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War on The Colonies: French, Indian War and American Revolution

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Following the defeat of the French and their Indian allies in the French & Indian War in 1763, very few people would have guessed a massive and destructive civil war would erupt between the colonies and the mother country.

The problems that led up to what would become known as the American revolution began during the French and Indian War. In the mid-1700s, France repeatedly moved in on territory known as the Ohio River Valley. This would always result in conflict with the colonies. This led to Britain formally declaring war on France in 1756. At first, Britain and the colonies suffered defeat, due to the lack of equipment and the Indian’s knowledge of the terrain. In 1757, William Pitt began to borrow money to fund the war in the colonies. This added on to the nation’s debt, and in 1763, this amounted to 122 million pounds. This would be equivalent to 24,385,017,543,.86 pounds today. By 1760, the French had been expelled from Canada while simultaneously suffering defeat by the British in India. The treaties of Hubertusberg and Paris in 1763 formally ended the French and Indian War. With this signing, France lost all land in Canada, gave Louisiana to Spain, and handed Upper Canada and various overseas holdings to Britain. Relations between the British and Indians after the war were tense and unpredictable, so the British decided to keep a standing army in the colonies. The bitterness of the French from their defeat will eventually play a big role in the unforeseen American Revolution fifteen years later.

By now, the base for the American Revolution has been set and is moving forward without anybody realizing it. The French were bitter, the British in huge debt and with a standing army in the colonies, and the colonies happy in the moment. As stated before, Britain’s and the Indian’s relations were not so great, so in 1763 Great Britain passed the Proclamation of 1763. This was an attempt to appease the natives, which forbade expansion and acquisition of land west of the Appalachian Mountains. This angered many land-hungry settlers and speculators. The British simply did not want to fuel resentment of lingering French and allied Indians and start another conflict they could not fund. Next, the British felt a need to tighten control over their empire. Laws regarding imperial trade and navigation had been in place for many years, but the colonists were known to evade these. It was also brought to the attention of the mother country that the colonists had traded with the French during the war. This angered the British and strengthened their ideas that the colonists had to repay the mother country for their defense. This led to the Sugar Act in 1764, which was an attempt to destroy the smuggling of sugar and molasses from non-British Caribbean sources. Anyone suspected of smuggling or other violations of the customs laws would receive a hearing favorable to the British, and not the colonial, interests. 

This was a provision of the next act that would anger colonists, the Currency Act. The colonies suffered a constant shortage of currency with which to conduct trade. Colonies issued their own currencies, which would obviously differ from colony to colony. Parliament assumed control of the currency crisis in the colonies and prohibited the issue of any new bills and the reissue of existing currency. Colonists argued that the confusion and crisis of their currency would only be worsened by the usage of pound shearlings, due to the fact of their rarity in the colonies. Colonists protested angrily and trade slowed down in the colonies. Next, in March 1765, the colonies were bombarded with the Stamp Act. This was Parliament’s first serious attempt to assert governmental authority over the colonies. Anything and everything was being taxed in the colonies, which included daily essentials such as newspapers and playing cards. Adverse colonial reactions to the Stamp Act ranged from boycotts of British goods to riots and attacks on the tax collectors. Soon after, the Quartering Act was passed, which required the colonies to house British soldiers in barracks provided by the colonies. If the barracks were too small to house all the soldiers, then localities were to accommodate the soldiers in local inns, livery stables, ale houses, victualling houses, and the houses of sellers of wine. As you can imagine, the colonists were not too happy with this new law. The colonists not only had to house troops in their own homes, they were being taxed to pay for provisions and barracks for the army – a standing army that they thought was unnecessary during peacetime and an army that they feared might be used against them. 

