A basic overview of the American Revolution
The 3rd of September 1783 is a salient day for all Americans. That was the day that we were born. That was the day that the United States of America was born.
Up until then, Americans were colonists who paid taxes even to get some sugar. However, people did not withstand these taxations and repudiated the British taxes demanding more representation in the British parliament. When those demands were not fulfilled, the colonists were very seethed and were getting organized for gaining liberty.
Starting from the Boston Tea Party on December 16th, 1773 to the fight in Yorktown, Virginia on October 19th, 1781, for 8 long years the American Revolution was going on and the British rule over the United States of America was fading.
The pre-social environment of the Revolution
After colonizing The New World, since the seventeenth century, the economy of the American colonies was managed by a complex British law system. But during the 1720s to 1730s, the English Prime minister was Robert Walpole who was a free-trader at heart. As the Duke of Newcastle, who should be responsible for American affairs, Walpole appointed Thomas Pelham who was also a free-trader. He followed a policy which was later called the Salutary Neglect by an Irish statesman, where he simply let the colonies be on their own.
This led to bribing the custom officers so that the colonists could take the stuff they needed without taxation. As www.libertarianism.org mentions, in the years 1756 and 1757, nearly 400 tea chests were consumed by the Philadelphians, but ironically, only sixteen chests were imported legally. Due to the Salutary Neglect of Thomas Pelham, it is stated that the British Government suffered a loss of 700,000 pounds in the year 1763. However, after The Seven Years War, Great Britain could not suffer any more revenue losses. Therefore, the English Prime Minister at that time, George Granville put an end to smuggling and illicit trade. He toiled himself to manage The New World, in a way that Britain will get the most of it. In 1765, with George Granville as their leader, the British parliament passed the stamp act, which made applying revenue stamps on newspapers, almanacs, broadsides, pamphlets, advertisements, licenses, bonds, leases, and other legal documents and commercial papers obligatory. (text,23pg) This affected the cities a great deal. lawyers, merchants, and printers were directly affected and shopkeepers, artisans, and laborers were indirectly affected.
With the advent of the stamp act, cities were raging with hatred. Though at first, they tried to intimidate the stamp distributor, later they went beyond that purpose and implemented some harsh moves against the British policies. They burned and beheaded the effigy of the stamp collector, attacked his house, and forcefully made him promise not to fulfill the duties of his office. Then they went even further to topple the house of the Loyalist, lieutenant governor Thomas Hutchinson. (text, 24pg)
However, as time went by, this enragement became prominent in most of the colonies but for some people who remained loyal to the Crown. Colonists even gathered in small groups to address the local issues on their own without taking those to the British. After the repeal of the stamp act and also the Townshend act, almost all the cities receded their rebels but for the Bostonians. These resulted in the British sending two regiments of troops which developed anxiety on both sides.
Ultimately, shots were fired on March 5, 1770, killing 5 rebels and injuring six more. This was, in my opinion, one of the closest reasons for the American Revolution. With this incident radicals like Sam Adams strictly used it to increase the revolutionary feeling of the fellow colonists and to dispose of any loyal feelings colonists had about British rule over America. Eventually, the Tea Act was imposed on America (giving exclusive control of tea supplies to the British East India Company), Sam Adams and his associates summoned a mass meeting which was graced with the presence of one-third of the city’s population-five thousand men. They organized the Boston Tea Party, in which they dumped the first shipment of the tea chests into the Boston Harbor.
In conclusion, we can observe that, from the beginning of the colonies, the American citizens did not like to be ruled over. The citizens ruled the country from the commencement of the colonization. Whenever they feel they are being ruled unnecessarily, they sprung into action demanding the freedom to live on their own and more representation in the regime. As we can observe, when those requirements are not met, citizens of America did not follow a silent manner of living.
Reasons for the American Revolution.
The main reason for this was the various kinds of taxes Britain put on the colonists. With the expenses of the Seven Years War or the French and Indian War, the British treasury was almost depleted. In an attempt to regain its wealth and cover the war expenses, the British parliament imposed some rude taxes on the colonists. These included the stamp act in 1965, the Townshend act in 1967, and the tea act in 1773 notably. These taxes enraged the colonists who were already protesting their lack of representation in the British parliament.
