The American Revolution has allowed our nation to grow and prosper. The founding fathers of this nation wanted to live in a country where the people could make decision for themselves. This paper explains what events led up to the revolution. One of the contributing factors, the multiple taxes that were imposed on the colonists. England was running out of money due to the war debt. They were protecting the colonies and the property they had claimed for themselves, from the French and the Native American Indians. Both the English and the Americans had great political and military leaders. Each played an important role in the revolution. During the five year period between 1775 and 1780 many battles took place, both sides lost many lives. It was after the battle of Saratoga, that the English finally retreated. This was a major turning point for the Americans. The new nation was starting to take shape. A new government needed to be put in place and most important of all, an American Flag was created. The American Revolution was the start of our Nation.
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American Revolution, a revolution between the newly established colonies and England, has always intrigued me because of the final outcome. During the last 240 years or so, since the birth of the nation, we are still here, even though we had our ups and downs. There were major events and battles leading up to the revolution mostly due to taxing colonist without representation and constant British control.
The revolution was a major turning point in the history of the world, where people came to a new land to escape from a Monarchy and religious percussion (Greenberg & Page, 2011)
Quick Revolutionary Tour 1785-1777 (n.d.) background info:
The British defeated the French and their Indian allies in the French and Indian war (1754-1763). The results was British control over much of North America. But the war had cost England a great deal of money and Parliament decided it was time for the Colonies to pay share for their own defense.
The revolution was prompted by England taxing the colonies and ruling over them without any representation in parliament. Although, the original thirteen colonies had delegates that represented them, they did not have an equal say in what was going on. The governmental system of the colonies was set up with a governor, who was appointed by the King George III. There was also an assembly voted by the people and a council, which was similar to the British House of Lords (Miller, 1943).
The House of Lords was a body of government made up of people that were wealthy or had been knighted. In the case of the colonies, they were usually the governor’s family or best friends of the king. The assembly was voted in by the colonists. They did not have equal authority with the council, nor could they influence the governor’s decisions, because they were considered a lower class. The governor had supreme power. In some cases, the governor did not agree with the king’s orders and made his own rules (Miller, 1943).
England established acts and taxes to get out debt. They owed approximately seventy to one hundred and forty million pounds from the wars, plus an additional three hundred and fifty thousand pounds for protecting the colonies (Shannon, 2006; Miller, 1943). The acts that were established so that taxes could be collected were the Navigation Act, Quartering Act, Stamp Act, Townsend Act, Tea Act and the Intolerable Act.
The Navigation Act was simply put in place to keep complete control of what goods could be delivered to the colonies. This act was poorly enforced, therefore, making it ineffective. This act was not mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. The founding fathers thought it would be good to establish some commerce with England so they signed the Peace Treaty of 1783, which made the trade possible (Middleton, 2004; Miller 1943).
Quartering Act was punishment for the colonist’s actions at the Boston Tea Party. Quartering Act started on March 1765, and lasted two years. The English soldiers were forced to stay in the colonist’s homes for two years. There were several colonies that did not comply with this act. The colonists truly hated this act because they were forced to take in strangers from another country. The founding fathers decided to prevent this from happening again by making it the second amendment in the Bill of Rights (Miller, 1943; Parkinson, 2006).
Pankinson (2006) writes about what happened to New York when they did not comply with the Quartering Act:
Even though several colonies had resisted the act, Parliament decided to make an example of New York, passing the Restraining Act of 1767, which suspended the New York assembly until it complied with the Quartering Act. While compromise prevented the actual dissolution of New York’s legislature, Americans understood the dangerous implication of the Restraining Act. (p.65)
The Stamp Act was a large tax on just about everything. The main reason this was passed was because it was another way for England to get out of debt, from the war. This act was also enforced in England. The things that were taxed were items that needed to be stamped. This included newspapers, all legal documents, liquor licenses, land patents, playing cards, and dice. These new taxes made the colonies mad because they were being taxed without any representation in English government. The founding fathers wrote in the Constitution that the states and central government have equal power in taxing, to generate money for the government. A year later, the English government passed the Townsend Act, which modeled the Stamp Act by imposing new taxes on glass, paper lead, and paint color (McDonald, 2006 b; Miller, 1943; Shannon 2006).
