Just War, Rebellion, and the American Revolution: John Keown and Modern Critiques on Whether the War of Independence was Just.
Part 32: Conclusion
By Leonard O. Goenaga
It is unfortunate that at times mankind must reasonably resort to war to secure real peace, but the alternative of tyranny proves itself untenable.1 As symbolized in the both the Great Seal of the United States and the appeal of the Olive Branch Petition, the new nation was born with peace as a predominant founding principle. The seal itself was not only made to symbolize the predominance of peace, but was also born out of the desire for peace. By 1782, America won its war for independence, and Britain was prepared to recognize the new nation. After six years of design and development, the Great Seal die was finally cut, and on September 16 in 1782, it was used by George Washington for negotiations and prisoner exchanges with Britain. With their sovereignty secured and tyranny suppressed, the American experience would produce a novel form of a constitutional republic. This new federalized and democratic system would see a degree of economic prosperity unrivaled in human history. Following in its footsteps would be an influx of democracies and the upheaval of colonial empires. Whereas in 1950 there existed 33 democracies that accounted for 31% of the world’s population, since the turn of the century over 120 of the 192 existing countries now have electoral democracies.2 Noticeably absent in the second half of the 20th century is a third world war, or bloodshed amounting anywhere near to the scale of early 20th century totalitarian and authoritarian regimes. If the Democratic Peace theorists are correct and the chance of resorting to conflict decreases when a nation is democratic, then one of the greatest achievements in advancing a real peace was bought by the blood a just rebellion.3 In addition to securing themselves against tyranny and advancing liberty, it is difficult to imagine such widespread democracy without the emulated model of the American government. Such questions are left to the realm of conjecture and omniscience, however one thing may be affirmed, that in accordance to the seven jus ad bellum principles, the American Revolution was just.
1 Benjamin Franklin to Jonathan Shipley, June 10, 1782: “After much occasion to consider the folly and mischiefs of a state of warfare, and the little or no advantage obtained even by those nations who have conducted it with the most success, I have been apt to think that there has never been, or ever will be, any such thing as a good war, or a bad peace.” <http://www.greatseal.com/symbols/olives.html>
2 Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible, 108-109. See “List of Electoral Democracies,” World Forum on Democracy, June 25-27, 2000. <www.fordemocracy.net/2007/electoral-democracies.html>
3 Bill Clinton, “1994 State Of The Union Address” in The Washington Post. (Retrieved 2006-01-22). “Ultimately, the best strategy to ensure our security and to build a durable peace is to support the advance of democracy elsewhere. Democracies don’t attack each other.”
The Moral Liberal Research Writer, Leonard O. Goenaga, is a Baptist Associate Pastor (assigned to the Youth) at Glory of God Christian Fellowship, Raleigh, North Carolina; a Mentor (Computer Lab/Technology) at the Wake Forest Boys & Girls Club; a husband (to Katrina); and rugby coach. He holds a B.A. in Political Science (with a specific concentration in Political Theory, Social Contract, and Constitutionalism), a second B.A. in Religious Studies (with a concentration in World Religions and Early Christianity), a Master of Divinity in Christian Ethics, and an A.A. in Entrepreneurship. He has begun Ph.D with a concentration likely centered on an analysis of Locke’s Social Contract, H.L.A. Hart’s Legal System, American Constitutionalism, and Baptist Ecclesiology of Covenant. Visit his website at Leonardooh.com