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

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I. Introduction

In the 1760s, Benjamin Rush, a aboriginal of Philadelphia, recounted a visit to Parliament. Upon seeing the king’s throne in the residence of Lords, Rush said he “felt together if that walked on sacred ground” v “emotions that i cannot describe.”1 throughout the eighteenth century, homesteaders had developed far-reaching emotional ties with both the brothers monarchy and also the brother constitution. The British north American homesteaders had just helped to win a people war and also most, prefer Rush, had actually never been more proud to be British. And yet, in a little over a decade, those same homesteaders would declare your independence and break far from the british Empire. Checked out from 1763, nothing would have actually seemed as improbable together the American Revolution.

The revolution built institutions and codified the language and also ideas the still specify Americans’ image of themselves. Moreover, revolutionaries justified your new nation with radical new ideals that adjusted the food of background and sparked a global “age of revolution.” however the revolution was as paradoxical as it to be unpredictable. A transformation fought in the name of liberty enabled slavery come persist. Resistance to central authority tied disparate swarms ever closer with each other under new governments. The change created political leaders eager come foster republican selflessness and protect the public good but also encouraged separation, personal, instance self-interest and an individual gain. The “founding fathers” instigated and fought a revolution to secure self-reliance from Britain, however they did not fight that transformation to develop a “democracy.” To properly rebel against Britain, however, required much more than a few dozen “founding fathers.” Common colonists joined the fight, unleashing popular forces that shaped the revolution itself, frequently in ways not welcomed by elite leaders. Yet once unleashed, these popular forces ongoing to shape the new country and without doubt the remainder of American history.


II. The beginnings of the American Revolution

The American transformation had both permanent origins and short-term causes. In this section, we will look extensively at several of the irreversible political, intellectual, cultural, and also economic developments in the eighteenth century that set the context for the dilemm of the 1760s and also 1770s.

Between the Glorious change of 1688 and also the center of the eighteenth century, Britain had largely fail to define the colonies’ partnership to the empire and also institute a coherent program of imperial reform. Two factors contributed to these failures. First, Britain to be at war from the war of the Spanish succession at the begin of the century with the 7 Years’ battle in 1763. Continuous war to be politically consuming and economically expensive. Second, contending visions the empire divided British officials. Old Whigs and also their Tory supporters envisioned an authoritarian empire, based on conquering territory and extracting resources. Castle sought to eliminate Britain’s cultivation national blame by raising taxes and also cutting spending on the colonies. The radical (or patriot) Whigs based their imperial vision top top trade and manufacturing instead of land and resources. They suggested that economic growth, not elevating taxes, would solve the national debt. Instead of an authoritarian empire, “patriot Whigs” said that the nests should have actually equal standing with the mom country. There to be occasional attempts to revolutionary the administration of the colonies, however debate in between the 2 sides prevented meaningful reform.2

Colonists occurred their own expertise of how they fit right into the empire. They witnessed themselves as British subjects “entitled to all the natural, essential, inherent, and also inseparable civil liberties of our fellow subjects in Great-Britain.” The eighteenth century brought far-ranging economic and demographic development in the colonies. This success, they believed, resulted partly from Britain’s hands-off approach to the colonies, technique that has actually been called salutary neglect. By midcentury, colonists thought that they hosted a special location in the empire, which justified Britain’s hands-off policy. In 1764, James Otis Jr. Wrote, “The homesteaders are licensed has been granted to as ample rights, liberties, and also privileges as the topics of the mother country are, and also in part respects to more.”3

In this very same period, the colonies occurred their own regional political institutions. Samuel Adams, in the Boston Gazette, defined the colonies as every being a “separate body politic” native Britain. Virtually immediately upon every colony’s settlement, they created a colonial assembly. This assemblies assumed plenty of of the exact same duties together the Commons worked out in Britain, including taxing residents, managing the safety of the colonies’ revenue, and also granting wages to royal officials. In the beforehand 1700s, colonial leaders unsuccessfully lobbied the British federal government to define their assemblies’ legal prerogatives, yet Britain to be too occupied with european wars. In the very first half the the eighteenth century, imperial governors tasked by the board of profession attempted to border the strength of the assemblies, yet the assemblies’ power just grew. Countless colonists involved see your assemblies as having actually the very same jurisdiction end them that Parliament worked out over those in England. They construed British inaction together justifying their tradition of regional governance. The Crown and also Parliament, however, disagreed.4

Political society in the colonies likewise developed in different way than that of the mommy country. In both Britain and the colonies, land was the key to political participation, but since land was an ext easily obtained in the colonies, a greater proportion the male homesteaders participated in politics. Colonial political society drew catalyst from the “country” party in Britain. This ideas—generally referred to as the ideology of republicanism—stressed the corrupting nature of power and the need for those connected in self-governing come be virtuous (i.e., putting the “public good” end their very own self-interest). Patriots would have to be ever vigilant against the rise of conspiracies, central control, and also tyranny. Just a little fringe in Britain held these ideas, but in the colonies, they were extensively accepted.5

In the 1740s, two seemingly conflicting bodies of thought—the Enlightenment and also the great Awakening—began to incorporate in the nests and difficulty older ideas about authority. Maybe no solitary philosopher had actually a greater affect on colonial thinking than John Locke. In his Essay concerning Human Understanding, Locke said that the mind was originally a tabula rasa (or empty slate) and also that individuals were formed primarily by your environment. The aristocracy then were affluent or successful because they had greater access to wealth, education, and also patronage and also not because they to be innately superior. Locke adhered to this essay through Some Thoughts worrying Education, which introduced radical new ideas about the importance of education. Education would produce rational human being beings capable of reasoning for themselves and also questioning authority rather than tacitly agree tradition. These principles slowly concerned have far-reaching effects in the swarms and, later, the new nation.

