English-French War in America 1754-57
English Defeat of New France 1758-60
New York and New Jersey 1754-63
Pennsylvania and War 1754-63
Franklin and Pennsylvania 1757-64
Maryland and Virginia 1754-63
Carolinas and the Cherokees 1754-63
Georgia and the Creeks 1754-63
New England and British Canada 1760-63
Pontiac's Uprising of 1763
British War in Massachusetts 1775
Congress and the War 1775-76
Paine’s Common Sense
American Declaration of Independence
British War in America 1776
British War in America 1777
British War in America 1778-79
British War in America 1780-81
American Peacemaking 1782-83
Frontier during the Revolutionary War
By 1744 Europeans had been in the Americas for two and a half centuries, the Spaniards and Portuguese having arrived about a century before the English, French, and other Europeans. Europeans born in South America were called creoles and were treated as second-class citizens by the Spaniards and Portuguese who believed they should continue to rule their colonies. In Mexico the Franciscan brothers were given the opportunity to colonize California without so much military interference, and they established missions along the coast to evangelize and teach the natives.
Latin America would suddenly begin to change radically in 1808 when Napoleon’s French armies moved into the Iberian peninsula to occupy Spain and Portugal and forced King Fernando VII to abdicate. Thus the French Revolution, which had been inspired by the American Revolution, would assist the revolutions that would occur in Latin America in the 19th century, especially in Haiti where a revolution by Africans succeeded. For a few years the creoles in most of the colonies used this opportunity to govern themselves without the interference of a King. Brazil was so large and developed so well economically that King Joao of Portugal even moved to Rio de Janeiro. When Fernando VII was restored in 1814, some of these colonies were brought back under control of the European monarchy for a time; but republicans led by Simon Bolivar and others would defeat the royalists and maintain their independence.
The European conflict between England and France was already affecting the colonies in northern America in 1744 when King George’s war began. Although this war did not last long, the Seven Years War that actually was begun in the wilderness south of the Ohio River in 1754 by an attack led by young George Washington would be the first world war that was fought in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. The French in Canada were outnumbered, and the growing British empire managed to defeat the French on the American continent and take control of Canada.
This huge war had cost the British much money, and they expected the American colonists to help pay off the debt with their taxes which they imposed on the colonies without consulting their local assemblies or by giving them representation in their Parliament. The British Americans understood their rights as British citizens and had been developing their local governments for genera-tions, and in every colony south of Canada they resisted paying these oppressive taxes to a mother country that was also exploiting them with commercial restrictions. The American Revolution began nonviolently for the most part as people gathered in town meetings and decided not to pay the taxes even if they had to stop purchasing British imports. The resistance to the Stamp Act of 1765 was so widespread and successful that the British repealed it the next year. Americans found that they could forego the luxury of tea to assert their right to govern themselves.
Unfortunately King George III tried to impose his will on the colonies by using military force in Boston; but this only provoked more resistance and led to war on April 19, 1775 when the patriots refused to let the British take their weapons from Lexington and Concord. Some Virginians, though slave owners, were well educated as to their rights, and they provided leaders such as Patrick Henry, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison who would guide the transformation to a republic without a monarch, though efforts by Jefferson could not persuade the southerners to give up their slaves.
The proliferation of newspapers and pamphlets by James Otis, John Adams, Jefferson, and Thomas Paine during the war encouraged the struggle for freedom and republican institutions. The genius of Ben Franklin gained the alliance with France that helped the Americans overthrow their English overlords. Washington led a defensive war that eventually defeated the British from across the seas, and then he retired. For a few years the states experimented with a weak confederation and found that it did not work very well. So in 1787 delegates sent to Philadelphia debated and created a new constitution that established a stronger federal government and would include a Bill of Rights to protect their cherished liberties.
Washington was overwhelmingly elected as the first President of the United States, and the Federalists led by Alexander Hamilton were influential as they consolidated the debts of the states and established a banking system. Washington wisely established a neutral foreign policy and retired after eight years to show that a republic could change its leadership by elections rather than by death. John Adams was able to prevent a war against France despite the efforts of Hamilton.
The election of 1800 was a democratic revolution as Thomas Jefferson was elected President over Adams and began the Republican era. He too avoided war though the embargo caused economic hardships. James Madison had been the primary author of the Constitution, but he was unable to stop the popular feeling toward another war against England that broke out in 1812. Some Americans coveted Canada; but this was not to be. After both capitals had been burned, negotiations ended the war by a treaty that maintained the borders as they had been settled in the treaty of 1783. Canada would remain in the British empire as the English governed many French speakers there.
This period of history offers many lessons for us today in a chaotic world that still suffers from the violence of wars and terrorism as separate nations and religious groups struggle for dominance. What the world needs now are nonviolent reforms and democratic processes on the international and world scale. The people of all nations can unite to form a democratic government under a republican constitution that protects the human rights of all and settles serious conflicts by laws in courts of justice and by fair elections instead of by violence. Then the genocidal weapons that mankind has developed can be disarmed, and in peaceful ways humanity will be able to solve the ecological challenges that we face.