Review From Jonathan Boucher, A View of the Causes and Consequences of the American Revolution (1775)
The document provides the audience with the position of Jonathan Boucher regarding the situation in America as of 1775. Being an Anglican minister, Boucher was also known as one of the rampant loyalists who called for obedience, loyalty to the government, and the crown. In the thirteen discourses called A View of the Causes and Consequences of the American Revolution, Boucher expressed his thoughts and ideas regarding the appropriateness of the protest movements in America and the idea of the Revolution. He was against any manifestations of disobedience to the central power, and he considered revolutionists as a bunch of malcontents who had pursued their own goals.
It was a period of drastic changes in American social and political life. The revolutionary ideas crawled into the heads of masses due to the growing tension between the colony and the metropole1 It was a rather logical course of events when an oppressed colony wanted to get freedom and people around the minister shared similar ideals. However, Jonathan Boucher, being an intelligent and well-educated person, had a dogmatic way of thinking. He was a conservative person, who shared the ideals of Sir Robert Filmer, the creator of the theory according to which kings possessed the divine right for power.2 Boucher did not welcome the freedom of thoughts and actions the people in colonial America had. He was a supporter of the strict hierarchy in both the government and the church.
In A View of the Causes and Consequences of the American Revolution, Boucher states that “obedience to Government is every man’s duty because it is every man’s interest: but it is particularly incumbent to Christians … when Christians are disobedient to human ordinates, they are also disobedient to God”.3 He managed to create, define, and even justify the relationship between Christianity, the state, and the need to obey both unquestionably. In other words, Boucher states that a man should obey the state laws because God wants it to be so. That is why he had never seen the rationale in the American Revolution and opposed to it by any means. For Boucher, there were no issues that could have caused such a movement as Revolution4 All those people fighting for the constitutional rights and freedom were nothing more than a group of illegitimate populists who wanted to disrupt the existing state of things.
Boucher even addressed to the Greeks in the effort to connect the concept of liberty and the law. According to his words, Liberty was the daughter of Jupiter, “the supreme fountain of power and law”.5 He had no doubts about liberty was not possible without people who obey the law6 Such an approach is consistent with his views on the position of the state and church in people’s lives.
Jonathan Boucher was very consistent and persistent in his beliefs. It had made him leave the country in 1775 and get back to England, as he believed that his life was in danger. At the end of his career as a minister in America, Boucher even preached with loaded pistols somewhere around. He was afraid, and this fear could be understood, reading A View of the Causes and Consequences of the American Revolution. People of free America did not accept his postulates.
- Michael D. Clark, “Jonathan Boucher: The Mirror of Reaction,” Huntington Library Quarterly 33, no. 1 (1969): 19-32.
- James C. Spalding, “Loyalist as Royalist, Patriot as Puritan: The American Revolution as a Repetition of the English Civil Wars,” Church History 45, no. 3 (1976): 329-40.
- Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty! American History (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2013), 181.
- Robert G. Walker, “Jonathan Boucher: Champion of the Minority,” William and Mary Quarterly 2, no. 1 (January 1945): 3-14.