1) The crisis that gripped the British Empire beginning in 1763 ultimately compelled Americans to revolt and declare independence from British rule. What were the circumstances, events, and actions that lead Americans to take this drastic action? Put another way, what factors do you think caused many Americans to decide that leaving the empire was necessary? At what point during the crisis do you think a war for independence became inevitable?
2) What was life like for black Americans in the years before, during, and after the Revolutionary War? In what ways did they participate in the Revolutionary struggle? Did they realize significant social, economic, and political benefits as a result of the changes in American society during the Revolutionary era?
Factors leading to American independence from British Empire
American independence from the Britain is not only an important event for Americans or the Great Britain but also an event that contribute highly to shaping the world the way we see it today. The usual impression may be that Americans and Britain’s were two completely independent races that may have caused Americans to seek independence. But the facts are contrary to it. The indigenous people of the now America or USA were the so called Red Indians (Howley, James Patrick). The majority of people who sought independence from Britain Empire were Europeans who migrated to USA during it colonization by different European countries. If the people seeking independences belonged to the same race that was the ruling elite, why then an independence occurred at all?
In this paper, I would discuss many factors that resulted in the revolt of Americans against the British Empire. The crisis that exited in then America in the 1750’s and 60’s were multifold. They included social, economic, the influence of the actions of other colonists, legislative, financial and the search for an independent identity. Political differences also played an important role in the independence and was among the major ones. I would be focusing on the events that lead to American independence in depth putting forward my understanding of these events and what primarily cause resulted in the war for independence that resulted in the independence on July 4, 1776.
Financial independence of the British colonies
British colonies existed in the American continent since 150 year till the 1760’s. These colonies enjoyed a certain degree of independence in financial terms and were progressing rapidly compared to those areas which were directly ruled by the Britain. After the withdrawal of France and Spain after the 7 year war, some of the colonies became independent and their economic progress was speeding up (Hall, Tony, and Francis Jennings). On the other hand, in the areas that were directly under British control, the situation was worsening as Britain was imposing more and more duties and taxes on businesses and individuals to pay for the expenses of the Empire. The people living under British Empire in America were feeling the heat and looking at the progress of the colonies and they realized the dream of independence that would mean a financial independence as well which could well result in a positive change in their lives financially.
Withdrawals of other colonists
As stated earlier, with the withdrawal of other colonists like France, Italy and Spain. The colonies that remained independent behind them were gaining strength in an independent status. The colonists that had to leave America considered Britain to be a part of the situation that resulted in their abandoning their colonies. These colonist, especially France started to conspire against Britain in the areas under Britain Empire and supported a cause for independence among the inhabitants. This support was not limited to moral support but also financial and military support was provided (Dull, Jonathan). This provided a life to the American struggle for independence and created obstacles for British Empire to effectively control America. Their influence gradually deteriorated till the American war of independence which resulted in Britain granting independence in 1976.
Increased number of immigrants
Though this factor is somehow ignored, America had an increased number of immigrants from around the world and especially Europe in the last few decades near to the years when calls for independence caught strength. This immigration had resulted in the formation of urban centers like Philadelphia and Boston (Ash, Thomas). Manufacturing companies were on an increase. The immigrants some of whom were slaves while other free men and women settled in urban centers. Some of them also settled in lands that were available in abundance and started to farm there. The area of America was large and people started to gain ownership of large chunks of properties. Britain was unable to keep administrative control of the increase urbanized areas and the developing agricultural lands. The people who owned lands and industries also called for new legislations that would give them more power over their resources and less centralization that was controlled by the Britain from outside of America. The mainland colonies that existed between South Carolina and Maine had become more independent due to financial independence and industrialization in this era. A cultural mix and the emergence of a multicultural society coupled with industrial and financial progress produced a fertile situation for independence from an Empire that looked to be an oppressor.
Free born Englishmen and American identity
One other cause, and this is a major one was the political ideology that surrounded independence. It is a human instant that it wants a national recognition. The population of America did not consisted all people with English roots. In fact there was an abundance of other nationalities including French, Irish, Scottish, Italians and Welsh. But history tells us that the major role played in the resistance and then the revolution were the colonies with up to 70% English. The main reason was the birth of the ideology of free born Englishmen who demanded an identity that was separate from their ancestral English. This identity emerged to be called American identity. This is the identity that brought most the colonies and different nationalities under one flag and take part in a revolution that would ultimately lead them to independence. Primarily the new Englishmen were well aware of their individual rights. This could be due to the fact that their ancestors belonged to the world’s most progressive nation of their times and had influenced their descendants with ideology of independence and individual and collective rights to govern themselves.
