AMERICAN REVOLUTION [1775-1783]
There were 13 colonies of America that were subjugated by Great Britain during the early eighteenth century.
• These were : New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhodes Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.
• The glorious struggle launched by American colonies to regain their freedom and to oppose the stringent colonial policy of England.
• The population in these colonies comprised more than 75% British people and rest were Dutch, Germans, French and Portuguese.
• People from Europe had shifted to America which gave birth to hybrid culture in these colonies.
• The king of Britain, James I, allowed two companies : London Company and Plymuth Company to build colonies and start business.
• The English colony : James Town Colony founded in 1607 on the bank of river James in Virginia.
By the end of 1775, the 13 colonies were formed.
Reasons for the revolt:
There cannot be a single reason for such a huge development. Although the imposition of unwanted
taxes is the reason which is considered as the immediate cause for the revolt. But it is also true that
people of the colonies had been Embroiling for years due to various other reasons which we have to see
1. Uprising against Mercantilism
it is true that the American colonies had been nothing more than
a source of income for the British Empire. Colonies were exploited for gaining more and more
profit. For this Britain started following a mercantilist policy. This got its worst shape after 1763,
when the seven years war ended. Various taxes were imposed and trade regulations along with
the industrial regulations were introduced. It further clubbed with the stern policies added more
fuel to the Fire. This was leading economic exploitation of the colonies. This economic
exploitation was done through various ways new navigation laws according to which trade could
be out only through British ships. This gave a boost naval architecture and ship building in
Britain, which led to the development of a strong British navy also, later on. These laws were
introduced in 1651.
Besides that, trade regulations were introduced which forbade the American colonies to trade
with any other European power considering the other European nations-like Fence as enemy
stales. Some products like iron, wood and tobacco were reserved to be exported to British only.
Along with that Industrial regulations put restrictions on the development of American Industry
In the 18th century.
2. Influence of the Intellectual ideology
The ideas and principles of the intellectuals of the contemporary age also played pivotal role in
bringing the embroiling American minds into action. These ideas were mainly of the same
people who inspired the French Revolution also and escorted the world into a new, order where
democracy, socialism, welfare of the state and constitution took the rule in their hands. Here we
can say that the new ideas brought the world from “estate to the date”. The famous names that
come in the forefront are the Rousseau Kant, Voltaire , John Locke and Montesquieu. After
getting acquainted to these new ideas people developed faith in the democracy and
constitution and started negating the absolutism .People started loving freedom and self
3. Discontent against British Administration
The administration had three wings being the Governor, the Executive Council and Legislative
Assembly. The legislative Assembly which had the powers of imposing taxes was an elected
body. But it was useless as the governor could refute all the decisions and the governor and his
executive council was responsible to the Emperor. Here the problem was that the elected body
wanted to control the executive so that more freedom in the decision making can exercised.
4. Seven years war
This war was fought between France and Britain in Europe, India and America. During the war
Americans did not support the british.War has been named so because it continued for seven
From 1756-1763.Colonies gained profits during the war as they carried on trade with France and
other countries and farmers and traders sold their produce and products at profitable prices
.After the War was over, French left North America and hence a danger of occupation by
another imperialist power was lifted from the America and hence now their dependence for
protection reduced upon to the British. The American colonies started expanding towards the
west and this was stopped by the proclamation of 1763 according to which this region was
reserved for the Red Indians were the aboriginals of the area and they liked French more than
British. This proclamation was also meant at winning the favor of the Red Indians.
5. Strict policy of British
British followed very strict and suppressive policy for the Americans. They passed certain
draconian laws and also took some harsh decisions.
strict laws and acts by british
• SUGAR ACT, 1764 :
– It banned the import of rum from overseas countries except England.
– enforced strictly and British war-ships deployed on the American sea kept an eye on the smugglers.
– Now they could neither buy cheaper sugar nor obtain molasses to make rum.
• CURRENCY ACT, 1764
– Intended to ban the prevalent bills of exchange and paper currency of the American colonies so that only English currency should be used for business transactions.
– Parliament declared their currency worthless.
– This act pushed colonists into deeper trade deficit that had already existed thus making situation worse for them.
– This led to resentment and protests by the people.
• STAMP ACT, 1765
– Required a stamp to be placed on most printed materials like newspapers, wills, deeds and pamphlets.
– Thus generated a revenue for the British.
– It was strongly opposed and let to the formation of Stamp Act Congress.
