The • American Revolution • Brotherhood • Patriots • Reluctant Revolutionaries • Chapter 7
Achievements: 1) First successful war for colonial independence; 2) First enduring large-scale Republic; 3) First nation designed on a “Liberal Recipe” in terms of political and economic character.
Emeritus Historian Edmund S. Morgan stated, • “no one has ever quite understood the Revolution and no one truly will.” • Story of Eldridge Gerry and Benjamin Harrison—explains the perspicacity of the unfolding events. • They knew they were laying the foundation for “Millions, Yet, unborn.”
The brotherhood itself consisted of the usual suspects: • George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, James Madison, Thomas Paine, Alexander Hamilton and a coterie of leading politicians and social leaders. • Real star of the Revolution is the revolution itself—we must not overlook the event—it is as important as the people—People give a face to the Revolution.
This new Nation combined in latent form two seminal and seemingly contradictory ideas— • Democracy and Capitalism, along with a radical concept of Popular Sovereignty --- • Common Ordinary People could Govern themselves, Tax themselves, Secure their own blessings of Liberty w/o a King or Monarchy • Divinity lay with the People, not a title or family lineage.
The American Revolution, in and of itself was very different from previous revolutions and many that followed— • There were no Guillotines, or major bloodletting—simply it did not devour its own. • It was a collective achievement that eschewed a monarchy or divine figurehead—instead opting for a seminally democratic system of checks and balances—that derived its authority from the consent of the governed.
The revolutionaries, rather than choosing to kill one another chose to argue with one another— • Yes, historians do point out the failures of the Revolution—ie it did not end patriarchy (deferring to one’s betters), nor racism, nor did it bring about absolute equality – • However, it did give us a vehicle, a political mechanism that would eventually lead to these things—’Founding Fathers’ were also a product of their time, as we are a product of our time.
Why Boston” Why was Boston so cantankerous? • Bostonians were natural dissenters; Mostly blue collar, merchants, mechanics, and shop owners; • Believed in the Town Hall mentality—had left Britain because of British atrocities and corruption Believed what happened in Scotland and Ireland was a prelude to what the British intended to do in America.
John Adams took up the successful defense of the Troops that fired on the Boston Crowd; “Motley rabble of Irish Teagues, Jack Tars, Mulattos, and saucy Boys” • In 1764 he took up the American cause; • Wrote tracts espousing conspiracy theories concerning British commercial and tax laws; • Motive to prove this cause would be conservative and within the parameters of civilized law.
George Washington—tends to be more in our wallets than our Hearts; • Still very much revered in American History; • Became viewed as the “First in War, First in Peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”
Washington born in 1732—fourth generation American—doted on by his mother; • Always wanted to be an Officer in the British Army—he was a man of action and also sought fame and fortune and desired to be a Great Planter. • He decided to throw in with the Americans for very different reasons than did Adams—who deplored an aristocratic society and privilege at the expense of the lower classes—Adams was 14th in his class at Harvard for a reason.
Thomas Paine wrote “Common Sense” • Paine a ne’er do well left Britain for America with nothing but a letter of introduction from Benjamin Franklin. • Maybe the single most important piece of journalism in American History. • Openly blamed King George for incompetence and stated that an Island cannot rule a continent.” Sold 100,000 copies 1yr.
Common Sense • “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine Patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he who stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. • “Tyranny like hell, is not easily conquered; yet, … the harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph … it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as Freedom should not be highly rated …”
Prelude to Revolution • 1754-1763 French and Indian War • 1762—Writs of Assistance Proclamation of 1763 inhibiting westward expansion 1765—Stamp Tax—relatively light tax 1767—Townshend Acts—duties on external goods and suspended New York Legislator until it agreed to authorize the Quartering of troops 1768—tension in Boston escalate until Britain enforces martial law and closes the Port 1770 March 5—Boston Massacre 1773—Tea Act—Boston Tea Party 1774 Quebec Act and the Coercive Acts—instilled permanent martial law and Port closure in Boston
1st Continental Congress Sep 1774 in response to the Intolerable Acts(Coercive Acts); • Endorsed the Suffolk Resolves, adopted the Declaration of the rights and grievances, agreed to establish a continental association; • Suffolk Resolves– strongly worded resolutions denouncing the coercive acts as unconstitutional—called for the colonial militia’s to arm and utilize economic sanctions against Great Britain • (Suffolk County—includes Boston)
Feb 1775—more moderate Parliament is elected and offers a Conciliatory Proposition Parliament would allow colonies to assume their own tax rate if it is satisfactory and reasonable. • Too little too late – Americans Samuel Adams and few others are ready for a fight—they want and desire independence – not reconciliation – • April 1775 – they get their wish in small little Hamlet called Lexington and Concord.
Shot Heard Around the World • Because of Gesture Politics and other tensions in Boston, Thomas Gage is charged with keeping the peace. • He requests 20,000 troops. He is charged with imprisoning Samuel Adams and John Hancock—supposedly leaders of this rebellion or social tumult. • Boston defiantly elects their own official thumbing their noses at Parliament—Gage is ordered to locate Adams and Hancock and imprison them.
