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The American Revolution ended two centuries of British rule for most of the North American colonies and created the modern United States of America. The Revolutionary era was both exhilarating and disturbing a time of progress for some, dislocation for others. The American Revolution started in 1775, climaxed in 1776, and ended in 1789 when the Constitution was ratified. But was it really a revolution?
The causes and results of the American Revolution will speak of the answer. The haphazard and disorganized British rule of the American colonies in the decade prior to the outbreak led to the Revolutionary War. The mismanagement of the colonies, the taxation policies that violated the colonist rights, the distractions of foreign wars and politics in England and mercantilist policies that benefited the English to a much greater degree then the colonists all show the British incompetence in their rule over the colonies. These policies and distractions were some of the causes of the Revolutionary War. The interests of England within the colonies were self-centered. The English were exploiting were trying to govern the colonies by using the mercantilist system.
Mercantilism is when the state directs all the economic activities within its borders. England was not attempting to make any changes that would help the colonists. They limited the colony s commerce to internal trade only. The English were exploiting the colonies by demanding that the colonies import more from England then they exported to the colonies. They were importing raw materials from the colonies and making them into exportable goods in England. They would then ship these goods to foreign markets all around the world including the colonies.
Throughout the seventeenth century the English saw America as a place to get materials they didnt have at home and a market to sell finished products at after the goods had been manufactured. In the years leading up to the final decade before the American Revolution, the relationship between Great Britain and her colonies in North America continued to deteriorate. Relations began to worsen with the great victory over the French and Indians in the Seven Years War or also called the French and Indian War. This war ended with the Treaty of Paris of 1763 which gave all of French Canada and Spanish Florida to Britain in turn established the supremacy of the British Empire. In an attempt to reduce conflicts between Indians and colonist Prime Minister George Grenville made the Proclamation Line of 1763 which is a boundary that was established to ban white settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains.
This outraged many colonist who felt that they had a right to settle in that territory with the victory from the French and Indian War. Unwelcome British troops had remained in the colonies after the war. Debts from this war caused Grenville to enforce Mercantilism in an effort to get the colonists to pay their share of the national debt that had doubled since 1754. England passed many Acts that were ill conceived and had long term effects on the relationship between England and the colonies. The most controversial of these were direct taxes. The last time Parliament had tried a direct tax was as recent as 1765, when Grenville enacted the Stamp Act that forced the colonists to pay for stamps on printed documents.
The Americans had felt the taxes of Grenville were a deliberate aim to disinherit the colonists by denying them the rights of the English. Patrick Henry believed that the Stamp Act was evidence of the King s tyranny. The stamp Act was a way to get revenue and seen as a direct tax. His belief stirred up conversation which brought about no taxation without representation the principle that citizens can not be taxed by a government unless they are represented in it. This brought out the question Did the House of Commons represent the colonists even though no colonist sat in the House and none voted for its members?
If the answer was no, then the Stamp Act violated colonist most basic rights of Englishmen. In 1765, the Stamp Act Congress was formed of 9 colonies to assess to problems 1) that Britain did not have a right to tax the colonies directly and 2) the vice-admiralty courts were trying cases without a jury. This prompted the working class to take direct action, they agreed on the nonimportation agreement where colonist did not buy goods from Britain. By 1766 England backed off in their efforts to tax their colonies. Following a year of opposition from the colonists, England revoked the Stamp Act by economic boycotts, but they still passed the Declaratory Act. In 1766 the Declaratory Act was passed.
It was passed the same day that the Stamp Act was repealed. The Declaratory Act gave the English government total power to pass laws to govern the colonies. The British claimed that the colonies had always been and should always be subject to the British crown. Other acts by Grenville were the Townshend Acts. The Townshend Acts were passed in 1767 and placed new taxes on paper, paints, tea, lead and, glass. The new taxes would be used to pay for British officials in the American service.
These acts infuriated the colonists because they believed that Parliament had the right to put taxes on the trade of the colonies but could not place taxes directly on the colonists to raise revenue. The spokesperson of the colonies, John Dickinson, wrote in his Letters of a Pennsylvania Farmer, on the issue of direct taxes. He distinguished between taxes that were imposed to regulate trade and those that were intended solely to raise revenue. If the tax was used to promote commerce it was justifiable, but if the tax was used only to gain revenue it was not viewed as a legitimate tax. The colonists believed that this new tax was not legitimate and therefore there was strong opposition to it throughout the colonies. On April 12, 1770 the most of the Townshend Acts were repealed except the tax on tea.
