119 American Independence

Holy Crap Accomplishment: American Independence

Up to 1763 – few felt the need for independence from England. Benefits outweighed the costs.

Great Britain left Colonists alone until the Stamp Tax, etc.

With the acquisition from the French of the territory between the Allegheny Mountains and the Mississippi River the British decided to isolate the area from the rest of the colonies. Under the terms of the Proclamation of 1763 and the Quebec Act of 1774 colonists were not allowed to settle here or trade with the Indians without the permission of the British government. These actions nullified the claims to land in the area by a host of American colonies, individuals, and land companies. The essence of the policy was to maintain British control of the fur trade in the West by restricting settlement by the Americans.

The British victory over the French had come at a high price. Domestic taxes had been raised substantially during the war and total government debt had increased nearly twofold (Brewer, 1989). Furthermore, the British had decided in1763 to place a standing army of 10,000 men in North America. The bulk of these forces were stationed in newly acquired territory to enforce its new land policy in the West. Forts were to be built which would become the new centers of trade with the Indians. The British decided that the Americans should share the costs of the military buildup in the colonies. The reason seemed obvious. Taxes were significantly higher in Britain than in the colonies. One estimate suggests the per capita tax burden in the colonies ranged from two to four per cent of that in Britain. It was time in the British view that the Americans began to pay a larger share of the expenses of the empire.

1770s Relationship strained. Colonists begin to build arsenal of weapons and ammo. Political dissent brewing. Military training started.

1775 -  April – first shot fired, American public still divided about war or independence 50-50

1775 -  June – Centennial Army authorized. Washington realized he had problems: recruitment, retention, training and discipline, supply, and payment for soldiers' services

1775-1777 – British dominate. Colonists only won at Trenton and Princeton

1776 – Leaders sign Declaration of Independence

1777 – October – Gen Gates victory at Saratoga. Convinces French to join Colonists.

1778 – British moved conflict to the south, assuming more were loyalists (pro-British.) American generals Nathanael Greene and Daniel Morgan turned to guerrilla and hit-and-run warfare that eventually stymied the British.

1781 -  British General Lord Charles Cornwallis was ordered to march into Virginia to await resupply near Chesapeake Bay. The Americans and their French allies pounced on Cornwallis and forced his surrender.

1781 – Yorktown surrender – sporadic fighting continues for 2 years 

1782 - Nov 30, preliminary peace treaty       

1783 - Sept 10, Peace of Paris. The treaty was generally quite favorable to the United States in terms of national boundaries and other concessions. Even so, British violations of the agreement would become an almost constant source of irritation between the two nations far into the future.                                   

Holy Crap Thinking:

British advantages: larger population, strongest navy in world, $ from King, experienced, well‐trained army

Colonist disadvantages: lack experienced, regular army or navy, few weapons/ammo. not everyone supported war, each colony responsible for recruiting (enlisting) soldiers, difficult to recruit officers

Patriot advantages: Washington excellent commander, fighting on own land for a cause, British had to ship troops and supplies overseas.          

Notice they went from rebellion (anarchy?) to organized government – this takes a significant paradigm shift

Holy Crap Quote:

"All men are created equal and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Thomas Jefferson, In the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

“They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? . . .  Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power.”

― Patrick Henry

Holy Crap Challenge:

Think Bigger: Believe in yourself. Believe in doing the impossible. The American Revolution had never happened before. They faced the world’s largest superpower that had a dominant army, plenty of money, and hired soldiers. Yet they believed they could win.

Reach Higher: They fought a long, hard war where there were many moments where they questioned the outcome.  Colonists fought for equality, breaking free from the cast system of Great Britain. But to do that, they had to first win the war and then establish a government. Reach higher to see the long game.

Do the Impossible: Work for a better life, not just selfish gain. Sacrifice to create something that will last beyond your lifetime.

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