The Revolution in the Colonies and in Tractors

In this weekend episode, Victor Davis Hanson talks with cohost Sami Winc about the American Revolution and the history of tractors on the farm. He leads with a little more on the Trump indictment.

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33 thoughts on “The Revolution in the Colonies and in Tractors”

  1. I’m a farmer sitting in my air conditioned tractor cab, with the GPS system steering for me, listening to VDH’s podcast on Bluetooth and getting a big kick out of his misadventures on his farm. Love being able to learn history from ancient times to the history of farm tractors all in one podcast.

  2. I heard on a Great Courses lecture that Col. Washington had been at the meeting between the French and the Indians in which the Indians had turned on the French and killed some of them. This ignited the costly French/Indian war which in turn caused the British parliament to levy the unpopular Stamp Act in order to pay for it. This led to the Boston Tea Party and the Revolutionary War which Gen. Washington would later win.

  3. Another interesting connection: David Brown made tractors and high-end Aston Martin sports cars. For example the famous Aston Martin DB5 that was used in the early James Bond films (remember the cool ejection seat?).

  4. Wait. I just read in Bulgarian Military News that the US is ramping up its Javelin and Shell production. We’re not doing nothing. The Netherlands and Denmark are buying tanks for Ukraine. The British and the Europeans (tiny countries compared to us) are giving as much as we’re giving. The Eastern Europeans are giving higher percentages of their military budgets than we are while arming up themselves. Why are these facts never mentioned here? Russia is throwing their looted kitchen sinks at Ukraine. They’re forcing the issue whether we like it or not.

    If China is hinting that they’re willing to go nuclear over Taiwan, won’t you want us to save the money and fold? That’s the lesson your take on Ukraine points to.

    Finally, Bibi can’t be too worried about his weapon stocks if his government just authorized sales of Israeli tanks for the first time (article in Jerusalem Post).

    You’re focusing on a very narrow set of facts.

    Now on to the Revolutionary War and the good stuff!…

  5. On the Revolution: the English would have committed genocide if it was the Irish that rebelled; so race played a part. When France went after India, the key to the whole Empire, the English had to choose what they wanted to keep and India was essential. Heavily Torry colonies, like Connecticut were also able to cut deals that rendered their Torry populations innert (see Jane Deforest Shelton’s The Saltbox House for some funny anecdotes). A few bungled atrocities, like the burning of Fairfield CT, soured Torry sentiment.

    1. James,

      The British treatment of American POWs who were kept in horrific conditions aboard prisoner ships was tantamount to genocide.

      Just because the Irish failed to defeat the British in their fights for independence doesn’t mean the Americans were given kid glove treatment. All of the men who fought for American independence knew they would be hanged as traitors if the British were to win.

      I believe Lord North was both a Whig and a Tory.

      1. Very true, and good point, but there’s still a big difference between that and what Cromwell and Parliament did to the Irish a hundred years earlier, and the continued particularly oppressive (for the English)colonization of Ireland.

        1. P.s. to be more clear, it was the Patriot government of Connecticut that cut deals with the Torry inhabitants of the colony to keep them from actively supporting the British.

        2. Thomas O'Brien

          Cromwell, you say.

          I have an interesting story that shows how deep the hatred for him runs in Ireland among some to this very day. My daughter who graduated with her MBA from Trinity College, Dublin in 2015 (admittedly I am name dropping, but I am very proud of her) was living for about five years in the very small one pub village of Ardcath (most Irish have never heard of it) about 30 minutes south of Drogheda, the 1649 inital invasion site of this infamous man and his army.

          I was visiting her and had a commercial driver take me to Old Mellifont Abbey, founded by Saint Malachy in 1142 near Drogheda. I noticed that his name was Cromwell. I asked how that came about. The best he could say was that Cromwell, in spite of his Puritism, impregnated a lot of Irish women during his Irish campaign. (Interesting that they would take his name, I think). Still that was his name.

          He told me of an experience he had with an elderly Irish women that he was transporting. When she notice his name posted in his cab, as I did. She had him immediately pull over and leaped from his cab, saying that she will not ride with anyone named Cromwell.

          When I visited Ireland for the first time in September of 1965 I visited Trinity College, never imagining that my yet to be born child with the wife that I had yet to meet would be a graduate of that venerable institution.
          I climbed Nelson’s Pillar in Dublin six months before the IRA blew it up on the 50 anniv. of the Easter Rising.

          1. Awesome story! Poor fellow.

            You have every right to be proud. I’ve only been to Trinity to see the book of Kells. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Victor, I’m also Swedish/Norwegian, near your age; you were discussing slavery but I have never heard you discuss our ancestral slavery. My ancestors came to America to escape slavery; they were indentured servants, unable to own property, unless they happened to be the 1st born son. I have read letters from Swedes that immigrated to the southern U.S., stating that the black slaves were treated better than they were in Sweden.

