Why did the British lose the American War of Independence?

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Why did the British lose the American War of Independence?


The reasons behind the loss of the colonies are large in number and complicated in nature so that one can easily blame foreign intervention for Britain’s defeat and forget to mention other factors such as Britain’s failure to comprehend the changing political and economic context of the time or North’s intolerable Acts which along with other Acts such as the Stamp Act alienated American support. Nor can one fail to mention Britain’s military inadequacies during the war itself or the sheer difficulty involved in moving troops across the Atlantic.

Foreign intervention was certainly was one of the main reasons behind Britain’s defeat. During the war, the intervention of both France and Spain caused major strategic problems for Britain. On one side there was the French from whom Britain had to protect troop convoys, the West Indies and India which also was under the threat of the French. On the other side there was Spain who threatened to invade Gibraltar and Florida which eventually they did unsuccessfully. The French also supplied the Americans with weapons so that by the end of the War, 9/10 of the weapons used by the Americans came from France. The war also became that much harder for the British when the French took control of the seas at Chesapeake Bay in 1781. Fighting off the French, the Americans and the Spanish proved to be too much of a strain on the British economy.

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During most of the wars preceding the American War of independence Britain had at least one ally so that as Evens says: « Britain could not hope to win without them ». Their diplomatic isolation was such an important factor because Britain lacked the manpower to field a large army and navy without dislocating their economy. They did not find an ally who could provide supplies and troops when needed because supporting British rule in America offered very little or no reward for most countries and those who were most likely to help had scores to settle with Britain. Other ...

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