The American Revolution: A Concise History

The American Revolution: A Concise History

The American Revolution: A Concise History

The American Revolution: A Concise History


A concise introduction to the military, diplomatic, political, social, and intellectual aspects of the Revolution, with special emphasis on its causes and consequences.


“The History of our Revolution will be one continued lye from one end to the other,” John Adams predicted. “The essence of the whole will be that Dr. Franklin’s electrical Rod smote the Earth and out sprung General Washington. That Franklin electrified him with his rod—and thence forward these two conducted all the Policy, Negotiations, Legislatures, and War.”

Adams objected partly because this fanciful retelling ignored him. But it also ignored other details, such as causes and consequences. What caused the Revolution? Political oppression? Economic hardship? Parliament reduced taxes on Americans, who were growing more prosperous than the English; despite widespread rioting in the colonies, the only people the British government arrested in the 1760s and 1770s were British soldiers who shot at protesting Americans.

The American protests over taxes and government produced a new kind of political system in which the majority governs, but individuals maintain their liberty.

The story of individuals protecting their rights in a system where the majority governs begins in the Revolution, when men and women set out to protect their liberty by mobilizing their neighbors and public opinion. To understand how this system came into being, if it was not simply created by Franklin’s lightning rod and an electrified Washington, we must look into the “Policy, Negotiations, Legislatures, and War,” and the many people who brought the Revolution about.

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