American Revolution Main Tipping Points

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  • #9022
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I am building an information graphic based on the tipping points that lead the colonies toward revolution with England. I need 15-20 points for each category and call upon the experts here to help me get it right.

    1. Why did England believe that the colonists would never carry through with the threat of revolution?

    2. Why did the colonists feel that they could carry through with the threat of revolution?

    #9023
    D
    Keymaster

    Hello Eric,

    Welcome to RevWarTalk. The idea of an info graphic soundsreally interesting. If it it something you can share down the road I’d love to check it out.

    I think your question is a great one. It relates to a very fundamental element of the war, yet I think it can draw a lot of different perspectives. My thoughts below:

    To question #1:
    – England was a global power, with colonies on several continents, america was just one of them
    -They had arguably the best army in the world,
    -They had arguably the best navy in the world
    -The King, leading a global power, likely had an ego that supported the perspective that England could defeat any enemy, thus no one would challenge them with the realistic chance of victory
    -Parliament likely felt superior, and that some backwoodsman colonists wouldn’t have the intelligence, numbers of people, organization skills, or training to really launch a victorious war
    -The colonists couldn’t financially afford a war against a global power

    To question #2:
    -They might have felt they had no other option. For example, Ben Franklin was a strong proponent of compromise for a long time – he really felt a connection with England and wanted to reach a solution that averted war. It was only after, during good faith negotiations, he was disgraced by Parliament that he then felt that war was the only option left.
    -They saw how England was responding to their issues with harsh punishments instead of support. The colonies were treated like a wealth generator for England, and not like citizens that were just in another part of the world. As such, with things getting worse, it was a decision to either allow things to get worse, or fight for change (so this is similar to the point above). And even thus, about 1/3 of colonists were loyal to Britain during the war, so it wasn’t a totally unified colonial population.
    -All British war supplies had to come over by boat, this was time consuming and expensive
    -The colonists knew the land and the terrain, giving a slight advantage
    -Many prominent colonial military leaders used to fight for the British army (in the French and Indian war). So there were some very smart, well trained leaders that could contribute to war efforts
    -The colonists had some very strong, smart, passionate people who simply believe it could be possible
    -Early in the war Spain and France were providing some financial and supplies support, so the colonists had some hope for resources beyond their own
    -Once France and Spain formally joined, it was a huge boost to confidence and possiblity of success
    -Britain was fighting several wars across several continents. It wasnt so much a little guy vs. giant, as the American Revolution was just one of many concerns for Britain where they had to spread resources across
    -And likely, the same pioneering spirit of being a colonist is likely a similar spirit that would drive them to fight for change

    Have any interesting ideas from other sources? Hope these help some.

    There are some folks here on the forum that are from England, thus their knowledge of the British history and perspectives might lend some great, and different insight. Anyone else have thoughts on this?

    Thanks,
    Dan

    #9030
    Anonymous
    Guest

    This is the graphic so far.

    Attachments:
    #9032
    D
    Keymaster

    Looks interesting. The image came up a little small on my computer (so I wasn’t able to read the sub-topic texts) though the overall layout looks like it dives into some relevant points in an easy-to-reference way

    #9035
    Josh
    Participant

    Hi guys, been absent otherwise I’d have chimed in earlier.

    These are very good questions, and I’ve spent a fare share of time considering them myself. Unfortunately motives to age long questions are very hard to answer but I’ll have a go. Discussion being what we are all about here.

    Q1
    Britain wasn’t expecting trouble so soon after the 7 years war.
    Britain had a powerful army, that had been successful in colonial campaigns in the past, though with a sketchy record in Europe.
    Britain had a large and powerful navy, though as yet still rivalled by France.
    Britian did not consider the Americans to be Americans, they were British subjects, therefore they felt no military threat from them.
    King George and his ministers were utterly out of touch with colonial issues, and consistently failed to grasp the increasing seriousness
    The British were complacent about American uproar about taxation because the British payed higher taxes at home
    They did not think the Americans had the military capability, economy or organisation to confront them without allies.
    Distance alienated them from the realities of dealing with the problem, and we’re out of step with royal governors and vice versa.
    Britain didn’t actually think revolution was in the air, they thought it was general unrest/rioting which was common at home.
    Britain reacted to an American problem in a British way, they deployed the army which was the police, highlighting the gulf that had grown.
    Britian it is true sadly thought the Americans second class British citizens, but ones that nonetheless had it good, didn’t take them seriously in Parliament.
    The issues of a colony demanding parliamentary representation was unheard of, there was no reference point in dealing with this issue.
    Britian was reeling under the strain of paying for the 7 years war and therefore money minded, and not interested in reforming colonial policy.
    America was a colony and therefore an asset to be used.
    The idea that subjects proclaiming loyalty to the King would rebel like in 1642 didn’t seem real, though it was to those on the ground.

    Josh.

    #9036
    D
    Keymaster

    Hi Josh, thanks for stopping in. Some great thoughts indeed. I really enjoy questions like this as they are pretty fundamental to a myriad of other events, yet as key as they are in history there can still be so many asnwers to them.

    I hadn’t thought about the impact from the 7 years war, that’s certainly a big one
    I also didn’t know that the British were paying higher taxes at home. Knowing that, it’s easier to understand the perception difference between why Parliament would be about more taxing and the Americans less inclined to agree
    Also key, is the distance and being out of touch, as you mention. I think that played such a huge role both in Britain not understanding what it was dealing with, and hence some inapproprate solutions to problems they didn’t truly understand. And also the Americans not having a clear voice that was listened to, through which to really get the message across
    Above all I think the concept of a colony being a utility/tool played a big role. If colonies were treated more like the home country there might have been some room for discussions and less tensions all around. Though, when being such a world power and growing, it would be tough for Britain to be everywhere all the time.

    Hope these help some, Eric. Definitely interesting to discuss

    -Dan

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