Life in the Thirteen Colonies

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Did King George III ever set foot in the New World?

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George III never set foot in the New World. This exemplifies the gap between the Americans and the British in the eighteenth century. The two cultures had, over time, grown ever wider apart. This was perhaps inevitable, as new generations were born in the colonies who had never laid eyes...

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George III never set foot in the New World. This exemplifies the gap between the Americans and the British in the eighteenth century. The two cultures had, over time, grown ever wider apart. This was perhaps inevitable, as new generations were born in the colonies who had never laid eyes on Britain and whose parents and grandparents and even great grandparents had never set foot in England. An American identity formed that was distinct from the British.

As the divide between Great Britain and the colonies grew, it might have behooved George III to visit his discontented colonial subjects to listen to and try to understand their grievances. He had every reason to want to strengthen the ties between the two territories. His aloofness only heightened tensions between England and America.

Even after the Revolutionary War began, the king stayed distanced from it. Far gone were the days of King Henry V of England coming to France to himself lead his troops in battle against the French. George III handed the war effort off to less than stellar generals who hired Hessian mercenary troops to fight. Admittedly, George III had health problems and the trip across the ocean was not pleasant in those days, but had he taken a greater interest in getting to know his subjects or in leading the war effort, the outcome might have been different for his country.

The first British king to visit the United States was King George VI in June, 1939. By that time, the tables had turned. Britain was on the decline and badly needed the help of the United States in the war with Germany that everyone knew was coming very soon.

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