Paul Revere, Landing that the Troops, c. 1770. Courtesy American Antiquarian Society. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 worldwide (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

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I. Introduction

In the 1760s, Benjamin Rush, a native of Philadelphia, recounted a visit to Parliament. Upon seeing the king throne in the home of Lords, Rush stated he “felt as if he walked on spiritual ground” through “emotions that i cannot describe.”1 transparent the eighteenth century, homesteaders had developed far-reaching emotional ties v both the brothers monarchy and also the brothers constitution. The British north American colonists had just assisted to victory a civilization war and most, like Rush, had never been more proud to be British. And also yet, in a tiny over a decade, those same colonists would declare their independence and also break far from the brothers Empire. Checked out from 1763, nothing would have seemed together improbable together the American Revolution.

The change built institutions and codified the language and also ideas the still define Americans’ picture of themselves. Moreover, revolutionaries justified your new nation with radical brand-new ideals that readjusted the course of history and sparked a global “age that revolution.” however the transformation was as paradoxical together it to be unpredictable. A change fought in the name of liberty enabled slavery to persist. Resistance to central authority tied disparate swarms ever closer with each other under new governments. The transformation created political leaders eager come foster republican selflessness and also protect the public great but also encouraged separation, personal, instance self-interest and personal gain. The “founding fathers” instigated and fought a change to secure self-reliance from Britain, however they did not fight that transformation to produce a “democracy.” To successfully rebel against Britain, however, required an ext than a few dozen “founding fathers.” Common homesteaders joined the fight, unleashing famous forces that shaped the revolution itself, regularly in means not invited by elite leaders. But once unleashed, these famous forces ongoing to form the new nation and indeed the rest of American history.


II. The beginnings of the American Revolution

The American revolution had both permanent origins and also short-term causes. In this section, we will certainly look generally at several of the long-term political, intellectual, cultural, and also economic developments in the eighteenth century that set the context because that the dilemm of the 1760s and also 1770s.

Between the Glorious transformation of 1688 and also the center of the eighteenth century, Britain had largely failed to define the colonies’ connection to the empire and institute a systematic program of imperial reform. Two factors contributed to these failures. First, Britain to be at battle from the war of the Spanish sequence at the start of the century v the seven Years’ battle in 1763. Consistent war was politically consuming and economically expensive. Second, competing visions of empire divided British officials. Old Whigs and also their Tory supporters envisioned one authoritarian empire, based on conquering territory and also extracting resources. They sought to eliminate Britain’s farming national debt by elevating taxes and cutting spending on the colonies. The radical (or patriot) Whigs based their royal vision on trade and also manufacturing instead of land and also resources. They argued that financial growth, not raising taxes, would fix the national debt. Rather of one authoritarian empire, “patriot Whigs” said that the colonies should have equal standing with the mommy country. There were occasional make the efforts to revolutionary the administration of the colonies, but debate in between the 2 sides prevented coherent reform.2

Colonists arisen their own understanding of just how they fit into the empire. They saw themselves as British topics “entitled to all the natural, essential, inherent, and also inseparable rights of our other subjects in Great-Britain.” The eighteenth century brought significant economic and also demographic growth in the colonies. This success, they believed, resulted partly from Britain’s hands-off approach to the colonies, an approach that has been called salutary neglect. Through midcentury, colonists believed that they organized a special location in the empire, which justified Britain’s hands-off policy. In 1764, James Otis Jr. Wrote, “The homesteaders are entitled to as ample rights, liberties, and privileges together the topics of the mother country are, and also in part respects to more.”3

In this very same period, the colonies developed their own regional political institutions. Samuel Adams, in the Boston Gazette, described the nests as every being a “separate human body politic” indigenous Britain. Practically immediately upon every colony’s settlement, they created a early american assembly. This assemblies assumed numerous of the same duties as the Commons worked out in Britain, including taxing residents, controlling the security of the colonies’ revenue, and also granting salaries to imperial officials. In the beforehand 1700s, colonial leaders unsuccessfully lobbied the British government to define their assemblies’ legitimate prerogatives, however Britain to be too occupied with european wars. In the very first half that the eighteenth century, imperial governors tasked by the plank of profession attempted to limit the power of the assemblies, however the assemblies’ power just grew. Many colonists came to see your assemblies as having the very same jurisdiction end them that Parliament exercised over those in England. They understood British inaction as justifying their legacy of local governance. The Crown and also Parliament, however, disagreed.4

Political society in the colonies likewise developed in different way than that of the mom country. In both Britain and also the colonies, land to be the key to political participation, but due to the fact that land was an ext easily acquired in the colonies, a greater proportion of male colonists participated in politics. Colonial political society drew catalyst from the “country” party in Britain. These ideas—generally described as the ideological background of republicanism—stressed the corrupting nature that power and also the require for those involved in self-governing to be building (i.e., placing the “public good” end their own self-interest). Patriots would must be ever before vigilant versus the increase of conspiracies, central control, and also tyranny. Just a tiny fringe in Britain organized these ideas, however in the colonies, lock were extensively accepted.5

