Independence for What Purpose?
May-June 1775 Second Continental Congress Results:
1. Massachusetts militia became the central forces for the colonial army.
2. George Washington became leader of the American war effort.
3. “Declaration of Purpose”- protection of colonial rights
4. Use of French aid to foment rebellion within uncertain colonists.
Declaration of Independence-
1. July 2nd resolution to declare independence led to formal declaration on July 4th, 1776.
2. The philosophy of revolution in America was a descendant of John Locke.
3. Grievances and justification for establishing new government and the declaration that revolution was a reality, not an idea any longer.
Military Balance Sheet
1. English Strengths- The British had a massive and well organized army and superior naval manufacturing (though the Americans had almost no naval manufacturing, so it was superior by default).
2. English Weaknesses- The British had a lack of complete dedication to the colonial war and the cause of justice in keeping a possession, lacked great military leaders (most had defected to the American cause), and geographic separation made reinforcements difficult to attain.
3. Why did the Colonists Win the War?
a. American military strategy, which utilized guerrilla assaults, geographical knowledge, and smaller scale warfare to defeat the cumbersome British military assaults.
b. Assistance of the French, especially in the final days of the war.
c. English views of the conflict were as mixed as the American views of the war in 1776. Many British citizens were curious if the petulant American colonies were worth the expense and human costs of the war.
The Peace of Paris (1783)
1. Recognition of American Independence- While the treaty did formally recognize American independence from England, the British were still able to use their economic power to keep the American government in the dark until the War of 1812, in which the United State truly became independent.
2. Generous Boundaries- The boundaries of the new nation included the thirteen colonies, areas west to the Mississippi River and south to Georgia and Mississippi.
3. Resolution of Pre-War Debts- An important aspect of the Treaty because a fledgling nation like the United States did not need to start their democratic experiment by fighting to pay back debt to their former colonial holders.
a. Why so Generous?
i. The American delegates, including John Jay and John Adams, were successful at enumerating the reasons in which they should be cooperative with the new American government (especially the fact that America held a lot of raw resources and a vast unexplored land).
ii. The delegates were also able to play the Europeans, who had been consistently bickering with one another during the Age of Exploration, against each other in order to gain more concessions.
The Internal American Revolution
1. Loyalists- The British loyalists within the American Revolution were treated as traitors, had their goods confiscated, and many disenfranchised or sent back to England.
2. Political/Constitutional- A struggle between small government Jeffersonians and big government Hamiltonians began with the Articles of Confederation, which was a document proven to be too lenient and ineffective in keeping the nation together.
3. Slavery and Human Freedom- A conflict about language arose in writing the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution. Some wanted a broadly defined definition of human freedom while others wanted one more narrowly defined. The convention of the time was that slavery was acceptable and that the constitutional law should not reflect a protection of a second class people but a protection from an overreaching government.