The Causes of the American Revolution

By John C. Wahlke | Go to book overview

THE CLASH OF ISSUES

Economic self-interest and political ideals:

"Primarily, the American Revolution was a political and constitutional movement and only secondarily one that was either financial, commercial or social. At bottom, the fundamental issue was the political independence of the colonies, and in the last analysis the conflict lay between the British Parliament and the colonial assemblies. . . . "

-- CHARLES M. ANDREWS

"The struggle was not over high-sounding political and constitutional concepts; over the power of taxation or even, in the final analysis, over natural rights. It was over colonial manufacturing, wild lands and furs, sugar, wine, tea, and currency, all of which meant, simply, the survival or collapse of English mercantile capitalism within the imperial-colonial framework of the mercantilist system."

-- LOUIS M. HACKER

Internal democratization and colonial home rule:

"The American Revolution was the result of two general movements: the contest for home-rule and independence, and the democratization of American politics and society. Of these movements, the latter was fundamental . . ."

-- CARL BECKER

". . . the war did involve democracy, but it was a war to preserve the democracy that was already present, not a war to democratize an aristocratic American society."

-- ROBERT E. BROWN

Cultural accretion and policy blunders:

"Above all, the swift rending of the British Empire and the appearance of the American Union are to be explained by the mistakes of the British government in dealing with the American colonies after 1763, blunders which drove them into armed rebellion."

-- JOHN RICHARD ALDEN

"The rupture of the old British Empire . . . did not come about as the result of wicked men -- neither of the King or Lord North, on the one hand, nor of American radicals, on the other -- . . . It had its source fundamentally in the fact that America now embodied a mature and powerful English- speaking community with a mind of its own and a future that it considered peculiarly its own."

-- LAWRENCE HENRY GIPSON

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