23
Aug
13

European History Pt. 34 — American Revolution

Yes, it’s finally about us Americans!

We’re at the point where we get a potted history of colonial relations between Great Britain and the American colonialists.

The point is often made (because it is true) that the Americans were not very interested in “contributing” to the empire. They let Great Britain kick the French out of their backyard and then the same with the Indians after the French left.

The parliament, the 1760s, sought to end what was in effect, a kind of tax exemption for colonials in the new world. The americans didn’t see it that way and what followed was a game of political football in which England looked for a way to tax Americans and Americans rejected the tax (for example, the stamp act).

Parliament then hit on the “Townshend duties” which taxed colonial imports of things like paper, paint, lead and tea.

In 1773, the Boston tea party took place because of what was essentially a free trade dispute. At this time, the British East India company convinced parliament that it should be allowed to be the exclusive seller of tea to the colonies (where before the tea was sold in London and then middlemen sent the tea where it needed to go). This edict was called “The Regulating Act of 1773.” In response to the Boston tea party protest, England took very harsh measures including closing the port of Boston and revoking the charter of Massachusetts, which put restrictions on local political action.

Around this time, parliament passed the Quebec Act, which was a piece of legislation to structure the territory that was inhabited by French people within the British empire. Since Quebec included what is today Indiana and Michigan, colonists were upset and saw the act as another sleight.

Altogether, the Quebec act, Regulating Act, and then shut down of the Boston port were lumped together as “Intolerable Acts.”

A continental congress was called to Philadelphia to organize (primarily economic) protests against British imperial policy. When a British commander sent troops to confiscate weapons at Concord, simmering anger turned into revolution.

One thing to note about the war. America was very lucky that the international climate was as it was. For instance, many colonial leaders took heart from the fact that a succession from Great Britain would CERTAINLY draw in sympathy from France. This was just the power politics of the time. But not only that, when the war for american independence was coming to a close, French SEA POWER was needed to help seal the deal, but French sea power had not been in a shape to conduct serious military operations for some time, so there success in aiding us was a stroke of good fortune.

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