Wednesday, August 25, 2004

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Tuesday Sept. 7 : War and Revolution I

Fall 2004

Tuesday Sept. 7 : War and Revolution I
Prelude to Revolution: The French & Indian War

In the mid-18th century, people of English language & descent dominated colonial society via language, customs, law, & political institutions (and the sheer weight of numbers & prior arrival.) Newer immigrants had to learn to conform to Anglo-American society to some extent. Accustomed to a high degree of self-rule through colonial assemblies, free British North American colonists still acknowledged the English king as their monarch & took pride in the title of Englishman & Englishwoman.

What ideas or events caused a significant number of these colonists reject their coveted “Englishness” & redefine themselves as “Americans” in the period 1763-1776?

I. Ideas that Influenced the American Revolution

The ideas that most influenced the Revolutionaries were

  • Enlightenment natural rights theory
  • Classical republicanism
  • English common law legal tradition
  • Covenant theology
  • And a strong tradition of British political & religious dissent.

Important event milestones in the creation of American nationalism include

  • The French & Indian War of 1754-63
  • The war's aftermath, the end of Britain's “salutary neglect” of the colonies
  • And the series of English Parliamentary enactments & measures involving taxation in the period 1763-1775.

A. The Enlightenment in America

1. Basic Enlightenment Principles

  • Faith in man's ability to reason
  • Belief in natural laws, which can be discovered through reason
  • Mankind/society is rational & capable of improvement
  • Legitimacy of government rests on the consent of the governed

2. John Locke

  • 1690: Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government
    Governments are created by social compacts (or contracts) to preserve peoples’ natural rights to "Life Liberty & Property." Government rests on consent of the governed.
    Governors who do not fulfill their part of the contract to preserve "Life Liberty & Property" can be replaced.
  • “An Appeal to Heaven”
    Chapter III of Locke’s Second Treatise refers to the unhappy condition of a people subjected to unjust government characterized by “a manifest perverting of justice, & a barefaced wresting of the laws to protect or indemnify the violence or injuries of some men, or party of men.” Such people, Locke states, “having no appeal on earth to right them . . . are left to the only remedy in such cases, an appeal to heaven,” i.e. rebellion.
  • Locke’s ideas strongly influenced the leaders of the American Revolution.

B. Classical Republicanism

  • At the time of the American Revolution, republicanism referred to the concept that sovereignty—political authority—is vested in the people—the citizens of the nation.
  • Republican governments derive authority from the consent of the governed & are based on the principles of rule by law & legislation by elected representatives.
  • A Republic requires a citizenry who have virtue, i.e. are capable of unselfish, honest service to the republic.

C. English Common Law Tradition

  • Under English common law people charged with crimes have certain protections.
  • The right to a trial & the right to have fair trial procedures.
  • Habeas corpus, the right of a person detained by authorities to be brought before a judge to see if the detention is valid.
  • The right to be secure in your house unless authorities obtain a search warrant.
  • The right to property
  • Compare with U.S. Bill of Rights (1791)

D. Covenant Theology & Dissenting Traditions

  • Puritans' idea of government as a compact between people and God
  • Many colonial settlers sought religious & political refuge from established order in Europe, and had a long history of living in opposition to established churches and government

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Class Notes 1 Continued

II. The French & Indian War of 1754-63

1760 map of New France (French Canada)

The French & Indian War was a global conflict that flared up in the Ohio Valley, and embroiled British & French North America. Linked to a European theater where nations fought to check Prussia's ambitions, it stretched to & India. West Africa, Cuba, and the Philippines.

A. A Dispute between French & English over Ohio River Valley
Fur traders:

  • English & French both claimed the land west of the Appalachian Mts.
  • 1740s: Both had merchants engaged in fur trade with the Native Americans in Ohio
  • 1750s: English colonists, esp. investors in the Ohio Company, also hoped to settle the wilderness & convert it to productive farmland.
  • 1750s: Hostile moves to control access to the Ohio Country. French soldiers capture English trading posts & build Fort Duquesne to defend territory.
  • 1754: An inexperienced young militia colonel named George Washington leads Virginia troops into Ohio country to drive French out. GW constructs Ft. Necessity near Ft. Duquesne.
  • The French & Indian War begins: French soldiers & Native allies overwhelm Ft. Necessity on July 3, 1754. Washington & men are trapped and captured by French.

