Was the American Revolution Revolutionary?

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Oliver Diaz                                                                                        

Was the American Revolution Revolutionary?

        The relationship between colonists and the British was meant to be one based on cooperation.  The economic system they relied on was mercantilism. Mercantilism provided a profitable system for both the colonists and England. The colonists were to collect and grow raw materials that were unavailable in England and sell them to England who would then turn them into manufactured goods, and sell them back to the colonies. However, England didn’t have a strict policy to control the mercantile system with the colonies because they were pre-occupied with wars in Europe and they were separated by thousands of miles of ocean. Therefore, Parliament passed the Navigation Acts which were meant to maintain control and supervise mercantilism in the colonies. The Navigation Acts were effective in most colonies because tobacco was in abundance and the colonists knew that they would profit from the system as long as they followed orders. The British and the colonists had a cooperative relationship while this system was at its peak.  

The British relied on cooperation from the colonists because they knew that it was hard to control people who lived on the other side of the Atlantic. However, the Proclamation of 1763 shined some light on the British government for the colonists. The Proclamation made the British into “insensitive” people who were unable to effectively span the Atlantic through their governors (Jordan 86). Following the realization of Britain’s inability to properly enforce their acts and laws, the colonists saw their position in the relationship differently. They began to stretch the constricting bands implemented by Britain that limited their ability to prosper. On the other hand, George Grenville, the British colonial minister, decided that the increasing amount of disloyalty and smuggling done by the colonists had to be counteracted, hence the arrival of the Sugar Act of 1764 (Jordan 87). Similarly, the Quartering Act was meant to force the colonists to pay for their protection provided by British troops but the colonists hadn’t asked for the troops to be stationed in their states. Furthermore, Grenville attempted the Stamp of 1765, which “required that tax stamps be purchased and placed on all legal documents, liquor, and other licenses…” hoping to profit from the colonists in a new way (Jordan 87). However the colonists realized that The Sugar Act, The Quartering Act and The Stamp Act were all devised to use the colonists’ wealth to fund England and prevent deceitful colonists from obtaining further wealth. At this time, the colonists were interested in self-government (the policy of salutary neglect), the ability to grow freely, and have the opportunities to obtain proper wealth. Proper wealth meaning wealth untainted and undiminished by English taxes. For example, The Stamp Act of 1765 was an attempt to exploit control over the colonists and obtain “new revenue” (Jordan 88). In response to this failed attempt, the colonists’ assemblies arranged a collective protest which ended in the repeal of the Sugar Act and the Stamp Act. The relationship between this growing power, the colonists, and the home country, England, was one of constant agreements and disagreements; give a little here and take a little there.

Yet, the relationship would not stay balanced for very long due to Charles Townshend and the acts he imposed. The Townshend Acts were meant to force the colonists to pay their “rightful duties” but instead they led to the re-boycotting of British imports (Jordan 89). The colonists were becoming more and more frustrated by the acts that forced them to retaliate in the form of boycotting or protest. Then, with arrival of British troops in 1768, the colonists again became annoyed and uneasy. The arrival of the troops eventually led to physical violence in which several colonists were killed and the hatred for Britain was now prominent; Lord Frederick North’s replacing of Townshend ended the unbalance. A few years later, colonists were given the opportunity by their colonial minister, Lord North, to buy tea for very cheap. But, the monopolizing of the tea by the East India Company meant that merchants would be taken out of the profiting cycle. The colonists showed their true colors and stood by their fellow merchants instead of buying the cheap tea. But, before the ships were allowed to leave the harbor their cargo had to be discharged and thus the Boston Tea Party occurred (Jordan 92). Colonists snuck onto the tea ships and dumped the tons of tea into the sea and they showed their willingness to resist the British. The once cooperative relationship between Britain and the colonies was no more; the colonists had shown that they were interested self-government before and now their actions reflected their ability to resist the mother land. Yet, Britain was persistent and hence the Intolerable Acts were formed to make another attempt at restricting the colonists. Again, the colonists retaliated, but this time they chose a more politically oriented path. The First Continental Congress started as a meeting in which delegates from each colony came together in Philadelphia in 1774 (Jordan 92). This Congress was a stepping stone for larger events that resisted British rule; Thomas Paine’s Common Sense was a perfect example of the colonists thinking as one group that was against British Parliament. The social classes were muddled by the growing need for independence from Britain and Britain found it increasingly difficult to counteract the Imperial Crises. 

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        The concepts reflect economic issues for a majority of the time because the colonies were not interested in taking political stands against British Parliament. Instead, they were frustrated by Britain’s constant desire to limit their ability to prosper. The issues that arose revolved around trade between the colonies and Britain and the acts passed to limit the colonists. However, as the colonists grew more independent and more likely to resist British rule they realized that political action was necessary if they wanted to truly become independent. The closer the colonists were to the American Revolution the more political their issues ...

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