Creation of independence

Course: The United States of America: History and Political System
Book: Creation of independence
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Wednesday, 19 June 2024, 3:36 PM



The Seven Years´ War and colonial Sence of commonality

The French were the main rival of the English in the colonization of North America. They controlled Canada and Louisiana, which included the entire Mississippi watershed - a vast area with few people. French influence can be seen even nowadays: Louisiana was named after King Louis and similar was the motivation for Saint Louis, a town on Mississippi river. New Orleans was named in the honour of Jane of Arc (the Maid of Orléans). Britain and France fought several wars; however, the conflict known as the Seven Years' War was the most crucial they were engaged in. The struggle began in 1754 after a squadron of soldiers led by an unknown, twenty-two year old George Washington attacked a French fortress Fort Duquesne.

The war was also called the French and Indian War by the colonies because the English were fighting the French and their Native American allies, the Hurons. The two countries were fighting for control of North America which meant gaining an access to the all-important Mississippi River, the lifeline of the frontier to the west. Soon after the British captured Louisbourg, a strategic gate to the St. Lawrence Seaway, the French chapter of North American history ended in a bloody finale. England's superior strategic position and its competent leadership ultimately brought victory in this war. After the Peace of Paris was signed in 1763, France relinquished all of Canada, the Great Lakes and the upper Mississippi Valley to the British. In North America alone, British territories more than doubled.

Gradually, the English, Welsh, Scots-Irish, German, French, Irish, Swedish, Native American, and African descent cultures began to blend. Americans became culturally distinct from the English: their language, culture, and religions differed a lot. Most Americans were born here and never even visited England, the Germans were never loyal to England and the Scots-Irish had great resentment toward Great Britain. The experience of the war also did not bring the British and the Americans closer together: British troops felt haughty about colonials, since Americans were regarded as crude and lacking culture and the pious New Englanders found the British to be profane. The American colonists started to feel closer to each other. The first sign of unity, commonality or even nationalism was seen when settlers from all thirteen colonies fought together.

Which of the 11 American nations do you live in?

By Reid Wilson, Washington Post, November 8, 2013


Red states and blue states? Flyover country and the coasts? How simplistic. Colin Woodard, a reporter at the Portland Press Herald, says North America can be broken neatly into 11 separate nation-states, where dominant cultures explain our voting behaviors and attitudes toward everything from social issues to the role of government. “Our continent’s famed mobility has been reinforcing, not dissolving, regional differences, as people increasingly sort themselves into like-minded communities.” Woodard lays out his map in the new book American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America. Here’s how he breaks down the continent:

Yankeedom: Founded by Puritans, residents in Northeastern states and the industrial Midwest tend to be more comfortable with government regulation. They value education and the common good more than other regions.

New Netherland: The Netherlands was the most sophisticated society in the Western world when New York was founded, Woodard writes, so it’s no wonder that the region has been a hub of global commerce. It’s also the region most accepting of historically persecuted populations.


The Midlands: Stretching from Quaker territory west through Iowa and into more populated areas of the Midwest, the Midlands are “pluralistic and organized around the middle class.” Government intrusion is unwelcome, and ethnic and ideological purity isn’t a priority.

Tidewater: The coastal regions in the English colonies of Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland and Delaware tend to respect authority and value tradition. Once the most powerful American nation, it began to decline during Westward expansion.

Greater Appalachia: Extending from West Virginia through the Great Smoky Mountains and into Northwest Texas, the descendants of Irish, English and Scottish settlers value individual liberty. Residents are “intensely suspicious of lowland aristocrats and Yankee social engineers.”

Deep South: Dixie still traces its roots to the caste system established by masters who tried to duplicate West Indies-style slave society, Woodard writes. The Old South values states’ rights and local control and fights the expansion of federal powers.

El Norte: Southwest Texas and the border region is the oldest, and most linguistically different, nation in the Americas. Hard work and self-sufficiency are prized values.

The Left Coast: A hybrid, Woodard says, of Appalachian independence and Yankee utopianism loosely defined by the Pacific Ocean on one side and coastal mountain ranges like the Cascades and the Sierra Nevadas on the other. The independence and innovation required of early explorers continues to manifest in places like Silicon Valley and the tech companies around Seattle.