– They refused to buy stamps or stamped paper and wrote petitions to the king affirming both their loyalty and the conviction that only the colonial assemblies had the constitutional authority to tax the colonists.
– The British government coupled the repeal of the Stamp Act with the
Declaratory Act, a reaffirmation of its power to pass any laws over the
colonists that it saw fit.
• QUARTERING ACT, 1765
– Required the colonies to house the British soldiers in the barracks provided by the colonies.
– If space not available in barracks then in private inns, hotels and restaurants etc.
– They had to share a portion of expenditure incurred upon the maintenance of the troops deployed in America.
• ROCKINGHAM’S DECLARATORY ACT,1765
– Declared that the British Parliament was
fully empowered to impose taxes on America.
– Brought a strong reaction in America
• TOWNSHEND’S TAX PROJECT, 1767
– Imposed custom duties on five goods imported by America : tea, lead paper, glass and paints.
– Americans refused to pay the custom duties
– It was used to pay the salaries of colonial officers including governors and judges.
– Riots against British laws broke out at several places and people boycotted British goods.
– Boston Massacre : 5 March, 1770 : American colonists rebelled against the taxes they found repressive, rallying around the cry, “no taxation without representation”. This led to skirmishes between the colonists and British soldiers.
– It was annulled in 1770.
TEA ACT OF, 1773
• American colonies stopped purchasing tea from Britain. They either stopped consuming or some of them started consuming smuggled Dutch tea.
• This hurt the finances of the East India Company that played important role in earning riches for British Empire. This led to increased amount of tea stock in the warehouses of England.
• Lord North exempted taxes and monopolized the tea trade in the hands of East India Company.
• According to this act, the company got the right to land the tea directly to colonies without first landing at England.
• The duty on tea was retained as such. Since the additional tax was not to be paid in England by the EIC,
it made the tea cheaper in the colonies.
THE BOSTON TEA PARTY, 1773
• The direct selling of tea hampered the colonial merchants
• Colonists viewed it as another way of imposing taxes on them.
• They boycotted tea and in several towns, crowds of colonists did not let the company ships to unload the cargo along the ports.
• In Boston (Massachusetts), on 16th December, 1773, a well-organized group of American patriots dressed up as Native Americans led by Samuel Adams boarded the ships and dumped 300 boxes into Boston Harbor which later came to be known as Boston Tea Party.
• This invited a huge suppression on Americans and the government passed the Coercive Acts later known as the Intolerable acts.
– closed Boston Harbor until the tea loss was recovered.
– Self government was denied in Massachusetts
– Quartering Act was enforced.
• The whole episode led to the formation of first intercontinental congress to decide on their further plan of action.
THE FIRST CONTINENTAL CONGRESS [5 SEPT1774 – 26TH OCT1774]
• In the response to the suppression by the British, the delegates from the colonies decided to meet at Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia. Therefore it is also known as Philadelphia Congress.
• Some famous representatives :
– Massachusetts : Samuel Adams and John Adams
– Virginia : Patrick Henry and George Washington.
– New York : John Jay
• The Congress wrote a Statement of grievances which repealed the 13 acts of Parliament that violated the rights of the colonists.
• They boycotted all British goods and vowed to arm themselves against British if necessary.
• It did not demand complete independence.
BATTLE OF LEXINGTON AND CONCORD, 1775
• Before the second continental congress, two battles took place : Battle of Lexington and Battle of Concord on 19th April,1775.
– Both places are near Boston.
– Casualties occurred on both sides.
– In the end British thought it was wise to retreat to Boston.
SECOND CONTINENTAL CONGRESS [10TH MAY 1775]
• met at Philadelphia to decide on further action.
• On June 14,1775, a Continental army with George Washington as commander -in-chief, was established by the Congress. This organized the militia into an official army.
• It issued the Declaration of Causes and Necessity of Taking up Arms along with an Olive Branch Petition in order to avoid a full scale war.
• It was a personal appeal to Britain’s King George III (1738-1820) asking him to help the colonists resolve their differences with Britain. The king dismissed the petition. This incident Americans more closer to the question of Independence from Britain.
• Thomas Paine in his pamphlet “Common Sense,” (January 1776), the British immigrant Thomas Paine (1737-1809) laid out a convincing argument in favor of independence. He said it was crazy for an Island to rule a Continent !
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
• It was the first formal statement by the people of America declaring their right to choose their own government.
