- - Thursday, February 9, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In terms of historical contrast, the division and opposition Donald Trump faces as president hardly measure up to the challenges George Washington faced during and even after the War of Independence. The issue of independence from Britain was by no means unanimously supported, and it proved highly divisive in all 13 of the original states. Indeed, 80,000 loyalists who rejected independence left the fledgling country during or after the war. Patriot communities went about forcing people on pain of punishment and confiscation of property to swear allegiance to the United States.

As one historian has quipped, one-third of Americans supported Washington, one-third remained loyal to Britain and one-third were out to lunch.

Under those circumstances Washington had great difficulty in mounting a military challenge to the British forces, who were mostly German mercenaries. With poorly equipped, ill-trained men, he endured desertion, defeat and intrigue. Several of the 13 colonies, including New York, Georgia and the Carolinas, were actually occupied by the British. But Washington survived and profited from British mistakes and the loss of political will to emerge triumphant in 1781.

Even right up to the eve of Washington’s taking office as president, unity was not a given among the new federal states. At least President Trump has the support of almost half those who voted in the November election. He also has the support of a party that controls both houses of Congress. And as time goes by and protest fatigue sets in among his vociferous detractors, more and more people will appreciate that Mr. Trump’s fight for the sovereignty of the United States in terms of trade, jobs and right of entry is constitutionally, politically and historically correct.

DUNCAN DU BOIS

Durban, South Africa

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