Causes of the American Revolution Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2259 words)  ·  Style: Chicago  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Economics

American Revolution

It could be argued that America's political development was culminated with the decision to seek independence from Britain. The American Revolution also known as the American war of Independence marked a pivotal time in history. The purpose of this discussion is to examine the causes of the American Revolution. The examination will focus on the economic, social and political issues that led to the American Revolution.

Causes of the American Revolution

The American Revolution took place from 1775 to 1783. According to a book entitled the Causes of the American Revolution there were many issues that forced America to fight for independence from British rule. Among these issues were economic and social differences and conflicts. As it related to economic conflict colonial commerce and the manner in which is what conducted played an important role in the decision of the colonies to gain independence from Britain. According to the aforementioned book

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In a functioning imperial economy, the capitalist relationships between mother country and colonies as a rule lead to a colonial unfavorable balance of payments. The colonies buy the goods and services of the mother country and are encouraged to develop those raw materials the home capitalists require. In this they are aided by the investment of the mother country's balances and by new capital. Thus, in the southern colonies, tobacco largely was being produced to furnish returns for the English goods and services the plantation lords required; but, because the exchange left England with a favorable balance, by the 1770's its capitalists had more than £4,000,000 invested in southern planting operations."

Term Paper on Causes of the American Revolution Assignment

The author explains that in an effort to accommodate this type of debt the planters in the south had to continuously expand their agricultural functions and to employ in the supplementary activities of the fur trade and land speculation. However the Northern Colonies were not as fortunate as the southern colonies because of differences in climate and weather conditions. As a result the northern colonies were not able to produce the staples that the English economy needed. That is the provisions, grains and work animals from Pennsylvania, New England and New York were not able to go into England because they disrupted the home agricultural industry. In addition, the fishing catches of the New England fishing fleets competed with the English fishery industry in the North Sea and Newfoundland.

Eventually the population growth into the frontier areas restricted the fur trade. The northern merchants were able to find outlets that yielded greater profitability for lumber in the West Indies and also in the Spanish and Portuguese wine islands. Although England encouraged the manufacture of crude Iron a great deal of the iron produced was absorbed and needed within the colonies and as such the export of Iron to England was actually quite dismal.

Overall England's plan was to keep the Northern colonies economically dependent upon England but this plan failed and the northern colony produced very little that could be exported to England which meant that balances could not be paid. The author also points out that "the northern colonies never, to any appreciable extent, presented important opportunities for English capital investment.... The English capital stake was largely in the South: only to a very slight degree was any of it to be found in the North. The result was the imperative necessity for the northern colonies to develop returns in order to obtain specie and bills of exchange with which to balance payments in England."

Control over colonial currency was also another economic issue that ultimately led to the American Revolution. The currency act was a major reason why there was economic conflict between the colonies and British Rule. According to an article found in the Yale Law Journal the English government wanted to ensure currency stability and for this purpose the Currency Act of 1751 was developed and applied to all of New England.

The main thrust of the Currency act of 1751 was to forbid bills of credit from being legal tender for payment of private obligations. In addition the act prevented any extra time for the redeeming of outstanding bills, and made compulsory the instant removal from office of any governor who debased the Act. In addition a justification stated in the Act of 1751 asserts that by making the devalued paper money legal tender, "all debts of late years have been paid and satisfied with a much less value than was contracted for, which hath been a great discouragement and prejudice to... trade and commerce."

According to the author, New England's understanding with currency guidelines in the beginning of the eighteenth century encouraged the region's acceptance of the restrictions presented in the act.

However, following the implementation of the Currency Act of 1751, English merchants began encouraging the extension of the restrictions into the middle Atlantic and southern colonies. The English Merchants eventually achieved this extension with the passing of the Currency Act of 1764. This latter Currency Act encountered a great deal of protest, particularly from the New York City and Philadelphia merchants. Eventually the Act was finally rescinded in 1774; however, "the resentment aroused by the restraints of the Currency Act of 1764 had already added itself to the forces operating to widen the breach between mother country and colonies."

In addition to the currency act, the Stamp Act also created tension and conflict between the colonies and the English government. The Stamp Act was developed and implemented and basically the stamp act required that stamped paper be used for practically all legal documents and customs papers, for appointments to all offices carrying a salary of 20£, save military and judicial offices, for all grants of privilege and franchises made by the colonial government, for licenses to retail liquors, for all pamphlets, advertisements, hand bills, newspapers, almanacs, and calendars, for packages containing playing cards and dice (Becker & Schlesinger 1960 25)."

According to the stamp act the paper was to be printed by the government, and sold by appointed officers.

Just as with the sugar act, no money with the exception of silver could be received. Additionally a law had already been approved in 1764 permitting the elimination of bills of credit as legal tender within the colonies.

The Stamp was seen as another way for the English government to control the economy of the colonies and the gauge the colonists. Ultimately the Stamp Act served as another reminder that the colonies were not free of British rule and that freedom would be difficult to achieve.

Overall the economic causes of the American Revolution were numerous and the colonies needed and wanted economic independence from Britain. In addition, it had become quite obvious that the colonies had the wherewithal to support themselves without the assistance of British investment or British governance. For this reason, America sought to gain independence from Britain.

Social and Political reasons for the American Revolution

In addition to the economic issues that faced America and Britain, there were also social and political issues that were partly responsible for America wanting independence from Britain. Indeed, the social structure in the America's was somewhat different from that of Britain and the differences became more evident as different social and political theories began to develop in the colonies.

From a social standpoint freedom of religion was one of the primary reasons why colonists left the old world. In the old world there were many restrictions related to the practice of religion. By settling in the Americas these colonist had the ability to enjoy religious freedoms and to some extent they feared that the continuation of British rule would impede upon this freedom.

From a political standpoint the colonies and leaders within the colonies began to formulate ideas concerning both republicanism and democracy. It is important to understand that although the British invested in the colonies there was a time period in which the colonies were pretty much on their own and colonist had to work together to pool their resources and make a life for themselves. It was during this time that the colonists began to understand their own power and their ability to govern themselves.

In addition to the aforementioned issues the policy of the English government of creating representative institutions in the colonies was also a major cause of the American Revolution. Under this policy the British government mandated the creation of a popularly elected assembly the moment there were an adequate number of Englishmen in the region to justify its existence. For instance, when it was discovered that Nova Scotia was being controlled by the governor and council, the British authorities forced the region to elect a popular assembly notwithstanding the governor's objection that there weren't even an adequate number of Englishmen in the area to elect two representatives.

According to the author, this particular strategy of popular assembly was used as a way to promote emigration of Englishmen to the colonies by guaranteeing potential settlers that they would have the "rights of Englishmen" while… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Causes of the American Revolution" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Causes of the American Revolution.  (2007, December 18).  Retrieved September 22, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Causes of the American Revolution."  18 December 2007.  Web.  22 September 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Causes of the American Revolution."  December 18, 2007.  Accessed September 22, 2020.