    I also worked on my grandparents farm in western MN. Enjoyed the tractor discussion. I started driving tractors when I was nine years old to help my grandfather in the fields. I was continually warned about the power-take-off; stories were told of people getting caught in the PTO. My uncle attempted to clear the corn-picker & lost his hand, almost died. I drove the International Harvester & Allis-Chalmers with hand brakes. I also ended up with the tractor wheels pointing in the air when pulling down an old barn.

  7. Thank you Professor Hanson for your extraordinary insights from the American Revolution to early tractors and dangerous pesticide. Your talk was riveting. It’s breadth was amazing. Wishes for continued great success.

  8. Another interesting discussion. Thank you.
    As a kid of 12 after our haying, i helped neighbors with their haying operation. One still used horses but also had a John Deere A. His son was a pilot for United back then. We had 2 Farmalls and a 9N. Grandpa wanted a Minneapolis Moline but did not make a purchase. He always took me to the cattle auctions in Enumclaw. I always wanted a John Deere D or G. Still belong to the Cascade 2 Cylinder Club in the NW. Plow Days now are fun; back in the day, they were boring grinds, now not so much.

  9. Hi,

    The NAA Ford was introduced in 1953 not the 40s. The proper order for these tractors is 9n in 1939 you got that right 2n in 1942 8n in 1948. n number matches year of introduction. Easy to keep track of what came when. After the NAA came the 100 series.

    I grew up on 8ns and a 1955 NAA. Plus Farmall Case LA Minneapolis Moline z. I’ve had row crop tractors rear up on me a couple times – react fast on the clutch or else… What is spookier is almost being thrown off a row crop case tractor cutting hay with a 6 ft sickle bar mower. If the sickle bar hits a thick patch of grass or a bunch of vetch the front of the tractor turns right immediately as the sickle bar stops the tractor but the tractor tries to keep going hence the immediate right turn as the front tires slide right. You can get thrown off to the left if your not alert.

    And yes ptos are very dangerous. One other note I’ve had a battery explode on a tractor. Battery acid showers are really hard on clothes. No harm to me though luckily.

    I Enjoy the stories ..


  10. Is it just me? Does anyone else find it strange how Victor described the British in the revolution? First thing he said was the colonies were lucky their master was less brutal than the Russian and the French.

    So, I was expecting a follow up to tell us if it was the Russian or the French how they would have massacred the colonists and put an end to the rebellion. But he never backed up his claim.

    I was thinking to myself. The Left claimed our country was illegit from its founding. The historian claimed our founding was lucky due to the benevolence of its master, not due to the colonists’ greatness. If I believe Victor, then I have to conclude America is only an extension of the British. That really makes me sad. I thought we were exceptional. We were different. We escape the old world, to build a new one. And the historian is telling us that we are lucky that our founders were not killed like dogs only because their master was kind.

  11. Thomas O'Brien

    A bit more on the IRA blowing up the Pillar.

    When the IRA did it in the dead of night they did not break a single window on O’Connell Street, the main drag of Dublin. But they did leave about 2/3 of the pedestal still standing that Nelson’s bust and the viewing platform was supported by. (When I went up in ’65 there was an interior spiral staircase and it cost 6 pence to ascend. The money supported Irish hospitals.)

    So to finish the job, the Irish Army was given the job to blow up the remaining pedestal. When they did windows up and down O’Connell street were shattered. True story. The IRA’s bombing expertise far exceeded that of the Army. The Irish find great amusement in this ineptness.

    For recent visitors to Dublin, Nelson’s Pillar is on the same site as the present day spire.

        1. Thomas O'Brien

          James, I am sometimes embarrassed how many typos get by me during my initial proofreading prior to posting. Often it seems there is a “stowaway” or two that doesn’t get detected by me until I have posted. Usually, I just ignore it. But this incorrect tense one I found just too glaring.

          In spite of all this I continue to post, though. I figure we are sharing thoughts and views and grammar is secondary. At least that is how I rationalize it. I love this site. It is a wonderful outlet that allows me to vent on things I find important, and in turn my family, friends and acquaintances are spared somewhat. The thoughtful, knowledgeable comments written by so many are impressive.

          Most I believe share my view that our country is on a non-sustainable trajectory.
          Politics is compelling for me. Most that I know are not as fixated on it, as I. Fortunately, it doesn’t not make me emotionally upset to discuss it, as it does some people. I post and I pray that our country will again become the world leader and example (i.e., the “Shining City on the Hill”) to the rest of the world it once was.

    1. The IRA wasn’t nearly as precise and careful during the Bloody Friday, Enniskillen, and Omagh bombings.

      Scores of innocent men, women, and children (including Catholics) were murdered and maimed.

      And for what?

      1. Thomas O'Brien

        I grew up in a household when the “Troubles” referred to the times Between the 1916 Rising and Ireland gaining a Free State status. Back then things were cleaner; there was no drug running. Patriotism was the driving force of the rebels.

        But even then its leader, Michael Collin’s (Ireland’s George Washington, I would say), strategy was to frustrate the Brits so much with his guerrilla warfare tactics he against them that they would lash out indiscriminately against innocent Irish citizens. By doing so, he would gain their loyalty to the Irish fight for freedom. His strategy worked.