The Far West: The Great Plains and the Mountain West were built by industry, made necessary by harsh, sometimes inhospitable climates. Far Westerners are intensely libertarian and deeply distrustful of big institutions, whether they are railroads and monopolies or the federal government.

New France: Former French colonies in and around New Orleans and Quebec tend toward consensus and egalitarian, “among the most liberal on the continent, with unusually tolerant attitudes toward gays and people of all races and a ready acceptance of government involvement in the economy,” Woodard writes.

First Nation: The few First Nation peoples left — Native Americans who never gave up their land to white settlers — are mainly in the harshly Arctic north of Canada and Alaska. They have sovereignty over their lands, but their population is only around 300,000.

The clashes between the 11 nations play out in every way, from politics to social values. Woodard notes that states with the highest rates of violent deaths

are in the Deep South, Tidewater and Greater Appalachia, regions that value independence and self-sufficiency. States with lower rates of violent deaths are

in Yankeedom, New Netherland and the Midlands, where government intervention is viewed with less skepticism. And more than 95 percent of executions in the United States since 1976 happened in the Deep South, Greater Appalachia, Tidewater and the Far West. States in Yankeedom and New Netherland have executed a collective total of just one person. That doesn’t bode well for gun control advocates, Woodard concludes: “With such sharp regional differences, the idea that the United States would ever reach consensus on any issue having to do with violence seems far-fetched. The cultural gulf between Appalachia and Yankeedom, Deep South and New Netherland is simply too large. But it’s conceivable that some new alliance could form to tip the balance.”

 Full version source: /govbeat/ wp/2013/11/08/which-of-the-11-american-nations-do-you-live-in/

The Background to the War of Independence

The Britain's victory over France led directly to a conflict with American colonies.The end of the Seven Years' War left England in control of Canada and all of North America, east of the Mississippi. But the war was long and when it ended, England was in debt. Running an empire and administration of the new territories, as well as of the old, was an expensive business and would require huge amount of money. The king's ministers looked around for additional income and they decided to get the money from American colonies, which were a virtually rich and untaxed section of the empire. Philadelphia was the biggest British city, after London and poverty common in Britain was practically unknown amongst people in the American colonies. Moreover, King George was afraid that New England was becoming too powerful and therefore, the British government started a new policy and passed a number of laws designed to paralyze the rising industry in the colonies.

The colonies produced some raw materials such as iron, steel, tobacco and timber, but they were forbidden to build their own manufacturing industries. Direct trade of the English colonies with the Spanish and French settlements was also prohibited. To prevent fighting with the Native Americans, the Proclamation of 1763 denied the colonists the right to settle west of the Appalachians. The colonists hated this because they were already farming there. The first attempt to extract money out of the colonists was the Sugar Act in 1764. This act forbade the importation of foreign rum and taxed all sugar products from Britain. In fact, it reduced the taxation on molasses imported to the colonies, but severely punished anyone who tried to smuggle the syrup. Then, in 1765, the Quartering and Stamp Acts were enacted. The Quartering Act forced the colonies to house and feed British soldiers, whose task was no longer to protect the settlements, but to oppress them: to enforce prohibitions, to prevent smuggling, and to suppress the liberation movement of American people. With the passage of the Stamp Act, special tax stamps had to be attached to all newspapers, pamphlets, legal documents and licenses.

The colonists thought this was unfair and a storm of protests arose against the acts. People regarded the situation as a violation of their rights. In the summer of 1765, prominent men organized themselves into the Sons of Liberty - a secret organization formed to protest the Stamp Act, often throught violent means. No taxation without representation was their motto. It meant that no British subject should be taxed unless its representative sat as a member in the Parliament. Riots were organized, merchants refused to sell British goods, mobs threatened stamp distributors and most colonists simply refused to use the stamps. The British government did not want trouble so the Act was repealed in 1766.

Repeal of the Stamp Act left Britain's problems unresolved. In 1767, Charles Townshend, British chancellor of exchequer, declared he had a plan for getting money out of the Americans without upsetting them. In fact, it was simply a tax on every day goods, such as tea, paint, glass, and paper, imported from Britain. The response of the Americans was to boycott any of the taxed goods. The colonists protested in Boston, and Massachusetts became the centre of anti-British feeling. Opposition became so strong that the English Parliament repealed the Act. However, new taxes were soon introduced, and English troops were sent to America. This made the colonists even angrier than ever. In March 1770, a riot occurred between British troops and Boston citizens, who taunted and jeered the soldiers. The troops killed five people. The colonist went wild. They called this The Boston Massacre.