The hatred of the colonists turned to violence in 1770 due to the Boston Massacre in which five Bostonian rebels were shot by the British forces. With that incident, and followed by the tea act, on December 16, 1773, a group of Bostonians dressed as Mohawk Indians invaded some British ships and dumped 342 chests of tea into the Boston harbor. Due to that, the parliament imposed some additional rules and acted upon the colonists to subdue the rebels.
Ironically, that led to more displeasure about the British parliament for the colonists. Therefore in 1774, a group of colonists including George Washington, John and Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, and John Jay, gathered in Philadelphia as the Continental Congress and demanded representation if they were to pay taxes. In the Second Continental Congress gathering which commenced on May 10, 1775, they all decided to form a continental army with George Washington as commander in chief. Then the Revolution began.
The course of The American Revolution
When the Boston tea party took place, Thomas Gage was the commander of all British troops in North America. In his headquarters in Boston, he had four regiments, approximately 4,000 men under his command. Commencing the late summer of 1774, Gage started to pursue and suppress every war-like preparation in New England by seizing weapons and gun-powder stores. As britannica.com suggests, colonial groups such as Sons Of Liberty uncovered the next moves of the British officials and acted accordingly to stop this from happening and to secure weapon caches around the cities.
By and by, the colonials have sequestered much vital war material from the British starting from Fort William and Mary. Several hundred Americans gathered in front of the fort and stormed it, acquiring a considerable amount of powder and striking the British colors. This incident infuriated the British Officials and they decided to arrest and imprison the principal actors of the congress.
However, on April 16, Paul Revere rode to Concord to advise the local patriots to secure their military equipment and stores before the British arrived. This mid-night ride helped the colonists to gain much more insight into the intentions and plans. Therefore, it was later put into a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
On April 18, 1775, 700 British troops were to seize the colonial army at Concord. But as the colonials knew this was coming, they were ready in advance. After going through many hardships and misery of wading through a marsh, the infantrymen arrived at Lexington to be greeted by 77 minutemen. Both the parties were ordered to hold their fire, but “the shot that heard ‘round the world” set the field on fire. It is yet unclear who made the shot but that was the official commencement of the war of the American revolution.
In Lexington, the British made a short work of the minutemen and then ascended to Concord to be shattered into pieces by a few hundred militiamen. The British were outnumbered and were running low on ammunition due to the last battle, and were forced to retreat when American snipers took their turn in supporting the cause. It was only because of a timely reinforcement of 1,100 soldiers protected that retreat from becoming a route. At the end of the day, from the Battles of Lexington and Concord, 273 British and 95 Americans were recorded to be wounded or dead.
The rebels then confronted Boston from all over New England and Generals Sir William Howe, Sir Henry Clinton, and John Burgoyne were dispatched with reinforcements by the British. The rebels understood that with those reinforcements, the British were too strong to defeat through an unorganized battle. The Continental Congress in Philadelphia called out the troops and appointed George Washington as the commander in chief. But unfortunately, before he could take charge of the operation, Gage ordered Howe to infiltrate the Americans in Charlestown and drive them away. But as Americans had the advantage of the heights. Howe lost almost 40 percent of his army for the fight but ultimately succeeded.
On July 3, Washington took over the command of the American forces at Cambridge. He had two tasks at hand. To maintain the siege in Boston to contain the British and also he had to recruit a continental army. Incipiently, the recruitment was not very efficient which changed after the Green Mountain Boys took over Fort Ticonderoga. The artillery acquired in the fort was mounted on Dorchester Heights above Boston, which was a major reason for Howe to evacuate the city on March 17, 1776, and retreat to Halifax.
After that, there were many small fights between the two parties in New York, Long Island, Manhattan, Chatterton Hill near White Plains, etc. However, in almost all of them, Washington and the Americans were lost. It was the battle in Saratoga that changed the course. However, the fights went on, but amidst those, the French started aiding the Americans. They provided the American army with Washington with some training and taught them how to handle firearms more efficiently. With that formal training, the Americans were much more powerful and effective in the next battle, forcing the British to retreat.
Time went by and some battles were fought. Everything leading to the final battle, the siege of Yorktown. This was a battle with a combined American and French army against general Cornwallis. This defeat was the main reason and the last major battle defeat that led Britain to come to the negotiating table.
