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The Common CauseCreating Race and Nation in the American Revolution$
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Robert G. Parkinson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469626635

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469626635.001.0001

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Merciless Savages, Domestic Insurrectionists, and Foreign Mercenaries

Merciless Savages, Domestic Insurrectionists, and Foreign Mercenaries

Independence

Chapter:
(p.185) Chapter 3 Merciless Savages, Domestic Insurrectionists, and Foreign Mercenaries
Source:
The Common Cause
Author(s):

Robert G. Parkinson

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469626635.003.0005

Instead of viewing the path to independence as only about Paine's Common Sense and Jefferson's Declaration, this chapter shows the importance of stories about loyalist unrest in North Carolina and threats of the British hiring thousands of German mercenary soldiers in the first half of 1776. Patriot political and communication leaders propagated stories of British hiring proxies--Indians, slaves, Hessians--to bind together the American colonies. These stories merged with and deepened Paine's arguments about independence and republican government to forward the movement for the colonies to become separate states. In fact, the confirmation of rumors that the crown had hired ten thousand German mercenaries was the final straw that produced debates and votes for independence in colonial assemblies. The list of twenty-seven grievances in the Declaration against the king climaxes with these accusations of hiring proxies, or rather "merciless savages," "domestic insurrectionists," and "foreign mercenaries." The concept of who was not part of the "we" in "we hold these truths to be self-evident" started with the founding itself.

Keywords:   Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, Common Sense, German mercenaries, Hessians, Thomas Paine

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