I had a discussion with a Brit the other day and naturally the topic drifted to our historic break from the UK in 1776 and I boasted of our noble fight for liberation and freedom. The Brit was amused and said I was brought up believing "rubbish".
He said the real reason for the revolutionary war was not for freedom but on the contrary for preserving slavery. He said one of the first articles in the US Constitution was to protect slavery. This was in response to a landmark court decision "Somerset vs. Stewart" in England in 1772 where a slave was not required to be sent back to his master in Virginia since "slavery was antithetical to the British constitution and English common law".
This decision really rattled the bourgeoisie in the American colonies since their economy was heavily dependent on slavery, hence their motivation for financing the rebellion and declaring independence 4 years later.
The Brit also emphasized that the colonial common folk were worse off economically post revolutionary war. He cited even heavier taxation and more concentration of wealth at the top causing revolts of which the Shea rebellion in Massachusetts was an example. He said a dozen families owned most of New York state for example.
In reality, indeed we look back and can see the multitudes of colonial common folk having little to do with the taxes the British charged to property owning upper class, the colonial conventions held in Philadelphia where the decision for independence and republic shaping took place, or being concerned with slavery. The masses just did not have much accumulated money and were too busy just surviving day to day. Practically none of them could afford the luxury of going to Philadelphia for several months, owning slaves, or paying taxes. So what cause would the colonial common folk be willing to risk their lives for? Fighting for whose freedom and freedom to do what?
After pondering and doing some searching, I am afraid what the Brit said made an impression on me of the ugly truth to our history. Was the American rebellion primarily motivated to preserve slavery?