“The American War of Independence was a revolution that sought significant and deep societal change.” Do you agree with this view?

Published: June 29, 2020

It would depend on how the term revolution is defined. Some historians perceive revolution as producing significant and deep societal change; others define the term as “any resort to violence within a political order to change its constitution, rulers, or policies.” The American War of Independence fulfils the second definition because they successfully fought a war that resulted in the overthrow of their British rulers and established a government run by them.  Further:

In a revolution, the men take violent action against their government because they want immediate change in or destruction of the old order. But the Americans, instead of seeking the immediate change in the order, wanted to preserve traditional rights. They wanted reforms so that the colonies would be governed constitutionally.

They fought a war in which they threw off British authority in order to retain their liberties and self-government. They pleaded with the King of England to restore their rights, but the king refused. Despairing of reconciliation, they took matters into their own hands to restore the government, not to create a new one.

Many in America disliked the British rule. But many others did not wish to be independent only because of the reason that they harboured hatred for England. There were numerous reasons for the war and the reason with utmost importance was that they wanted to recover their rights as British subjects.

  • Before the war, the Colonial subjects protested that their chartered rights which they drew from the Magna Charta, the Arbroath Petition, and the English Bill of Rights were being violated. The Magna Charta granted the colonies the same rights as English cities, stating “observances of which we have granted in our kingdom as far as pertains to us towards are men, shall be observed in our entire kingdom.” But, King George III was taking rights from the colonists that the British in England possessed, and imposing taxes and laws that were not present in England itself.
  • The Americans sent an Olive Branch Petition, whereby they made their grievances clear to the King, begging, “to share in the blessings of peace and the emoluments of victory and conquest” of the Seven Year’s War. Instead of benefiting from peace, the Americans were taxed harshly to cover the cost of the war. This was the tyranny and that the Americans believed that the King and parliament were not fulfilling their duties.

Americans had efficiently governed themselves while England was busy fighting wars. The colonists were living happily and peaceably and did not wish to be disturbed. But at the conclusion of their wars, Britain began taxing the colonies. Naturally, the colonists protested, but the English labelled them as rebels. Americans disagreed with this identification.

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