American Revolution of 1776 was one of the greatest events in modern world history. It was the first successful example of the struggle of colonial people against foreign rule. Its ideas and principles inspired humanity over the generation. The direct and indirect effects of the American Revolution was field all over the globe in one way or other.
American Revolution was a response and reaction to the socio-cultural, political, and economic environment prevailing in these 13 British colonies. The typical character of the American population, their economic and ideological maturity, and the changes witnessed in British rule’s character were responsible for the outbreak of this great revolution.
Main causes of the American Revolution
1. Typical character of American people
American Revolution was revolution of whites of British origin against British rule. These Americans had migrated from Europe over more than a century under different compulsions. They struggled hard over a generation to develop their economic activities and political institution.
The Americans were self-made people. They were independent mind. They had lived without any government control from generation to generation. Such self made independent mind people cant be expected to remain under foreign rule for a long time and the revolution was bound to take place in American colonies.
Most of the American living in 13 colonies that fought against Britain in the war of Independence was of British origin.
About 90% of whites in American colonies were originally from Britain. Most of the remaining 10% off white population was a French origin, few were from Spain, Portugal, and Holland.
2. Developed/mature status of American people
When migraines landed in America, there was no economic development of any kind. There was absolutely no infrastructure. These people found only natural resources in their natural state.
Americans gradually developed their agriculture industry and trade. By the middle of 18 century, economic life was well developed in these American colonies. The plantation industry, iron industry, leather industry, and hat making was well developed economic activities. Trade and commerce were also in a flourishing condition. The Americans were not dependent on anybody for their sustenance.
3. Influence of enlightenment on american revolution
Americans had observed the idea of enlightenment and by the middle of 18 century, they were intellectually mature as well. The efforts made by philosophers like Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson propagated the liberals and progressive ideas of enlightenment among the people. The Americans knew about democracy, constitutionalism, popular sovereignty, and rule of law.
Such economically well-developed and intellectually mature people can’t be expected to bear the burden of Colonial rule for a long time. That is why it is commented that “The American Revolution of 1776 was a natural and even an expected event in the history of colonial people who had come of age.”
4. Lack of love and affection among Americans for Britain
About 90% of the white population living in American colonies was of British origin, but these Americans did not have much love and affection for their home government/mother country.
The Americans had migrated from Europe under the compulsion of circumstances. Many had escaped to America to live a free life on their own terms because such freedom was not possible in Europe that time.
Many had escaped to America to save their life from the church and state Agencies.
Many others migrated to America because of economic difficulties.
Many of these Americans were deported by the British government as a way of punishment. Such people can’t be expected to have much love or affection for the country or their origin.
After reaching America, these American migrants had to struggle hard against heavy odds. They faced the wrath of nature as well as of Red Indians. Wild animals attack them.
The land was covered with thick grass, which was cleared by these migrants through years of hard work. During this phase of the struggle, Americans did not receive any help from the home government. Because of this, the bond of affection was very weak between the people living in the American colonies and Britain.
This bond could not tolerate stress and strain which developed after 1763. When the British government tried to pressurize Americans they raised the banner of revolution.
5. The role of change in the character of British rule after 1773
Till 1763, British Colonial rule in American colonies was largely symbolic because colonial regulations were never imposed strictly on Americans.
The burden of taxes borne by the American people was far less than that borne by citizens living in London. All the 13 colonies were having their own legislature. Most of the administrative responsibilities were being handled by the Americans themselves. The British control was limited to the top layer of Administration.
This liberal character of British rule on American colonies was a compulsion for Britain rather than a choice because the British government was apprehensive that Americans could join hands with France ruling in Canada if they were pressed hard.
Till 1763, the Americans were quite happy with the British rule because the pressure of British forces was granting guaranteeing safety to American colonies from any possible French invasion from the north.
During 1756-63, Seven years of war were fought between Britain and France. The French defeat in this war resulted in the transfer of Canada under British rule. The possibility of a French threat from the North disappeared.
As a result of this, the Americans started feeling restive. Even the nominal British presence was becoming unbearable to them.
The elimination of the possibility of French threat to American colonies affected the character of British rule as well. After 1763, British rule started assuming a true colonial form. Old colonial regulations such as the Navigation act (these acts were enacted in 1651 and 1662 to compel Americans to use British ships in trade and Commerce so that Britain could charge higher prices) begin to be enforced strictly.
A number of new taxes were imposed on American colonies during 1764-67 such as Sugar Tax 1764, currency tax 1764, quartering tax 1765, stamp duty 1765, Townshend duties 1767.
Since Americans were educated and awakened and they did not need British forces for their safety from possible French attack, they refuse to pay taxes imposed by British government.
James Ottis coined the slogan “No taxation without representation”. This slogan became the guiding spirit of the American struggle against British Colonial rule.
