For me, Independence Day means the birth of the Anglosphere. As an Englishman, I don’t feel at all resentful that you triumphed over George III’s Redcoats, nor do I count it as a defeat. It was a victory for all of us: the settlers in the thirteen colonies got to forge their own destiny; the mother country could focus her attentions elsewhere, notably India; we could all enter a new mature relationship as free traders (bringing both parties massively increased prosperity); and, best of all, it resulted in the U.S. Constitution.
Yes, of course, none of these happened without bitterness, betrayal, and much bloodshed. As happens in civil wars, it pitched friend against friend, father against son, even husbands against wives. In Britain, it became pretty much a replay of the English Civil War with “Roundheads” – Whigs and Low Church Dissenters supporting the Colonists, and Royalists – Catholics and Tories on the Loyalist side. Among the pro-American faction was MP Edmund Burke, representing the key trading port of Bristol. He famously wrote, “The temper and character, which prevail in our colonies, are, I am afraid, unalterable by any human art. … An Englishman is the unfittest person on earth to argue another Englishman into slavery.”
Burke was right. He was talking about the impulse for liberty that courses through all our veins, English and American alike. We are far, far more similar than we are different. Certainly, we British have far more in common temperamentally and intellectually with our fellow English-speakers than we do with our neighbours on the continent – which is the true reason, of course, that we British just voted for Brexit in the EU referendum. At heart, you Americans and we British are instinctive patriots: heirs to the traditions established by Magna Carta. We believe in our nations’ exceptionalism, and rightly so. Andrew Roberts once argued that we should see the British Empire and the post-war U.S. as discrete entities, but merely as a benign Anglosphere hegemony which has been making the world a better, freer, safer place for four centuries.
It’s because we understand this that we are prepared to die so readily for our countries. We are part of a tradition that goes back to the birth of democracy at the Battle of Salamis when the Greek city states won their unlikely victory over the Persians. Better to die a free man than live a slave.
Listen to Delingpole’s discussion of America’s War of Independence with SiriusXM host Stephen K. Bannon on Breitbart News Daily’s Fourth of July Special: