Great Britain in the American Revolution – History of Massachusetts Blog
Writing with the benefit of hindsight in , John Adams, one of the central figures in In , Americans joyously celebrated the British victory in the Seven . Relations continued to deteriorate and the American resistance. Despite the supremacy of the British navy in the 18th century, the Colonial naval forces won many battles. This picture depicts the naval engagement of July 7. Intermediate Level Establishing Independence ☆ dubaiairporthotel.info 1. The Colonies Under British Rule. In the s and s, Europeans came to.
I believe them steady, but their slowness is of the greatest disadvantage in a country almost covered with woods, and against an Enemy whose chief qualification is agility in running from fence to fence and thence keeping up an irregular, but galling fire on troops who advance with the same pace as at their exercise.
Effects Of The War
Light infantry accustomed to fight from tree to tree, or charge even in woods; and Grenadiers who after the first fire lose no time in loading again, but rush on, trusting entirely to that most decisive of weapons the bayonet, will ever be superior to any troops the Rebels can bring against them.
Such are the British, and such the method of fighting which has been attended with constant success Hale, letter to unknown recipient March 23, The Americans had tremendous difficulty raising enough funds to purchase basic supplies for their troops, including shoes and blankets. The British had a winning tradition. Around one in five Americans openly favored the Crown, with about half of the population hoping to avoid the conflict altogether.
Most Indian tribes sided with Britain, who promised protection of tribal lands. American Strengths and British Weaknesses Although American troops may not have had the military force and economic base that their British rivals had, they did believe strongly in their fight for freedom and liberty. On the other hand, the Americans had many intangible advantages. The British fought a war far from home.
Military orders, troops, and supplies sometimes took months to reach their destinations. The British had an extremely difficult objective. They had to persuade the Americans to give up their claims of independence.
As long as the war continued, the colonists' claim continued to gain validity. The geographic vastness of the colonies proved a hindrance to the British effort.
Despite occupying every major city, the British remained as at a disadvantage. Americans had a grand cause: This cause is much more just than waging a war to deny independence. American military and political leaders were inexperienced, but proved surprisingly competent. The war was expensive and the British population debated its necessity.
In Parliament, there were many American sympathizers. Finally, the alliance with the French gave Americans courage and a tangible threat that tipped the scales in America's favor. Confronted by the extent of the American demands the British government decided it was time to impose a military solution to the crisis. Boston was occupied by British troops. In April a military confrontation occurred at Lexington and Concord. Within a month the Second Continental Congress was convened.
Here the delegates decided to fundamentally change the nature of their resistance to British policies. Congress authorized a continental army and undertook the purchase of arms and munitions. To pay for all of this it established a continental currency. With previous political efforts by the First Continental Congress to form an alliance with Canada having failed, the Second Continental Congress took the extraordinary step of instructing its new army to invade Canada.
In effect, these actions taken were those of an emerging nation-state. In October as American forces closed in on Quebec the King of England in a speech to Parliament declared that the colonists having formed their own government were now fighting for their independence.
It was to be only a matter of months before Congress formally declared it. Economic Incentives for Pursuing Independence: Taxation Given the nature of British colonial policies, scholars have long sought to evaluate the economic incentives the Americans had in pursuing independence. In this effort economic historians initially focused on the period following the Seven Years War up to the Revolution. It turned out that making a case for the avoidance of British taxes as a major incentive for independence proved difficult.
The reason was that many of the taxes imposed were later repealed. The actual level of taxation appeared to be relatively modest. After all, the Americans soon after adopting the Constitution taxed themselves at far higher rates than the British had prior to the Revolution Perkins, Rather it seemed the incentive for independence might have been the avoidance of the British regulation of colonial trade.
Unlike some of the new British taxes, the Navigation Acts had remained intact throughout this period. Building upon the previous work of HarperThomas employed a counterfactual analysis to assess what would have happened to the American economy in the absence of the Navigation Acts.
To do this he compared American trade under the Acts with that which would have occurred had America been independent following the Seven Years War. Thomas then estimated the loss of both consumer and produce surplus to the colonies as a result of shipping enumerated goods indirectly through England. These burdens were partially offset by his estimated value of the benefits of British protection and various bounties paid to the colonies.
The outcome of his analysis was that the Navigation Acts imposed a net burden of less than one percent of colonial per capita income. From this he concluded the Acts were an unlikely cause of the Revolution. A long series of subsequent works questioned various parts of his analysis but not his general conclusion Walton, The work of Thomas also appeared to be consistent with the observation that the First Continental Congress had not demanded in its list of grievances the repeal of either the Navigation Acts or the Sugar Act.
American Expectations about Future British Policy Did this mean then that the Americans had few if any economic incentives for independence? Upon further consideration economic historians realized that perhaps more important to the colonists were not the past and present burdens but rather the expected future burdens of continued membership in the British Empire.
The Declaratory Act made it clear the British government had not given up what it viewed as its right to tax the colonists. This was despite the fact that up to the Americans had employed a variety of protest measures including lobbying, petitions, boycotts, and violence. The confluence of not having representation in Parliament while confronting an aggressive new British tax policy designed to raise their relatively low taxes may have made it reasonable for the Americans to expect a substantial increase in the level of taxation in the future Gunderson,Reid, Furthermore a recent study has argued that in not only did the future burdens of the Navigation Acts clearly exceed those of the past, but a substantial portion would have borne by those who played a major role in the Revolution Sawers, Seen in this light the economic incentive for independence would have been avoiding the potential future costs of remaining in the British Empire.
The Americans Undertake a Revolution British Military Advantages The American colonies had both strengths and weaknesses in terms of undertaking a revolution. The colonial population of well over two million was nearly one third of that in Britain McCusker and Menard, The growth in the colonial economy had generated a remarkably high level of per capita wealth and income Jones, Yet the hurdles confronting the Americans in achieving independence were indeed formidable.
The British military had an array of advantages. With virtual control of the Atlantic its navy could attack anywhere along the American coast at will and would have borne logistical support for the army without much interference.
The Economics of the American Revolutionary War
A large core of experienced officers commanded a highly disciplined and well-drilled army in the large-unit tactics of eighteenth century European warfare. By these measures the American military would have great difficulty in defeating the British. Its navy was small. The Continental Army had relatively few officers proficient in large-unit military tactics. Lacking both the numbers and the discipline of its adversary the American army was unlikely to be able to meet the British army on equal terms on the battlefield Higginbotham, British Financial Advantages In addition, the British were in a better position than the Americans to finance a war.
A tax system was in place that had provided substantial revenue during previous colonial wars. Also for a variety of reasons the government had acquired an exceptional capacity to generate debt to fund wartime expenses North and Weingast, For the Continental Congress the situation was much different.
After declaring independence Congress had set about defining the institutional relationship between it and the former colonies. The powers granted to Congress were established under the Articles of Confederation. Reflecting the political environment neither the power to tax nor the power to regulate commerce was given to Congress. Having no tax system to generate revenue also made it very difficult to borrow money. According to the Articles the states were to make voluntary payments to Congress for its war efforts.
This precarious revenue system was to hamper funding by Congress throughout the war Baack, Military and Financial Factors Determine Strategy It was within these military and financial constraints that the war strategies by the British and the Americans were developed.
In terms of military strategies both of the contestants realized that America was simply too large for the British army to occupy all of the cities and countryside. This being the case the British decided initially that they would try to impose a naval blockade and capture major American seaports.
With plenty of room to maneuver his forces and unable to match those of the British, George Washington chose to engage in a war of attrition.
11a. American and British Strengths and Weaknesses
The purpose was twofold. First, by not engaging in an all out offensive Washington reduced the probability of losing his army. Second, over time the British might tire of the war. Saratoga Frustrated without a conclusive victory, the British altered their strategy.
During a plan was devised to cut off New England from the rest of the colonies, contain the Continental Army, and then defeat it. An army was assembled in Canada under the command of General Burgoyne and then sent to and down along the Hudson River.
It was to link up with an army sent from New York City.
The American Financial Situation Deteriorates With the victory at Saratoga the military side of the war had improved considerably for the Americans. However, the financial situation was seriously deteriorating.
The states to this point had made no voluntary payments to Congress. At the same time the continental currency had to compete with a variety of other currencies for resources. The states were issuing their own individual currencies to help finance expenditures.
Moreover the British in an effort to destroy the funding system of the Continental Congress had undertaken a covert program of counterfeiting the Continental dollar. These dollars were printed and then distributed throughout the former colonies by the British army and agents loyal to the Crown Newman, Altogether this expansion of the nominal money supply in the colonies led to a rapid depreciation of the Continental dollar Calomiris,Michener, Furthermore, inflation may have been enhanced by any negative impact upon output resulting from the disruption of markets along with the destruction of property and loss of able-bodied men Buel, By the end of inflation had reduced the specie value of the Continental to about twenty percent of what it had been when originally issued.
This rapid decline in value was becoming a serious problem for Congress in that up to this point almost ninety percent of its revenue had been generated from currency emissions. The French government still upset by their defeat by the British in the Seven Years War and encouraged by the American victory signed a treaty of alliance with the Continental Congress in early Fearing a new war with France the British government sent a commission to negotiate a peace treaty with the Americans.
The commission offered to repeal all of the legislation applying to the colonies passed since Congress rejected the offer. The British response was to give up its efforts to suppress the rebellion in the North and in turn organize an invasion of the South. The new southern campaign began with the taking of the port of Savannah in December. Pursuing their southern strategy the British won major victories at Charleston and Camden during the spring and summer of Worsening Inflation and Financial Problems As the American military situation deteriorated in the South so did the financial circumstances of the Continental Congress.
Inflation continued as Congress and the states dramatically increased the rate of issuance of their currencies. At the same time the British continued to pursue their policy of counterfeiting the Continental dollar. In order to deal with inflation some states organized conventions for the purpose of establishing wage and price controls Rockoff, With its currency rapidly depreciating in value Congress increasingly relied on funds from other sources such as state requisitions, domestic loans, and French loans of specie.
As a last resort Congress authorized the army to confiscate property. Yorktown Fortunately for the Americans the British military effort collapsed before the funding system of Congress.
In a combined effort during the fall of French and American forces trapped the British southern army under the command of Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia. Under siege by superior forces the British army surrendered on October The British government had now suffered not only the defeat of its northern strategy at Saratoga but also the defeat of its southern campaign at Yorktown. Following Yorktown, Britain suspended its offensive military operations against the Americans.
The war was over. All that remained was the political maneuvering over the terms for peace. Under the terms of the treaty the United States was granted independence and British troops were to evacuate all American territory. While commonly viewed by historians through the lens of political science, the Treaty of Paris was indeed a momentous economic achievement by the United States. The West was now available for settlement.
To the extent the Revolutionary War had been undertaken by the Americans to avoid the costs of continued membership in the British Empire, the goal had been achieved. As an independent nation the United States was no longer subject to the regulations of the Navigation Acts. There was no longer to be any economic burden from British taxation.
This means being prepared to form a new government. When the Americans declared independence their experience of governing at a national level was indeed limited. In delegates from various colonies had met for about eighteen days at the Stamp Act Congress in New York to sort out a colonial response to the new stamp duties.
Nearly a decade passed before delegates from colonies once again got together to discuss a colonial response to British policies. This time the discussions lasted seven weeks at the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia during the fall of The primary action taken at both meetings was an agreement to boycott trade with England.
After having been in session only a month, delegates at the Second Continental Congress for the first time began to undertake actions usually associated with a national government.