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The significant turning point in history that caused the revolution was the Stamp Act of 1765, which led to Congress’ trade boycott…
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History: The Primary Causes of the American Revolution The primary causes of the American Revolution are identified in this brief response from information obtained from the three documents listed. The significant turning point in history that caused the revolution was the Stamp Act of 1765, which led to Congress’ trade boycott. This then invited the eruption of war against ‘the mother country’ on April 19, 1775 when an army of 900 British men marched on Concord from Boston to destroy an arsenal. Similar troubles were in Lexington where the first shots of the revolution were fired. In short, the situation had become ‘impossible’ and it was just a matter of timing. It was the “’cruel necessity’ that made independence unavoidable” (Maier, 1997) and the “painful and harrowing” (Thomas, 2001) genesis resulted from the American Revolution.
The primary cause for the revolution then was the taxes to claim ‘unlimited jurisdiction’ over the Americans. This began with the Stamp Act. For some, there were impelling economic reasons to remain within the empire for security, but especially during the war after the debacle at Quebec, the American Prohibitory Act which shut all trade with the colonies was perhaps ‘the nail in the coffin’ that “put the two Countries asunder” (Richard Henry Lee). The later hiring of mercenaries only outraged Americans towards the Crown.
The other dimension that made revolution necessary was the British mishandling of their colony, and therefore the need to “sever ties with a long colonial past” (Ferling, 2004). “The Royal Navy had bombarded and burned American towns, and the colonists’ commerce had been nearly shut down by a British blockade” (Ferling, 2004). It is the war that enabled the final break because it transformed “the colonists’ deep-seated love for Britain into enmity” (Ferling, 2004). The hostilities also brought on massive unemployment, heinous cruelties, slave insurrections, and the spread of diseases. The anti-independence faction being ‘the dullest and slowest of sailors’ still needed convincing, as they feared retaliation the most, but eventually it was clear that the sword of the war was ‘opening their veins’ and this compelled Americans to fight for their freedom. At the time of the revolution, those who remained loyal to the British crown only constituted a third of the colonists. Another third that were ‘true blue’ were prepared to fight the British redcoats arriving in New York. Success had already been achieved in Boston. However, what really precipitated the British downfall was the much need ‘foreign assistance’ in the form of France’s intervention at Yorktown in 1781.
The controlling force for the revolution was the courage of the founders, especially Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, the ‘Atlas of Independence’ who “masterminded the arduous struggle within Congress to declare independence” (Ferling, 2004), and George Washington leading his army of “mostly untested, ill-equipped farmers” (Thomas, 2001). Their intellectual impulse was the new ‘Enlightenment’ and early notions of egalitarianism, Jefferson being influenced by French philosophy upholding the ‘will of the people’ and Adams who had strong ideas of just governance. However, it took 14 months after Congress being caught ‘between a hawk and a buzzard’, gathered the strength to go with the flow of the ‘military spirit’ and be committed to defending American Liberty by declaring independence. After all, if they hadn’t, it was obvious the colonists would have remained as “second-class citizens in the British Empire” (Ferling, 2004). Stronger moves that hastened the revolution were issuing the new currency, creating a post office, establishing a navy, and so on. Another instrumental moment was when the young army suffered its first “devastating military setback” (Ferling, 2004), and when it became obvious that there was no sign of the awaited ‘peace commissioners’. This propelled Congress towards independence quicker. Another important document that actually paved the way for the Declaration of Independence was the ‘Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms’ in which the charges of British tyranny were reiterated and the ‘avowed course of murder and devastation’ catalogued.
Source documents:
•EBSCOHost Article: Ferling, John. “The Rocky Road to Revolution.” Smithsonian 35, no. 4 (July 2004): 96-106.
•EBSCOHost Article: Maier, Pauline. “Making Sense of the 4th of July.” American Heritage 48, no. 4 (July/Aug 2004): 54
•EBSCOHost Article: Thomas, Evan. “Founders Chic: Live from Philadelphia.” Newsweek 138, no. 2 (July 9th, 2001): 48 Read More
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