Gordon S. The revolutionaries aimed at nothing less than a reconstitution of American society.
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They hoped to destroy the bonds holding together the older monarchical society—kinship, patriarchy, and patronage—and to put in their place new social bonds of love, respect, and consent. And all Americans seemingly embraced the idea of equality as manifested in labor and accomplishment. But there is no denying the wonder of it and the real earthly benefits it brought to the hitherto neglected and despised masses of common laboring people.
Ben Baack, Ohio State University
Take the case of the Sons of Liberty, organized by Samuel Adams in Boston, but with chapters spread throughout the cities of the Altantic seaboard. Adams forged this group into an effective resistance force in the years leading up to the Declaration of Independence in , one that could turn out protestors, and later trained soldiers, virtually instantaneously. He preferred to carouse in bars, argue about politics, and manipulate the colonial system.
Over time, he adopted a stark revolutionary perspective aimed at leveling society and he used words to whip others into a frenzy to undertake this action. He was equally good at propaganda with crowds—or were they mobs—as he organized for revolution first in Boston and then beyond. When the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord in , and when the Declaration of Independence was passed by the Continental Congress in , Sam Adams was there to persuade all in earshot and publication range of the virtues of revolution.
And the people he motivated were seeking a better life than they had enjoyed in this rich, wide-open, optimism-breeding land, leading them to take up arms against the legally constituted government. At some level the Sons of Liberty were essentially shock troops waging class warfare. Adams mobilized the poor to take over, and perhaps also manipulating them for other purposes.
But always, it was the ideas that drove their efforts; the ideas of equality present in the enlightenment.
Ideas and ideals certainly mattered in the context of the American Revolution, and I would contend that they matter in all of world history. Self-interest is very real, but ideas and ideals serve as powerful motivations for actions. What matters, in retrospect, was the British failure to create an American aristocracy. Prominent colonials, such asWashington, were not given peerages, and the English nobles who were associated with the colonies tended to be absentee landlords. The egalitarianism is, I suspect, our true distinction — our contribution to History, a thing copied in countless revolutions ever since, and still a strand in our politics.
Like Like. Nothing sums up the degree of being revolutionary of the American revolution than the present day difference between Canada and America…… think about it. I was always taught how great it was, and how much it benefited us, which is did, but my professor said to think about how much it really changed things, or did it change things at all?
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Posted on March 18, by launiusr. Like this: Like Loading Bookmark the permalink. March 22, at am. Militiamen were older, on average, than the Continental soldiers and received only perfunctory training; few had experienced combat. At Camden, South Carolina, in August , militiamen panicked in the face of advancing redcoats. Throwing down their weapons and running for safety, they were responsible for one of the worst defeats of the war.
Yet in , militiamen had fought with surpassing bravery along the Concord Road and at Bunker Hill. Nearly 40 percent of soldiers serving under Washington in his crucial Christmas night victory at Trenton in were militiamen. In New York state, half the American force in the vital Saratoga campaign of consisted of militiamen.
Why was the American Revolution so revolutionary? | HowStuffWorks
In March , Gen. Nathanael Greene adroitly deployed his militiamen in the Battle of Guilford Courthouse fought near present-day Greensboro, North Carolina. In that engagement, he inflicted such devastating losses on the British that they gave up the fight for North Carolina. The militia had its shortcomings, to be sure, but America could not have won the war without it.
On October 17, , British Gen. The defeat persuaded France to form a military alliance with the United States. Previously, the French, even though they believed that London would be fatally weakened by the loss of its American colonies, had not wished to take a chance on backing the new American nation. But Saratoga was not the turning point of the war. In addition to Saratoga, four other key moments can be identified.
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The first was the combined effect of victories in the fighting along the Concord Road on April 19, , and at Bunker Hill near Boston two months later, on June But in those two engagements, fought in the first 60 days of the war, American soldiers—all militiamen—inflicted huge casualties. The British lost nearly 1, men in those encounters, three times the American toll. Without the psychological benefits of those battles, it is debatable whether a viable Continental Army could have been raised in that first year of war or whether public morale would have withstood the terrible defeats of But at Trenton in late December , Washington achieved a great victory, destroying a Hessian force of nearly 1, men; a week later, on January 3, he defeated a British force at Princeton, New Jersey.
