“There’s nothing in the streets looks any different to me…
meet the new boss, same as the old boss”, Pete Townshend wrote in the Who song, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. Pete Townshend has stated his belief that revolution was pointless, as those who become the ones in charge are destined to be as corrupt as those they are removing from power, regardless of their original intentions. Townshend explained that “revolution is not going to change anything in the long run and people are going to get hurt.
” The American Revolution is the embodiment of these sentiments in that the rich and powerful elite members of colonial society ignited the spark of revolution to free themselves from the constraints of British rule. For the Indians, colonial women, and those without property, the revolution was simply a transition of power from one “oppressor” to the next. The American Revolution represented a change in power by giving more freedom to white, property owning males that allowed them to keep and extend their authority as the supreme influential political force in colonial American society. Under British rule, there were laws and regulations put in place to regulate colonists expansion into the west through a royal proclamation, barring settlers from moving east of the Appalachians. In 1753, the British government dictated that American land grants be limited to 1000 acres a person (colonist). Land speculators however, colluded with colonial officials to skirt this limit. Colonial government not only assisted but encouraged the predatory taking of Indian land in defiance of the British regulations.
During the 1760s, the Wappinger Indians who held land in New York and the Connecticut line assisted the British invasion of French Canada. Upon their return they found their land to be taken by speculating landlords. To retrieve some of the value of their land, they agreed to rent out farms to settlers from Connecticut for very minimal rent with 999 year terms. The settlers that rented from the Wappingers and resisted the speculators’ claims were arrested and subjected to heavy fines and some jail time by Governor Sir Henry Moore who was influenced by speculating landlords. The Wappingers decided to take legal action and sought the British for amelioration. The British government sided with the Wappingers, but came to the conclusion that there could be no redress for them as the colonial government was led by the land speculators.
The land speculators disregarded British rule for their own personal gain and when the British challenged this, they became rowdy with the idea of resisting British rule. Their resistance was not inspired to provide freedom for all colonists but the freedom to rule themselves and to take what they wanted which included dispossessing Indians of their land without redress. For Native Americans, the revolution only exacerbated the illegal taking of their land by colonists. The colonies severing ties with the British empire meant that now wealthy land speculators didn’t have to contend with British rules and regulations regarding relationships and land dispossession of Native Americans. The revolution gave the speculators the freedom to steal huge amounts of land, while at the same time not granting any sort of protection against this practice for Native Americans. “Patriots regarded the British alliance with native peoples as a tyrannical obstacle to the colonists’ right to make private property from indian lands” (Taylor 251).
In order to manage the settlers and squatters moving west without paying congress, federal leaders perpetuated the idea that congress has supreme authority of Indian lands, and can now dispossess them of it wherever and whenever it saw fit. Acting from this, federal commissioners between 1784 and 1786 congregated native chiefs in regional treaty councils to extort of millions of acres of land. General Philip Schuyler told the Haudenosaunee that “We are now Masters of this Island, and can dispose of the Lands as we think proper or most convenient to ourselves.
” (Taylor 342).The hatred of Indians not only continued but grew exponentially during and after the revolution. George Rogers Clark, leader of the Kentucky militia throughout most of the war was known for his vehement hatred of Indians, peaceful or otherwise. Clark promised that “he would never spare Man, woman, or child of them on whom he could lay his hands.” For men like these, killing indians was almost like a sport to them. During an attempt to invade Indian country, David Williamson and his Pennsylvanian militia seized the peaceful Delaware village of Gnadenhutten, which was led by Moravian missionaries. They saw their european kettles and clothings as evidence of their raiding of settlements rather than as evidence of their christian conversion. Williamson and his militia killed 96 Indians, 39 of them children by smashing their skulls with wooden mallets.
They were then scalped for trophies by their killers. The natives were killed singing Christian hymns. It made no difference whether Indians were aggressive or peaceful, colonists were out to shed any Native blood they could find. The revolution was not kind to Indians in North America. The Patriots had little regard for their autonomy, and sought only to extort their lands.
While women did not suffer from violent campaigns of destruction and hate as Native Americans did, they too were disregarded and put back “in their place” after the revolution. During the war, women found themselves in a position of power they’d never had. Many husbands, sons and brothers went off to fight, leaving the women to take charge and manage families, farms and shops. When the war ended, the men returned home, and sought to take back immediate control of the household, moving women back into their traditional limits and restore their status as an explicit domestic creature. The freedoms won in the revolution did not extend to the women.American colonial society at this time believed that women should be the moral regulators in the republican society, and that wives and mothers should inspire virtue into their sons and husbands. Wives and mothers in this position were called Republican mothers and republican wives. The role of providing guidance and upbringing only further reaffirmed that their proper place was the household and should be restricted to domestic activities.
Elaine Crane argues in “The Revolution Was Hardly Radical for Women” that the idea of republican mother was a European idea, adopted close to 150 years earlier than the revolution and that its main ideas were only advocated when women tried to contravene against their traditional roles. The idea of republican mothers and wives were used to preserve the status quo. “Because of the ways in which American society evolved during the colonial period, the Revolution could not have been a liberating experience for women.” (Crane 315).For a rebellion to be considered a revolution, how many different kinds of peoples lives have to change in a meaningful way? If it only affects a limited demographic, is it really a revolution? The revolution changed the status quo for the wealthy in that they had no British regulations they had to contend with. Land speculators were now free to claim vast amounts of Indian land. The lives of the Indians were only changed by the rate at which their land was given up to the speculators.
Women’s roles went back to one being subservient to their husbands, bereft of the newfound control of the household during the war. Patriots perfected the art of hypocritical freedom, preaching freedom for all – as long as you’re not black, Indian or a woman.