        I have family connections to counties Clare and Cork; none in the North. I did not follow the “Troubles” that began there in the late ’60’s, closely. My family and I spent a little time in the North in 2000, not long after the Omagh bombing. It is a very different culture from the Republic, as a result of what they have lived through these last one hundred years.

        During the Troubles in the North the IRA with its splinter groups, drug running, and intimidation of its own was more of a cartel, I am told by Irish that were close to the situation. This was not the case in 1916 – 1922.

        1. Thomas,

          I have relatives in the North of Ireland, as my adoptive father was born and raised in Belfast. He said that life for Catholics used to be similar to that of Blacks in the Jim Crow South. There was institutionalized discrimination in employment, education, and housing which meant “Catholics were nothing more than second-class citizens.” He particularly remembered the brutality of the RUC Special B’s who were basically a part-time protestant goon squad.

          Even though six of the industrialized northern counties of Ulster voted in 1918 to remain within the United Kingdom the modern day “Troubles” didn’t start until the 1960s. My father remembered the Stormont Union Jack flying at half-mast after Pope John XXIII died in 1963. He said all was calm til someone decided to hang an Irish Tricolor in a shop window which was later attacked. But the real spark to the Troubles would come a few years later.

          What I find interesting is that the original catholic civil rights movement was peaceful and modeled itself on Martin Luther King Jr. and the contemporary black civil rights movement. That changed after Bloody Sunday in January of 1972 when British soldiers panicked after hearing what they said sounded like gunshots and killed 15 peaceful protesters. The radical Provisional IRA then took over and retaliated six months later with Bloody Friday which killed 9 people and injured 130.

          I guess we’ll never know what could’ve been achieved had cooler heads prevailed.

      2. Very true. 800 years of oppression, Marxism, retaliation for Protestant militia atrocities, and hiring thugs because they’ll fight makes for a volatile cocktail. I’m glad the Easter Accords have held for this long and look to keep holding.

  12. James,

    I used to hear that “800 years of oppression” whataboutism quite a bit from my former Irish-American in-laws. They loved to romanticize the Troubles as some cheap morality tale and proudly gave money to NorAid. What they never realized was that the IRA and its protestant counterparts were “the enemies of peace” and not solution to the problem.

    1. Thomas O'Brien

      James although the 800 years you refer to is technically correct, the majority of this time was under direct Catholic, Norman rule, and in many areas of Ireland they had only nominal rule.

      I am sure that you heard the often quoted statement by Irish historians that the “Normans were more Irish than the Irish themselves”. The proud Irish names such as Burke, Barry and any name with a Fitz in front of it (except Fitzpatrick) are all of Norman (12 century invaders from Normany, France) origin. There are many other names to boot.

      The nasty brute that changed things and truly brought on the oppression was Henry VIII in the 16th century. The Normans were knocked off their perch by him.

      I know this is nothing new to you and Ron, I only mention for the wider readership.

    2. Sorry it took so long to reply, I’ve been sick. I should have put the 800 years in scare quotes, as that’s how it’s meant. You and O’Brien can talk this out. My ties to the old country are strong, but not as strong as you two, so I’ll sit back and listen and learn.

  13. Oh, it must be so romantic
    When the fighting’s over there
    And there passing round the shamrock
    And you’re all filled up with tears
    “For the love of dear old Ireland”
    That you’ve never even seen
    You throw in twenty dollars
    And sing “Wearing of the Green”

    Each dollar a bullet
    Each victim someone’s son
    And Americans kill Irishmen
    As surely
    As if they fired the gun

    Now you’ve never stood on Belfast’s streets
    And heard the bombs explode
    Or hid beneath the blankets
    When there’s riots down the road
    Now you’ve never had your best friend die
    Or lost a favorite son
    But you’ll stand there and tell us
    Just what we’re doing wrong

    Each false word a bullet
    Each victim someone’s son
    And Englishmen kill Irishmen
    As surely
    As if they fired the gun

    From the minute that you’re born you’re told
    To hate the other side
    “They’re not like us, they’re not the same
    We know because we’re right”
    But can’t you see we’re all the same
    There is no right and wrong
    Why can’t we stop and realize
    Just what we’re doing wrong
    We’ve hated too much for too long

    Each old lie a bullet
    Each victim’s someone’s son
    And Irishmen kill Irishmen
    As surely
    As if they fired the gun

    How can you convince yourself
    That what you do is right
    When people are dying there
    Night after night
    Don’t you ever wonder
    Why it still goes on?
    The hopes and fears and all the tears
    Are buried in your ground
    Buried in your ground

    Each rumor a bullet
    Each victim’s someone’s son
    And careless talk kills Irishmen
    As surely
    As if words..

  14. fired the gun

    Well it’s lasted so long now
    And so many have died
    It’s such a part of my own life
    Yet it leaves me mystified
    How a people so intelligent
    Friendly, kind, and brave
    Can throw themselves so willingly
    Into an open grave

    Each new day a bullet
    Each victim someone’s son
    And ignorance kills Irishmen
    As surely
    As if we fired the gun

    Each Dollar a Bullet
    Stiff Little Fingers

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