The author’s thesis is the events leading up to and during the revolution, that had profound effect on the American independence. The book starts with a highlight of the important events that shaped the American and the rest of the worlds’ history. It focuses on complexity and diversity of human tapestry and includes political, economical, social and cultural topics. The period between 1500 and 1900 is the early modern period, but the author’s focus is 1750 to 1900 (Morton, 2003). Some of the important events of the 18th century are the French revolution, industrial revolution, Indian war and the great awakening of religious revival. The author demonstrates throughout his book via a step by step account of the events that lead up to the revolution, during and after the revolution.
Before the revolution, Britain had 13 North American colonies, and the revolution was about them breaking away from the British rule and administration. This breaking away brought the birth of a republic based on principles of liberty, freedom and equality among its citizens. A revolution is made up of events that bring about profound, widespread and permanent change (Morton, 2003). It was widespread and other places globally were influenced, bringing about the French, Chinese revolution and later on independence movements in the twentieth century among African colonies.
The revolution brought with it new state governments, and American culture. Most of the political structures remained the same from the colonialists at the state and national level; the revolution took place from 1763-1783. The 13 colonies 1st became private chartered colonies and eventually becoming royal charters. Virginia was the 1st chartered colony, and the 1st to legalize slavery. The colonialists in this state were mainly plantation owners, and this became the hub of agricultural productivity. Later on, during the revolution this state produced most of the founding fathers of America.
Most colonies had different reasons for establishment. For instance, Virginia provided good agricultural opportunities, and New England was a safe haven for the colonialists’ persecution by England and the Church of England, while the Dutch established New York and New Jersey. Before 1763, the colonialists tried forming colonial unity with its colony to prepare for a war against France. This did not work as the colonies felt too much power was left with the colonial masters, and Britain was afraid of giving the colonies too much power. Britain used the mercantile method to govern its colonies. They produced the raw material, while Britain processed and sold the end products. This was a raw deal for the Colonies especially since Britain decided to impose heavy tax revenues to fund its military presence in the colonies.
The colonies enjoyed relative peace when British rule left them to operate without the crowns constant interference known as salutary neglect. Colonial rivalry continued between Britain, France and Spain, which lead to various wars over colonial lands and territories in North America.
The road to the Revolution
Having set the background of events leading to the revolution, the reader is introduced to what actually caused the revolution. After years of the colonies enjoying salutary neglect, and the defeat of the France and Spanish forces from North America, the colonial masters thought it would continue enjoying relative peace with its subjects. At that time, Britain was in a lot of debt and needed to increase its revenue, leading to the establishment of the American tax revenue Act. This caused unrest within the colonies, since they were already heavily taxed with limited imports. During the period of salutary neglect, the colonies had started experiencing some political autonomy and this interruption by the British was not welcome.
This period coincided with Britain having an inexperienced king coming into power, and trying to establish policies in the newly acquired colonies of Canada and west Florida. The colonial relations deteriorated in the 1760’s as they had also been affected by the 7 years wars. The colonies started revolting and this unrest spread all over. The author continues to name various leaders of these revolts focusing mainly on the British and American elite. There is no mention of how the native Indians or the mixed races were involved in the revolution. They did play an important part in the freedom and liberation of the American republic. For example, in 1781 slave James Armistead helped in the defeat of the British army with George Washington and A Mohawk chief was a British ally and helped in defeat off New York. The successive revenue acts brought a lot of unrest among the colonies and was the beginning of colony unity.
After the establishment of the stamps and currency acts, the colonies formed a united front to make the British reconsider these acts. They argued that they wanted to be treated equally with other British Subjects in England; therefore it was unconstitutional. The colonies and their master went into full blown war in all the colonies.
The necessary war
The author goes into a detailed account of American and British war strategies from Lexington & Concord in 1775 to the shameful defeat of Lord Cornwallis in Virginia in 1781.The revolts continued with increased provocative acts, The tea and Townshend acts of 1767 led to people demonstrating against the British soldiers who fired into the crowd and killed scores of people in what came to known as the Boston massacre. The Massachusetts government act restricted town meetings and the administration of justice act stead that British soldiers could only be arraigned and tried in Britain not in the colonies. This provoked people’s wrath as during the Boston massacre the British solders killed very many civilians and could not be tried in the colonies where they had committed the crimes.