B. 1755-57: A season of defeat for the British

C. 1755: General Edward Braddock's celebrated defeat at Fort Duquesne

  • Braddock was convinced that his European combat style would succeed in America. Wrong.
  • G. Washington advises Braddock to change his strategy & teach his regulars to adapt the guerrilla tactics of the enemy; Braddock refused, because gentlemen fought in regular battle lines, not from behind trees & rocks.
  • Braddock’s army of 1460 men is destroyed by 850 French & Indians at Fort Duquesne, with 877 killed or wounded. General Braddock is killed.

D. Harsh Experiences Under British Officers

  • Provincial militiamen resent being made to serve under British Army officers
  • Harsh military discipline: 200, 300, even 1000 lashes for offenses, execution by hanging. Provincial military codes prescribed a maximum of 39 lashes.
  • British officers treat enlisted soldiers with little respect; culture of deference toward "ones’ betters” goes against the colonists’ grain

E. 1757: The Tide Turns for the English.

  • Prime Minister William Pitt decides England’s pos. in European war would be helped by conquest of French in New World
  • 1758: Large-scale troop buildup of British soldiers & provincial militiamen
  • 1758: Ft. Duquesne captured
  • 1759: English captured Fort Niagara & Quebec, New France's main city
    1760: Montreal collapses; British now control French North America.
  • French & Indian War wears on in Europe, Africa, & Asia for 3 more years.
    1763: Treaty of Paris signed, ending war.

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Class 1 Continued

III. At the End of the French & Indian War

A. Final score: Great Britain 1, France 0

  • France loses North American colonies to England (most of Canada & the possessions between Atlantic & Mississippi).
  • France out of the picture; balance of power permanently changed in North America
  • British still do not firmly control the Ohio Country; Native Americans are ready to defend it from westward expansion.
  • Native Americans could no longer play off French & British against one another
  • GB left with heavy burden of war debt, national debt up from £75 to £133 million.

B. American Colonists & the Experience of War

  • Colonists recognize need to help secure colonies from both Native American & French threats, & provide 25,000 troops
  • Negative experience of military service under harsh British commanders
  • Negative experience of British power; colonists find they prefer their own rule.
  • Military contracts brought prosperity to the colonies during the war years.
  • Urban artisans had enjoyed full employment with high wages. Trade depression in North America after 1763

C. The Proclamation of 1763

  • Land west of the Appalachians is not to be settled; colonists are displeased.
  • After Britain’s decisive defeat of the French, the colonists are positioned to challenge their own subordinate position within the British Empire.

IV. War’s Aftermath: The End of “Salutary Neglect”

A. England was the hub of an Empire

  • The 13 colonies were an outlying part of this empire.
  • Imperial bonds: Shared culture, commerce, & the threat from French & Indians
  • Mercantilism: King & Parliament enacted series of Navigation Acts 1651-1696
  • Navigation Acts regulated trade in colonies to serve parent country’s interests first
  • Trade must be in English or colonial ships, not foreign
  • Some goods could be traded only to England or English colony; most goods could be received only from England (slaves were an exception)

B. Hardly anyone found fault with these arrangements for many years

C. The End of "Salutary Neglect” or Benign Isolation

  • 1740s: Walpole's government in Britain ignores N. America while expanding empire as far as India. Most attention paid to West Indies colonies
  • England had long exacted external duties on imports & exports only; all requests for other monies were made through colonists' elected assemblies
  • Colonists considered internal taxes their own affair.
  • After French & Indian War, huge war debt. The 13 Colonies seen as source of revenue

NEXT: The English Parliament begins to enact a series of laws & measures to get more revenue from the colonies!

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