After the French and Indian War of 1763 ended in defeat, few would have predicted a civil war that would be so destructive and devastating between the colonies.
French and Indian War was a catalyst for the American Revolution. In the middle of the 1700s France moved into the Ohio River Valley. The colonies would be at odds with this. The British declared war against France in 1756. Due to a lack in equipment and Indians who knew the terrain, Britain initially suffered defeat. William Pitt started borrowing money in 1757 to finance the wars in the colonies. The debt of the nation increased in 1763 to 122,000,000 pounds. The debt today would equal 24,385,017.543,.86 pound. In 1760, both the British and the French were defeated in India. The French and Indian War ended in 1763 with the Hubertusberg and Paris Treaties. France lost the entire land of Canada with this treaty, while Spain received Louisiana and Britain gained Upper Canada. The British feared that the Indians would retaliate against them, so they decided to keep an army on the ground in the colonies. The bitterness felt by the French after their defeat was to play a significant role in causing the American Revolution.
The American Revolution has already begun without anyone realizing. The French were enraged, the British were heavily indebted and had an army stationed in the colonies. Meanwhile, the colonies enjoyed the moment. Britain’s relationship with the Indians wasn’t great. So in 1763 Great Britain issued The Proclamation of1763. This was a move to appease Native Americans, and it prohibited land acquisition or expansion west of Appalachian Mountains. Many land-hungry settlers, speculators and investors were angry. The British did this because they didn’t wish to cause resentment towards the French or their Indian allies, and ignite another conflict. Next, they felt the need for tighter control over their Empire. Since many years, laws regarding imperial navigation and trade had been passed. However, colonists often evaded them. The colonists’ trade with the French was brought to the mother country’s attention. The British were angry and believed that the colonists should repay the motherland for the defense they provided. In 1764, the Sugar Act was passed to combat the smuggling and illegal importation of sugar from non British Caribbean sources. The British would give a favorable hearing to anyone suspected of smuggling, or violating the customs laws.
It was this provision that caused colonists to be angry, the Currency Law. Colonies were constantly short of money to conduct business. The colonies issued their own currency, which was different from colony-to-colony. The British Parliament was able to control the currency crisis and prevented the printing of new currency and reissuing old currency. Colonists said that pound shearlings are so rare in colonies, they would only worsen confusion and the crisis surrounding their currency. Colonists became angry and the trade in their colonies slowed. Stamp Acts were then hurled at the colonies in March of 1765. It was the first time that Parliament had attempted to assert its authority over colonies. The colonies taxed everything, including daily necessities like playing cards and newspapers. The Stamp Act was met with a variety of negative colonial responses, from boycotts to British goods and riots to attacks on tax collectors. The Quartering Act passed soon after. It required colonies to provide barracks for British soldiers. The localities had to accommodate soldiers in inns, pubs, wine houses, alehouses, livery houses and stables if there were not enough barracks to house everyone. This new law was not well received by the colonists. They were taxed for supplies and barracks, and had to house soldiers in their homes.
Virginia Resolves followed, condemning the Stamp Act. They also showed that thirteen colonies can be united. Now, the colonies are moving towards unity. Separation is a distant thought. In June 1767, the Townshend Revenue Act became law. In 1767 the British parliament passed a series measures to tax goods imported into the American colonial colonies. American colonists, however, who were not represented in Parliament, viewed the actions as an abuse. Colonists boycotted British products in response. Colonists used pine needles and home spun cloth to make tea instead of paying the unfair taxes levied by their mother country. The colonists also harassed tax collectors, merchants and others who broke the boycott. They even practiced “Feathering and Tarring”. In this method, the victim’s clothes were either removed or stripped down to their waist. The victim was immobilized and then tar was poured on or painted over them. Feathers are then thrown onto the victim, or they can be rolled in a pile to ensure that the feathers stick. It was meant as a punishment for public humiliation, not to kill.
Boston merchants felt frustrated because of the heavy taxes, unfair representations and lack of currency. New York, Philadelphia and other cities signed the Boston Non-Importation agreement in August 1768. The boycott lasted up until 1770. Great Britain then repealed their tax laws. Colonists believed they had won and perhaps even thought they would succeed if persistent enough with their demands. Boston Massacre was one of the greatest events in the history of America. Bostonians reacted to the British soldiers’ presence with a vengeance. Soldiers endured being hit with snowballs and sticks repeatedly, as well as rocks. The soldiers were either frightened for their own lives or lost all patience. The soldiers shot into the crowd, resulting in three deaths on-site and eight other injuries. The town met to demand the removal and trial of the British officers and Captain. Paul Revere escalated the conflict when he created an engraving showing innocent, peaceful citizens being murdered by British soldiers. Despite the escalation of relations between civilians and soldiers and the repealing of acts, two taxes continued to be collected: tea and sugar.