The unrevealed extent of the Revolution
If you are doing a study about the American Revolution, it is quite common to find many names including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, etc. But are they the only heroes of the nation? Were they the only soldiers who drove to battle? Is it because of them and them only that the United States of America was at liberty? The answer would be a dire no. The war was fought when middle-class farmers took their rifles and got into the battlefield to fight for the country. That was how we were taught. But was that the mere truth. If the farmers and the army were willingly fighting with sheer patriotism, why was the desertion rate in the Colonial Army so high in that period?
The questions arise as such when looking at the statistics. However, if we put that incident in this way, everything becomes back in order. The war was fought by the poor not because of the freedom of the country alone, but also for self freedom. The people, if not the filth as Washington said, understood that if the wealthy who were fighting against England won, they would not treat the poor any better than the British did. But the true incident behind this was that the colonists were paying vagabonds and drifters to fill up their position in the war. If they had, they would order a servant or a slave to the same task. They even released convicts to do the same.
The result of this was the desertions that occurred within the colonial army. The soldiers were not much bound to a cause. They were fighting for a couple of bucks or a meal. That’s why the number of desertions was very high during that time. If they could, the farmers, slaves, and small business owners would have chosen not to be near a battlefield at all.
The ironic part is that the revolution did little for the poor. It was mainly for the people who were high in society. The revolution was to transfer sovereignty to Americans from the British. It was to stop taxes and all. But it was not at all for the mistreatment of the poor, women, or slaves. It did not even speak about the rights of the mentioned parties. What it did was transfer local assemblies into state legislatures and freed the merchants from the trade chains of British rule.
The ultimate result of the American Revolution was the freedom of the colonies. But did the Warriors get what they deserve? Did the heroes who entered the battlefield get what they’ve always wanted? That is quite doubtful. As the historian, Colin Bonwick said, the social changes of the American Revolution were quite less. All of them were bound with political changes and processes. Therefore it took an era to get into society. Though the country was free at last, the people were not. As I mentioned before, many slaves were forced to enter the continental army, and most of them deserted the cause or were killed in the battle. But almost all of the rest were taken back into their slavery. Was this the freedom they expected? It is true, that slavery was weakened but it was again fortified in other areas. This was not real freedom. The ultimate result of the revolution was not America becoming free. It was rich in America becoming free. Though it was the poor that fought bravely, only the rich got the credit which was somewhat disappointing.
Another party that was neglected after the revolution was women. They were an essential party in every military camp. They served the cause as cooks and nurses. If not for them, many injured would have died. Many would have starved to death. But when we observe the post-social changes of the American Revolution, we may not observe many benefits bestowed to them. They were not visible as citizens. They were considered to be the weaker sex and were not allowed for education or to hold office in the state or national government. But as I see they should have been treated with more respect. If not for them, the Revolution would be a lost cause. They were the main personals in the food riots which took place before and during the revolution. What was the point of them helping if they did not get any form of benefit? If they were treated with equal rights and given the credits of the war the results of the revolution will shine more.
The natives faced many detriments because of the American Revolution. They fought alongside the British hoping for the victory of the English because it will limit the expansion of the colonies and eventually will grant some protection for their lands. But as Americans took over the rule there, everything changed. Specifically after the treaty of Paris. They claim they had over their lands was not accounted and Americans moved to their lands claiming lands. The natives were hence dislocated and were caught in diseases and eventually died.
Analyzing the fact that the benefit of the American Revolution was gathered around the rich but not the citizens, made me question my former saying “The 3rd of September 1783 is a salient day for all Americans. That was the day that we were born. That was the day that the United States of America was born. ” Was it the day that the Americans were born or was it the day that the rich were made more powerful with political rights? The question arises within our own minds. The text and many resources mention that American won its independence by the American Revolution. But won’t it be much fair if it is the American rich people were given the total authority of the poor? It’s true that the Revolution helped America to rise up and get to the stage where it is right now. But the results of the revolution were quite doubtful. The hypocrisy of the Aristocats was portrayed when they demanded freedom from the British but kept their slaves in servitude. It is best to critically analyze the results of the revolution again rather than sticking with what most of the resources say. If women and blacks were not there to help the American cause, it may have been lost. But they were not recognized merely as heroes. It is quite disappointing to see that.