The governance of different colonies
The governance of different colonies was also becoming an issues for the British Empire. Not all colonies had the same political setup. Instead colonies were run on convenient basis. Legislations in different colonies were introduced in need basis to serve the needs and wishes of the British Empire. The New England colonies were governed with more of an independent and democratic structure while the remaining colonies were greatly under the control of British Empire and orders to govern even the minute operations were sent directly from the British Empire. In these colonies, governors who were appointed directly by the British Empire held the power to rule. These flaws in governance had resulted in less taxation of the colonies and a lot of corruption that resulted in strict policies by the British Empire which ultimately enraged people and set a stage for a revolution.
British debt from the 7 year war
The seven year war (between 1754 and 1763) that was fought among the world powers had left British Empire in debts over 137 million British pounds (Riley, James). This war had split Europe in to two parts. One part was led by Great Britain while other was led by France. Though the results of the war were in favor of the British Empire, it has a great financial cost. British Empire was feeling the financial pain. The Empire had already realized that it cannot afford the financial independence of its colonies and the non-payment of taxes that was expected of the industries and agriculture of these colonies. The Empire was getting ready to introduce strict laws that could ensure a taxation system that would bring in financial resources to the Empire treasury. But this was not an easy task as it had its drawbacks. One of the biggest drawback was the resistance that was expected of the people who were supposed to feel the financial burden as a result of the financial pressure. And this resistance did happen.
The Stamp Act
The stamp act was passed in March 1765. This act was a big blow to the finances of Americans in each and every field. This was an internal tax that almost all Americans had to pay. The stamp act required all newspapers, official document, advertisement and playing cards to be on legal stamp papers that were sold by the British Empire. Everyone in the American society considered it a direct attack on the pockets. This resulted in an outrage and fueled the revolution against the British Empire.
Change to tea duties in 1773
The changes made to tea duties rose taxes on its imports to America and brought other changes to the way tea was sold in the American market. The export of tea to around the world was a form of immense income for the Britain Empire. To help the deteriorating financial condition of the British Empire, the act of changes to duties was introduced in 1773. This did not go well among the general American population. There was a wide spread boycott of the use of tea and ships full of tea were not allowed to dock at many ports. In Boston, the governor allowed British ship with tea to dock but it was burnt by the locals (Gunderson, Cory).
Boston Tea Party
Sons of liberty was a secret society that was formed by members from 13 colonies. It held a political protest on December 16, 1773 in Boston against the Tea Act that was established as part of an effort to help stabilize the East Indian Company financially. During this protest, the protestors boarded a ship dill with tea and threw all the tea that was the property of East India Company in to the sea. This is considered as a turning point in the American History as British government responded harshly and with brutal force. More protests started to be held against the Tea Act and this never stopped. The Tea Party had successfully provided a foundation to a revolution against the British Rule.
Budget of March 1774
The effects of the custom duties and taxation were felt severely after the budget for 1774 started to be exercised. The financial pain was felt across the colonies, especially New England which was the hub of distilleries of rum which was an important commodity of the Indian trade at that time. The assemblies of the colonies passed many declarations to establish their power over the taxation process which were directly against the British interests. These declarations were considered a challenge to the British Empire by the British rulers and their representatives in America.
Till 1774, most of the colonies demanded a degree of self-governance remaining under the British Empire. But with time and increasing demands by the British Empire to drain more financial resources from the colonies resulted in the prevalence of the thoughts of complete independence as the realization of American deepened that they cannot have a financial and political independence under the British Empire. British Empire started to use excessive force to curb any voices that were raised against it. A collective voice for independence emerged and American fought their way to independence on July 4, 1776.
American independence was undoubtedly a result of an ongoing range of actions that were taken by the British Empire and the way American people responded to it. But, the Tea Party is considered to be the triggering point for the revolution for independence. Other Acts that are discussed in this paper and which were passed by the British parliament also played a vital role as it resulted in compelling the British Americans to think that their powers are taken away by a parliament that was sitting thousands of miles away from them. British Americans felt betrayed and provided full support in revolution against the British rule. It took many lives and years to reach to a stage where the Americans got independence. This has a great lesson for the world. You cannot become great unless you have not paid the due price for it. Americans were ready to pay the prices and the ultimate result was in their favor. Since then, America has established its presence as one of the greatest power and had been dominating the world stage since its independence. In the world politics, sometimes America has been on the right side while other times it has been on the wrong side of the history. We hope that America can be driven by the same spirit and the principles of liberty that existed during the times of its independence so that it can be a positive driving force in the world politics and the world history.