Paul Revere, Landing of the Troops, c. 1770. Courtesy American Antiquarian Society. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 global (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

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I. Introduction

In the 1760s, Benjamin Rush, a native of Philadelphia, recounted a visit come Parliament. Upon see the king throne in the residence of Lords, Rush stated he “felt together if that walked on spiritual ground” with “emotions that i cannot describe.”1 transparent the eighteenth century, colonists had developed far-reaching emotional ties with both the brothers monarchy and the brother constitution. The British north American homesteaders had just aided to success a civilization war and most, like Rush, had never been much more proud to be British. And also yet, in a tiny over a decade, those same colonists would declare your independence and also break far from the brothers Empire. Checked out from 1763, nothing would have actually seemed together improbable together the American Revolution.

The change built institutions and codified the language and ideas the still specify Americans’ image of themselves. Moreover, revolutionaries justified their new nation with radical new ideals that changed the food of history and sparked a an international “age the revolution.” however the change was together paradoxical as it to be unpredictable. A revolution fought in the surname of liberty allowed slavery come persist. Resistance to central authority bound disparate swarms ever closer with each other under brand-new governments. The change created politicians eager to foster republican selflessness and protect the public good but also encouraged separation, personal, instance self-interest and personal gain. The “founding fathers” instigated and also fought a revolution to secure self-reliance from Britain, yet they did not fight that transformation to develop a “democracy.” To properly rebel versus Britain, however, required more than a few dozen “founding fathers.” Common homesteaders joined the fight, unleashing popular forces that shaped the transformation itself, often in methods not welcomed by upstream leaders. But once unleashed, these renowned forces ongoing to form the new nation and indeed the remainder of American history.


II. The origins of the American Revolution

The American change had both irreversible origins and short-term causes. In this section, we will certainly look broadly at some of the long-term political, intellectual, cultural, and also economic developments in the eighteenth century that set the context because that the dilemm of the 1760s and also 1770s.

Between the Glorious change of 1688 and also the middle of the eighteenth century, Britain had actually largely failed to define the colonies’ connection to the empire and also institute a systematic program of imperial reform. Two factors added to these failures. First, Britain to be at battle from the war of the Spanish sequence at the start of the century with the seven Years’ war in 1763. Consistent war was politically consuming and also economically expensive. Second, competing visions the empire divided British officials. Old Whigs and also their Tory pendant envisioned an authoritarian empire, based upon conquering territory and extracting resources. They sought to get rid of Britain’s cultivation national blame by increasing taxes and also cutting spending on the colonies. The radical (or patriot) Whigs based their royal vision on trade and also manufacturing instead of land and also resources. They suggested that economic growth, not increasing taxes, would fix the national debt. Rather of one authoritarian empire, “patriot Whigs” argued that the colonies should have equal condition with the mother country. There to be occasional make the efforts to reform the administration of the colonies, but debate between the 2 sides prevented coherent reform.2

Colonists arisen their own expertise of exactly how they fit into the empire. They experienced themselves together British topics “entitled to every the natural, essential, inherent, and also inseparable rights of our fellow subjects in Great-Britain.” The eighteenth century brought significant economic and also demographic expansion in the colonies. This success, they believed, resulted partly from Britain’s hands-off technique to the colonies, strategy that has actually been called salutary neglect. By midcentury, colonists believed that they organized a special ar in the empire, which justification Britain’s hands-off policy. In 1764, James Otis Jr. Wrote, “The homesteaders are licensed has been granted to as ample rights, liberties, and privileges as the topics of the mother country are, and in some respects to more.”3

In this same period, the colonies arisen their own neighborhood political institutions. Samuel Adams, in the Boston Gazette, defined the nests as each being a “separate body politic” native Britain. Virtually immediately upon every colony’s settlement, they developed a early american assembly. These assemblies assumed plenty of of the very same duties together the Commons exercised in Britain, consisting of taxing residents, regulating the safety of the colonies’ revenue, and granting earnings to imperial officials. In the beforehand 1700s, colonial leaders unsuccessfully lobbied the British federal government to specify their assemblies’ legitimate prerogatives, but Britain to be too occupied with europe wars. In the first half the the eighteenth century, imperial governors tasked by the board of trade attempted to limit the power of the assemblies, however the assemblies’ power only grew. Countless colonists pertained to see your assemblies as having the very same jurisdiction end them that Parliament exercised over those in England. They construed British inaction as justifying their heritage of local governance. The Crown and also Parliament, however, disagreed.4

Political culture in the colonies additionally developed in different way than the of the mommy country. In both Britain and the colonies, land was the crucial to politics participation, but because land was more easily acquired in the colonies, a greater proportion the male colonists participated in politics. Colonial political society drew catalyst from the “country” party in Britain. This ideas—generally described as the ideology of republicanism—stressed the corrupting nature of power and the require for those connected in self-governing come be virtuous (i.e., placing the “public good” over their very own self-interest). Patriots would need to be ever vigilant versus the increase of conspiracies, centralized control, and tyranny. Only a tiny fringe in Britain organized these ideas, however in the colonies, castle were commonly accepted.5

In the 1740s, 2 seemingly conflicting body of thought—the Enlightenment and the great Awakening—began to incorporate in the colonies and difficulty older ideas about authority. Perhaps no solitary philosopher had actually a greater impact on colonial thinking than John Locke. In his Essay worrying Human Understanding, Locke argued that the mind was originally a tabula rasa (or empty slate) and that individuals were formed primarily by their environment. The aristocracy climate were wealthy or successful since they had actually greater access to wealth, education, and patronage and not because they were innately superior. Locke complied with this essay with Some Thoughts concerning Education, which presented radical brand-new ideas around the importance of education. Education and learning would create rational person beings qualified of thinking for themselves and questioning authority fairly than tacitly agree tradition. These concepts slowly concerned have far-ranging effects in the colonies and, later, the brand-new nation.

