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American Revolution

  1. American revolution / war of independence. 1776-1783.
  • Causes and Significance.
  1. American Civil war 1861-1865.
  2. Nature of American revolution. How ‘revolutionary’ was it? 

American War of Independence 

  • Native Americans (tribal), White Americans (from Europe), Black Americans (slaves brought by Europeans).
  • Traders, Political exiles from Britain were first one to settle in USA.
  • American colony was White British colony and thus relatively autonomous. They had local elctions, imposed taxes and had their own budget. 
  • Policy of benign neglect. Why? Due to presence of French. Attempts to exploit may result in situation where locals siding with French. 

Causes of American Revolution (1776-1783)

  • American war of independence which involved the overthrow of British rule from North America was triggered by:
  • Political Causes.
  • 1740 – 1763 Anglo French Rivalry was in American colonies also. Two decades of war was an expensive affair. Ended in Treaty of Paris 1763 – French agreed to withdrew from America and South Asia also.
  • This also resulted in huge war debt on Britain. To recover from huge war debt, British imposed series of new taxes on American Colonies. 
  • 1765 – Stamp Tax (taxes on commercial transaction).
  • 1767 – Townshend duties (taxes on essntial commodities e.g. Sugar, oil etc.).
  • 1773 – Tea Tax.
  • These taxes represented an additional burden over & above those imposed by elected local governments in North America, signalling the end of a century of benign neglect of the American colonies by British Crown.
  • Economic Causes
  1. Conflict between British Mercantilism policies & Ambitions of American Capitalist class.
  • /Mercantilism – state policy. Essentially trade policy. One sided free trade to benefit British traders.
  1. 1650,1658 Navigation Acts. It imposed limitations on American traders.
  • A series of commodities could be exported only to Britain. These were raw materials required in Britain.
  • These acts also mandated that trade to third countries will be routed through Britain, so that Britain could impose tax on it e.g. Tea from Asia will first go to Britain and then to North America.
  • This trade should happen only in British Ships.
  • But these acts were not seriously implemented till 1760s e.g. 3/4 of the tea to America didn’t came through Britain.
  • But after 1760s, Britain started implementing these laws strictly. 
  • These changes increased cost of products to Americans and also reduced the profits of American traders.
  1. Under Tea Act of 1773, East India Company was given monopoly of selling tea in N America.
  • This also contributed to reduced profit margins of American Traders.
  • 1773 – Boston Tea Party incident. American Traders, dressed as native Americans climbed the ship and threw away the cartons of tea. This event triggered the American War of Independence. 
  • In response to Boston event, British crown moved army and asked Philadelphia to pay compensation to EIC.
  • On 4th July 1776, 13 states on Eastern Coast of USA declared independence from British.
  • British further moved in army and full scale armed conflict began between British Army and armed troops of Americans. Ultimately Americans defeated Britain.
  • How Americans could defeat Britain?
  • French provided 50,000 troops and 2 million louvers to America.
  • It is often said that American War is as much French as American.
  • / Also on 4th July they adopted ‘declaration of Independence’. It enshrined the ideals for future government which they aspire to establish.

Impact of American Revolution

  1. Formation of republic, which explicitly rejected the idea of divine right to rule.
  2. It partly inspired French revolution as many French soldiers who had fought alongside Americans argued for upholding similar ideas in France during French revolution of 1789. / ‘no taxation without representation’
  3. Financially supporting the American revolutionaries further weakened the French, pushing them into a war debt and created condition for the outbreak of French revolution.
  4. American ‘declaration of independence’ of 1776 defined the objectives that its republican government would seek to uphold i.e. to protect the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

From 1776 to 1850, America expanded from 13 states to 50 states. From eastern coast to western coast.

American Civil War

  1. The American Civil War from 1861-1865 was triggered by the underlying tensions between the northern and southern states over the continuation of practice of slavery. 
  • The Southern states, which were predominantly agrarian economies and were dependent upon manual physical labour provided by slave labour supported slavery.
  • On the other hand Northern states opposed slavery since there was growth of industries in Northern region which demanded cheap, skilled labour which was unlikely to be provided by slavery given the inherently rebellious nature of slave labour which was difficult to discipline and would result in violent protest. 
  • Moreover practice of slavery enjoyed considerable social acceptance in southern states where owning slaves was seen as a marker of social status while the northern states saw the practice of slavery as a social custom which dented the civilizational claims of the American Society as a ‘free’ nation.
  1. Role of Abraham Lincoln.
  • The tensions between the northern and southern states over the issue of slavery took a more concrete form over the electoral campaign of Abraham Lincoln during 1860 presidential election.
  • Lincoln’s electoral campaign supported the abolition of slavery and was strongly supported by northern states while southern states were opposed to it & threatened to secede from Union if Lincoln gets elected.
  • Lincoln’s victory in elections precipitated conflict as southern states declared their intention to secede from American Union during this period.
  • A full scale armed conflict broke out between the Armed militias of Southern states and American army, termed as the American Civil War.
  • Eventually Lincoln declared abolition of slavery, American army defeated Armed militias of Southern states and.. Amendment… industrialization of south.

Consequences of Civil War

  1. Abolition of Slavery. It came almost a century after American declaration of independence. The provision was added in constitution with passage of 13th Amendment. 
  2. The explicit provision were made to deny any right to secede even though the union was voluntary one.
  3. A special economic package for industrialization in southern states was launched to decrease the dependence of southern states on slave labour. 
  4. Though the American civil war brought about an abolition of slavery, blacks were yet to be granted political voting rights. Moreover segregation in public places continued. These underlying tensions eventually resulted in the American Civil Rights movement of 1950s and 60s.

Nature of American Revolution. How revolutionary it was?

  • American declaration of independence was declared on 4th July 1776…
  • It declared right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
  • Freedom to practice religion. Equality before law.
  • Power of govt. comes from people. It rejects divine right to rule.
  • / Revolution – Sudden, drastic change.
  • Since very small people of section actually possessed land, only they enjoyed benefits of right to property, though theoretically it was to be enjoyed by everyone.
  • There was no redistribution of land to landless peasants.
  • Slavery as a practice continued in America. Slaves did not enjoyed there rights.
  • 25/55 constituent assembly members who drafted constitution including Thomas Jefferson themselves were slave-owners.
  • Voting rights were not enjoyed by women, what to speak of black Americans.
  • 3 domains of change – Political, Social, Economic.
  • Economically – there is right to property but there is unequal pattern of land ownership.
  • Politically – no universal adult franchise.
  • Socially – slavery existed.
  • This situation triggered civil war 100 years later and Civil Rights movement 60-70 years later.
  • Occupy wall street in recent past…
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