In 1773 the Tea Act was passed. The Tea Act not only put a three penny per pound tax on tea but it also gave the British East India Company a near monopoly because it allowed the company to sell directly to the colonial agents avoiding any middlemen. In Boston the colonists held a town meeting to try to get their Tea Agents to resign. The Tea Agents would not resign and a few months later angered Bostonian's dressed as Indians boarded three tea ships and dumped it all into Boston Harbor. In 1774 the intolerable Acts were passed.
They were passed as a way to reprimand the Bostonian's for the Boston Tea Party. This didnt go over well in Boston because both the innocent and the guilty were being punished equally. There were five acts within the Intolerable Acts. The Massachusetts Government Act, a new Quartering Act, the Administration of Justice Act, the Quebec Act and the closing of the port of Boston. The Massachusetts Government Act said that the Governors council had to be appointed by the King and limited town meetings to one per year. The new Quartering Act, authorized the quartering of troops within a town (instead of in the barracks provided by the colony) whenever their commanding officers thought it desirable.
The Administration of Justice Act stated that, any government or customs officer indicted for murder could be tried in England, beyond the control of local juries. The Quebec Act was not intended to be used as a punishment of the colonists, rather to extend the boundaries of the province of Quebec to the Ohio River and give the Roman Catholics in that province religious liberty and the double protection of French and English law. But the Quebec Act actually angered the colonists because the colonists living in Quebec were getting rights that the Americans felt were being taken away from them. During these years of ineffective rule, the causes of the Revolutionary War emerged. Laws and policies enacted were self-serving, causing the colonists to vigorously resist and try to avoid British authority. The colonists move toward religious and commercial self-determination were overlooked while England dealt with the Seven years war and a domestic political crisis.
All these factors highlighted the differences and miscalculations of the British and were the beginnings of the Revolutionary War. The results of the American Revolution are also significant. In 1774, the First Continental Congress gathered in Philadelphia to assess the problems. In the Congress, John Adams proposes the Declaration of Rights and Grievances. This denied the Parliament s right to tax colonies without their consent.
This was sent to the king as a reminder of what is happening in his empire and actually tells him that the colonies were abandoning their loyalty with the empire because of direct taxes. The congress also agreed upon a plan of resistance against a overly controlling empire called the Suffolk Resolves which are resolutions adopted by Boston and other towns in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, calling on local citizens to take up arms against the British. In 1775, Patrick Henry delivered his Give me liberty, give me death speech. Also in May 1775, the Second Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia once again to assess problems. The Congress authorized the printing of American paper money for the purchase of supplies. Later in May, John Hancock was named President of the Continental Congress.
In June, the Second Continental Congress organized the Continental Army and named George Washington as Commander-in-chief of it. The congress was ready to defend Americans rights and protect their liberties. In April 1776, Congress opened American trade to all nations except Great Britain and instructed the colonies to create official state governments. On June 7, Robert Henry Lee stood up in Congress and stated, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connections between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved. Congress agreed with his statement but postponed its final vote until July. The delay would allow the committee appointed to draft a formal declaration on independence time to complete its work.
The committee chose Thomas Jefferson to the task of writing the document. Jefferson began the Declaration of Independence with a defense of revolution based on self-evident truths about humanity s unalienable rights rights that included life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. He also argued that each person s rights were natural and not historical, human law or government made. The addressed the declaration to the Kings and Queens of Europe declaring that Britain has abused the natural rights of Englishmen and that the colonies have a right to revolution. Delegates of the Second Continental Congress approved the Declaration of independence on July 2, 1776 and made their approval public on July 4. On September 9, 1776, Congress adopted the name United States of America.
On November 15, 1777, Congress adopts the Articles of Confederation, which is the first constitution of the United States; it created a central government with limited powers. In December 1777, France recognizes the independence of the 13 colonies. On September 23, 1783, the United States and Britain signed the Treaty of Paris of 1783. This peace treaty ended the Revolutionary War and gave acknowledged American independence. In May 1787, the Constitutional Convention opened. In September 1787, the United States Constitution was signed.
On June 21, 1788, the United States Constitution was ratified by the required number of states and replaced the Articles of Confederation as the new central government. On April 30, 1789, George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States of America. In December of 1971, the Bill of Rights took effect, which protected certain basic rights of American citizens. All of these are the results of the American Revolutionary War.
But the two outcomes that stand out the most are declaring independence and the formation of a government. There is no doubt that the American experience was a real Revolution. It was a struggle to progress from dependent colonies to independent states, from monarchy to republic, from membership in an extended empire in which the several members were connected only through the center to participation in a singly federal nation And it succeeded.
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Research essay sample on Second Continental Congress Seven Years War