Essay - AP US History 1998 - Colonial Leaders, A Necessary Evil | American Revolution | Liberty

Colonial Leaders, a Necessary Evil

It may be that the colonial elite moved the masses against British oppression for their own benefit, but nevertheless the American Revolution had its positive effects on the thirteen colonies. Most colonial citizens benefited from the effects of the U.S. constitution and the revolution in general, and these paved the way for future reforms for blacks, women, and the poor. The American Revolution also ended years of unjust British taxation and authority that crippled the colonial economy. The new United States also served as a model for future revolutions in Europe, and its constitution a model for government. It is undoubted that this point in world and U.S. history served as a landmark for reform and change. It may be true that the colonial elite benefited from ousting the British elite in America, but it also improved life significantly for all. The huge tracts of land once owned by absentee British landlords were now confiscated and redistributed among American peoples. This benefited most local farmers who could gain a little more territory in this manner. The average trader could also benefit from the repeal of the various trade regulations that had been in place for more than a hundred years. Now they could gain even more profit by gaining access to a broader market in other areas besides the British Empire. The working class of the colonies could also profit from this. More farmers and more tradesmen meant increased exchange in colonial cities. Jobs could now be opened up in the service and manufacturing industries. The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. constitution also improved things for blacks, women, the poor. Although they never succeeded instantly, the idea of liberty allowed people to make attempts at giving blacks more freedom. Early in the next century, the abhorred slave trade was abolished. Later in the nineteenth century, slavery was abolished in the North altogether. Gradually, the radical ideals of the revolution allowed people to realize the brutality of slavery in general. The revolution also paved the way for women's rights. The revolution had allowed women to help their husbands in the battle for freedom. The Daughters of liberty were formed to aid in

the boycott of British clothing. There were also gradual reforms taking place, much like with blacks, out of the ideals of the revolution. Also, because of the bill of rights in the constitution, the oppressed now had the ability to speak out against government. With the freedom of petition, assembly, and speech, the Shays revolt in the 1780's pushed the government to aid poor farmers by such things as establishing paper money and abolishing imprisonment for debt. Consequently, the revolution did not only benefit the elite, it also created prosperity and freedom for the people in general. The revolution also declared void the limitations on trade instilled by the British Parliament. Numerous trade regulations had been placed to enforce mercantilism, the idea that colonies benefited the mother country. At first, these regulations were not heavily enforced, yet trade still prospered between the colonies and England. After the Seven Year's War, the English began to tighten their hold on the colonies, and began to impose taxes on trade on top of it, to bail the mother country out of debt at the expense of the colonies. This drove the colonies into a serious post-war depression that had already been serious because of the French and Indian War. The revolution was merely a reaction to all the above mentioned. After the revolution, freedoms were reinstated that were already there, but were merely taken away. The revolution freed up trade once more and allowed the now liberated colonies to prosper in a new world market. The revolution and it's related governmental documents inspired future attempts by other oppressed peoples to gain freedom. Not too late after the American Revolution did the French Revolution begin. They were also oppressed by a monarch, and their economy was failing as well. After the French saw how the Americans fought for their freedom and declared their independence, they imitated the idea in their own revolution. They adopted a motto that paralleled the American ideal: "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity." Even today, many countries base their governments on the American Constitution. Americans have good reason to be proud of their constitution and revolution. The idea that the colonial elite used the revolution in their favor is irrelevant. The revolution clearly benefited all, even if its

ideals took some time to sink in. Never before had the ideals of freedom been so well defended. Not only did it allow the rapid growth of nation, but it paved the way for future reforms for women, the poor, and the black slaves of America. The American Revolution served as a landmark in world history for freedom and equality.

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