Whom would the UN have supported during the American Revolution?

If there had been something similar to the UN (and we might have to make sure England didn’t have veto power in it) which side would they have taken?

The colonies had a list of grievances, but would any of them have been considered a “crime against humanity?” Would the UN back the colony trying to break away from its ruling country, or would they try to help a UN member put down a rebellion?

My guess is they would have looked on (perhaps ‘with alarm’) and let it thrash itself out. And certainly any UN of it’s time would have included the UK on it’s inner UNSC, since it was one of the most powerful countries and would have had to be instrumental in it.

I don’t see how anything the English did in the colonies (at least before the fighting started) could be seriously considered a ‘crime against humanity’ though.


In realpolitik terms think it would depend on who the member countries were and what was their relationship with England. In other terms I don’t think that the UN would interfere one way or the other. The only times that the UN appears to get involved in domestic affairs is if there is a serious human rights crisis; something which really didn’t happen in the American revolution. It’s possible, but still unlikely, that they could have tried to be a moderating influence on the French revolution, by acting to protect the aristocracy from the reign of terror.

England and France would both have been on the security council, and one or the other would have vetoed just about everything (much like, during the Cold War, either the US or Russia vetoed everything). England would have vetoed any action against England, of course, and France would have vetoed any action against the colonists.

I’m an American, but I’ve never found the arguments for the Revolution terribly compelling. Taxation was modest and paid for very real services (principally defense), and if we weren’t represented in Parliament - well, nor were most other Englishmen. And unlike most, we had powerful local legislatures.

I would almost certainly not have supported the rebels, and I hope the UN wouldn’t have.

A theoretical 1776 UN would have had Great Britain on its security council, along with France, Spain, the United Provinces, and the Habsburg Empire. If it was somehow a global organization, you could add the Manchu Empire, the Maratha Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Russian Empire.

How would they have reacted? On the one hand, you’ll note that eight of these nine powers are hereditary monarchies - not a lot of love for revolutionaries there. On the other hand, four of these countries were not friendly to Great Britain (the Marathas were in fact at war with Britain in 1776) and even the others would have been happy to see Britain’s power reduced.

I agree. Compared to situations like we have in Libya or Iran, we Colonists had it pretty damn good. I can’t imagine and 18th Century UN weighing in on the side of the Americans. We got France to back us not because they wanted to prevent a slaughter of Americans by the British, but because they hoped there would be a slaughter of the British by the Americans.

Colonies were still being established all over the world by the Great European Powers, and it just wouldn’t do to sanction a break-away set of colonies like 13 colonies that became the USA.

I think it’s worth pointing out that several world powers did intervene on behalf of the Rebels. France, Spain, and the Netherlands all went to war with Britain during the American Revolution. Now, they had self serving reasons, but you could argue that promoting revolution in Libya is beneficial in the long term to the powers intervening in Libya today. If there was some sort of council of nations, why would we assume that the French, Spanish, or Dutch would act any differently. Although Britain having veto power is a possibility that the 18th century UN couldn’t officially proclaim any support.

Is that the same kind of “defense” the mafia offers? Turns out we didn’t need their stinkin’ defense.

In reality, America rebelled because we were big enough and wealthy enough to govern ourselves, and we didn’t want to fight the same wars as England. The list of grievances in reality just boiled down to “we have our own governments, or own militaries, and our own public services, so what the fuck are we paying you guys for?”

Of course we didn’t need their defense in 1776 - the war was over. The United Kingdom had defeated France and made America safe. Then they asked Americans to pay part of the debt from that war, which wasn’t really an unreasonable request.

America and England were growing apart and no longer had enough common interests to bind them under a single government.

But I think the biggest mistake Parliament made was failing to co-opt the American upper class. They should have given people like Washington, Adams, and Jefferson peerages and seats in parliament. Instead they were not only shut out from having any role in London but even in America all of the top jobs went to people sent over from England. American leaders saw themselves being regarded as second-class citizens in their own homeland.

Random question, how much does the UN do as far as mediating disputes? Would they have even recognized the colonies as a new “country” that could mediate?

Has the UN worked on things like this before (rebellions), or is the Libya situation a new challenge to work out? If it’s not new, how have they ended up in the past?

If the hypothetical UN during the American revolution had the same priorities as it does today then it would attempt to intercede on behalf of the colonists (as pointed out, however, GB would try to block any action). The one legitimate complaint the colonists had was that they had no direct representation in the British government. I can easily see today’s UN trying to negotiate a settlement that gave the colonists representation.

Even on that issue it would be a thin case. In 1776, a lot of Britons didn’t have representation in Parliament. Parliamentary representation had been established centuries earlier and not kept up to date. A small village of twenty people might have an MP while a large modern city of 10,000 would not.

Parliament responded to this with the concept of “virtual representation”. The idea was that every Member of Parliament was supposed to represent not just the people who had sent him to Parliament but all of Britain and, by extension, everyone throughout the British Empire.

I disagree that it would be a thin case. The US colonies were ruled by governors appointed by the Crown and the Townsend Acts attempted to make them less dependent on colonial funding. (Let me add that I think the taxes implemented by the Crown were mostly justified; it was the lack of representation that gave the colonies a valid beef.)

Even so this seems like a week argument. Any fake representative government could pretend to have virtual representation.

[QUOTE=Deeg;13602204(Let me add that I think the taxes implemented by the Crown were mostly justified; it was the lack of representation that gave the colonies a valid beef.)[/QUOTE]

Yeah, some of them were just plain crappy. Like the Indemnity and Revenue Acts, which repealed the tax on tea imported to England. According to Wiki, “This tax cut in England would be partially offset by the new Revenue Act taxes on tea in the colonies.” Ouch.

I wonder how many contries now have some form of direct representation. Anyone know?