The British Vew

The recent British ambassador to Washington takes a generous-spirited but clear-eyed look at the document that, as he points out, owes its existence to King George III

The guest at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., leaves his car and is ushered through a comparatively modest, low-ceilinged entrance hall. The architect, Edwin Lutyens, wished to surprise him, for the entrance hall opens up into a magnificent double staircase that mounts toward the still more opulent reception rooms above, the central feature of which is a sixty-six-yard-long corridor. It is Lutyens’s equivalent of Beethoven’s transition to the finale of his C Minor Symphony. “Lovely corridors,” said a distinguished predecessor of mine, before my wife and I came.Read more »

The Fragile Memory

What really happened when Thomas Jefferson met George III

On March 17,1786, Thomas Jefferson, principal author of the Declaration of Independence, met his former sovereign. The occasion was George Ill’s levee, and it produced one of the most durable chestnuts in American history. The original, indeed the only source for what is supposed to have happened is Jefferson’s Autobiography , published thirty-five years after the event. Accepted as canon by successive generations of scholars, it has nonetheless received at intervals more than an ordinary number of embellishments.Read more »

The Revolution Continues

The bell is old and it is badly cracked and it has not been rung for years, nor will it ever be rung again. But although it is quite useless from a practical standpoint, it is perhaps the most prized possession we have. It carries words about proclaiming liberty to all the people, and when it spoke it set off long echoes that have never stopped reverberating.Read more »

England’s Vietnam: The American Revolution

A domino theory, distant wilderness warfare, the notion of “defensive enclaves,” hawks, doves, hired mercenaries, possible intervention by hostile powers, a Little trouble telling friendly natives from unfriendly—George III went through the whole routine

If it is true that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, America’s last three Presidents might have profited by examining the ghostly footsteps of America’s last king before pursuing their adventure in Vietnam. As the United States concludes a decade of war in Southeast Asia, it is worth recalling the time, two centuries ago, when Britain faced the same agonizing problems in America that we have met in Vietnam.Read more »

Our Last King

Cursed by ancestry,bedeviled by his posterity, beset by forces he could not grasp, George III is usually remembered as the ogre of Jefferson’s Declaration. An eminent English historian reassesses that strange and pathetic personality

Poor George III still gets a bad press. In their famous television talk in London, the Prime Minister of Great Britain suggested to the President of the United States that the kind of colonial policy associated with the name of George III still distorted the American view of the nature and function of the British Empire, and Mr. Eisenhower smilingly agreed. It is not surprising. Since Jefferson’s great philippic in the Declaration of Independence, few historians, English or American, have had many good words to say for him.Read more »