Soon after, the Virginia Resolves took place, which condemned the Stamp Act and showed that there could be unity in the thirteen colonies. By now, the colonists are leaning towards unity and ideas are brewing quietly about separation. Next, the Townshend Revenue Act was passed in June 1767. This was a series of measures, passed by the British Parliament in 1767, that taxed goods imported to the American colonies. But American colonists, who had no representation in Parliament, saw the acts as an abuse of power. Colonists responded by boycotting British goods. The colonists sewed dresses out of homespun cloth and brewed tea from pine needles to avoid the extremely unfair taxes imposed on them by the mother country. Harassing tax collectors and merchants who violated the boycotts happened frequently too. The colonists even resorted to “Feathering and Tarring”. Here, the victim would be stripped naked or stripped to the waist. Tar was then either poured or painted onto the person while they were immobilized. Then the victim either had feathers thrown on them or was rolled around on a pile of feathers so that they stuck to the tar. This was a form of public humiliation and was not meant to kill the person being punished. 

The frustration of heavy taxes and unfair representation in addition to a lack of currency and trade force then forced Boston merchants to pass the Boston Non-Importation agreement in August 1768. New York and Philadelphia later signed the agreement. The boycott lasted until 1770 when Great Britain finally repealed the tax acts. Colonists felt a win from this and maybe quite possibly felt that if they were persistent enough in their demands, they would be granted to them. This spoiled confidence led to one of the most historic events leading up to the American Revolution, the Boston Massacre. The presence of troops in Boston was highly unwelcome and was demonstrated by 50 citizens who decided to attack a British sentinel. The soldiers endured rocks being thrown at them, repeated attacks with sticks, and snowball attacks. The soldiers either lost patience or feared legitimately for their lives or both and fired into the crowd. This led to three people dying on the spot and wounding eight more. A town meeting was soon called to demand the removal of the British and the trial for the Captain and his officers. Paul Revere added onto the conflict by creating an engraving depicting harmless and peaceful citizens being slaughtered by armed British troops. While relations between citizens and troops were escalating and acts were being repealed, two taxes were still being collected: sugar and tea. 

The British East India Company was on the verge of bankruptcy, so Great Britain granted them a monopoly with the colonies. The direct sale of tea with the British would cut out local merchants. Prices on tea were also lowered significantly to promote the sale of the tea. Merchants did not respond well to this. Colonists in Philadelphia and New York turned the tea ships back to Britain. In Charleston, the cargo was left to rot on the docks. In Boston, the Royal Governor was stubborn and held the ships in port, where the colonists would not allow them to unload. Cargoes of tea filled the harbor, and the British ship’s crews were stalled in Boston looking for work and often finding trouble. This situation led to the Boston Tea Party. The colonists saw right through this evil plan, and many responded with boycotts. Threats of violence were issued out in many ports, forcing most ships to turn around. Boston had a very intriguing reaction. Three ships were allowed into the port. Then, on a cold December night, 342 chests of tea were tossed into the Boston harbor. The offenders were disguised as native Americans and could not be identified. In today’s economy, the valued loss on this act of defiance cost the British East India Company a little over three-quarters of a million dollars. This angered Great Britain and forced them to pass the Intolerable Acts. The Intolerable Acts were meant to force the rebellious colonies back into place, but the opposite happened and only further fueled the flames of rebellion in North America. These acts targeted Boston and Massachusetts in particular for being centers of resistance. 

The Intolerable Acts closed Boston Harbor, replaced local government in Massachusetts with an appointed one, allowed British officials charged with capital offenses to be tried in another colony or in England, and revived the Quartering Act. As a direct response to the Intolerable Acts, the first Continental Congress met in Sep. 1774 to discuss how best to unite and oppose British rule. The goals of this congress were not uniform, with some wanting resolution with England and others wanting separation. All agreed however that the King and Parliament must understand their grievances and that they must be able to communicate the same to the colonies and the rest of the world. The first continental congress managed to form the Association or Continental Association, which would enforce a boycott of all British goods. The delegates here were hoping that Britain would repeal the Intolerable Acts. Soon after, the Virginia Convention was held. Here, Patrick Henry delivered his famous “Give me liberty or give me death” speech. Henry was convinced there was war around the corner and proposed raising militias in the colonies. Many were not shocked by the proposition. Henry stated that the war had already begun and that the colonies should not stay idle. This speech tipped the scales in favor of defensive action. Henry has then appointed the head of a new committee in charge of readying Virginia for combat. This call to arms came at a perfect time, as a month later British troops and colonial minutemen at Lexington and Concord engaged in skirmishes that resulted in the “shot heard round the world”. 