American Revolution Essay
A third turning point occurred when Congress abandoned one-year enlistments and transformed the Continental Army into a standing army, made up of regulars who volunteered—or were conscripted—for long-term service. A standing army was contrary to American tradition and was viewed as unacceptable by citizens who understood that history was filled with instances of generals who had used their armies to gain dictatorial powers.
The campaign that unfolded in the South during and was the final turning point of the conflict. After failing to crush the rebellion in New England and the mid-Atlantic states, the British turned their attention in to the South, hoping to retake Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. At first the Southern Strategy, as the British termed the initiative, achieved spectacular results. Within 20 months, the redcoats had wiped out three American armies, retaken Savannah and Charleston, occupied a substantial portion of the South Carolina backcountry, and killed, wounded or captured 7, American soldiers, nearly equaling the British losses at Saratoga.
But the colonists were not broken. In October , rebel militia and backcountry volunteers destroyed an army of more than 1, Loyalists at Kings Mountain in South Carolina. After that rout, Cornwallis found it nearly impossible to persuade Loyalists to join the cause. In January , Cornwallis marched an army of more than 4, men to North Carolina, hoping to cut supply routes that sustained partisans farther south. Nathanael Greene, Cornwallis lost some 1, men, nearly 40 percent of the troops under his command at the outset of the North Carolina campaign.
In April , despairing of crushing the insurgency in the Carolinas, he took his army into Virginia, where he hoped to sever supply routes linking the upper and lower South. It was a fateful decision, as it put Cornwallis on a course that would lead that autumn to disaster at Yorktown, where he was trapped and compelled to surrender more than 8, men on October 19, In August , the Continental Army was routed in its first test on Long Island in part because Washington failed to properly reconnoiter and he attempted to defend too large an area for the size of his army.
Washington did not take the blame for what had gone wrong. In the fall of , when Gen. William Howe invaded Pennsylvania, Washington committed his entire army in an attempt to prevent the loss of Philadelphia. During the Battle of Brandywine, in September, he once again froze with indecision.
For nearly two hours information poured into headquarters that the British were attempting a flanking maneuver—a move that would, if successful, entrap much of the Continental Army—and Washington failed to respond. Later, Washington was painfully slow to grasp the significance of the war in the Southern states. For the most part, he committed troops to that theater only when Congress ordered him to do so. By then, it was too late to prevent the surrender of Charleston in May and the subsequent losses among American troops in the South.
In the final analysis, he was the proper choice to serve as commander of the Continental Army. Once the revolutionary war was lost, some in Britain argued that it had been unwinnable. For generals and admirals who were defending their reputations, and for patriots who found it painful to acknowledge defeat, the concept of foreordained failure was alluring. Nothing could have been done, or so the argument went, to have altered the outcome. Lord North was condemned, not for having lost the war, but for having led his country into a conflict in which victory was impossible.
In reality, Britain might well have won the war. The battle for New York in gave England an excellent opportunity for a decisive victory. France had not yet allied with the Americans. Washington and most of his lieutenants were rank amateurs. Continental Army soldiers could not have been more untried. William Howe trapped much of the American Army and might have administered a fatal blow. But the excessively cautious Howe was slow to act, ultimately allowing Washington to slip away.
Britain still might have prevailed in London had formulated a sound strategy that called for Howe, with his large force, which included a naval arm, to advance up the Hudson River and rendezvous at Albany with General Burgoyne, who was to invade New York from Canada. When the rebels did engage—the thinking went—they would face a giant British pincer maneuver that would doom them to catastrophic losses. Though the operation offered the prospect of decisive victory, Howe scuttled it. Believing that Burgoyne needed no assistance and obsessed by a desire to capture Philadelphia—home of the Continental Congress—Howe opted to move against Pennsylvania instead.
He took Philadelphia, but he accomplished little by his action. Meanwhile, Burgoyne suffered total defeat at Saratoga.