American Revolution Birth Of A Nation
America is the land of the free, and the home of the brave, but it was not always so. The United States of America began as thirteen colonies controlled by the British government. When George III became King of England in 1760 no one in England or America saw independence in the future for the thirteen British colonies in North America (Foner and Garraty). Colonists were proud to be part of Great Britain and Britain’s successful empire (Andrews 186). “Only in retrospect do the irritations that arose in the course of Britain’s management of its vast empire appear to point toward revolution” (Foner and Garraty). The American Revolution included the war for independence and led to the birth of a nation: the United States of America.
Officials in England, though not happy about the boldness of the colonial legislatures after the French-Indian War, had no plan to make them change to be better English subjects (Foner and Garraty). The events that led to revolution in 1776 did not grow out of a British plan to control the colonies (Andrews 186). That came later, but at first Parliament was only trying to protect British interests and increase the size of their treasury; they just stumbled into the American controversy because they did not think about the consequences their actions would have on their relationship with the colonies. The British were surprised when in 1765 the colonies exploded in anger when Parliament hit them with new taxes (Foner and Garraty).
The French and Indian War cost Britain a lot of money because they helped the thirteen colonies win. Even though the British were protecting their interests when they helped the colonies win the war, the truth is that Colonial troops could not have won the French-Indian War without the support of British army (Marston 9). After the French and Indian war was over, the British government decided that they needed to keep the French, Spanish, and Indians from taking any of their territory so they sent a large army of British soldiers to North America to protect it (Marston 10). There was a problem with this plan. The British did not want to pay for it. Leaders in Britain felt that the colonies should pay for their own protection so the British government decided to impose new taxes on the colonies to fund their plan to put troops in North America (Morison xii).
First, the British passed the Sugar Act of 1764 and then the Stamp Act of 1765 (Morison xii).This just caused the colonies to get angry with England because they felt they were not being represented in the British Parliament even though they were paying taxes. The colonies began rioting so the British government repealed both Acts in 1766 (Marston 9). The Townshend Revenue Act was the next tax to be imposed by the British government. This Act was passed the next year in 1767 and put a tax on tea, and other things. This just caused more riots, and the British had to send 4,000 soldiers to control the riots. However, the British soldiers were not trained and just made things worse. On March 5, 1770, an angry mob attacked some British soldiers and the British soldiers fired into the crowd and killed three men and wounded five. This incident was called the “Boston Massacre” and was used to turn more people against the British. The British army was sent back to England, but the colonists anger did not go away even when the Townshend Act was partially repealed; there was still a tax on tea (Marston 11).
The British thought they had a right to tax the colonies so in 1773 they passed the Tea Act which put a second tax on tea (Marston 11). The reason they passed this act was to make money for the British East India Company. This just made the situation in the colonies worse. In December, 1773 when one of the British East India Company’s ships sailed into the Boston Harbor, a group of men dressed as Indians went on board the ship and dumped all the tea into the water. This was called the “Boston Tea Party” (Marston 12). This rebellion worried the British and they passed the Coercive Acts (called the Intolerable Acts by the colonists). The purpose of these laws was to restore order in Massachusetts, following the Boston Tea Party and other acts of rebellion. These new laws made the colonies so angry that colonies outside of New England began to turn against the British government (“Colonial America”). Up until this point, the colonists liked being part of the British empire (Marston 14). Perhaps the most important result of the Coercive Acts was the meeting of the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, in September 1774 (“Colonial America”). The Congress was not trying to gain independence; it wanted to right the wrongs that had been inflicted on the colonies and hoped one voice of all the colonies would gain them a hearing in London (Marston 14).
The war started when Britain tried to destroy rebel military stores at Concord, Massachusetts. Fighting broke out in Boston on April 19, 1775, when rebel forces took over Boston and forced out the British troops in the Battle of Bunker Hill. Fighting then moved to New York and New Jersey, and then covered parts of Virginia and the Carolinas. Britain offered to pardon the rebels if they would surrender. The rebels, who now called themselves Americans, refused (Andrews 186). The Americans declared themselves independent on July 4, 1776 when Congress gathered again in the Second Continental Congress (“Colonial America”). Battles were fought from 1775 until the last battle of the war was won by the American navy in March 1783 in the Straits of Florida. Britain then recognized the independence of the U.S. east of the Mississippi River and gave Florida to Spain in the Treaty of Paris in September, 1783 (Morison 1).
The American war for independence was the longest war in the history of the United States until the Vietnam War. It involved most of Europe’s powerful countries in one way or another. The war touched every part of what had been British America, including not only the thirteen east coast colonies but also Canada and Native American country as well as the West Indies and the open Atlantic (Marston 10).
The war was just one part of the American Revolution. Changes in civil, cultural, social, and economic areas lasted over twenty-five years between 1764 when Britain raised colonial taxes to 1789 when the U.S. Constitution went into effect (Marston 11). “The sharp accent upon colonial rights after 1763, the rapid development of sectionalism within the armed revolt of the thirteen colonies, the declaration of American independence, and, finally, the creation of a new nation followed one after the other with almost breath-taking speed” (Gipson 5-6). The story of the war is just one part of the creation of the American Republic, but the war was the center of the American Revolution and the birth of a nation (Marston 11).
The roots of the American Revolution are deep. “Geography and climate, institutional developments, religion and race, and other factors beyond our ken, may have made the separation inevitable” (Morison xi). The American Revolution does not just belong to the history of America; it is an important part of world history. The American Revolutionary war destroyed the once powerful British empire and led to the creation of the now most powerful nation on the planet, the United States of America. The war was just part of America’s revolution, but it was certainly the beginning of freedom for the colonies. The mistakes by the British government led to the war (Wahlke x). The writers of the Declaration of Independence believed that freedom is a God-given right. Men are not meant to be captives to anything or anyone. There is little question that this country is great and powerful today because of that first struggle during the American Revolutionary war for the thing all men seek: freedom. “The freedom and happiness of man”. are the sole objects of all legitimate government” (Lipscomb 369). How fitting that these words of Thomas Jefferson appear on a plaque in the stairwell of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Thomas Jefferson, who wrote most of the Declaration of Independence, helped to deliver a nation that is now considered by some the greatest nation on earth; a nation whose birth, like all births, was a struggle for freedom.
Andrews, Charles M. The Colonial Background of the American Revolution. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1931.
“Colonial America: Second Continental Congress 1775-1776” US History.com, 15 May 2007
Foner, Eric and John A. Garraty. “Revolution.” The Reader’s Companion to American History Dec 1991. SIRS Researcher, 15 May 2007
Gipson, Lawrence. The Coming of the Revolution, 1763-1775. 1st ed. New York: Harper, 1954.
Lipscomb, Andrew A., ed. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson. Vol 12. 1904.
Marston, Daniel. The American Revolution, 1774-1783. New York: Routledge, 2003.
Morison, S. E., ed. Sources and Documents Illustrating the American Revolution, 1764-1788, and the Formation of the Federal Constitution. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1923.
Wahlke, John C., ed. The Causes of the American Revolution. Revised ed. Boston: D. C. Heath and Company, 1967.