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Essay - AP US History 1998 - Colonial Leaders, A Necessary Evil

Essay - AP US History 1998 - Colonial Leaders, A Necessary Evil

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Published by egosumabbas
This is an early essay of mine, for an Advanced Placement US History class at Niles West High School, 1998. We were made to read Howard Zinn, who argued that the American Revolution was for the benefit of the entrenched white elites, by way of stirring up the well-armed white rabble. Though I wasn't a libertarian at the time, I resisted and argued against this line of thinking in my essay: the revolution helped all classes of Americans.
This is an early essay of mine, for an Advanced Placement US History class at Niles West High School, 1998. We were made to read Howard Zinn, who argued that the American Revolution was for the benefit of the entrenched white elites, by way of stirring up the well-armed white rabble. Though I wasn't a libertarian at the time, I resisted and argued against this line of thinking in my essay: the revolution helped all classes of Americans.

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Published by: egosumabbas on Nov 13, 2008
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Colonial Leaders, a Necessary Evil
It may be that the colonial elite moved the masses againstBritish oppression for their own benefit, but nevertheless the AmericanRevolution had its positive effects on the thirteen colonies. Mostcolonial citizens benefited from the effects of the U.S. constitution andthe revolution in general, and these paved the way for future reformsfor blacks, women, and the poor. The American Revolution also endedyears of unjust British taxation and authority that crippled the colonialeconomy. The new United States also served as a model for futurerevolutions in Europe, and its constitution a model for government. Itis undoubted that this point in world and U.S. history served as alandmark for reform and change.It may be true that the colonial elite benefited from ousting theBritish elite in America, but it also improved life significantly for all. The huge tracts of land once owned by absentee British landlordswere now confiscated and redistributed among American peoples. This benefited most local farmers who could gain a little more territoryin this manner. The average trader could also benefit from the repealof the various trade regulations that had been in place for more than ahundred years. Now they could gain even more profit by gainingaccess to a broader market in other areas besides the British Empire. The working class of the colonies could also profit from this. Morefarmers and more tradesmen meant increased exchange in colonialcities. Jobs could now be opened up in the service and manufacturingindustries. The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. constitutionalso improved things for blacks, women, the poor. Although theynever succeeded instantly, the idea of liberty allowed people to makeattempts at giving blacks more freedom. Early in the next century,the abhorred slave trade was abolished. Later in the nineteenthcentury, slavery was abolished in the North altogether. Gradually, theradical ideals of the revolution allowed people to realize the brutalityof slavery in general. The revolution also paved the way for women'srights. The revolution had allowed women to help their husbands inthe battle for freedom. The Daughters of liberty were formed to aid in
 
the boycott of British clothing. There were also gradual reforms takingplace, much like with blacks, out of the ideals of the revolution. Also,because of the bill of rights in the constitution, the oppressed now hadthe ability to speak out against government. With the freedom of petition, assembly, and speech, the Shays revolt in the 1780's pushedthe government to aid poor farmers by such things as establishingpaper money and abolishing imprisonment for debt. Consequently,the revolution did not only benefit the elite, it also created prosperityand freedom for the people in general. The revolution also declared void the limitations on tradeinstilled by the British Parliament. Numerous trade regulations hadbeen placed to enforce mercantilism, the idea that colonies benefitedthe mother country. At first, these regulations were not heavilyenforced, yet trade still prospered between the colonies and England.After the Seven Year's War, the English began to tighten their hold onthe colonies, and began to impose taxes on trade on top of it, to bailthe mother country out of debt at the expense of the colonies. Thisdrove the colonies into a serious post-war depression that had alreadybeen serious because of the French and Indian War. The revolutionwas merely a reaction to all the above mentioned. After therevolution, freedoms were reinstated that were already there, butwere merely taken away. The revolution freed up trade once moreand allowed the now liberated colonies to prosper in a new worldmarket. The revolution and it's related governmental documents inspiredfuture attempts by other oppressed peoples to gain freedom. Not toolate after the American Revolution did the French Revolution begin. They were also oppressed by a monarch, and their economy wasfailing as well. After the French saw how the Americans fought fortheir freedom and declared their independence, they imitated the ideain their own revolution. They adopted a motto that paralleled theAmerican ideal: "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity." Even today, manycountries base their governments on the American Constitution.Americans have good reason to be proud of their constitutionand revolution. The idea that the colonial elite used the revolution intheir favor is irrelevant. The revolution clearly benefited all, even if its

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