In 1776, America declared independence from the British. But what was the reason behind it? and how it happened? In the earlier post, we discussed the industrial revolution and renaissance created a new world order, which came in conflict with the old order and this gave rise to revolutions.
Here in the post, we will discuss what is the American revolution. What were the causes of the American revolution, events that lead to revolution, the American war of independence? Finally outcome and its impact.
If the industrial revolution led to an economic revolution in the world then the American Revolution become the cause for political revolution in the world.
What is the American Revolution?
13 colonies came together to revolt against mercantilism and British exploitation. Eventually, it led to the birth of the United States of America and new political order. It promoted modern political values such as constitution, republic, rights and equality (kind of).
WATCH: American Revolution in 8 Minutes
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Causes of the American Revolution?
- Policy of Settlement: In the beginning of 17th century Queen Elizabeth followed the official policy of settlement in North America. Britain provided protection and patronage to the colonies.
- Mercantilism: It basically means regulation of wealth. That is promoting export and limiting imports. Britain practiced an economic policy of mercantilism which led to the exploitation of Americans.
- Navigation Law of 1651: It was compulsory for the American ships to come to British ports before leaving to other ports of the world.
- EXIM Policy: Britain maintained a monopoly over export of potato, tobocco, cotton etc. this products could only be exported to Britain.
- Industrial Policy: Colonies were forbidden to establish big industries such as iron industry or the coal industry.
The purpose was to keep America weak and exploit it as much as possible.
- Gentlemen’s resolution: In 1689 British Parliament passed a resolution stating tax paying section will be given representation in the parliament.
- Sugar Tax and Stamp Duty: Britain emerged victorious in 7 Years War but became a victim of the financial crisis. So they taxed American colonies.
Americans raised the issue of Gentlemen’s resolution. This created political rift between America and Britain.
North America, especially the US due to the above specific reasons became land of opportunity for Europeans and this became the reason for large scale migration from Europe to America. This migration created a unique social structure in America, whose important features were;
- Diversified American society was a diverse society and more liberal than the UK. People from various nationalities and section came to America and made their home. Also, the American population had less affection with motherland as most of the population was of Rebels, refugees or offenders.
- Detached: 17th-century generation which came in America was attached to their motherland but for a new generation, especially the generations of the 18th century, for them America was their motherland.
- The dynamism of society which was evident when, within a short span of time that is 100 years, the new settlers in America turned their land into the area of production and plantation. Also producing philosophers, thinkers and scientist etc.
- The dissatisfaction of American people as Britain considered them secondary and fruits of their labour enjoyed by Britain.
Role of Intellectual
When the society suffers intellectual class shows them the way.
- Thomas Paine: He published Common Sense Pamphlet. Here he explained the true character of Britain and how they are exploiting America.
- Benjamin Franklin: Organised Philosophical Society of America which had branches in different parts of America. The goal of this society was to awaken the people.
- Henry Patrick said –> Give me death or independence.
British defeated French in seven years of war but the war left Britain in debt. Britain decided to share the financial crisis with
Timeline of Events
- Jamestown: In 1607, 105 colonists from Britain established their first permanent home in Jamestown, North America.
- 100 years Later: 1.7 Million people of European descendent were living in North America.
- 7 Years War: Britain won but was heavily in debt and wanted to share the burden with the American colony.
- Granville Policy: Britain imposed new taxes on America like stamp duty, sugar duty etc. Also, it imposed old restrictions on America like the Navigation Act of 1657.
- No taxation without representation: Now Americans were upset. America immediately took up the issue of English Man’s revolution of 1689. According to English man resolution, the taxpaying section was to be given representation in the British Parliament. Americans took up this issue and gave the slogan of no taxation without representation.
- Sons of Liberty and Daughters of Liberty: Along with this they also found an organisation like sons of Liberty and daughters of liberty which started picketing stamp vendors and burned down the stamps.
- Rocking-ham Declaration: Britain abolished stamp duty but iterated they had the right to impose a tax on colonies.
- Townshend Plan: This plan placed new duties on paper, paint, lead, glass, and tea. These items were imported into the American colonies. Colonist refused to pay.
- Boston Massacre: Britain unhappy with colony not paying tax. In such circumstances, Samuel Adams leads a protest in Boston. In March 1770, a skirmish between a Redcoat and a Civilian attracted a crowd. It grew violent and Redcoats killed 5 colonists in the Boston Massacre.
- Lord North’s Tea Policy: In 1773, Lord North allowed the British to sell tea to the colonists at a reduced rate but maintained the right to tax. It destroyed the local businesses of tea merchants.
- Boston Tea Party: On December 16, 1773, Samuel Adams with his followers enters Boston Port and threw tea containers into Atlantic.
War and the Struggle for Independence
- Patriots: Colonists who supported independence
- Loyalist: Those who remained loyal to Britain
- First Continental Congress: In Philadelphia 1774. Representatives of colonies meet to decide fate. Defended their rights against taxes and self-defence. Protested British interference in American Affairs
- Response: The state of Massachusetts is in a state of rebellion.
- May 1775: another Continental Congress meets and agrees to raise an army with George Washington as its leader.
- July 1775: Olive Branch Petition. Colonists will be loyal to Britain as long as their rights were protected.
- Response: In August George III ignored petition –> all the American colonies are in a state of rebellion.
- July 4 1976: Continental congress adopts a declaration of Independence
- Thomas Jefferson wrote the declaration of independence it gave people life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness AKA inalienable rights.
- The fight goes on: British forces strike hard later France helped colonists. Also, Spain helped because all these countries had their past with Britain.
- Battle of Yorktown: Colonist Army defeated the British Army.
- Treaty of Paris: Finally Treaty of Paris marks the end of the war of independence.
- New Question: With the birth of America new questions emerged. What will be the political structure and ideology of the new nation? This lead to the third Philadelphia Convention.
- 1787: New Constitution framed
Birth of the United States of America and the American Constitution
America adopted a republic form of government and George Washington became the first President of America. The national government was divided in there branches Legislative, Executive and Judiciary. This created a system of check and balances. In 1790 the Constitution was ratified by all 13 United States.
The new nation was ready to rise and shine and the next development was American Industrialisation.