• In the mid-June, 1776 a five-member committee including Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams were given the task of drafting a formal statement thus presenting the intentions of the colonies.
• The Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence on 4th July 1776.
• It was largely written by Thomas Jefferson.
• The preamble includes its most famous passage: “We hold these truths to Beself-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
• Meanwhile the American civil war continued.
• Battle of Lexington and Concord was followed by battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775, in which although the British won but it rose the confidence of the American rebels who were led by George Washington.
• Battle of Saratoga took place in sept-oct.,1777 in which American continental army under
Washington achieved a decisive victory.
• The battle was a turning point because France and Spain agreed to support Americans.
• Battle of Yorktown in 1781 was the next important battle in which British troops were surrounded by the
Continental Army and the British had to surrender.
• King George III of England gave up the idea of controlling the American colonies.
• At last, the war of American Independence ended in 1783 with the settlement of Paris Pact.
BATTLE OF LEXINGTON AND CONCORD, 1775
• The treaty was signed by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and John Jay at the Hotel d’York in Paris.
• It was finalized on September 3, 1783, and ratified by the Continental Congress on January 14, 1784.
• According to it, England recognised the independence of 13 American colonies.
• The new nation – United States of America also got the possession of British regions and extending up to the Mississippi River.
• Peace of Paris : set of treaties were signed with countries who fought on the side of America like France, Spain. Together they are known as Peace of Paris.
CAUSES OF FAILURE OF BRITISH
• The British planners underestimated the strengths of America. They became overconfident.
• The distance between the England and America is 3000 km so it was difficult to send provisions to army in time.
• There was no cooperation from the locals.
• The British unlike Americans were unacquainted with the topography of the land.
• France extended help to America that weakened the position of England.
• British forces lacked the knowledge of guerrilla warfare and Americans were expert of this strategy.
SIGNIFICANCE OF AMERICAN REVOLUTION
• American society realised the importance of education and it is important to have
educated voters for a democracy.
• Revolution boosted the development of Agriculture. Big landlords left the colonies and their large estates were fragmented into small pieces and handed over to the people of lower and middle classes.
• Industries also flourished as mercantilism ended with the independence from England. Spinning and weaving became household industries.
• Ports of colonies were opened for the world trade.
• In England, British Parliament restricted the powers of the king and increased that of cabinet.
• Democratic system was instituted in America and the public was given right to vote.
• Convention of written constitutions came into practice.
• It became the first country to practice secularism
• The revolution inflicted a defeat on imperialism
• American revolution inspired many nations like France where it paved the way for French Revolution of 1789.
Things to Remember
1) There were 13 American colonies.
2) America was discovered by Columbus in the year 1492.
3) America got her name after America Vespucci
4) Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island were Northern colonies.
5) New York, New Jersey and Maryland were Central colonies
6) North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia were southern colonies.
7) Northern states were hilly and snowy regions and hence not fit for the cultivation.
8) Northern states were main industrial states and especially produced wine and sugar.
9) Southern states were fit for agriculture.
10) Food grains, sugar cane, cotton and tobacco belong to southern states due to their hot climate.
11) All states had various forms of the government and separate laws.
12) Seven years war was fought between French and Britain from 1756 to 1763.
13) The revolutionaries were known with the name like Whigs, rebels, continentals etc.
14) The soldiers fighting against the rebels were known as “tories”.
15) The people playing role against the revolutionaries were known as “loyalists”.
16) Carpenter Hall was the place where fist Intercontinental conference was held at Philadelphia.
17) Samuel Adams and his fellows of sons of liberty mounted the ships as coolies.
18) Virginia was the state to propose the intercontinental congress.
19) Lord North was the PM of Britain to introduce the famous Tea Project.
20) Jane Macom was the sister of Benjamin Franklin and helped the revolutionaries; She is famous for her soap making techniques.
21) On 25th October 1774, inspired from Boston Tea Party, women under the leadership of Penelope Barker organized Edenton Tea Party by boycotting tea.
22) Edenton is in North Carolina and more Important is that it was a movement organized by women under the leadership of a woman only.
23) Martha Washington was wife of George Washington, who used to help her husband through fund raising.
24) Nancy Hart is a female legend who killed British Soldiers when they came to her house.
25) “Shot heard around the world” is the description given to the first shot fired during the Battle of
Lexington and Concord by Ralph Waldo Emerson.