The Militia are ready—spies are every where—one if by land two if by sea etc … • Paul Revere, Samuel Dawes and Samuel Prescott are busy riding the circuit keeping the villagers informed of troop movement and passing messages. • April 14 Gage received written directive from Parliament – April 18 he sent out the Regulars with a detachment of Marines led by Major Pitcairn – they are to capture the Armories etc …
No one will truly know how – but a shot was fired • Militia on constant alert—tired, sleepy, cold and anxious – after all, this is the greatest military might in the world; • Captain Parker and Lexington Militia told to make a show, then disperse – no blood shed; • Maj. Pitcairn told his troops to disperse into battle lines but under no circumstance discharge their weapons.
The British receive a very bloody nose –move onto Concord, by now every militia unit in New England is out – they armed and dangerous. • British lose 273 dead and wounded and many missing; the Americans suffer around 50 dead several wounded and some missing; • The war is on in earnest; there is no turning back – But John Dickinson and the Philadelphia delegates to the 2nd Continental Congress try to quell emotions and stave off war.
Dickinson and John Adams quarrel; • Olive Branch Petition (July 1775)– avowed loyalty to King George; suggested it was corrupt officials in Parliament that was severing peace between King and Subjects; asked George to protect them from further aggressions; • Dissenters and radicals as John and Sam Adams put forth a Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking up Arms –freedom and liberty were too important to be left to the whims of a King.
Bunker Hill or Breed’s Hill -- Israel Putnam and John Stark are militia leaders as is Dr. Joseph Warren—all are French and Indian War veterans. • Gage saw that Bunker Hill was a military advantage; he ignored it and awaited reinforcements; • Americans seized the initiative and Bunker Hill • Dug in and waited for the British; “Do Not fire until you see the whites of their eyes” Putnam drew a line in the sand—a distance when firing could begin.
British determined to take Bunker Hill, Americans determined to keep Bunker Hill; • British lost 226 dead, 828 wounded (250 would die of wounds) – many of the dead and wounded were mid-Level officers – very difficult to replace – replacements were 3000 miles away – many British officers opposed the American War and refused to serve in the American Theater – Walpole stated – “another such victory as this and we will lose the war …”
The Americans had fled, but because they ran out of ammunition; • Felt elated – they had stood toe to toe and beat the British as Col. Putnam predicted –wrong lesson to learn; • Lessons – Too much quarreling and fragmentation between militia officers and militia; poor logistics—they ran out of ammunition, did not have bayonets and didn’t know how to use; and in the end would the Americans stand and fight – No, once the lines were breeched the Americans fled in the face of the bayonet; and until Washington had a European trained core of elite Continentals – the outcome remained in doubt.
Capturing Philadelphia • Summer 1777: British focus on Philadelphia • Washington’s army defeated at Brandywine and Germantown • British conduct during capture of the city in the fall of 1777 engendered hatred, strengthening support for American cause • Disaster at Saratoga • Just days after the capture of Philadelphia, Americans achieve most significant victory to that point of the war in New York • Victory convinced France to help Americans
Saratoga did change everything, but I agree with Joseph Ellis, Valley Forge is where the Revolution was saved and eventually won. • It was the core group of indentured servants, poor shop keepers and destitute people with no prospects that made up the Continental Army; • Washington also had the prescience to inoculate his soldiers against small pox– the largest killer of soldiers and civilians during the war
Trenton and Princeton (1776)—important because it was a psychological victory—akin to the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo – • Washington assumed the Fabian strategy – it is not about victories, just don’t lose the war – keep the army together and in tact—fight and retreat; • Secure a foreign alliance—preferably the French; • Why did the British continue their failed strategy in America—afraid of a Domino Effect in the West Indies, Spain, and then India etc …Pacific
The American Revolution Becomes a Global War after Saratoga and the French Alliance • Benjamin Franklin the key figure in strengthening the French-American alliance • Winding Down the War in the North • Winter of 1778: a low point for Continental Army at Valley Forge • Series of army uprisings, 1779-81
War in the West • Contest between the British and Americans over Indian alliances • Most tribes tried to remain neutral, but generally lost power during course of conflict
The Struggle in the South The Siege of Charleston • British captured Savannah, Georgia in 1778 • Moved on to Charleston, which surrendered in 1780 “Despite their armed presence in the North, the British had come to believe that their most vital aim was to regain their colonies in the mainland South.”
The Partisan Struggle in the South • The fall of Charleston energized the loyalist movement on the frontier • Rebels and loyalists battled for the backcountry, both committing brutal acts • Major American defeat at Camden, S.C.
Greene Takes Command • Defeated general at Camden, Horatio Gates, replaced by Nathaniel Greene • Greene began unconventional campaign against superior British forces • Southern militia units stemmed the British advance northward • Kings Mountain and Cowpens
African Americans in the Age of Revolution • Black Americans made up one-third of southern population • Dunmore’s offer of freedom in 1774 sparked white fears of slave rebellion that never materialized • African Americans sought liberty by fighting for both sides: approximately 55,000 fled to freedom behind British lines and to the North “The British also lost in the Carolinas because they did not seek greater support from those southerners who would have fought for liberty with the British—African American slaves.”
American resolve, British failed strategy, foreign alliance culminated in Yorktown Oct 1781 officially ending the shooting war. • Britain still held Charleston, Savannah and New York while the treaty was being hashed out in Paris; • Washington surrendered his sword to Congress; • He also staved off a mutiny of officers “It seems that not only have I grown old in service to my country, but I have also become almost blind.”
The Significance of a Revolution • American citizen-soldiers fought on their own terms • the Continental Army, whose ranks contained a disproportionate number of the poorest Americans, bore the brunt of the successful rebellion • With the end of the war, what awaited the revolutionaries as they tried to build a new nation?