Outbreak of the War

Due to colonial economic boycotts, the Townshend Duties, except tea, were repealed in 1770. The colonists were huge consumers of tea, drinking two million cups a day. To avoid paying this duty, Americans drank smuggled Dutch tea. This contributed to the decline of East India Company. After permission to ship tea directly to America from India, cutting out the middlemen in Britain, the price of tea dropped by half. East Indian tea, although still taxed, was now cheaper than Dutch tea. But Americans were not happy about the cheap, but still taxed tea, and refused to buy it. They viewed the act as another violation of their rights. In Boston, on 16 December 1773, a crowd of men disguised as Indians, boarded the ships full of tea and they dumped all of the tea into the water, which became known as the Boston tea party. The Parliament responded by passing an Intolerable Acts, which closed the port of Boston to trade and more British soldiers were sent to the port. In September 1774, a congress of the ablest and wealthiest men in America met in Philadelphia. It was called The First Continental Congress. The leaders urged Americans to disobey the Intolerable Acts and to boycott British trade. Colonists began to organize militias and to collect weapons and ammunition. Arms were bought illegally, and secret military trainings, to prepare the people for armed resistance, were organized.

The Revolution

On 19 April 1775, British soldiers were sent to seize an illegal depot of arms in the nearby town of Concord. At the village of Lexington, they confronted 70 militiamen (armed farmers) and the American War of Independence began. The colonists knew that, if they were to succeed in the struggle, some kind of union would be necessary. In May 1775, The Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and began to assume the functions of a national government and established the American Continental Army. The Virginian landowner, George Washington was placed in command.

In this stage there were some radicals who demanded complete independence, but the majority of the Congress still believed in the possible compromise with the King of England. The idea of independence became extremely popular after the publication of Thomas Paine's Common Sense in 1776. In this pamphlet he argued that independence was the only remedy, and that it would be harder to win the longer it was delayed. The idea of independence became universal soon. On 4 July, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence declaring that the colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent States. The author of this document was Thomas Jefferson.

In the first years, the war went badly for the Americans. It was very difficult to convert colonists into an efficient fighting force since American soldiers were short of money and supplies, and they lacked training and discipline. The quality of the officers was poor, and they had practically no navy. The English, on the other hand, had to fight 3,000 miles from home. It was expensive to transport men and supplies. Also proper strategic management of the force from London was impossible. The British captured New York City in 1776, and Philadelphia was captured a year later. The tide turned in October 1777 at Saratoga, where Continentals forced the British to surrender. It was a turning point in the war. After this victory, a Franco-American alliance was signed in February 1778. This alliance brought men, money, encouragement, supplies and, above all, the navy. Holland and Spain also began to support Americans soon.

After 1778, the fighting shifted to the south. The Americans suffered many defeats here, but they won the last battle, which was decisive. At Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781, the English commander, Lord Cornwallis was forced to surrender by the American army under George Washington's command. The war was now over, but King George III refused to acknowledge defeat for another two years. The Treaty of Paris was signed in September 1783. The treaty recognized the independence of the United States and granted the new nation all the territory north of Florida, south of Canada and east of the Mississippi River.

The Constitution

The USA first operated under an agreement called the Articles of Confederation (1781). The document set up a very weak central government, with too few powers for defense, trade, and taxation. There was no federal judiciary and no permanent executive. The individual states were almost independent. It was soon clear that this loose agreement was not working well and there was little to bind the 13 colonies together. Each individual colony started minting its own money, making its own laws and imposing duties on goods from other states. Some states were even preparing to establish their own army. This situation could cause a crisis. To prevent such crises, each state sent representatives (George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and James Madison among them) to Philadelphia in May 1787, to prepare a constitution. In 1789, the Constitution was written down. As the first president of the United States, George Washington was elected on 30 April, 1789. In 1791, first amendments, called the Bill of Rights, were added to the Constitution. The delegates decided that America would be a Republic with a president as a head of state. There would be two assemblies; an Upper House, called the Senate, and a Lower House, called the House of Representatives. Together the two houses were to be called Congress. The new Constitution also established the Supreme Court.