John Ferling’s, A Leap in the Dark, represents a detailed picture of the British perspective of the American Revolution. To understand why Great Britain lost the war historians have to analyze the events leading up to and immediately after the Seven Years war that created America’s new nation. It was then that we see the first attempts of trying to create a separation from the “mother country.” Through reading the first three chapters of Ferling’s book, there is a vivid picture painted of how Great Britain could not withstand the colonists. It is clear that the Parliament was dealing with many issues at the time and was not prepared to handle the fires in the colonies. Instead of properly responding to situations, they reacted which led to a war that obtained several mistakes and mishandling’s which ultimately ended in America’s victory.
During this time we see several nationalities including the Dutch, French and English who all inhabit the colonies trying to settle and escape religious persecution in other areas of the world. With these nationalities there are contrasts of opinion that the British were not prepared for. The colonists were created by these nationalities and represented a very different view than what has been established in Great Britain. These people were considered the rebels of the colonies that changed the pattern of law and created a new nation.
The Seven Years War left Great Britain in a great deal of debt. Despite the success of winning the war, Great Britain still had a loss of soldiers, funds and were left with out the means to properly train soldiers in the colonies. To fix this problem, Great Britain imposed taxes and unfair trading policies to help “pay back” the country’s losses during the prior war. This reaction led to problems within the colonies that left citizens poor and destitute. When the colonists revolted against the king and the British Parliament, the British were not equipped to handle what was faced before them. Instead of compromising and coming to an agreement, issues arose that led to war. Ferling points this out in chapter one of his book when he writes about the efforts made by Benjamin Franklin and the Albany plan. If the British Parliament could have agreed and compromised Ferling believes that the American Revolution may not have had occurred. Quoting Benjamin Franklin’s memoirs concerning the failure of the Albany plan, readers can clearly see how the revolution could have been prevented. “I am still of opinion it would have been happy for both sides of the water if it had been adopted. The colonies, so united, could have been sufficiently strong to have defended themselves; there would then have been no need of troops from England. London would neither have been driven deeply into debt by this war he added, nor would it have felt the necessity afterwords to tax the provinces, which helped trigger the American Revolution.”
Throughout the late 18th century the colonists were driven by the need for change. They were very prepared unlike Great Britain. An upsurge in violence had erupted and tensions were high. Again, the British soldiers were unequipped and not prepared to handle the growing number of rebel groups that were forming. They definitely were beginning to make their mark within the empire. Not only were the soldiers unprepared but the Parliament did not prepare for such a revolt. Ferling states that London was misguided in their thinking. “London had plotted nothing sinister, but had innocently blundered by thinking that the colonists would not object terribly to the duties.”
In summation, I believe that Great Britain was misguided, unprepared and did not fully have an understanding of the power of the colonists and their own preparation for change. Because of their unpreparedness, Great Britain reacted ineptly instead of properly responding which ultimately led to a new American nation.
John Ferling, A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003).