US History Midterm Essay
The main historical reasons of the American revolution can be explained by the growing economical potential of North American colonies and short eyed foreign policy of Great Britain towards its possessions in the New world.
Colonies of North America had to pay unbearable taxes to the crown, they were deprived the opportunity to develop local industry and manufacturing, in fact North American colonies had to be raw material and agricultural donors of Great Britain. Despite so-called “Tea tax”, “Hat tax”, stamp duty, American colonies had to pay taxes to support British Army in colonies. Such practices prevented local economies from gradual development, but due to the high economic and military potential of colonies they could not stop development and would result in revolution one time.
Revolution resulted in independence of American colonies; it gained basic liberties and freedoms for new American nation. But nevertheless, constitution and declaration of independence didn’t solve the issue of slavery, so nothing really changed for thousands of American slaves: “The situation of black slaves as a result of American revolution was more complex. Thousands of black fought with the British. Five thousand were with the revolutionaries, most of them from North, but their situation didn’t change much after revolution” (p. 88)
Economy played the main role in development of relations of European colonists with Native Americans. English colonists had a very mercantile concept of diplomacy, which was applied to Indians and resulted in territorial expansion and capture of Indians’ lands. In order to realize such policies colonists had to displace local population, which would never accept such hostile interference of foreigners. Also there were misunderstandings in European and Native American concepts of private property. Indigenous tribes acknowledged only community property, which was a right of the whole community to hunt on the land they occupied as their farming needs, were very modest (only plantations of tobacco and corn). Such concept was absolutely different from European concept of private property. According to Howard Zinn Indians were quickly involved into the system of colonial trade and ultimately they became an integral part of Northern America colonial economy, which was profitable only for colonists. European colonists wanted to change Indian culture and system of values, which were considered to be an ideological basement for resistance. Europeans used practices of spreading Christian ideology on the missionary basis which as a result turned into gradual decline of Indian culture. The nature of relation of colonists with Native Americans in the 16-18th century had created a long time attitude towards Indians based on discrimination and oppression. War for independence only worsened situation of Indians as the US government promoted policy of intensive colonization of western territories. Neither declaration of independences nor national elite insured positions of Indians in the new country: “We the people of the United States” a phrase coined by the rich gouverneur Morris didn’t mean Indians or blacks or women or white servants” (p. 84)
American revolution was predominantly influenced by ideas of French Enlightenment philosophers of the late 18th century. French philosophers such as Rousseau, Didro, Voltaire and English philosophers Hobbs and Locke had made a great contribution to the development of ideological basis for the democratic state based on elective democracy and separation of powers concept.
These scientists developed theory of social contract, which was successfully introduced and realized in the United States, when common citizens decide the destiny of their country themselves through the procedure of elections.
Zinn, Howard A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present Harper Perennial 2003
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