The “special relationship”

From the England Calling blog:

 There is a special relationship between England and America but it is not the one beloved of politicians. The special  relationship is one of history and culture. American culture is an evolved Englishness, much added to superficially but  still remarkably and recognisably English.”

The quote above is from a piece on that blog entitled Ultimately the USA is the child of England: no England, no United States.

Obviously I agree with that sentiment, because that is the gist of what this blog is meant to impart, and it’s only necessary to do so (though it shouldn’t be) because the current view of history is one that tries to diminish or deny the English origins of America.

As to the “special relationship” between England (or the United Kingdom) and the USA, unfortunately that phrase has been invoked in recent years only to refer to some kind of ideological kinship or agreement on principles between the two countries. We heard it invoked by Tony Blair and George Bush during the early days of the Iraq War. For some of us, that whole episode is best not spoken of. But the quote at the top of this post is right: the ‘special relationship’ is one of history, language, and culture. I would add: at least at the inception of this country, a relationship of blood.

The current administration made quite a point, in its early days, of repudiating, in act if not in word, the ‘special relationship.’ And not surprisingly. As fewer and fewer people of English descent have any real power in any branch of government.

I know that there is a certain type of American who bristles at any mention of our owing a cultural or historical debt to England, and usually this is because the offended person was brought up with a skewed view of history in which the English were seen not as our cousins, our kinsmen, but as some kind of foreign occupying power, and as our oppressors, as enemies of ”freedom” and “liberty”. In fact our very conception of liberty is one that developed in England and was transplanted to this country.

The first ten amendments which form  the American Bill of Rights draw their inspiration from the English Bill of Rights granted by William of Orange. The  American Revolution was conducted by men whose whole thought was in the English political tradition.”

Another kind of American objects to the statement that America is the offspring of England by saying that ”this is a nation of immigrants and most of us are descended from immigrants from other countries, therefore we outnumber the descendants of the colonists” or ”more Germans (or Scots-Irish, depending on the objecting person’s ancestry) settled here than English people. Did you know German almost became our official language?” But there is an objective truth at stake here, and other ethnic groups tend to take it as personal attack if anyone cites the English roots of this country.

As for the ethnic makeup of early America, the writer says

The English were the numerically dominant settlers from the Jamestown settlement in 1607 until the Revolution. Moreover, and this is the vital matter, they were overwhelmingly the dominant settlers for the first one hundred years. Even in 1776 English descended settlers formed, according to the historical section of the American Bureau of Census, nearly sixty percent of the population and the majority of the rest of the white population was from the non-English parts of Britain.”

Yes, and natural increase alone, in the early days of the colonies up to independence, meant that the original stock had multiplied impressively, having very large families as a rule. They may have been few in number, those early colonists, but more arrived and population increased without the ”benefit” of mass immigration, which did not in fact happen until the 19th century on any scale.

I do encourage reading the whole blog piece linked above. In fact the blog England Calling is a very good resource for anyone who is interested in the theme of this blog, or even of the early history of America, and the England-America connection.

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