I recently read America: The Last Best Hope by William J. Bennett. I found this book to be extremely thorough, informative and interesting. It provided a fascinating review of American history. Among the points of interest in the book are:
- In the first conflicts with the Indian tribes, the English held three distinct advantages. They were politically unified, they had greater numbers, and they were experienced in the use of firearms. These advantages would prevail over the Indians' greater familiarity with the forests and rivers, their warrior culture, and their typically surprise tactic of strike and disappear.
- Half of the pilgrims that made the maiden voyage on the Mayflower would die in the next year of starvation and disease. However, in the following spring, the Mayflower prepared to return to England, and not a single Pilgrim would return with her. This is evidence of the determination of the pilgrims to cling to freedom in the new world.
- The royal French government was unwilling to send political or religious dissidents, or even criminals, to populate New France (Canada). Thus, French colonization never achieved the impact that massive English emigration did in the Atlantic colonies.
- One of the reasons that the reaction to the Stamp Act by the colonists was so hostile was that those accused of violating the Act would not be tried in their communities by juries of their peers, but taken to far-off Halifax, Nova Scotia, and tried before special Admiralty courts.
- The so-called Boston Massacre was an inflammatory misnomer. In March of 1770, a mob began to taunt British soldiers and pelted them with trash, oyster shells and snowballs. With their backs to the royal Customs House, and feeling hemmed in, the frightened soldiers opened fire on the mob. In all, five colonists were killed in what instantly became known as "the Boston Massacre." John Adams, the future second president of the United States, represented the British soldiers. Adams demonstrated that most of the soldiers fired in self-defense, that no order to fire on the crowd had ever been given, and that the unruly colonials had provoked the soldiers. The jury found all but two of the accused not guilty and convicted those two of lesser charges.