Discuss the reason, development and consequences of the War of Independence (1775-1783).

The Seven Years' War cost Britain a lot of money and a lot of politicians reasoned that the colonists should sustain the expenses of the war effort. Heavy taxes were introduced on sugar, coffee, textiles and other imported goods.

On the night of December 16, 1773, a band of men boarded three British ships lying at anchor in Boston harbour and dumped 342 crates of tea into the waters of the port. They took this step as a form of protest. The British parliament responded by imposing the "Intolerable Acts" and closing the port of Boston to all shipping.

In September 1774, the First Continental Congress was convened in Philadelphia. The Congress urged colonists to boycott British trade and to organize units of militias to oppose the British army. Quite soon the growing confronta­tion broke into open fire.

On April 19, 1775 the commander of the English garrison in Boston sent a unit of sol­diers to the town of Concord to seize arms stored by the colonists. At the village of Lexington the first battle was. A major exchange of fire took place leaving 8 dead and 10 wounded. This was "the shot heard round the world" which led to the American War of Independence (1775 — 1783).

In May 1775, a second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and assumed the powers of a national government. It formed a Continental Army and Navy under the Command of Colonel George Washington. The Congress printed its own paper money and sought to establish diplomatic relations with foreign countries. On July 2, 1776, the Congress finally decid­ed "that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states".

Thomas Jefferson drafted a Declaration of Independence, which the Congress adopted on July 4, 1776. The Declaration announced the birth of a new nation and set forth the principles of human freedom. The Enlightenment philosophy of John Locke of England was universalized into the natural rights of humankind that men have a natural right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”, that governments can rule only with “the consent of the governed”, that any government may be replaced when it fails to protect the rights of the people. However, these inalienable rights didn’t apply to millions of Negro slaves, and the institution of slavery continued to exist well until 1860s.

In October 1777 the Br. Army under General John Burgoyne suffered heavy defeat at Saratoga in northern NY. A Franco-American alliance was signed in February 1778. The Americans began to receive financial and military help from France, and the French navy supported the Americans at sea.

In 1781 at Yorktown 8,000 British troops under General George Cornwallis were surrounded by a French fleet from the sea and a combined French-American army under George Washington. Soon after­wards the British government asked for peace. Britain finally recognized the independ­ence of the United States by signing the Treaty of Paris in September 1783. The 13 colonies were now free and independent. The War of Independent is also referred to as the Am. Revolution because with the formation of the US a republic was established as a result of the struggle of the Am. Colonists who overthrew a monarchy based on colonial exploitation and denial of civil and political rights. The Am. Revolution had far reaching consequences and it helped to trigger the Fr. Revolution of 1789.





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