In 1773, Americans lead by Samuel Adams dumped tea from the British East India Company into the harbor. The crown established the Boston port act that stated that the port was to remain closed until the British government was compensated the tea dumped into the harbor at the Boston tea party. The rebel government in the colonies formed Committees of Correspondence in all the 13 colonies. These were the 1st steps towards a united colony. The first continental progress formed in the colonies lead people to boycott British products and they started to infiltrate the colonial governments. Else where the war was going on, but the British had an upper hand as they had a strong military and access to funding. The Americans then got ammunition and funding from France, Spain and the Dutch. Americans did not win the war with military war but with diplomacy. The British started losing support at home because most they did not favor the war with the Americans and with its neighbors as the enemies’ allies.
The way had a great impact on the American people. As it took place right there in the colonies. The author explores this deeply in this chapter unlike most writers on the American Revolution. During the war, Native Americans were mainly on the opposing side, they supported the British during the war as the British had promised to keep the Americans away from their territories. Some of the Native Americans were neutral to the war. Slaves in both south and north fought on different sides of the war. They fought for whatever side promised liberty. Some thought that the British would help abolish slavery, so they joined them in war. After the war some were freed by the British and resettled in other places like Sierra Leone and the Caribbean countries. During the War most slaves fled from their masters and this gravely affected the economies of the plantations.
The author explores the role of women in the revolution. They may not have fought at the battle fronts with the men but they played a crucial role in the revolution. When the men went to war they took the active roles of taking care of their homes and businesses. They also helped at the battle front, taking care of the wounded soldiers and cooking for them. Some great women even went to war disguised as men like Deborah Samson. Through out the war women learnt new skills and assumed new roles. The continental congress did not have enough funding for the war and therefore the states were organized in militia groups with little training. It was not able to tax the colonial citizens to fund the war.
As the war was going on, some American leaders made various treaties with other nations that had a great impact on the revolutionary war. In 1778, the 2nd Continental Congress signed the Alliance with France. This treaty was to form unity between America and France, incase of a British attack on either of them. It also forbade either party from signing agreements with London until all the 13 colonies were independent. Americans got funding and volunteers to fight the British in the revolutionary war.
The war revolutionary war ended with the signing of the treaty of Paris in 1783, which was signed between John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and John Jay (United States Representatives) and David Hartley a member of the British parliament, the treaty recognized the sovereignty of United States of America, their distinct borders between them and British North America. It also advocated for release of prisoners of war on both sides and the slaves that belonged to the British. The Articles of confederation were ratified in 1781 and replaced by the US constitution in 1789.
The revolution had both negative and positive effects in the lives of all those involved. After declaration of Independence, the only thing that bound the colonies together was the articles of federation. They didn’t have a national government in place and it was hard to coordinate governance affairs. But this changed with the establishment of the United States constitution in 1786, which provided for establishment of a federal and state government.
The minority groups in America were affected by the end of the war. The slaves that had fought along the British in hope of been set free had to leave with the m, because slavery was still in force. They were resettled in Africa and West Indies in the Caribbean. The native Americans fought against the Americans in the war, there fore after the war all the agreements they had made with the Americans before the war were no longer valid. There was no proclamation line to protect their territories especially the Cherokee and Shawnees in Ohio.
The revolution was based on the philosophy of creating a society where freedom, liberty and equality are practiced. After the revolution this freedoms were not realized. In fact some of the founding fathers still kept slaves and against the abolishment of slavery to promote equality. With the colonials gone, to be part of the political process one had to be a white male property owner. The first leaders of the new republic were either those at thee battle front during the revolution or at the thick of negotiations at the county hall. This leadership is discriminatory.
Commerce was adversely affected, as indigenous industries were affected by the influx off European goods. The continental congress printed money to fund the war and this resulted in inflation. The trade was affected by there being no central monetary system; each state produced its own currency.
With the signing of the treaties that brought independence to the United States, the privileges that they enjoyed under the British were taken away. They had enjoyed protection from pirates in the Mediterranean and these lead to the Barbary wars later on. In 1784 the British forbade trade between the West Indies and America and this forced the Americans to look for alternative trades routes opening up china for trade. After the establishment of the constitution, elections were held to elect a president and other government representatives. George Washington who had headed the Continental army was elected president and John Adams as vice present.
The author uses various sources of information to base his research on. These are secondary and primary sources. The primary sources are Journals by the people involved in the revolution, while secondary sources are books through the internet and books. In conclusion, I can say that this is a well thought out, concise resource for events that took place before, during and after the revolution. The writer uses the first chapter to give an account of the events before the revolution in a very systematic way. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th chapters cover the revolution period and the 5th Chapter gives the after math of the revolution.