When American children are taught about the American Revolution we are given a glossy story written by the victor. We envision every colonist with musket in hand tossing tea in the Boston harbor united in our desire to be freed from the tyranny of England. But I figured in honor of the day we celebrate independence I would give my readers my simplified history lesson on how we actually gained our independence.
In the 1750’s, the British controlled most of the east coast of the country, from the Appalachian Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean, and west of that was controlled by the French. The British colonists saw that the French had a successful fur trade with the Indians and wanted in on it and in 1754, George Washington led an army to take over, and he lost. This led to a meeting of the British colonies and a declaration of war against the French. The British back in the motherland then had no choice but to send additional troops to help the colonists fight a war (today called the French and Indian War) that they didn’t even want.
In 1763, the British and the French ended the war with the French handing over Canada and most of the land (The Treaty of Paris). This angered the Indians and eventually the British signed a proclamation giving the Indians the rights to the land and did not allow the colonists west of the Appalachian Mountains (Proclamation of 1763).
So basically the colonists were back to square one. Only now, they have the homeland pissed about spending so much money on a war so they started imposing taxes on goods. The Stamp Act of 1765 placed a tax on goods such as sugar and tea. Mind you, the colonists never actually paid any taxes to Britain, instead the colonies united to fight the very country that swooped in and saved them during the French and Indian War. Over the next 10 years, Britain would try and impose different taxes, and the colonists only became more angry and united in what we now know as the American Revolution.
On July 4, 1776, the American Patriots declared their independence from the British with the words “all men are created equal”, but basically saying “We aren’t children anymore, Mom!” After that, we teamed up with France, and after fighting off a few British invasions, Independence was won. During the next 10 years, the constitution was written and the groundwork was set for our modern day government (minus all the corruption and bj’s from interns).
There you go, a brief history of how we gained independence…by being the naughty child of Britain…
Fun Fact: I am a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. This is a genealogical society dedicated to preserving the legacy of those who fought in the American Revolution. To be eligible for membership you need to be able to trace your lineage to someone who participated in the actual revolutionary war, and must provide three forms of documentation for each person in the blood line (documentation being things like birth certificate, death certificate, census record, etc…). My ancestor was a Quaker who for religious reasons could not fight in the war so instead paid someone to fight on his behalf. That’s right folks; my family has been buying their way out of things since at least 1765…
Side note: A friend and former history teacher over for a BBQ suggested that I add the fact that our fight for independence was made possible because of the Age of Enlightenment which began in the mid 1600’s. Philosophers of the time felt that men deserved certain freedoms, including the separation of church and state. One influential philosopher of the time, John Locke wrote “Government being for the preservation of every man’s rights and property…” (Two Treaties of Government: First Treaties, Chapter 9, 1689). Google him, he basically gave Thomas Jefferson his model for the Declaration of Independence.