The Tea Act was thought to be the event that started the revolution. It started when parliament wanted to help out the East India Tea Company, by omitting them from paying any tariffs or duties. The colonists were mad about this and decided to throw all the tea off all the East India Company ships in Boston harbor. A year later, England decided to pass the Intolerable Act to punish the colonists. Carp (2006) writes about the act that was passed:
The Boston Port Act closed and blockaded the city’s harbor beginning 1 June 1774. Boston could neither ship outward nor import any goods (with the exception of supplies for the British armed forces and fuel or food via the coastal trade). The blockade would not be lifted until the townspeople had repaid the East India Company for the tea that had been destroyed. The Massachusetts Government Act altered the colony’s cherished charter by directing that the king could appoint members of the council and that the royally appointed governor could appoint judges and county sheriffs, who in turn selected jurors; Parliament sought effective law enforcement by ridding these offices of men with Whig sympathies. In addition to stripping the House of Representatives of these powers, the act also curtailed the incidence of town meetings. The Administration of Justice Act allowed the Massachusetts governor to transfer the trials of certain persons (magistrates, those suppressing riots, and customs officials) to another colony or to Great Britain, particularly in the case of capital offenses. The law was intended to protect British officials and supporters of the crown, who believed they could not get a fair trial in front of a Boston jury. The law’s detractors believed (erroneously) that soldiers might now kill Massachusetts people with impunity. The Quartering Act, which applied to all the colonies, allowed British officers, in conjunction with governors, to demand suitable billeting in uninhabited buildings.
After this, it was the final straw and the colonists decided that they wanted to become American citizens and get out from under the British rule (Carp, 2006).
The American Revolution was led by some great political leaders from both America and England. These men were some of the great heroes of the new nation, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin and James Madison. Although there were others, these were the most famous and were named the Founding Fathers of our country. The great English Political leaders where King George III, William Pit the Elder, Lord North, Edmund Burke and Lord George Germaine. These leaders all played a key role in making our new nation what it is today (Foster, Ghering, Light, &McCollum, 1999).
Cheney et al:(2003) describes in his own mind why the founders where so inspirational:
[The Founders] are the wisest and most effective small group in secular human history. Their understandings of the practicality of leading human being [and] the levels of professionalism that they had both as politicians and as leaders is unrivaled. If you take the core group- Washington, Franklin, Adams, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, George Mason-there’s actually no group quite like them-maybe at the early stages of the roman republic, which is lost in antiquity. But the sense of balance practically combined with a deep theoretical understanding of human nature and a deep reading of history-they’re in a different league.
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The events and battles that transpired from 1775 -1776 were important in helping the revolution. Two of these events were the first and the second Continental Congress meetings. The famous pamphlet written by Thomas Paine was created, as well as, the Declaration of Independence. The battles during this two year time period were known as campaigns. These campaigns were the Massachusetts, New York and the New Jersey Campaign (Stephenson, 2007).
The Continental Congress first met in September of 1774, in Carpenter’s Hall, in Philadelphia. There were forty four delegates from all the colonies, except Georgia. Some of the delegates were George Washington, Patrick Henry, John Jay, John Adams, and Samuel Adams. They agreed, they did not like being taxed by the English and created the Olive Branch Petition. The delegates decided to leave the petition in a tavern, on Wall Street in New York, so colonists could sign it.
Jasanoff (2007) relate how many people wanted a change: During three days in November 1776, this petition sat in Scott’s Tavern, on Wall Street, to be signed by anyone who wished. A frank declaration of dependence, it completely lacks the revolutionary genius and rhetorical grace of our hallowed July 4 document. Yet in all, more than 700 people put their names to the parchment 12 times the number who signed the Declaration of Independence.
Delegates sent it to England, which insulted the King. They agreed to meet again in May 1775. During the second Continental Congress, the delegates decided that they needed to protect themselves and declare war against England. The delegates made George Washington in charge of all the militia (Ferling (n.d.); ‘The Revolutionary War Index’, (n.d.)).
Thomas Paine wrote his pamphlet to help support the revolution in January, 1776. It was not published as a pamphlet until February. He talked about how necessary it was to go to war against England. The pamphlet was read by almost everyone in the colonies. He sold about five hundred thousand copies. The English government condemned his actions and banned him from teaching. Thomas Paine helped people believe in the revolution by creating a following (Kiding, 1995,’The Revolutionary War Index’, (n.d.)).
The Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, during the second Continental Congress in 1776. The declaration outlined the process of how the new nation would separate from England. Once the document was written, it was passed out to the American soldiers and published in all of the newspapers to help make people believe it was going to happen. A few years after the declaration was written, America finally got their freedom from England. (Ferling, (n.d.); Yirush, 2006).
The Battle of Lexington was the first battle between the colonists and the English. The Battle occurred on April 19, 1775. During the British march to Lexington from Concord, the patriots and the militia killed many of the British Red Coats, by using unusual tactics. They hid in the woods and then ambushed them. This was the only way that the colonists thought they might have a chance, since they were outnumbered. There was 3:1 ratio of injured to killed during the battle on both sides (Stephenson, 2007, pp. 203-210)
The Battle of Bunker Hill happened on June 17, 1775. The colonists prepared Boston for an attack by the British by fortifying all their hills and seaports, preventing them from entering. Once the British landed in Boston, they moved fast. However, the colonists could not move fast enough. While the result was a victory for the British, they suffered more losses. The colonists somehow managed to hold them back by only suffering twelve percent causality rate, while the British suffered forty five percent (Stephenson, 2007, pp. 203-210).
The Battle of Brooklyn Heights occurred on August 23, 1776. The battle was about who would gain controlled of the Hudson River, which was a major river used for trade. The straits around Brooklyn were very deep. This made it easier for England to send large ships. George Washington sent thirty five thousand troops to protect the strait. England used the same tactic that they used in Bunker Hill. The colonists ultimately lost, just like at Bunker Hill. This battle made the colonists very tired and lowered the morale, which England used to their advantage (Stephenson, 2007, pp. 230-250).
The Battle of Trenton happened in December, in Trenton, New Jersey, right near Princeton University. The colonists were attempting to take a chest with over seventy thousand pounds and a bunker of weapons. George Washington troops were completely exhausted from the night and day fighting. The Siege at Trenton was the first win for the new nation. The colonists got the chest with seventy thousand pounds and the much needed weapons (Stephenson, 2007, pp. 251-266).
The creation of the American flag was a great morale booster. This gave the colonists a flag of their own and a symbol of pride. When George Washington was in Philadelphia on business with the Constitutional Congress, he went to see a seamstress named Betsy Ross, for help. Betsy Ross was a widowed patriot that agreed to create a flag for Mr. Washington. The first flag had red stripes in the corner, with thirteen stars. The stars represented the original thirteen colonies and the stripes represented freedom. Betsy continued to make flags until she died at the age of eight four. The American flag helped to show that they were a nation (‘Did Betsy Ross’, 1908).
The Articles of Confederation were drafted in 1776, by the same delegates who drafted the Declaration of Independence. The articles described how a strong government was important to the people. The articles made Congress in charge of foreign affairs but did not allow them the ability to tax. The articles did not establish the three branches that are in our constitution today (‘The Revolutionary War Index’, (n.d.).
The tension between the English and colonists continued to get worse. The English army moved to Philadelphia from New York. A new battle erupted, the Philadelphia Campaign, which started before the 1780’s. England was trying to gain control of the capitals in the colonies. The colonists developed a Fort called Valley Forge, on the Schuylkill River, thirty five miles from Philadelphia. They were defeated once again by the English. (Stephenson, 2007, pp. 267-288; ‘The Revolutionary War Index’, (n.d.)).
The Saratoga battle was the last campaign. The French, native Indians and the colonists wanted to get rid of England once and for all. George Washington’s army was getting weak and falling apart. He wrote to the commanders of the army which helped raise their morale. They started to fight harder, which made the English casualty rate higher. The colonists won this battle and the English retreated home. The new nation started to evolve (Stephenson, 2007, pp 288- 310).
During the Saratoga battle, the colonists found out that one of their own soldiers was working for England. It was none other than, Benedict Arnold. Benedict Arnold was a high ranking officer in the Army and became one of the most notorious traitors in American history. He ultimately admitted to treason and was killed (Stephenson, 2007; ‘The Revolutionary War Index’, (n.d.)).
In early 1780, America finally won their independence from England. After the British retreated back to England, the new nation became the United States of America. This nation has continued to prosper from its development in the late seventeen hundreds. America has become a super power by encouraging freedom of free speech and open commerce. The American Revolution has helped inspire other countries to stand up for what they believe in and see the benefits that come from living in a free country (‘Essay: Revisionism: A New, Angry Look at the American Past’, 1970;’The Revolutionary War Index’, (n.d.)).
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