The British approach to managing its colonies is the main reason behind the quest to gain self-rule by most of them. The strategy differed remarkably from that of the Spanish since they lacked a detailed blueprint on organizing and managing the colonies (McClay 101). This approach was not a choice that the British had made; instead, it was informed by the circumstances that the English Empire was undergoing. The Empire was rocked by deep and fundamental political turmoil that took place in the seventeenth century. This included the overthrow and execution of Charles I and a brief interlude of Oliver Cromwell’s puritan commonwealth. Consequently, the restoration of the Stuart Monarchy, and the Glorious Revolution of 1688, leading to the ouster of James II from power are some of the challenges the Empire underwent (McClay 102). Following the events surrounding the Glorious Revolution, there was the establishment of legislative supremacy and an elaborate bill of rights. These political struggles in the English Empire formed a vital precedent for the American Revolution.
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Consequently, the revolution was inspired by the French and Indian War. The war, which began in 1756 and ended in 1763, saw a robust colonial presence in the British colonies in North America (McClay 106). The autonomy that the Americans were enjoying before the war was severely limited with the introduction of some stringent taxes. In early 1776, Thomas Paine, a Briton who had stayed in America for the past year, wrote a pamphlet entitled Common Sense that justified the quest for the British colonies’ independence in North America (McClay 116). In his pamphlet, Pain denounced the monarch and the idea of monarchy in its entirety. Paine sold more than 150,000 copies in the first three months of 1776, and George Washington acknowledges its contribution to Americans’ consciousness for the course (McClay 117). The pamphlet of Thomas Paine thus inspired the American dream and changed the hearts of those who doubted it.
Richard Henry Lee of Virginia introduced a motion in the Colonial congress on the need for independence of the united colonies. Congress passed the resolution on July 2, 1776; still, it was two days later that congress adopted the Declaration of Independence that had been drafted by the thirty-three-year-old Thomas Jefferson (McClay 126). The Declaration listed the reasons for the actions taken by the Americans. Adopting the Declaration of Independence was easy, however, being fully independent was going to be difficult (Henretta 131). The Americans had involved themselves in a precarious situation that could only be solved by war.
They entered the war from a disadvantaged point of view though they also had some advantages. First, the new country was not entirely united in embracing the revolutionary course. Some individuals opposed to the idea of a revolution remained loyal to the British crown (McClay 126). Second, the continental army was ill-trained, ill-equipped, and lacked a substantive navy to help it in the war. Moreover, they lacked both the money and the means to collect funds to establish and maintain military institutions. However, they also had advantages such as fighting defensively instead of offensively (McClay 127). In essence, they did not need to attack Britain; instead, they were to engage Britain’s armies in a war on American soil until she lost enthusiasm in the war. Secondly, George Washington acted as a unifying factor among the Americans, which helped inspire the course (McClay 128). The battle, which ended in 1783, changed world politics and inspired other colonies greatly.
The American Revolution is important to the Americans and the whole world because it afforded Americans independence from British dominion. This made the US the first nation to attain independence in modern times. Consequently, there was the establishment of a republic that was independent of the monarch. The American Revolution inspired other colonies to fight for their autonomy and establish republics. Most significantly, the uprising committed to the ideals of liberty, equality, natural rights, civil rights, and citizens’ responsibility. These ideas have been incorporated in constitutions of many countries in the recent past.
Henretta, James A. Society and Republicanism: America in 1787. University of Maryland, 2012.
McClay, Wilfred M. Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story. Encounter Books, 2019.
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