book report: Seeds of Discontent by J. Revell Carr

I picked up Seeds of Discontent: The Deep Roots of the American Revolution 1650-1750 in the new releases section of my local library and was intrigued by my gap in knowledge of this time and by the author's association with a local museum, the Mystic Seaport. I can never find the books in my Amazon wish list but I can usually find something new and interesting and all the history books promise NEW and PARADIGM SHIFTING insights between their covers. This book was more modest. It's byline is "A narrative history of the largely unexplored events - starting more than a century before - that paved the road to the American Revolution." I don't think my public schooling included much more information than what can be learned from Schoolhouse Rock in 2 minutes.

As a Christian who believes rebellion against our government leaders is only allowed in the most egregious situations, I did not have much sympathy for people who felt they were overtaxed. However, this book shows the blood and debt the Americans either volunteered or were impressed into on behalf of England and its many wars with its neighbors. Recompense usually favored English proper over English North American. As the colonies foundered in their own debt from expeditions against the French at Cape Breton, economic reimbursement from England never materialized. Then when England wanted the Americans to pay for the delivery from the French that the Americans had already accomplished 25 years before but forsaken by the English in the peace treaty, the insult was severe and heavy.

I am so glad I read beforehand A Great and Noble Scheme by John Mack Faragher, reviewed in 6 parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. It provides an Acadian perspective on the love-hate relationship they had with the New Englanders. This history read quickly. I didn't dog ear many pages because little jumped out at me. The two paragraphs of interest to me were less about the lead up to the American Revolution and more about life in the 1700's.

This one interested me because I hadn't heard of piquet construction before.
Most of the fishermen lived in simple homes with garden plots outside the walls of the city along the three miles of harbor shoreline that stretched west from the Dauphin Gate [of Louisbourg on Cape Breton] along the most densely populated "suburb," known as the fauxbourg, then northeast to the upper reaches of the harbor. Their homes were usually of piquet contruction, which consisted of walls formed by standing small posts upright, side by side in a trench, and then chinkind the space between the psots with clay and straw. A cost of lime and mortar sealsd te outside with a smooth white surface. The houses were made weather tight by a sod, thatched, or shingled roof. This simple construction style was also found within the walls of the fortress, as homes for the lowere classes or utilitarian outbuildings of the more well-to-do. p.124

I also was intrigued by the rum consumption in America.
Distillers throughout the colonies used molasses to make rum, which was consumed at the astonishing rate of four gallons a year for every man, woman, and child in the colonies. Assuming that the consumption by females and children was substantially less that of men, it was clearly an imprtant aspect of live for the men in the colonies. Distilleries exported over one million gallons per year in addition to local consumption, so the commodity had a serious impact on the balance of trade. To force the colonial distillers to give up their inexpensive Spanish, French, and Dutch molasses and purchse the British variety, a huge tariff was imposed on foreign molasses through the Molasses Act of 1733. p.138
At first I thought, that is a lot of liquor. Then I thought, I probably drank that much alcohol per year in college; that's not so much. Additionally, they didn't always have clean water and adding alcohol to every beverage kept the wife and kids healthy, if not a little tipsy.

This was a great read and I highly recommend it.


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