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THE AMERICAN WAR OF INDEPENDENCEINTRODUCTIONRenaissance and Reformation led to tremendous changes in Europe-social, political and economic.Examples include: individualism, emergence of different religious groups, curiosity and explorationsoutside Europe, rise of strong states, and more enlightened society in various aspects of life. Onemajor result of exploration of new lands was mass movement of Europeans to other continents insearch of more space. During the 16th and 17th centuries Spain became a super power and began colonising other peopleespecially Latin America. The Dutch, French and the English followed later by colonising otherpeoples. North America in particular was occupied and colonised by different Europeans fromdifferent nations especially the British and the French. These Europeans went and settled here fordiverse reasons. These include:1. For better livelihood by those who felt less privileged at home. There were several poorEuropeans in search of better living.2. To seek religious freedom especially after Reformation and Counter-Reformation. Somepeople felt persecuted.3. For adventure and eagerness to acquire fortunes in the new lands especially after the reportsby explorers of fertile lands, gold and jewels.4. To escape restrictions by their governments.5. To spread Christianity in the new lands.Results: - Dislocation of original inhabitants of North America.- Settlement in different places under different leaders.- As they settled they developed the land and made great progress economically, socially andpolitically. For example one group established political liberty of electing a representativegovernment in Jamestown in 1619. This government grew and eventually took the form ofthe House of Commons of England.- Emergence of the 13 American colonies under the British. These became the origin of theUnited States of America.The settlement and establishment of the 13 colonies were at different times:1. Virginia -1607 at Jamestown by The London Company led by John Smith2. Massachusetts -1620 by Pilgrim Fathers/Puritans who fled religious persecution in England3. New Hampshire -1623 led by John Wheelwright4. Georgia- 1632 led by James Oglethorpe5. Maryland -1634 –Lord Baltimore6. Connecticut-1635-Thomas Booker7. Rhode Island-1636- Roger William8. Delaware -1638 –Peter Minuit and New Sweden Company6.7. Some went to the new lands as prisoners or slaves to work for government officials or other North Carolina -1653 –Virginians9. South Calorina-1663-Eight nobles with a royal charter from Charles II10. New York –first founded by the Dutch and later taken by the British in 1664 led by Duke of York111. New Jersey was also first colonised by the Dutch -later by the British in 1664 led by Lord Berkley and Sir George Cartere12. Pennsylvania -1682 –founded by the Quakers led by William PennThe colonies were divided into three groups:1. The “Southern Colonies”: Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland. Most of the African slaves were in this group.2. The “New England Colonies”: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut.3. The “Middle Colonies”: New York and New Jersey captured from the Dutch in the 17thcentury, Pennsylvania and Delaware. The population of the colonies grew from the few original settlers as they were joined by others fromBritain. The thirteen colonies were established as sources of raw materials and markets for the goodsfrom their motherland. A large population of African slaves was brought to work in the plantationsand the mines. The colonies were required to pay taxes, revenues and custom duties. Laws werepassed from time to time to enforce payments of the taxes.THE AMERICAN WAR OF INDEPENDENCE: 1776-1783The most important background to the American war of independence was the Seven Years Warbetween the French and the British -1756-1763. Britain later fought against France and Spaincombined as allies. It was a war for political and economic supremacy in Europe and America. Britainwon due to her leadership and sea power. The war ended with the peace of Paris in 1763. Resultsincluded:1. France was allowed to keep its Caribbean Islands but to relinquish all it owned in NorthAmerica, Canada and its land east of Mississippi. Britain became the predominant power inNorth America.2. Britain restored to France the West Indian Islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe and St. Lucia.3. Spain had to give up Florida to Britain 4. The war left feelings of hatred and desire for revenge on the side of the French as the losers.5. Britain turned to its colonies for economic recovery after the cost involved during the war.Laws were passed in parliament to meet this need.6. The 13 colonies reacted differently. They hoped that after doing away with the Frenchinfluence they would be left alone to mind their own business. However the BritishGovernment began to control them more strictly making the colonists frustrated.THE MAIN CAUSES OF THE AMERICAN WAR OF INDEPENDENCEWhen the Seven Years War ended in 1763, the British Empire was the most powerful in the world.Now the Americans had little to fear from their great rivals, the French and the Spaniards. Theyno longer felt need for the British army and navy to protect them. The British leadership did nothandle the colonists wisely. They came up with policies which drove the colonists to rebellion:1. From the beginning the colonists wanted freedom and had tasted a bit of independence. Most had owned land and property of their own. They would not tolerate British rule for a long time.22. In some colonies there were elected assemblies/parliaments; had freedom of press and religion. These were established before the British started controlling them strictly. Additionally, many did not regard England as their mother country,3. The mercantile system: The colonists resented the British mercantile system because:- They were not allowed to manufacture many things- they were forced to sell to Britain- Britain paid low prices for the products such as rice, tobacco, furs, cotton and other raw materials. - They had also to buy from Britain. - Products to and from the colonies had to be transported in British ships.4. They resented the heavy taxation on sugar, tea, glass, paper, wine, jewellery, etc.5. Since the Indians and the French were no longer

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