The American Revolution: A History by Gordon S. WoodNEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
“An elegant synthesis done by the leading scholar in the field, which nicely integrates the work on the American Revolution over the last three decades but never loses contact with the older, classic questions that we have been arguing about for over two hundred years.”—Joseph J. Ellis, author of Founding Brothers
A magnificent account of the revolution in arms and consciousness that gave birth to the American republic.
When Abraham Lincoln sought to define the significance of the United States, he naturally looked back to the American Revolution. He knew that the Revolution not only had legally created the United States, but also had produced all of the great hopes and values of the American people. Our noblest ideals and aspirations-our commitments to freedom, constitutionalism, the well-being of ordinary people, and equality-came out of the Revolutionary era. Lincoln saw as well that the Revolution had convinced Americans that they were a special people with a special destiny to lead the world toward liberty. The Revolution, in short, gave birth to whatever sense of nationhood and national purpose Americans have had.
No doubt the story is a dramatic one: Thirteen insignificant colonies three thousand miles from the centers of Western civilization fought off British rule to become, in fewer than three decades, a huge, sprawling, rambunctious republic of nearly four million citizens. But the history of the American Revolution, like the history of the nation as a whole, ought not to be viewed simply as a story of right and wrong from which moral lessons are to be drawn. It is a complicated and at times ironic story that needs to be explained and understood, not blindly celebrated or condemned. How did this great revolution come about? What was its character? What were its consequences? These are the questions this short history seeks to answer. That it succeeds in such a profound and enthralling way is a tribute to Gordon Wood’s mastery of his subject, and of the historian’s craft.
From the Hardcover edition.
For the better part of the 17th and 18th centuries, the relationship between Great Britain and her North American colonies was firm, robust, and peaceable. This laissez-faire approach allowed the colonies to flourish financially, which in turn proved profitable for the mother country as well. However, this period of tranquility and prosperity would not last. Great Britain had amassed an enormous debt following the French and Indian War; so, as a means to help alleviate at least some of the financial burden, they expected the American colonies to shoulder their share. Beginning in , Great Britain instituted a series of parliamentary acts for taxing the American colonies. Though seemingly a reasonable course of action — considering the British had come to the defense of the colonies in the French and Indian War — many colonials were livid at the levying of taxes.
The war took place from to with fighting in North America and other places. The Continental Army army of the colonies , led by George Washington and helped by France and other powers, defeated the armies of the British Empire. After the war ended, the Thirteen Colonies became independent , which meant that the British Empire was no longer in charge of them. They together became the first 13 states of a new country called the United States of America. People in the Thirteen Colonies disliked many of the actions of the British Government , such as the Intolerable Acts. For many years the British government decided which countries could trade with the colonies, instead of the colonies deciding it themselves. Many colonists wanted free trade.
The American Revolution was a time when the British colonists in America rebelled against the rule of Great Britain. There were many battles fought and the .
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It was fought between Britain and France from to for colonial dominance in North America. British officials tried to rally public opinion for the war at the Albany Congress in but mustered only halfhearted support throughout the colonies. The powerful Ottawa chief Pontiac , who had no intention of allowing land-hungry whites to steal more tribal lands, united many of the tribes in the volatile Ohio Valley and led a series of raids on British forts and American settlements. As a conciliatory gesture toward the Native Americans, Parliament issued the Proclamation of , forbidding American colonists to settle on Native American territory unless native rights to the land had first been obtained by purchase or treaty. The French and Indian War also motivated Parliament to end the age of salutary neglect.