In his new book American Patriotism, American Protest: Social Movements Since the Sixties, Simon Hall argues that the modern America protest tradition, from the Civil Rights movement to the Tea Party, has always been driven by patriotism. Here is a taste of Hall’s recent article at the History News Network:
When William Barbee, a sixty-year-old electrical contractor from South Carolina attended a Tea Party rally in September 2010, he wore a frilly collar, burgundy breeches and an overcoat, along with stockings, garters and silver-buckled shoes. The entire outfit, which was topped off with a tricorner hat, cost him $400. According to the Wall Street Journal, retailers across America reported a run on all manner of colonial-era dress during 2010—there was even a modest comeback for the powdered wig (albeit synthetic versions). And while Barbee’s choice of costume might seem eccentric attire for a twenty-first century political demonstration, it was really just a particularly colorful example of a well-established tradition. Although they have not always displayed the same fondness for tricorner hats, Americans involved in numerous causes from across the political spectrum have invoked the founding fathers, cited the Declaration of Independence, and laid claim to America’s creed of liberty, freedom and equality. In short, patriotism has been at the heart of the modern American protest tradition.