H.L. Mencken (18801956). The American Language. 1921.
by Henry Cabot Lodge in his essay on Colonialism in America.1 Soon after the Treaty of Paris was signed, someone referred to the late struggle, in Franklins hearing, as the War for Independence. Say, rather, the War of the Revolution, said Franklin. The War for Independence is yet to be fought.
That struggle, adds Lossing, occurred, and that independence was won, by the Americans in the War of 1812.2 In the interval the new republic had passed through a period of Sturm und Drang whose gigantic perils and passions we have begun to forgeta period in which disaster ever menaced, and the foes within were no less bold and pertinacious than the foes without. Jefferson, perhaps, carried his fear of monocrats to the point of monomania, but under it there was undoubtedly a body of sound fact. The poor debtor class (including probably a majority of the veterans of the Revolution) had been fired by the facile doctrines of the French Revolution to demands which threatened the country with bankruptcy and anarchy, and the class of property-owners, in reaction, went far to the other extreme. On all sides, indeed, there flourished a strong British party, and particularly in New England, where the so-called codfish aristocracy (by no means extinct today) exhibited an undisguised Anglomania, and looked forward confidently to a rapprochement with the mother country.3 This Anglomania showed itself, not only in ceaseless political agitation, but also in an elaborate imitation of English manners. We have already seen how it even extended to the pronunciation of the language.
In our own time, with the renewal of the centuries-old struggle for power in Europe, there has been a revival of the old itch to take a hand, with results almost as menacing to the unity and security of the Republic as those visible when Washington voiced his warning. But in his day he seems to have been heard and heeded, and so colonialism gradually died out. The first sign of the dawn of a new national order came with the election of Thomas
Note 2. Benson J. Lossing: Our Country ; New York, 1879. [back]
Note 3. The thing went, indeed, far beyond mere hope. In 1812 a conspiracy was unearthed to separate New England from the republic and make it an English colony. The chief conspirator was one John Henry, who acted under the instructions of Sir John Craig, Governor-General of Canada. [back]