The American Revolution
American Revolution (1765-1783)
- America revolution was a result of European colonization. In North America, the British had established 13 colonies on the west coast of Atlantic Ocean. After the Seven Year War, the influence of the French in rest of North America was ended
- British Mercantilism or Mercantile capitalism created an environment of resentment among the White Americans,
- the Seven Year War created conditions, which became the immediate trigger for the American Revolution.
- Mercantile Capitalism was the British policy in the 18th century.
- It was based on the idea that the Government should regulate the economy at home and colonies abroad, so as to increase the national power and achieve a positive Balance of Trade.
- policy manifested in form of placing trade barriers on the colonies and establishing a monopoly of the British companies on trade done by the colonies
- British colonial policy of Mercantile Capitalism, prevented the Americans from developing their indigenous industry.
- The export of certain raw material goods from American colonies could only be made to Britain. Further, a very heavy duty was levied on import of non-British goods into America. Such trade barriers are the characteristic feature of Mercantile Cap
Proclamation of 1763
- aim of American Revolution was to end the British Colonialism in North America.
- As a truce with the American Indians, who had started an armed rebellion at the end of the Seven year War, the British Parliament issued a “Proclamation of 1763” which banned the expansion by the US settlers to the west of the Appalachian Mountains,
- The American settlers, who had fought in the Seven year War along the British with the purpose of westward expansion, felt cheated and thus ignored this proclamation
- Enlightenment or the “Age of reason” was a movement that began in 1600s with ideas proposed by thinkers like Hobbe and Locke on the form of government and the rights of the people
- Hobbe was pro-Absolute Monarchy and gave the concept of Social Contract which means that – because all people behave in self interest, people should give up some of their rights to the government, which in return should provide law and order to the society
- Locke had a positive view of man and believed that man can learn from experience. He favoured the concept of Self-government. According to Locke, all people are born free and equal, with three natural rights—life, liberty, and property. The purpose of government, said Locke, is to protect these rights. If a government fails to do so, citizens have a right to overthrow it.
- modern thinkers and philosophers played an important role in American and French Revolution
- They helped in development of ideas of Republicanism and Liberalism that militated against colonialism.
- English Philosophers like Locke, Harrington and Milton believed that men have fundamental rights, which no government can infringe
- Montesquieu had described the principle of Separation of Powers in 1748.
- Seven Year War had cost a lot of money to Britain. When they decided to make up for the costs of war by taxing the people in British colonies in North America, the latter opposed it.
- British Parliament enacted the Stamp Act in 1765, which imposed stamp taxes on all business transactions in the British colonies in USA
- Since the British Parliament had no American representation, the American leaders opposed the right of Britain to levy any taxes on them
- In the Massachusetts Assembly, the leaders of all 13 colonies gathered and adopted the slogan of No Taxation without Representation
- Americans opposed the tax on consumer goods imported by the colonies by cutting British imports by half, which coerced the British into withdrawing all taxes except on Tea.
- The Boston Tea Party of 1773 was a protest against this Tea tax
- infuriated British responded by closing the Boston Port to all trade and by passing the Intolerable Acts of 1774
Intolerable Acts of 1774 & the Philadelphia Congress
- 1st Continental Congress in Philadelphia (1774) or simply the Philadelphia Congress, which had representatives from 12 colonies (Georgia did not participate because it wanted British help in dealing with militancy of American Indians) was held in response to the Intolerable Acts/Coercive Acts passed by the British Parliament earlier in 1774 to punish the colony of Massachusetts for the incident of Boston Tea Party by taking away its right of self-government
- also appealed to King George III to remove restrictions on indigenous industry, allow Americans to trade with all the countries at reduced tariffs and not to tax the American colonies without their consent
- Britain interpreted these demands as a Mutiny and attacked the colonies in 1775
- This led the American representatives to proclaim the Declaration of Independence in 1776 (drafted by Thomas Jefferson)
- That all men are created equal
- That they are endowed by their creation certain inalienable rights like right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness
- Republicanism, i.e. the principle that people are the source of authority and it is people’s right to setup their own government
- The Declaration of Independence document did two things – it summarized the political philosophy of Enlightenment thinkers like Locke in form of “self evident truths” and it listed the grievances to justify the breaking of ties between the colonies and the mother country.
American Revolutionary War or American War of Independence (1775)
- Loyalists were the British settlers who remained loyal to Britain and fought on their side. France, Spain and Dutch Republic helped the Americans secretly
- In 1783, the British commander Cornwallis surrendered before the army led by George Washington.
Second Treaty of Paris 1783
- It ended the American War of Independence
- important clauses
- Perpetual Peace between USA and Britain
- All US Colonies were recognized as free, sovereign and independent states, with Britain giving up all claims on government, property and territory
- US would give back confiscated lands of Loyalists
- Spain signed a separate treaty with Britain and it got back Florida
Constructive Criticism of American Revolution
- In 1789, the United States Constitution came into effect. It was the first written Republic Constitution
- The Bill of Rights is the set of first ten amendments to the USA constitution and includes freedom of speech, press, religion and justice under the law
- American Revolution established the first democratic Republic in the world and the USA soon embarked on Industrial Revolution
- new Republic of the USA was not free of biases. The Republic was not truly democratic as the women, the blacks and the Native Americans did not get the Right to Vote.
- Slavery was a blot
- only after the Civil War of 1861-65 between the Northern and the Southern States of USA.
- finally abolished
- Southern States were against Slavery abolition as their economy was farm based and required the cheap black labour
- It can be argued that the Men referred to in US constitution were Men of Property, as only those who held property were given all of the promised rights
- the most important contribution of American Revolution was its contribution to ideas of Liberty, Equality, Fundamental Rights, Nationalism and anti-colonialism
- American Revolution was a revolution in ideas and system of Polity and it impacted the future events, the most prominent of them being the French Revolution of 1789