Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Democracy, America, and the World: Part II, Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death (1776-1783)

War usually comes as a last resort. The American Revolutionary War was no exception. Even as British armies fought at Lexington and Concorde in 1775, most still believed there would be a peaceful solution. However, as is so often true when directly antagonistic ideologies clash, their arms clash also. Britain viewed its American colonies as some sort of maid whose sole purpose was to serve the motherland. Americans shared no such view.

Many factors make America a distinct land. One of the most important is the heterogeneous culture of people that are in origin or gene from other countries but in heart American. In 1776, America was a place where people, whether from Britain or, for the most part, other European countries, could come to escape the tyrannies of their homeland and start a new future. Religions that were persecuted in Europe founded were welcomed in America. This allowed for a mobile society, unlike the largely static one in Europe, that was built on hope and prosperity rather than fear and oppression.

It is unfair to categorize George III as some Hitler or Stalin-type figure, but he was a far cry from a ruler of a liberal republic. The British Empire was founded on the concept of money and power, one that the Americans ultimately decided, by grinding through a war in which they were supposed to be decimated in, they no longer wanted to be a part of. However, despite all these factors, war was still not the only solution. Even through mid-1776, colonial leaders were partitioning to their king for peace.

Yet when they recognized that he required complete subservience from his colonies and they required at least a limited independence, the Declaration of Independence was issued, stating the ideals of an American nation and the desire to leave to Empire. I am not going to attempt a military history of America in my series, not for the least of reasons that I don’t know very much about military strategy and the likes. However, I can draw one conclusion about the war: America won. With the help of foreign powers who also wished to suppress the British Empire, independence was won, and revolutionaries such as Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington became American national heroes rather than traitors to the British crown. Fighting stopped in 1781 when the Americans cornered the British in Yorktown, and the Treaty of Paris in 1783 officially ended the war. Britain ceded all of its territory east of the Mississippi to the new American country, leaving the Americans to govern and tax themselves as they chose. However, although independence had now been achieved, there was still the question of what to do with it.


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