Consequences of American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War of 1775-1783 erupted as a result of social, political, ideological and economic differences between Britain and its North American colonies. The initial shots were fired at Concord and Lexington in Massachusetts and heightened campaigns were subsequently held in New York in, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Notably, Shaffer argues that the defeat of British forces at Saratoga in 1777 in New York paved the way for France to intervene on the American side as a way of revenging its defeat By British troops in the war that lasted seven years between 1756 and 1763 (15). Therefore, what began as an internal revolution within the British Empire now turned into an international, battle. The United Provinces (Netherlands) and Spain also started fighting Britain by 1780 and 1789 respectively. After the war at Saratoga, the British started to extend its war Southwards, capturing South Carolina, Charleston, Savana, and Georgia. This assignment has focused on the socio-economic implications of the revolutionary war that happened in the U.S.
According to Shaffer (18), the American War of Independence had mixed fortunes to the economy of the U.S. It specifically boosted domestic manufacturing because there was a high demand for military supplies. During the war, the revolutionaries did not support the importation of products from British, making the colonialists produce more products for themselves. Expanded provision of banking and physical infrastructure, as well as the introduction of paper money by individual states and the United States Congress, also accelerated economic activity. The British and American armies purchased local products too. Combined, these activities injected funds into the colonial economy. Nevertheless, the war also resulted in some economic downsides, such as inflation and an increase in product prices. Some areas in the U.S. were devastated by the conflict as British forces burned down their homes in an attempt to weaken aggression. Consequently, this resulted in an expensive reconstruction. The war also impacted on foreign trade. After the war, the colonists were liberated from the British regulations and Navigation Acts. Henceforth, the U.S. citizens could trade freely overseas without dealing with British intermediaries.
With the defeat of British authorities in the colonies, provincial congresses gained power and instituted new state governments. The congresses then replaced monarchism by republicanism and adopted written constitutions which were different from the British unwritten constitutions (Johnson 610). Assemblies also expanded thereby empowering frontier towns to gain stronger political representation. Consequently, citizens of modest backgrounds started to increase their participation in the political arena. However, it is also worth noting that many of these new regimes maintained the old colonial model. Apart from some exceptions, most states adopted bicameral legislatures with single governors or executives. Political rights were still tied largely to property holders. While most states decreased the property qualification for voting, only Georgia and Pennsylvania abolished them completely.
Class, Deference and Mobility
Revolutionary America assumed ideas that were different from the Old World. For instance, heredity and monarchy privileges were frowned upon. The United States Constitution, which was ratified in 1788 by a majority of states, forbade the establishment of nobility titles (Johnson 621). Increased opportunity to buy land in the American West also enabled the development of a commercially-minded society. The respect for authority was eroded as revolutionary assemblies and committees consisted of men from humbler social backgrounds as compared to the traditional colonial elites. Besides, military service resulted in increased social integration. More men got an opportunity to rise in the ranks of the U.S. Continental Army regardless of their wealth status (Johnson 623). Yet, there were no notable efforts to redistribute wealth for all these changes. Of the first five presidents in the U.S., four were wealthy landowners from Virginia. If U.S. citizens embraced the principles of social stratification, they embraced it based on individual merit and not by hereditary privilege.
Identity Unity and Dissent
In several ways, the American War of Independence contributed toward the development of the identity of the Americans. As stated by Hyneman and Lutz this was promoted by the increased physical mobility in the colonies (105). Indeed, stagecoaches and turnpikes facilitated the transportation of goods and the movement of people. The American Continental Army and warfare created refugees traversed great distances while militias moved in neighboring states. In the process, republican and revolutionary ideology was spread amongst the citizens. For many, Continental Army and the Congress symbolized a nation that was unified in arms and war of independence from a formidable enemy. However, the new order was not recognized by all Americans. After disputing imperial rule from London, some citizens were not very enthusiastic concerning a national United States Congress. To that end, the Confederation Articles, which became effective in 1781, stated that sovereignty was bestowed on the states. Local identities were also maintained and remained vital to most inhabitants.
Some colonists even opposed the Revolution itself. As such, the revolution was not just a struggle with the British imperialists; rather, it was also a civil war among Americans themselves. John Adams, a revolutionary, claimed that a third of the American population were Whig patriots or rebels, one third were neutral, and another one third were loyal to Britain or Tory (Spring 78). It was also difficult to identify the exact number of loyalists since Americans manifested loyalism in many ways like peaceful opposition, naturalism, and armed resistance. While many loyalists were from socio-economic backgrounds that risked losing from a rebel victory, they maintained their diversity. Tories ranged from small peasants in the Southern backcountry to New England merchants who depended on British for trade. Because of the diverse backgrounds, loyalists were not organized and relied on British leadership for direction.Apart from the negative impacts, American Revolutionary War also had positive socio-economic consequences in America. The war boosted domestic manufacturing in the U.S., expanded the provision of banking and physical infrastructure, stimulated foreign trade and accelerated the formation of influential provincial congresses that allowed frontier towns to receive greater political representation. Besides, the war contributed to the development of American identity in several ways. Finally, the War resulted in the development of a commercially-minded and mobile society in the U.S.