At the exact same time the Locke’s ideas around knowledge and education spread out in phibìc America, the colonies also experienced an unmatched wave of evangelical good news revivalism. In between 1739 and 1740, the Rev. George Whitefield, an enigmatic, itinerant preacher, travel the swarms preaching Calvinist sermons to substantial crowds. Unlike the rationalism the Locke, his sermons were designed to appeal come his listeners’ emotions. Whitefield called his listeners that salvation could only be uncovered by taking personal responsibility for one’s own unmediated relationship with God, a procedure that came to be known together a “conversion” experience. He additionally argued the the present Church hierarchies occupied by “unconverted” ministers just stood together a barrier between the individual and God. In his wake, new traveling preachers picked up his message and many congregations split. Both Locke and also Whitefield had empowered individuals to inquiry authority and also to take their lives right into their own hands.

In various other ways, eighteenth-century homesteaders were becoming an ext culturally similar to Britons, a procedure often described as Anglicization. As colonial economies grew, they conveniently became crucial market for British manufacturing exports. Colonists with disposable income and accessibility to British markets attempted come mimic brothers culture. By the center of the eighteenth century, middling-class homesteaders could additionally afford items formerly thought of together luxuries prefer British fashions, dining wares, and also more. The desire to purchase British items meshed v the desire to enjoy British liberties.6 these political, intellectual, cultural, and also economic advancements built stress that rose to the surface when, ~ the 7 Years’ War, britain finally began to carry out a regimen of imperial reform the conflicted with colonists’ knowledge of the empire and also their location in it.

III. The reasons of the American Revolution

Most immediately, the American revolution resulted straight from attempts to reform the British empire after the 7 Years’ War. The seven Years’ war culminated nearly a fifty percent century the war between Europe’s imperial powers. It was truly a people war, fought between multiple empires on many continents. In ~ its conclusion, the British realm had never ever been larger. Britain now controlled the phibìc American continent east of the Mississippi River, consisting of French Canada. It had also consolidated its control over India. But the realities and also responsibilities that the postwar realm were daunting. War (let alone victory) on such a scale was costly. Britain doubled the national debt to 13.5 times its yearly revenue. Brother faced significant new prices required to secure and also defend that is far-flung empire, particularly the west frontiers of the phibìc American colonies. These factors led brothers in the 1760s to effort to consolidate manage over its north American colonies, which, in turn, led to resistance.

King George III took the crown in 1760 and brought Tories into his government after three years of Whig rule. They stood for an authoritarian vision of empire in which nests would be subordinate. The royal Proclamation the 1763 to be Britain’s very first major postwar imperial activity targeting north America. The king forbade settlement west of the Appalachian mountains in an attempt to border costly battles with indigenous Americans. Colonists, however, protested and also demanded access to the are for which they had dealt with alongside the British.

In 1764, conference passed two much more reforms. The street Act sought come combat widespread smuggling of molasses in new England by cutting the duty in half but raising enforcement. Also, smugglers would be do the efforts by vice-admiralty courts and not juries. Parliament also passed the money Act, which limited colonies native producing file money. Tough money, such as gold and also silver coins, was scarce in the colonies. The lack of money impeded the colonies’ increasingly sophisticated transatlantic economies, but it was particularly damaging in 1764 due to the fact that a postwar recession had currently begun. In between the constraints of the Proclamation of 1763, the currency Act, and the sugar Act’s canceling that trials-by-jury for smugglers, part colonists started to fear a pattern of raised taxation and limited liberties.

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In in march 1765, conference passed the stamp Act. The act required that numerous documents be published on file that had been stamped to present the duty had actually been paid, including newspapers, pamphlets, diplomas, legit documents, and also even play cards. The street Act of 1764 was an effort to get merchants to pay an currently existing duty, however the rubber stamp Act produced a new, straight (or “internal”) tax. Parliament had never prior to directly taxation the colonists. Instead, nests contributed to the empire through the payment of indirect, “external” taxes, together as customizeds duties. In 1765, Daniel Dulany of Maryland wrote, “A appropriate to impose an interior tax top top the colonies, without your consent for the single purpose the revenue, is denied, a appropriate to control their trade without their consent is, admitted.”7 Also, unlike the street Act, i m sorry primarily influenced merchants, the stamp Act directly influenced numerous teams throughout colonial society, including printers, lawyers, university graduates, and even seafarers who played cards. This led, in part, come broader, much more popular resistance.

Resistance to the rubber stamp Act took 3 forms, distinguished largely by class: legislature resistance by elites, financial resistance by merchants, and popular protest by common colonists. Early american elites comment by pass resolutions in their assemblies. The most famed of the anti-Stamp plot resolutions to be the Virginia Resolves, happen by the home of Burgesses on might 30, 1765, which claimed that the colonists were entitled to “all the liberties, privileges, franchises, and also immunities . . . Possessed by the human being of good Britain.” once the Virginia Resolves were published throughout the colonies, however, lock often contained a couple of extra, far an ext radical resolutions no passed by the Virginia residence of Burgesses, the last of which asserted that only “the general assembly the this swarm have any kind of right or power to i have loaded or lay any taxation” and also that anyone who argued differently “shall be considered an enemy to this his majesty’s colony.”8 These additional items spread throughout the colonies and also helped radicalize subsequent responses in other early american assemblies. This responses at some point led to the calling of the stamp Act conference in brand-new York City in October 1765. Nine nests sent delegates, who had Benjamin Franklin, man Dickinson, cutting board Hutchinson, Philip Livingston, and James Otis.9