British General Gage set out for these settlements for Sam Adams and John Hancock and to seize gunpowder as well. A series of horseback riders, including Paul Revere, went to warn the countryside that the British were coming and to ready themselves. Quick fact: Paul Revere did not shout “the British are coming”, as many Americans in the countryside considered themselves British. He instead shouted that the Regulars were coming, as the Regulars were known to be British soldiers. Anyhow, the events at Lexington and Concord led to minutemen being killed and British troops storming Boston. As a result of this, the Second Continental Congress was formed. Here, it was agreed to form the Continental Army where George Washington was named the supreme commander. This congress was not dealing with grievances, it was a full-fledged governing body. Congress authorized the printing of money and a standing committee to conduct relations with foreign governments. Even up until now, many delegates were not seeking separation from Great Britain. Congress even approved the Olive Branch Petition, which was a direct appeal to the King where delegates pleaded for peaceful resolution and loyalty to the King. The King refused and declared the colonies rebellious. King George then ordered Hessian mercenaries to bring the colonies under control. Americans felt even more betrayed than ever at the thought of their mother country ordering foreign goons to subdue them. Tensions became more hostile and, in the summer of 1776, a formal declaration of independence was adopted.

Next, the battle at Fort Ticonderoga took place. Here, Washington drove General Howe and his forces out of the city. British forces then moved to New York, where they drove Washington and his men out of Staten Island. Washington skillfully moved his men to Manhattan that night under the cover of fog. The Americans then achieved victory at Saratoga when General Burgoyne surrendered. This was significant, as French involvement in the war became known. They had secretly issued financial and material aid since 1776. In 1778, the French officially declared war on Britain. Americans meanwhile were barely surviving in Valley Forge under an intense winter. Freiherr Von Steuben taught discipline to the soldiers and made them a more formidable fighting force. What followed mostly in the North was a stalemate. After many wins and losses, the Americans had a hold upon the Northwest. The American side however suffered many internal blows. Mutinies were carried out in 1780 and 1781, which were caused by misunderstandings of terms of enlistment, poor food, and clothing, and not being compensated while the purchasing power of the dollar was simultaneously declining. Maj. John Andre was even hanged for being a spy and aiding Benedict Arnold for his attempts to betray West Point to the British. Cornwallis then established control of Fredericksburg all the way to Charlottesville. He began building a base at Yorktown, while also fending off American forces. There was also a war at sea going on. This was fought primarily between American allies and the British. The Americans ended up taking Yorktown, which was the final battle of the Revolution. On September 3, 1783, the Peace treaty of Paris was signed and recognized the independence of the United States. The victory of the American Revolution was a result of British mistakes, American effort, and French assistance.

All in all, I believe the American Revolution was inevitable. People began colonizing America in search of freedom and to build a new world, not recreate an old one. British aid against Indian attacks added a huge debt to Great Britain, further drowning their empire. Taxation and war on the colonies were a desperate attempt to regain control of their massive empire. The lack of communication and representation from the mother country to the colonies was also a huge terrible mistake. Instead of listening, Britain just imposed and ordered. Multiple attempts by the Americans were made to negotiate and resolve matters peacefully, but the arrogance and pride of the crown dismissed these offers. I guess the war WAS avoidable, but Great Britain underestimated the colonists and thought very low of them to want to adhere to their rules and regulations.  

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War on the Colonies: French, Indian War and American Revolution. (2022, August 30). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/war-on-the-colonies-french-indian-war-and-american-revolution/
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War on the Colonies: French, Indian War and American Revolution. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/war-on-the-colonies-french-indian-war-and-american-revolution/> [Accessed 22 Sept. 2022].
War on the Colonies: French, Indian War and American Revolution [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Aug 30 [cited 2022 Sept 22]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/war-on-the-colonies-french-indian-war-and-american-revolution/
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