Immediate circumstances responsible for American Revolution
The tea policy drafted by the British government of PM Lord Northbrook proved to be the immediate Trigger responsible for the outbreak of the American Revolution.
The British government drafted a new Tea policy to help East India company that was facing a serious financial crisis. The company was on the verge of financial bankruptcy, but it had a huge stock of tea with it.
This new Tea policy allowed East India Company to carry its tea directly to America from India or China. This policy adversely affected the profits of American merchants involve in the trade of tea.
The Americans opposed this new Tea policy strongly in December 1773. When the first ship carrying the Tea of East India Company reached the Boston port, a group of Americans led by Samuel Adam threw tea bags back into the sea. This incident known as Boston Tea Party triggered conflict between Britains and Americans
The British government of King George III responded furiously. A number of harsh laws (known as intolerable acts) were enacted by the British Parliament to punish the people of Massachusetts. These acts alarmed Americans.
In April 1775, additional British forces started landing in America to enforce the intolerable Act strictly. Immediately fight broke out and the war of American Independence commenced.
The representatives of 13 American colonies came together in a conference known as the American Congress to find a peaceful solution to this crisis.
The American Congress sent an Olive branch petition to British King George III as a conciliatory measure. But the British government refused to compromise.
Under these circumstances, the delegates of the American Congress proclaimed their Independence on 4th July 1776.
The war of American Independence continued till the 1783 peace Treaty was signed in Paris. As per the provisions of the Paris peace, the independence of American colonies was recognized by Britain and the United States of America emerged.
The American Independence was proclaimed by the delegates of the American Congress on 4th July 1776 when conciliatory measures were not appreciated by the British government.
The proclamation of Independence was like the fulfillment of a long-cherished dream for American patriots who despised the British Colonial rule.
Merchant, traders, intelligentia, and businessmen were adversely affected by the taxation and regulation imposed after 1763 formed part of patriots.
They came out of their houses to celebrate in the streets. Guns and cannons were fired, and Church Bells were Rang to express gratitude to God.
Though a large number of Americans welcomed the proclamation of Independence at the same time, it must be emphasized that there were many in America who did not rejoice and remained behind their doors. They did not come out into the streets to celebrate.
Around 15% of the population of these American colonies (total population was 2.5 million) was loyalists. This section included first-generation migrants. Many of their family members were in Britain. They were apprehensive that the independence of American colonies would adversely affect the possibility of maintaining contact with their relatives staying in Britain.
Minorities like French, Spanish, and Portuguese were also part of the loyalist group. They were apprehensive that in a democratic republic and an independent American state they might not have anybody to look after their interest.
Landlords and slave owners did not rejoice because they were apprehensive that the virus of liberty and equality could infect slaves as well in the future. Emancipation of slave was expected to threaten their social, economic and cultural life.
Many American bankers had invested a huge amounts in Britain. They were apprehensive that the continuation of the War and independence of the American Colony would result in loss of investment.
Old-aged Americans did not appreciate the revolutionary ideas because they did not want any big change to disturb the peace and stability of life.
Those Americans who were part of British-American administration also did not welcome the declaration of independence because they had to fight against their own brother and British from the British side.
Monarchist did not appreciate the Republican views of American patriots. They were also part of the loyalist camp.
When American patriots won the war of independence, around 15% of these loyalists left America. They migrated to Canada and many returned to Britain which is why it is rightly commented that at the news of the declaration of independence many gather to cheer, fire guns and cannons and ring Church Bells in Boston, Philadelphia and other places. But at the same time many in American Who did not rejoice.
Role of France in the American war of independence
The French government provided active support to American Patriots in their struggle against British rule. After the proclamation of Independence by the American colonies in July 1776, the French government announced support for Americans in 1777.
Initially, the support was financial in nature, but later on, France got involved directly in war. This French support. played an extremely important role in the victory of Americans. French soldiers were sent to fight for Americans against British.
French commanders trained American patriots in military activities.
Arms and ammunitions were supplied by France to patriots.
An amount of more than 5 million lives was spent by France in the war of American Independence.
It was due to its active French support, of American forces led by Washington could defeat the British force led by Cornwallis in York Town in 1781. This was the most decisive battle in the whole duration of the American war of independence.
The hostility continued till 1783. Finally, Peace Treaty was signed in Paris in 1783 and as per the provision of this Peace Treaty, British government accepted the independence of American colonies.
Due to the critical role played by French support in the victory of American forces at York Town, it is often commented that “the surrender of British forces at York town in 1781 was more of a French victory than American”
Was American Revolution a conflict between American capitalism and British mercantilism?
American Revolution of 1776 was the result of conflict and contradiction between the aspiration of the American people and the colonial policy of British rule. It was the first example of the successful struggle of colonial people for liberation from foreign rule.
Americans were firm believers in the philosophy of capitalism. They practiced free trade and the right to private property was considered a fundamental and unavoidable right by them.
