The second half of the eighteenth century will always be among the most eventful periods in the history of the United States. In particular, these fifty years will be best remembered for the American Revolution, which contributed to the formation of the country. In this letter to my dear descendants, I would like to shed light upon the origins of the revolutionary crisis of the eighteenth century, analyze it, and reflect on political forces trying to challenge British domination.
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The history of any country presents a series of changes that can impact people’s life both negatively and positively. This difference in the points of view and life values often acts as the reason why there are numerous forks in the road of human history. The American Revolution can be justifiably called the key event that allowed the population of the United States to make more informed and self-interested choices. Its importance lies in the fact that it has helped the United States to gain independence from Great Britain, one of the most economically powerful countries of the time. The significance of these events for future generations cannot be overstated because they have helped to establish a new form of government, placing emphasis on equality and the opportunity to elect official representatives. History should be regarded as the greatest teacher as it prevents the repetition of past mistakes, and this is why the origins of the Revolutionary Crisis deserve close attention.
Prior to the outbreak of the American Revolution, the asymmetrical relationships between the British government and colonists in Northern America manifested themselves in different ways, contributing to the growth of revolutionary sentiments. The core reason why colonial Americans became ready to resist British control is inextricably connected with the key function of all colonies ever created, social conflict, and the inability of Great Britain to take settlers’ interests into account when making laws (Specht and Stockland 10). In the world of politics, every decision made by a strong country to protect its interests can involve significant financial expenses that sometimes undermine its dominance. As for the British government, it faced this situation after the Seven Years War and other armed conflicts. In this case, having power over colonies was used as an opportunity to improve the financial position and pay off the national debt. The Stamp Act of 1765 proposed by Townshend was among the key decisions contributing to the growth of protests since it introduced new requirements to transactions and new stamp taxes (Duffy). Obviously, the adoption of the above-mentioned act caused a series of street protests that were regarded as the only opportunity for colonists to voice their concerns (Duffy). Therefore, the origins of the Revolutionary Crisis can be attributed to the social and economic situation in colonies right after the Seven Years War. The impact of the Enlightenment with its ideas of individualism also remains important, but it was this unfair policy that became the last straw.
The groups that contested British rule present another question to be discussed. The population of colonies included the representatives of various social groups whose economic positions were extremely different. Due to the existence of social stratification, the consequences of British policy towards colonies were diverse, and the quality of life of the most economically disadvantaged people decreased even more. Numerous protests initiated by farmers led to the creation of a number of political organizations whose activity was illegal. Among them were the Sons of Liberty, founded by Samuel Adams, the Daughters of Liberty, Vox Populi, and other organizations (Snodgrass 280). Some groups of patriots were created with regard to professional segregation and aimed at protecting the rights of particular specialists. Importantly, the existence of such groups gave rise to trade unions.
The methods used by illegal organizations to change the situation with the distribution of power ranged from non-threatening such as filing petitions to the organization of protest events and assaults on public authorities (Snodgrass 287). In addition to that, many illegal organizations were involved in the information struggle and criticized the British government in newspapers and other printed materials for attaining the commitment of common people living in colonies. In this connection, it is necessary to note that the activity of groups opposing the authorities of Great Britain included numerous violent acts aimed at intimidation. However, despite the concerted efforts of activists from different social and ethnic groups (many enslaved people also supported the anti-British movement), New York City remained in the hands of Great Britain until the end of the war.
The military power of the British Army helped it to do its best during the armed conflict that seemed to predetermine the results of the war. Having won the Battle of Long Island in 1776, the British made the Continental Army retreat to distant locations (Klay 12). New York City was regarded as one of the key strategic centers, and Great Britain paid close attention to protecting its newly acquired territories from American separatists. Despite the military advantage of the British Army over the Continental Army, the intervention of other countries helped the latter to change the balance of power.
In addition to unequal military strength, the fact that New York City was under the rule of Great Britain right until the end of the war is related to its role as an important seaport. Being a center of trade, New York City was full of merchants who did not support the ideas of independence from Great Britain due to their own economic interests. Such individuals remained loyal to the British authorities. They primarily included the representatives of upper castes whose financial success heavily depended on the preservation of the colonial social structure. In fact, the willingness to make the colonies independent was not met by all citizens with enthusiasm; instead, the reaction primarily depended on a person’s social position, as is clear from the example with tradesmen. Obviously, the split of the society was detrimental to the health of our nation. This tendency has impacted my life as well because the majority of my friends became revolutionaries, and being civilly disobedient always involves threats to life.
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To conclude, the end of the war is expected to become the first step on the path to real freedom and democracy. It is now 1783, and the remaining British troops have been forced to leave New York a few days ago. The next decades are going to be hard times for us because maintaining social order in new circumstances requires a lot of work. Personally, I will continue working as a teacher to help future generations to learn the world and prevent them from making mistakes that lead to war.
Duffy, Shannon E. “Revolutionary Crisis (American Revolution).” The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia, 2015, Web.
Klay, Phil. The Citizen-Soldier: Moral Risk and the Modern Military. Brookings Institution Press, 2016.
Snodgrass, Mary Ellen. Civil Disobedience: An Encyclopedic History of Dissidence in the United States. Routledge, 2015.
Specht, Joshua, and Etienne Stockland. An Analysis of Bernard Bailyn’s The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. Routledge, 2017.