Washington`s Crossing by David Hackett Fischer
Please write your Name here
Please Type the title of the Course Here
Please type the name of your Instructor
June 6, 2012
In the editorial note of the much acclaimed book Washington`s Crossing McPherson (p. X) states that David Hackett Fischer`s narration of the book is more than a military campaign. The story presents major transformation that had undergone in the history of political and social context of western world. This gives a new perception to the book. McPherson in view of American Revolution states that it has pitted the fight of amateur army as a new form of independence and liberty for both British and Hessian professional armies which depict the older hierarchy of defence and discipline. However the triumph seemed to be inevitable until the Delaware was crossed by Washington. The stated outlook of McPherson accounting the anecdote as presented in the book further prompts to view the book from a different perception `The Revolution`.
Motivated from the outlook of McPherson this essay furthers to argue whether Fischer`s opinion of the anecdote was based on the perception of `revolution` with a broader outlook as a social and political conflict instead of just a confrontation.
Justification to this argument can be found in the studies of Marina (2012) who states that there is no event in the history being isolated of time and space just like “no man is an island”. Various ideas have been drawn out from American Revolution and presented infinite social conditions that described the past development and actions of many individuals from time to time within the transatlantic area. Furthermore it is also necessary to understand that the revolutionary American army has hardly seen a victory in 5-months till the end of the Delaware crossing.
As per the various arguments of the historians, the military force used by the Americans enabled them to continue the American Revolution against the British. In the book, `Washington`s Crossing` of David Hackett Fischer, who is one among the various historians explained that fighting is considered as the military dimension of political and social conflict which pits the `new order of liberty` against the `old order of hierarchy and discipline` (Fischer. 2004, p.449). However, the big question that remains to be answered is that can the events of the 18[th] century as presented by Fischer be considered as a revolution in the history of America? To gain a better understanding of this it is imperative to understand the concept of revolution.
Zagorin (1998), states that the revolution can be studied within the three distinct inquiry lines. The general or in-depth account of a particular revolution indicates the first line of inquiry. Either two or more revolutions being formally compared in order to expose the relationships within them are included under the second inquiry line then comes the third inquiry line which is theoretical through which the revolution theory is developed that explains the processes, causes as well as the effects indicating the kind of change. In furtherance Marina (2012) informs that any `symbolic event` for example Revolution when examined designate the events as `revolutions` and it all depends on our perception when actually such an event began and finally ends.
Considering the opinion of Zagorin and Marina this essay furthers to look at the chronological events of the 18[th] century anecdotes as presented by Fischer that focused on the commandership of Washington leading the American army against the British and the Hessain.
A war started among the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies on the North American continent and it was referred to as the American Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783) which is also called as the American War of Independence. This war turned into an international conflict because of the association of the foreign nations with the American colonists to fight against the Britain. The British rule has been deposed by the colonists and also this war resulted in the closure of the political American Revolution. Fischer views this as the Americans have decided to defend their country from the British as well as the Germans and this led to the huge changes in New England and also across the globe. From these opinions it can be understood that the events of revolution are the culmination of drastic changes. If the drastic change in the mid of the 18[th] century is the amalgamation of the thirteen American colonies the more imperative revolutionary is the event when Washington crossed Delaware.
Washington as discussed by Fischer (2004) takes the strong initiative and attempts to cross Delaware with an intention to defeat Hessian which has become successful during Christmas night i.e., on 26 December, 1776. A parade was carried out by the Cornwallis to retake Trenton but initially it was repulsed and then after it was outmaneuvered by Washington, who made a successful attempt at Princeton on January 3, 1777 in attacking the rearguard of the British. A moral enhancement to the American cause was shown by Washington that has entered the winter quarters of Morristown, at New Jersey.
Step by step victories were recorded by Washington over the British. According to the information of Zagorin, this chronology was considered as appropriate to the third line of revolution, though it is not explained in detail. According to Fischer, the cause, effect and process are all the three aspects which can be derived from the chronological events. Initially, the `cause` aspect can be obtained from the quest of Americans to attain independence from the British rule. Second aspect i.e. `process` which is the union of thirteen North American states to fight against the political and social freedom. Thirdly, `effect` aspect represents itself as the American army victory under the Washington`s commandership.
After the conflict the American army was on a rampage degrading the enemy soldiers. In this regard by taking the British lack of humanity into consideration Fischer argues that `the entire British army had been stripped bare of shoes and stockings`. The captured enemy (trained army) instead of complaining their conditions on the other hand simply followed instructions from the American fighters. However, the army men were reminded by Washington as men of freedom and liberty and states that the humanity rights to be equally executed on enemies. Thus Fischer goes on to not only ended the anecdote indicating the initial revolutionary fight against the British that ended up with their and the Germans defeat but also indicates lying of a strong foundation to free the Americans from their oppression. This is also a restoration of the freedom, humanity and liberty in the American society. In line with this, the states that took participation in this revolutionary war were able to develop a plan for the formation of the United States of America. It is necessary to understand that if the events aim at attaining certain goals especially with focus on social justice and injustice in the society then they can be referred to as the revolutionary. By keeping this in mind, the British leadership and army was distinguished by inhuman behaviors. It became imperative because inhuman behaviors raises the injustice and degrades the humanity in the society.
The opinion as put forward by Fischer gives a better understanding of what a revolution is. The content presented in a chronological order and structured way provides an understanding of the main role of the military intervention in developing the society wherein a political and social structure involves. This became imperative as the development of the society depends on the liberty and freedom of the people. It is necessary to know that if the people in the society were treated as good instead of treating them as slaves then discipline will be achieved in the society.
In conclusion, revolutionary refers to the events that led to get freedom for the American people in the second half of the 18[th] century. Due to various reasons it has referred to as the revolutionary. The prime reason was that people were severely suffered when they were under the control of British. Under such circumstances people became united and have taken initiatives to fight for the freedom never minding of their own lives. The only thing all the people kept in their mind was that at least their future generations must have freedom. So they fought for the existence of political and social structure in the society that would maintain liberty, freedom and humanity in the people. In other words, change in political and social structure must take place in the society.
In furtherance to this, as the fighting led by General Washington left a great impact in the society that lead to the attainment of United States independence it is termed as the revolutionary.
American Revolutionary War. “Online Library of Liberty – American Revolution as a People`s War.” A project of Liberty Fund, Inc. Accessed June 2, 2012. http://oll.libertyfund.org.
Fischer, D. H. Washington`s Crossing. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-517034-2, 2004
Marina, W. Revolution and Social Change: The American Revolution as a People`s War, Accessed June 2, 2012. http://oll.libertyfund.org
Zagorin, P. Francis Bacon, Princeton, published by N.J. Princeton University Press, ISBN: 0691059284, Accessed June 2, 2012. http://www.worldcat.org
Washington`s Crossing by David Hackett Fischer