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The American Revolution - Essay Example

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The last decades of the 18th century witnessed several events that dramatically changed the political, social, and cultural image of the world. The American Revolution represented arguably the most important of them. A wide range of intellectual and social transformation that occurred in the former British colony not only gave birth to the new nations, but also became a material symbol of the utopian Enlightenment belief in the world of liberty, equality and justice…
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The American Revolution
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Download file to see previous pages Struggle with the external enemy - the British Empire - accompanied by deep domestic transformations led to emergence of the first democratic republic of the new historic epoch. Although some residuals of the colonial past continued to persist (for example, slavery, structure of the local governments, etc) the newly born stat embodied the political ideals of the Enlightenment.
However, struggle with the 'old order' which characterised the European revolutions of that period was not characteristic of the American Revolution. Perhaps the major reason for this was that the American Revolution took place in an absolutely new country without almost any history, while, for example, the French Revolution occurred in one of the eldest European states. Consequently, the participants of the American Revolution did not have to overthrow the established aristocratic society and absolute monarchy in order to proclaim either equality of people (because they were equal) or sovereignty of their new state (the British monarch was geographically too far from them). In other words, the birth of the new society in the United States occurred without major tension though the American Revolution pursued the same principles of the natural human rights the French Revolution did leaving the disgraceful legacy of terror and violence equalled by no other event of that period.
Despite certain disagreement between scholars as for the causes and preconditions of the American Revolution (Nash, 2005) the assertion that the major causes were similar to those of European bourgeois revolutions seems to be correct. The American Revolution was largely caused by the economic pressure of Britain, which was economically dependent on the colonies. The decision to raise taxation on the American colonies (the Stamp Act of 1765) was largely made due to serious expenses suffered by the Empire in the Seven Year War with France.
However, the raise itself did not represent a serious problem for the colonists whom paid lower taxes than citizens of Britain. The key issue was that the colonies had not been preliminary consulted about the new taxes, as they had no representation in Parliament: in other words, the Empire failed to adequately justify the new though not too heavy burden of taxes. This problem - often termed 'taxation without representation' - is reported to be one of the most essential factors that eventually led to the revolutionary situation (Wood 1998). Strong protest from the colonies forced the British to repeal the raise in 1766 (McKay, Hill & Buckler, 2005).
Some scholars believe that the great deal of independence historically exercised by American colonists also played a role in the onset of the American Revolution. Absence of the stable system of hereditary class system was one important element of this independence. From this perspective the problem of representation was only a pretext as the colonists were no less represented than inhabitants of British Islands: the colonists strongly believed that their status gave them the right to make their own laws (McKay, Hill & Buckler, 2005). Evidently, such point of view implies that the American ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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