Great Britain, realizing that the British East India Company faced bankruptcy, granted it a monopoly over the colonies. Direct sale of British tea would eliminate the need for local merchants. Tea prices were lowered dramatically to increase sales. The merchants were not happy with this. The colonists of Philadelphia and New York sent the tea ships to Britain. The cargo in Charleston was left on the docks to rot. The Royal Governor in Boston was stubborn, and refused to let the ships unload. Tea cargos filled Boston’s harbor. British ship crews remained in Boston to find work, but often got into trouble. The Boston Tea Party was the result of this situation. Many colonists boycotted the tea because they saw through the evil plan. In several ports, violence threats were issued. Most ships turned around after being forced to do so. Boston’s reaction was very interesting. Three ships entered the port. On a freezing December night 342 chests were dumped in the harbor. The perpetrators were not identifiable because they had been disguised as Native Americans. The British East India Company suffered a loss of over $375,000 in today’s economy. The British East India Company was angered and passed the Intolerable acts. The Intolerable Acts, which were intended to bring the rebellious colonists back in line, had the opposite effect and only fueled rebellions across North America. Boston and Massachusetts were singled out as being the centers of rebellion.
The Intolerable Acts – which were enacted in 1774 – closed Boston Harbor. They replaced the local Massachusetts government with a federally appointed one. They allowed British officials accused with capital crimes to have their cases tried in England or other colonies. And they revived a law that prohibited quartering. The first Continental Congress, which met in September 1774 as a response to these Intolerables Acts, discussed how to best unite and resist British rule. This congress had varying goals, some wanted to resolve the issue with England while others desired separation. They all agreed that Parliament and King must understand the grievances of the colonists and communicate them to the rest. The first Continental congress was successful in forming the Association (or Continental Association), which would enforce an anti-British boycott. Delegates here hoped Britain will repeal the Intolerable Acts. Virginia Convention took place shortly after. Patrick Henry delivers his famous “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech. Henry, convinced that war was imminent, proposed to raise militias throughout the colonies. The proposal was not shocking to many. Henry declared that war was already in progress and that colonists should not be idle. The speech changed the tide in favor defensive action. Henry appointed a new committee that was charged with preparing Virginia for war. The call to arms coincided with the “shot that rang around the globe” which was the result of a skirmish between British troops at Lexington and Concord and the colonial minutes.
General Gage, a British officer, set off for the settlements of John Hancock and Sam Adams to capture gunpowder. Paul Revere led a group of riders on horseback to alert the country to the British arrival and prepare themselves. Paul Revere was not the one who shouted “the British will be coming”, because many Americans believed themselves to be British. He shouted the arrival of the Regulars, because the soldiers were British. The events of Lexington and Concord resulted in the deaths of minutemen and British troops advancing on Boston. A second Continental Congress was created as a direct result. George Washington became the supreme command of the Continental Army. It was not just a congress that addressed grievances. It was also a government. Congress authorized printing money and the creation of a committee that would manage foreign relations. Many delegates did not want to separate from Great Britain until recently. Congress even approved an Olive Branch Petition. The petition was a formal appeal to King George III, in which delegates requested a peaceful settlement and pledged loyalty to King George III. The King rejected the request and declared them rebellious. The King then ordered Hessian soldiers to control the colonies. Americans felt betrayed more than ever by the thought that their motherland had ordered foreign goons subdued them. The tensions escalated and, by the summer of 1776 an official declaration was adopted.
The battle of Fort Ticonderoga followed. Washington drove General Howe’s forces from the city. British forces moved on to New York and drove Washington’s men from Staten Island. Washington maneuvered his men into Manhattan in the fog on that particular night. After Burgoyne’s surrender, the Americans were able to win at Saratoga. The French involvement became public, and this was important. Since 1776, they had been secretly providing financial and material assistance. The French declared war against Britain in 1778. The Americans were struggling to survive in Valley Forge during a harsh winter. Freiherr von Steuben instilled discipline into the soldiers, making them more capable fighters. The North saw a lot of stalemate. The Americans were able to control the Northwest after many victories and losses. The American army suffered internal defeats. Mutinies took place in 1780-1781 because of misunderstood enlistment conditions, bad food, clothing and lack of compensation. Maj. John Andre, who was a spy for Benedict Arnold and helped him betray West Point for the British, was hanged. Cornwallis controlled Fredericksburg from Charlottesville to the end. He also began to defend against American forces. In addition, there was a naval war. It was fought between American ally and British. In the end, the Americans won the battle of Yorktown. The Peace treaty of Paris signed on 3 September 1783 recognized the United States’ independence. The American Revolution was won by British mistakes and American efforts with French assistance.
I consider the American Revolution inevitable. They colonized America for freedom, and not to recreate the old world. British aid in fighting Indian attacks increased Great Britain’s huge debts, further destroying their empire. To regain control over the vast empire, Great Britain tried to tax and fight against their colonies. This was a grave mistake. Instead of listening and advising, Britain simply imposed. The Americans made numerous attempts to resolve the matter peacefully. But the arrogance of the Crown and its pride dismissed their offers. I suppose that war was avoided. Great Britain, however, underestimated colonists who wanted to obey their rules.