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> Chapter 7 > Prepare for Class
Prepare For Class

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Chapter Summary


The American War of Independence was a military conflict fought from 1775 to 1783, but the American Revolution was a deeper transformation of thought and loyalty that began when the first settlers arrived in America and finally led to the colonies political separation from Britain.

One source of long-term conflict was the tension between the considerable freedom and self-government the colonists enjoyed in the American wilderness and their participation in the British Empires mercantile system. While British mercantilism actually provided economic benefits to the colonies along with certain liabilities, its limits on freedom and patronizing goal of keeping America in a state of perpetual economic adolescence stirred growing resentment.

The short-term movement toward the War of Independence began with British attempts to impose higher taxes and tighter imperial controls after the French and Indian War. To the British these were reasonable measures, under which the colonists would simply bear a fair share of the costs of the empire. To the colonists, however, the measures constituted attacks on fundamental rights.

Through well-orchestrated agitation and boycotts, the colonists forced repeal of the Stamp Act of 1765 as well as the Townshend Acts that replaced it, except for the symbolic tax on tea. A temporary lull in conflict between 1770 and 1773 ended with the Boston Tea Party, conducted by a network of Boston agitators reacting to the Massachusetts governors attempt to enforce the law.

In response to the Tea Party, the British imposed the harsh Intolerable Acts, coincidentally passing the Quebec Act at the same time. These twin actions aroused ferocious American resistance throughout the colonies, and led directly to the calling of the First Continental Congress and the clash of arms at Lexington and Concord.

As the two sides prepared for war, the British enjoyed the advantages of a larger population, a professionally trained militia, and much greater economic strength. The greatest American asset was the deep commitment of those Patriots who were ready to sacrifice for their rights.



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