneously cut spending in an effort to save or pay down debt, neither of us ends up with the expected money to save or pay off debt, but we are each worse off.

        The goods and services the country does not produce because employment is not at full level can never be recovered, which is why government spending now, to get to full employment and then cutting back after the economy is running on its own, is beneficial to everyone and it is why Ricardian equivalence does NOT apply in this economic state.

  • Tea Pea

    I would suggest that Kevin Phillips read: Joseph Tainter – The Collapse of Complex Societies (New Studies in Archaeology)

  • Tea Pea

    Kevin Phillips should read: Joseph Tainter – The Collapse of Complex Societies (New Studies in Archaeology)

  • debhulbh

    Only those who have not lived through a colonization or takeover, or other can stand on the safety of the sidelines and call it ‘grossly over exaggerated’.

    • Tyranipocrit

      i am saying there is a lot of propaganda–China bashing.  I love to bash China as much as the next guy but sometimes American ignorance is overwhelming.  Most free tibeters have never seen tibet or china and know nothing of either, yet talk as if they know everything about the tyranny that exists there.  Tibetans speak Tibetan.  As far as I know China is not actively seeking to destroy their language.  it is probably a more complex issue than most Americans like to think.  I do think Tibet should totally be free of China–it is not China anymore than Tiawan or Mongolia or Xinjiang.  And there are definite injustices and inhumanities and irreverent behavior on behalf of China but Tibetans speak Tibetan.  They are forced to learn English in school as are the  Chinese–and that is controversial topic among the Chinese as well.  Most can’t grasp it and hate it and resent being forced.  They cling to and retain Chinese.  Very few actually excel in English.  Tibetans less so, being so far away from the smothering influences of Beijing and Chinese bureaucrats. 

      I am aware there a problems.  And they should be addressed.  I’m just saying they are exaggerated by Americans–especially in that they love to blame China the big bad monster viciously stomping on Tibet when it is more complex–like globalization, capitalism, the clash of cultures–its almost inevitable.  That is not to say it should not be protected.  It should. And probably needs more attention in school. But when Chinese complain about loss of heritage in the face of globalization or Americanization or modern global society we accuse them  of nationalism, xenophobia, and ignorance.  When certain other elements in certain cultures complain, we collectively sigh and raise banners.

      I have always been skeptical of all the Tibet thing when the dali lama constantly meets with oppressive tyrannical westen leaders like US Presidents and is linked to CIA funding.  The Dlai lama might be a beautiful man and have a good cause, but he also might be in bed with monsters that don’t share the same agenda for Tibet.

      • Tyranipocrit

         The native American genocide–an organized hateful ignorant slaughter of native peoples and civilizations is quite different than the slow crawl of a clunky half-educated bumbling economy/culture such as China who has some thin historical claims to Tibet and share a border and co-mingling cultures for hundreds of years.  Are the Chinese belligerent?–yes.  Are they insensitive?–yes, mostly.  But they also funnel development money into Tibet (in their eyes–this is good) for education, health care…its probably not a lot different than American mentality which feels charitable when it interferes in the cultures of every single country on the planet or say–invades Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Vietnam–for the “sake” of those poor oppressed wallstreet envious people, for the women…yeah right.

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