The American Revolution was a political upheaval in the 18th century whereby thirteen colonies from North America united to becoming the United States of America in order to free themselves from the empire of British. These colonies had first rejected authority from the parliament of the Great Britain to govern them without representation from overseas. They also rejected how all royal officials had been expelled. 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. The revolution took place from 1763-1783 (Countryman 124).
Most colonies had different reasons for establishment of colonies. For instance, Virginia provided good agricultural opportunities, and New England was a safe haven for 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 (Bonwick 104).
Colonial rivalry continued between Britain, France and Spain, which lead to various wars over colonial lands and territories in North America. 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. Native Indians played 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 (Lancaster 154).
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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 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 soldiers 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. The first continental progress formed in the colonies lead people to boycott British products, and they started infiltrating colonial governments. 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 did not favor the war with the Americans and with its neighbors as the enemies’ allies.
The war had a great impact on the American people since it took place right in the colonies. During the war, Native Americans were mainly on the opposing side, they supported the British during the war since they 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 (Countryman 124).
Women played crucial roles during the revolution even though they did not fight in battle fronts. When the men went to war they took 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. Throughout 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.
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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, in case 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 (Wood 84).
The 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.
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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.
In conclusion, it is evident that the American Revolution brought the birth of a republic based on principles of liberty, freedom and equality among its citizens.
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