American culture was individualistic. The idea of survival of the fittest was popular among Americans.
There was little state intervention in the socio-economic life of Americans before 1763.
The British Colonial rule was guided by the philosophy of mercantilism.
This philosophy believes in the idea of using political power/state authority for economic gains.
Navigation acts imposed by the British government on American colonies and the taxes demanded by the British government from Americans were the expression of mercantilism.
After 1763, a number of new taxes were imposed by the British government on Americans such as the Sugar tax 1764, Currency tax1764, and Townshend duty 1767.
Its role in American Revolution
British mercantilism was contradictory to the capitalist philosophy of Americans.
The taxes imposed by the British government tried to take away the property of Americans.
Since Americans believed in capitalism, they loved nothing more than their independence and property. When both of these were attacked by British mercantilistic activity the Americans raised the banner of revolution.
James Ottis coined the slogan “No taxation without representation”. Thomas Paine published his pamphlet titled, “Common sense“.
These developments culminated in the commencement of the American war of independence in 1775 and the proclamation of American Independence in July 1776.
That is why it is rightly commented that The American Revolution was essentially an economic conflict between American capitalism and British mercantilism.
Impact/significance of the American Revolution or American war of independence
- First modern revolution: American Revolution of 1776 was the first modern revolution in the world. It was inspired by liberal and progressive ideas such as Liberty, equality, fraternity, rule of law, individualism, etc. These ideas gained popularity in the world as a result of the success of the American Revolution.
- Rise of the first modern democracy: The American Revolution gave the first modern democracy to the world. The United States of America emerged as an independent, sovereign, democratic, republican state.
- Symbol of inspiration: This American democracy inspired people across the world to fight. Such as separation of powers and popular sovereignty.
- First written constitution: American Revolution gave the first written constitution to the world. This Constitution was enacted and adopted by American Congress in September 1787. American constitution inspired the people in Europe as well as in other parts of the world to fight against their despotic regimes to compel the government to adopt the constitution. French constitution was enacted in 1791 and constitutionalist movements in other countries were examples of the same.
- Rise of the idea of nationalism: The idea of nationalism manifested for the first time in its modern form in American colonies. The American Revolution was the outcome of the same.
Inspired future revolution: American Revolution triggered a series of transatlantic revolutions.
The spirit of revolution reached Europe after crossing at the Atlantic Ocean. The French revolution of 1789 was the manifestation of the same.
This series was carried further by the Irish revolution of 1798, the Nationalist revolution in Latin America during the first half of the 19th Century made leaders like Simon Boliver, the Spanish revolution of 1782.
The European revolution of 1830 in 1848 was also a part of the same series. That is why it is rightly commented that “the American Revolution of 1776 was the mother of all revolution and it inaugurated the age in the world.”
Rise of idea of Capitalism: The idea of capitalism was also popularised by the success of American Revolution because the Americans fought against the British mercantilism to protect their liberty and property.
As a result of the success of the revolution, the USA emerged as a powerful capitalist state.
Decolonization: American Revolution triggered a process of decolonization. These 13 American colonies were the first to win their Independence from a foreign Colonial rule.
This process of decolonization continued for more than 200 years and it ultimately culminated in 1993 with the independence of Eritrea from British and Italian rule.
Loss of one colonial empire: American revolution resulted in the loss of one colonial Empire for Britain because as per provision of the Paris Peace Treaty in 1783 signed by the British government after losing the war of American Independence. The British rule ended in these American colonies.
The lessons learned by the British government from its defeat in the war of American Independence were applied to the newly emerging colonial empire in India in the future.
In 1784, Pitts India Act was enacted to impose greater authority on the British government over the activities of the East India Company. In 1786, Cornwallis was sent as the Governor-General of Bengal with special powers.
Having burnt his finger in America, Cornwallis adopted an aggressive expansionist approach in India. He wiped out the challenges such as Tipu Sultan of Mysore and consolidated British rule in India by implementing Permanent settlement.
Lord Wellesley imposed subsidiary Alliance system over Indian Native States to bring them under effective British control.
Renewed hostility: The American war of independence intensified hostilities between British and France. This renewed hospitality. Sorry hostility was responsible for continental was and Battles of witnessed in Europe after 1719 France and Britain kept on fighting with each other for almost 24 years.
the ideas of American Revolution inspired Nationalist Movement in colonial colonies like India in 19th century and 20 century The colonies of the Asia and Africa do inspiration from the success of American Revolution American Revolution marked the progress of the meaning of American ascendancy with was a result of the revolution. United States of America emerged as independent Sovereign state
Herculean, [02-06-2022 09:47]
this process of American acid and C continued for more than 200 years and culminated ultimately in 1791 when United States of America USA was left Behind as the only superpower after the disintegration of Soviet Union