At the same time that Locke’s ideas about knowledge and also education spread in phibìc America, the colonies likewise experienced an unprecedented wave of evangelical protestant revivalism. Between 1739 and also 1740, the Rev. George Whitefield, one enigmatic, itinerant preacher, travel the colonies preaching Calvinist sermons to substantial crowds. Unlike the rationalism the Locke, his sermons to be designed to appeal to his listeners’ emotions. Whitefield said his listeners the salvation might only be uncovered by taking personal responsibility for one’s own unmediated partnership with God, a procedure that came to be known as a “conversion” experience. He likewise argued that the current Church hierarchies lived in by “unconverted” ministers only stood as a obstacle between the individual and also God. In his wake, brand-new traveling preachers choose up his message and also many congregations split. Both Locke and also Whitefield had actually empowered individuals to question authority and also to take your lives right into their very own hands.

In various other ways, eighteenth-century homesteaders were becoming much more culturally comparable to Britons, a procedure often referred to as Anglicization. As colonial economies grew, they conveniently became critical market because that British production exports. Homesteaders with disposable earnings and accessibility to British markets attempted to mimic british culture. Through the center of the eighteenth century, middling-class colonists could also afford items formerly thought of as luxuries like British fashions, dining wares, and also more. The desire to purchase British products meshed through the desire to enjoy British liberties.6 this political, intellectual, cultural, and also economic advancements built tensions that increased to the surface when, ~ the seven Years’ War, britain finally began to carry out a program of imperial reform the conflicted with colonists’ expertise of the empire and their place in it.

III. The causes of the American Revolution

Most immediately, the American revolution resulted straight from make the efforts to revolutionary the British realm after the seven Years’ War. The 7 Years’ war culminated nearly a half century that war in between Europe’s royal powers. It to be truly a human being war, fought between multiple empires on many continents. At its conclusion, the British empire had never been larger. Britain now controlled the phibìc American continent eastern of the Mississippi River, including French Canada. That had additionally consolidated its control over India. However the realities and responsibilities the the postwar realm were daunting. War (let alone victory) on such a range was costly. Britain doubled the nationwide debt to 13.5 times its annual revenue. Brother faced significant new prices required to secure and defend that far-flung empire, particularly the western frontiers that the phibìc American colonies. These determinants led brother in the 1760s to attempt to consolidate control over its north American colonies, which, in turn, brought about resistance.

King George III take it the crown in 1760 and also brought Tories right into his federal government after three years of Whig rule. They represented an authoritarian vision of realm in which nests would be subordinate. The royal Proclamation of 1763 was Britain’s first major postwar imperial action targeting north America. The king forbade negotiation west of the Appalachian mountains in an attempt to limit costly wars with indigenous Americans. Colonists, however, protested and demanded accessibility to the territory for which lock had battled alongside the British.

In 1764, conference passed two much more reforms. The sugar Act sought to combat prevalent smuggling that molasses in new England by cutting the duty in half but enhancing enforcement. Also, smugglers would certainly be tried by vice-admiralty courts and not juries. Parliament additionally passed the money Act, which limited colonies from producing record money. Tough money, such together gold and silver coins, was scarce in the colonies. The lack of money impeded the colonies’ increasingly sophisticated transatlantic economies, yet it was particularly damaging in 1764 due to the fact that a postwar recession had currently begun. In between the constraints of the Proclamation the 1763, the money Act, and also the sugar Act’s canceling that trials-by-jury because that smugglers, part colonists started to fear a pattern of enhanced taxation and minimal liberties.

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In march 1765, parliament passed the rubber stamp Act. The act forced that countless documents be published on file that had been stamped to show the duty had been paid, consisting of newspapers, pamphlets, diplomas, legal documents, and also even playing cards. The street Act that 1764 was an attempt to obtain merchants to pay an already existing duty, however the rubber stamp Act produced a new, straight (or “internal”) tax. Parliament had actually never prior to directly taxation the colonists. Instead, nests contributed to the empire through the payment the indirect, “external” taxes, together as customs duties. In 1765, Daniel Dulany of Maryland wrote, “A best to i have loaded an inner tax top top the colonies, without their consent for the solitary purpose that revenue, is denied, a best to control their trade without your consent is, admitted.”7 Also, unequal the sugar Act, i beg your pardon primarily impacted merchants, the rubber stamp Act directly influenced numerous teams throughout colonial society, consisting of printers, lawyers, college graduates, and even sailors who play cards. This led, in part, come broader, much more popular resistance.

Resistance come the stamp Act took three forms, distinguished largely by class: legislative resistance by elites, economic resistance through merchants, and popular protest by usual colonists. Colonial elites comment by happen resolutions in their assemblies. The most well known of the anti-Stamp act resolutions to be the Virginia Resolves, pass by the home of Burgesses on may 30, 1765, which asserted that the homesteaders were entitled to “all the liberties, privileges, franchises, and also immunities . . . Own by the people of good Britain.” when the Virginia Resolves were published throughout the colonies, however, castle often consisted of a few extra, far more radical resolutions not passed by the Virginia residence of Burgesses, the critical of which asserted that only “the basic assembly the this swarm have any kind of right or strength to i have loaded or lay any kind of taxation” and that anyone who suggested differently “shall be reputed an enemy to this his majesty’s colony.”8 These extr items spread out throughout the colonies and helped radicalize subsequent responses in other colonial assemblies. These responses ultimately led come the call of the stamp Act conference in new York City in October 1765. Nine swarms sent delegates, who consisted of Benjamin Franklin, john Dickinson, cutting board Hutchinson, Philip Livingston, and also James Otis.9