The American Revolution was a war fought by and for the common-man. The colonies were designed to enrich the British government and to extend their empire into the New World. In 1651, England established the Navigation Acts to enforce trade between England and the colonies. Furthermore, In 1733, they further established the Molasses Act, in an effort to protect against cheaper options sold by the French.
A Historian named, Robert Eldon Brown argues that the Revolution was conservative due to the sheer numbers of the middle-class who for the first time in history had access to financial opportunities and the right to vote, however their desire for the freedom to self-govern went further than a simple ballot and a small plot of land. On the other hand, Alan Taylor explains that for decades after the Revolutionary War there were still conflicts between the classes over land and who should be allowed to have a voice in our society.
The American Revolutionary War was as radical as any other radical movement war because of the reaction to the taxes, trade policies, and restrictions forced on the colonists by an absentee King which eventually then leads to capitalism. First the colonies wanted more democracy than they already had. An example of this would be before the revolution started the average common man could not vote due to them not having enough land required to vote. Secondly, Since the publication of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense the colonists were finally beginning to see that Parliament did not have their best interests at heart.
Thirdly, they finally wanted to have the opportunity to establish themselves as a viable entity on the world market and thereby preserve the profits they worked so hard to earn by establishing a form of capitalism.
First the colonies wanted more democracy than they already had. An example of this would be before the revolution started the average common man could not vote due to them not having enough land required to vote. The land acres required to vote in Virginia was 100 acres before the war, after the revolutionary war the land acres was lowered from 100 acres to 50 acres in the state of Virginia, allowing the 21 year old white male property owners to vote. According to History.org before the war the colonists were not allowed to vote for their colonies governors, and state officials.
After the war colonist 21 year old white male citizens could vote for governors, and state officials. The colonists also felt that they were being put into worse conditions caused by the government, particularly with the intolerable acts which disrupted economy and removed nearly all political say from those in Massachusetts. These acts, which were issued as punishment for the Boston Tea Party, restricted trade by closing the port of Boston and put Britain in control of government affairs.
There were no longer elections, Great Britain had the authority to send trials from the colonies to be heard under a British judge, and colonists had to house British soldiers who were there to punish them. These unfair conditions, along with no ability to change them through the political system, led the colonists to resort to more radical action and abandon their more conservative views. They felt they needed more power to control their own government and that meant democracy was the best option. After their recent events it was made obvious that could never happen if major change did not come about.
Since the publication of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense the colonists were finally beginning to see that Parliament did not have their best interests at heart. In Paine’s 49 page pamphlet he tried to explain the truth about Britain in simple words so that everybody would be able to read it. It was a major success, selling around half a millions copies and it made the colonists realize that they did not like having one ruler who decided everything for them. They wanted self governance and to be able to have a say in things that would affect them. They also felt like they no longer owed an allegiance to the king and therefore they no longer owed him their hard earned taxes and support. Taxation was a key part of what made this a radical movement.
People were not going to keep paying taxes when they did not feel like they were being properly represented. This brought about the popular saying of No taxation without representation. The other factor that made the Revolution radical was the change of people being able to practice whatever religion they want. This comes from the separation of church and state which does not allow the state to push any religion onto the people. When people have the freedom to choose, more people will get involved and become more devout. To have a government elected that have to be responsible to the people and allowed complete religious freedom, was truly a radical change from royalty who had complete unquestionable power.
The colonist had always found ways around the taxes and restrictions. They finally wanted to have the opportunity to establish themselves as a viable entity on the world market and thereby preserve the profits they worked so hard to earn. By doing so they adopted the idea of Jeffersonianism. Jeffersonianism was a liberal vision that offered the leading men an escape from their uncomfortable middle position when it came to the land of conflicts. This escape was a way that promised their complete drive of respectability in the wider worlds’ eyes. Jeffersonians’ sweeping political triumph helped avert many events. Some of these events being urban rioting, political partnership, and sectional rivalry.
The Jeffersonians’ triumph offered men compelling arguments and the liberal social vision made sense to the backcountry’s leading men. The leading men identified with the promise to preserve a perfect equitable economy and society, by allowing the free market and voluntary association to allocate wealth, power, and status. As stated in the article, Jeffersonianism sapped resistance by winning over the leading men. The Jeffersonians’ message and approach offered the leading men a oath out of the protracted conflicts in a way that preserved their prosperity and their local influence.
In the process of finding it necessary to organize efforts to defend their new freeholds, the settlers defended their version of the American Revolution. In addition to that we see that by defending their land and values, the settlers contributed to the preservations. An inauguration of a more liberal social order that was guided and led by Jeffersonian politicians and was the result of of the settlers resistance.
The colonists initially arrived as subjects to a monarchical empire that spanned the globe. They reevaluated the very establishment of monarchial governance and organized a democratic society that allowed every citizen a say in how this country was run.
During colonial times, the King represented the highest form of power and government (aside from God) but with the changes brought about by the Great Awakening and the Revolution the population began to believe that God favored those who put in the work and would therefore find themselves rewarded appropriately.
No longer did the common man bow down to a wealthy noble. The Revolution was the product of a shift change in loyalty away from monarchy and aristocracy, and into a new form of national government which empowered the common man as opposed to a ruler. Prior to the Revolutionary War citizens were bound to their communities. But Thomas Jefferson presented the idea of a Jeffersonian Democracy which idealized a smaller central government which was centered on democratic views.
He planted the seed that government should play a minor role within the lives of the everyday citizen which contrasted greatly from the heavy regulations of British rule. As you can see the American Revolution was indeed as radical as it gets due to the ideas set forth by individuals who created a form of government that was never seen before in the history of the world. These principles were radical and is a constant reminder to us and the people of the 18th century, that the American society is still so imperfect.
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