A particularly interesting aspect of my project has been looking at the American Revolution from a British perspective. It is an area that I was relatively unaware of before Rory’s comment on one of my earlier blog posts, but has now become a central aspect of my project. The Whiggish perspective, outside of the usual accounts of Thomas Paine, is a very complex and historically appealing area of study.
One book that was recommended to me, Robert Tombs’ The English and Their History, has made me ponder the question of why the curriculum is compiled in the manner that it is. Within the British education system, very little is generally taught on the subject of the American Revolution. On top of this, even less is mentioned about the Whiggish sympathies for the American case of independence, an area that, as I have mentioned, is worth its weight in gold when it comes to historical case studies. The complexities of teaching such a topic, whereby British parliamentarians and people felt that the agenda of the Crown and the State was flawed, are undoubtedly the reasoning behind their absence from the mainstream curriculum.
There is an interesting scene in The History Boys, whereby the discuss the morality of studying the Holocaust. Whilst I am not comparing the two, I am highlighting the fact that material that would be sensitive to those studying it is often left by the wayside and forgotten about, especially in mainstream education. A line from that scene states the need to “distance ourselves”, that “there is no period in history more distant than the recent past”. Whilst the American Revolution can no longer be called ‘recent history’, the consequences of British colonialism are very much recent, if not ongoing. Whilst this is very much beyond the limits of my project, it is something that is definitely worth exploring and was included in my dissertation proposal – fingers crossed it is approved!