GaspeeVirtual Archives
Terrorism and the Gaspee Incident
Files from a discussion group "As Maine Goes"
<>   (stale link 2009)
Posted as a (slightly edited) example of philosophical web discussions
FJH:  The difficult thing about all of this for most of us on AMG, is that we rely on a Constitution which was forged by revolutionaries and guerrilla warriors and, yes, terrorists. That is the history of America. What do we do when it is an Arab patriot who cries out "GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH" or "LIVE FREE OR DIE"?
Revenge is N O T the answer; justice is. But exactly how do we achieve that sense of justice in a situation where we bear so much guilt in creating the grievances that spawned it?
James:  FJH, You shock me. The American revolutionaries did not commit wanton acts of violence on innocent civilians. They never went to London to overthrow HRM's government and established order. They simply fought for independence on their own soil. That is a big difference. Your version is disgusting.
Wingman:  FJH, in answer to your question, I recommend carpet bombing the SOB's.
FJH:  You're a wimp, James. Nuke 'em, double nuke 'em. Triple nuke 'em. Yeh, dat's it!
FJH:  Oops...I reread the post. what I had mean't to say is that the American Revolution was regarded as a terrorist movement by the British Government, and we, to a large extent, are viewed by many in the Arab world as being in the same position of the British Government.

For example, one major act of 'terrorism' was the burning of H.M.S. Gaspee by a group of Rhode Islanders on June 9-10, 1772. The Gaspee incident is justly famous as a major event leading to the American Revolution.  It is a much discussed act--note the date, that inflamed the British and united colonists.

Then there are the accounts of people who sided with Britain and were driven out of the U.S. to Canada. Large portions of maritime Canada and the St. Lawrence Valley were settled by these refuges. The accounts of the 'terror' they endured are easily found in libraries in cities like Kingston, Ontario.

This is an illustration of how the British used definitions of TERROR. It is writen by a contemporary Tamil Tiger who draws inspiration from the American Revolution:

States, Dissidents, And the British Terrorism Law

by Francis Marion

On the 24th April last year a direct descendant of Francis Marion wrote to the Ilankai Tamil Sangam, USA. Francis Marion was a distinguished war-hero in the American Revolutionary war. He was nicknamed the ‘Swamp Fox’ by the British, because of his elusive tactics; they just couldn’t catch him.
This writer said:

“Congratulations on your Fine Victory at Elephant Pass and your excellent web page. As an American raised on the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence I can't help rooting for the LTTE.  If the Tigers are ‘Terrorists’ then so were George Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and, of course my Great Great Uncle, Francis Marion (aka The Swamp Fox).

The government of the United Kingdom, which has now designated the LTTE as terrorists, had also smeared George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Francis Marion, with the same brush. In fact, back in 1776, all fifty-six leaders of the American Revolution were branded, and Britain wanted them ‘dead or alive.’ Their crime: they signed the American Declaration of Independence.

My point is that states have always used the definition of terrorism to eliminate rebellous groups. We have to be careful not to revisit our own history, only with the roles reversed!
FJH: Your so-called logic eludes me. The Colonial America situation involved a group of people who were subjects to the government that they wanted to leave and that government had colonized America. Exactly where is the United States colonizing in the Middle East or central Asia? How long have these terrorists been subjects of the United States government?
AID:  The American Revolutionaries were regarded by the British as terrorists, and all you have to do is check a few dozen histories of the period to see that. You don't have to go far into the literature in the Arab world to see why Muslim fundamentalism has spread through most of the Mid-East and their view of the U.S. is one of occupier.
Jon R:  Remember that the American revolutionaries were in the minority in the colonies, said to be at most 1/3 of the population. Another thing forgotten is that there were riots on the streets of London and a split in cabinet over the handling of the American insurgents.

Originally Posted to Gaspee Virtual Archives 12/2001    Last Revised 07/2009    Terrorism.html