We still have a United Kingdom. For the last month, the talk around the lunch table would usually make its way to the topic of Scottish Independence. An American would ask the Scot, “Are you going to vote yes?” Then the English at the table would chime in. That would be followed by the Welsh who would shake their heads and try to get in the last word before it was time to go back to class.
I tried to stay out of the discussion. I had no right to voice an opinion. I’m American. The vote had no direct effect on me. But I have to say, I did enjoy the drama that the vote created. To think, after all these years, Scotland would break away and form their own independent country.
The American colonists never got to vote on a referendum for independence. They were angry that for years they had been given no say in the laws that governed them. They were frustrated with the ridiculous taxes placed on them to pay for Britain’s wars around the world.
After the Boston Massacre in 1770, there may have been talk of revolution, but only a few crazy Patriots were crying for a break from the Mother country.
At the 1st Continental Congress in 1774, the delegates from 12 colonies (Georgia chose to stay home) met to discuss the current crisis of the Intolerable Acts. The Conservatives showed up to discuss how to mend the broken relationship with Britain.
The moderates were looking for a way to retain their rights as British citizens and force the crown to allow them to be represented in Parliament. They wanted to be able to consent to the laws that ruled them.
Even though the Radical Patriots were looking to become a self-governed country, they still intended to remain British. They wanted to retain the protection of the British crown.
By 1775, things were getting a bit more violent. British troops were occupying key ports. The colonists had seized military stores of weapons. The Battle of Bunker Hill and the Battle of Lexington-Concord showed the British that the colonists were serious about wanting their rights.
When the 2nd Continental Congress convened the American Revolution had begun. The 13 Colonies all had their own provisional governments in place. Yet statistics show that only 40 per cent of the public wanted their independence from Great Britain. 20 per cent were Loyalists and the rest were probably trying to remain neutral. Or it is possible that they did not want to voice their opinion for fear of being ostracized by their neighbors.
If the colonists were allowed to vote on a referendum, would the United States still be British? It is difficult to say. But by July 1776, the Continental Congress had given up on diplomacy. They risked their lives, placed their names on the dotted line, and declared the United States an independent country.
What does the failed referendum mean for Scotland? Will they rise up in a massive revolt? Probably not. Hopefully it means that the British Parliament will start to hear the voices of all of its members, and not just the ones that live in London.
What did you think of the vote?