American Revolution Essay Research Paper American Revolution

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American Revolution Essay, Research Paper American Revolution One of the central myths that many Americans entertain about the Revolutionary War is that victory over the British redcoats was quick and easy. A united, freedom-loving country rose up in righteous anger at the King’s tyrannical actions, grabbed their trusty flintlocks, hid behind trees and walls, defeated the dull British soldiers who were sitting ducks in their scarlet uniforms, and established the United States of America. Throughout the story, there is a certain inevitability about American victory. This story raises many problems. If victory was so easy, why did it take eight and a half years for the Americans to win it? There is also the question of Valley Forge, which Americans have always interpreted as

a parable of courage over adversity. But while one can admire Americans’ fortitude, there is still the real question: why were Continental Army soldiers lacking clothing and shoes and starving to death in the middle of a prosperous country? These questions and others have prompted modern historians to revise our understanding of the Revolutionary War. We now recognize that the war affected almost everyone in America. Of the ten wars that Americans have fought, only the Civil War saw more American military deaths per 10,000 citizens. And, except for the Vietnam War, the Revolution was the longest war Americans ever fought. Historians also began to recognize that the American Revolutionary War was a complex event that belies a simplistic nationalist view. They now argue that the

American Revolutionary War contained many different wars. It was, first, a war for national independence. Although this type of war is taken for granted by Americans today, it must be remembered that the Revolutionary War was the first in which colonies successfully rebelled against an imperial power. As a result, the American Revolution became an inspiration to other colonial peoples in the nineteenth century. This was especially true for Spanish-American liberators like Simon Bolivar who, in throwing off Spanish rule, looked to the example of the American Revolution. Second, the American Revolutionary War was a civil war. Rather than a country united against the British, Americans were divided over whether the colonies should leave the British empire. We now know that in every

part of the United States, but especially in the South after 1778 (when the British transferred its military operations to that region), Americans fought Americans. Sometimes, American family members fought each other, as fathers sided with the British and sons with the Americans (or visa versa). Historians now believe that forty percent of Americans were patriots; twenty percent were Loyalists, who supported the British; and forty percent were neutral, preferring to be left alone during the hostilities. Almost 18,000 Loyalists actually joined the British army and fought against Americans. These conflicts were often extremely violent and bitter, reminiscent of ethnic conflicts between Serbians and Bosnians today. Third, the American Revolution was also a world war. With the

American victory at Saratoga in 1778, France entered the war on the American side. The French wanted to avenge its defeat in 1763 at the hands of the British in the Seven Years’ War. It had been secretly supplying the Americans with military supplies since 1775 awaiting an opportunity to side openly with the revolting Americans. By 1780, both Holland and Spain joined the French and Americans. (The Spanish, it is true, were a little hesitant to make war against another colonial power, but the possibility of destroying British trade hegemony was too powerful to resist. The Spanish monarchy would regret its decision in the nineteenth century when its own colonies would revolt citing the American example). With their seafaring fleets, America’s European allies attacked British