Chapter 2: AMERICAN REVOLUTION
Era of questioning established beliefs. Every aspect of
thoughts and beliefs were questioned. It was an intellectual
revolution where all beliefs based on faith were questioned.
Scientific revolution was seen and new ideas based on secularism and
rationality were created. Hold of church over ideas was questioned.
Division of people on the basis of birth were undermined. This
period also became "Age of Enlightenment" or "Age of
Ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity became popular.
National consciousness was created. This period also led to protest
and overthrow of autocratic rule in many parts. A peoples revolution
was seen that challenged privileges to a few. A new social order
called Socialism emerged and democratic and republican system of
government became a popular demand.
European countries started the race for colonies. They started
exploring new territories with a view to colonize them. In North
America colonies were set up by France, Holland, England and
By the middle of the 18th century there were 13 colonies in North
America belonging to England. Landless peasants, people seeking
religious freedom, traders, profiteers settled there. Bulk of the
population was infant farmers. Small industries developed there of
In the North, fishing and ship building were the main occupation
and in south slave labor was used to get tobacco and cotton
plantation.The colonies had their assembly and each was elected by
qualified voters. The assemblies enacted taxes and made local
laws. But these worked under the authority of mother country.
By the 18th century, the colonists found the laws increasingly
interfering and they resented it. The idea of an independent
nation grew and a revolutionary war was started which culminated
in the defeat of England. This was the "American War of
Fig 1: 13 colonies of America.
Causes of the American war of Independence
- The policies of England impeded trade and industry in every
way. The colonists were forbidden to start industries of the own
like iron and steel.
- Heavy import duties were put on goods of other countries
forcing them to buy only English goods.
- Certain commodities could be sold only to England.
- Use of Non British ships were forbidden.
- English aristocrats prevent the farmers from moving to the
west into new lands. They wanted the colonists to remain as rent
payers to them.
Taxes to finance wars
- The continuous wars of English indebted them and so they
wanted more revenues from colonies. They imposed a stamp tax on
- A revenue stamp had to be affixed on all legal documents.
- This angered all colonists in many cities violent protests
were seen and rioters even killed tax collectors.
- The colonists argued that since English parliament had no
representative from colonies they had no right to impose taxes
on them. The taxes were used for welfare of British not the
- American thinkers like Thomas Jefferson influenced
by English and French thinkers too decided too fuel people
desire for independence.
- The Americans then came up with the slogan "No
taxation without Representation". The protestors
forced England to withdraw stamp tax but English continued to
assert right to levy taxes and it put tax on consumer goods.
- This incensed the colonists and they boycotted British
imports. The British then withdrew the taxes but kept the tax on
tea only. Boston Tea Party was a result of
this action, protestors offloaded tea cartons on a ship at
Boston port. The British then closed the port to trade.
Final Stage - Declaration of Independence
The representatives of 13 colonies met at the First continental
congress at Philadelphia in 1774. They urged the king to not
impose any taxes without their consent. But the king considered
this act as mutiny and sent troops to rush the revolt.
The colonists then formed an army with help of local militias and
other colonial powers. The colonists now fought for their right to
form an independent nation , earlier they had fought for their
right to be treated as Englishmen.
The declaration of Independence at Second congress was
"All men are created equal".
The English army fought the American militia. The militia were
familiar with the terrain and had help from other colonial powers
who wanted to embarrass the British. British too were facing
rebellion from Irish at home also few in the Parliament were
against war on colonists. Thus, the British lost the war and
General Cornwallis surrendered in 1781.
A Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783 declaring American
The American colonies fought with separate army, finances,
boundaries but at the end Formed the United States. They came
together at the Philadelphia convention to form a constitution.
This was enforced since 1789.
The US constitution was a federal system which divided powers
between Center and states. Due to Jefferson and his followers work
Bill of Rights were added by 10 amendments to the constitution.
The US became the oldest democracy of the world and the first to
setup a republican government when most others were monarchy's.
The US constitution too was the oldest written constitution that
is enforced even today.
Aftermath of the Revolution
The Democracy wasn't a complete democracy as only propertied
class had the vote. American Negros's were still enslaved, women
had no voting rights. However the campaign to end slavery led to
the civil war between Northern states and Southern states. This
ended in victory for the North and slavery was abolished in 1865.
American war also inspired the French revolution as the soldiers
that had achieved victory in America were inspired to free France
from oppression of King.