In the 1740s, two seemingly conflicting bodies of thought—the Enlightenment and the great Awakening—began to incorporate in the swarms and difficulty older ideas around authority. Perhaps no solitary philosopher had actually a greater affect on colonial thinking 보다 John Locke. In his Essay worrying Human Understanding, Locke said that the mind was initially a tabula rasa (or empty slate) and also that individuals were developed primarily by your environment. The aristocracy climate were affluent or successful due to the fact that they had greater access to wealth, education, and also patronage and not due to the fact that they to be innately superior. Locke adhered to this essay v Some Thoughts worrying Education, which presented radical brand-new ideas around the prominence of education. Education and learning would develop rational human being beings capable of thinking for themselves and also questioning authority fairly than tacitly agree tradition. These ideas slowly concerned have far-ranging effects in the nests and, later, the brand-new nation.

At the exact same time the Locke’s ideas about knowledge and also education spread in north America, the colonies also experienced an extraordinary wave the evangelical protestant revivalism. In between 1739 and also 1740, the Rev. George Whitefield, an enigmatic, itinerant preacher, travel the colonies preaching Calvinist sermons to large crowds. Uneven the rationalism that Locke, his sermons to be designed to appeal to his listeners’ emotions. Whitefield told his listeners the salvation could only be uncovered by taking an individual responsibility because that one’s very own unmediated partnership with God, a procedure that became known as a “conversion” experience. He likewise argued that the current Church hierarchies inhabited by “unconverted” ministers just stood as a barrier between the individual and God. In his wake, brand-new traveling preachers choose up his message and also many congregations split. Both Locke and Whitefield had empowered individuals to concern authority and also to take their lives into their own hands.

In various other ways, eighteenth-century colonists were becoming an ext culturally similar to Britons, a procedure often referred to as Anglicization. As early american economies grew, they easily became vital market because that British production exports. Colonists with disposable earnings and accessibility to British markets attempted to mimic brother culture. By the center of the eighteenth century, middling-class homesteaders could also afford items formerly thought of as luxuries favor British fashions, dining wares, and more. The desire to acquisition British goods meshed through the desire to reap British liberties.6 these political, intellectual, cultural, and economic developments built emphasize that increased to the surface when, ~ the seven Years’ War, britain finally began to carry out a program of imperial reform the conflicted v colonists’ understanding of the empire and also their location in it.

III. The causes of the American Revolution

Most immediately, the American revolution resulted directly from attempts to revolutionary the British empire after the 7 Years’ War. The 7 Years’ war culminated virtually a fifty percent century that war between Europe’s imperial powers. It was truly a world war, fought between multiple empires on many continents. In ~ its conclusion, the British empire had never ever been larger. Brother now regulated the phibìc American continent eastern of the Mississippi River, consisting of French Canada. It had additionally consolidated its manage over India. However the realities and responsibilities of the postwar realm were daunting. Battle (let alone victory) on such a range was costly. Britain doubled the nationwide debt come 13.5 time its yearly revenue. Brothers faced significant new prices required to secure and also defend the far-flung empire, particularly the west frontiers of the north American colonies. These components led brother in the 1760s to attempt to consolidate regulate over its north American colonies, which, in turn, caused resistance.

King George III take it the crown in 1760 and brought Tories into his government after three years of Whig rule. They represented an authoritarian vision of realm in which swarms would be subordinate. The royal Proclamation of 1763 was Britain’s very first major postwar imperial action targeting phibìc America. The king forbade negotiation west the the Appalachian mountains in an attempt to border costly wars with indigenous Americans. Colonists, however, protested and demanded access to the are for which they had combated alongside the British.

In 1764, parliament passed two much more reforms. The street Act sought come combat prevalent smuggling the molasses in new England by cut the duty in half but increasing enforcement. Also, smugglers would be tried by vice-admiralty courts and also not juries. Parliament additionally passed the money Act, which minimal colonies indigenous producing record money. Tough money, such together gold and also silver coins, was scarce in the colonies. The absence of currency impeded the colonies’ increasingly innovative transatlantic economies, but it was specifically damaging in 1764 since a postwar recession had currently begun. Between the limitations of the Proclamation that 1763, the money Act, and the sugar Act’s canceling that trials-by-jury for smugglers, some colonists began to fear a pattern of boosted taxation and restricted liberties.

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In in march 1765, parliament passed the stamp Act. The act compelled that numerous documents be printed on document that had actually been stamped to show the duty had been paid, consisting of newspapers, pamphlets, diplomas, legitimate documents, and also even play cards. The sugar Act the 1764 was an effort to get merchants to salary an already existing duty, however the rubber stamp Act produced a new, straight (or “internal”) tax. Parliament had actually never before directly taxed the colonists. Instead, colonies contributed come the realm through the payment the indirect, “external” taxes, such as customizeds duties. In 1765, Daniel Dulany of Maryland wrote, “A best to i charged an interior tax on the colonies, without their consent for the solitary purpose of revenue, is denied, a right to manage their profession without their consent is, admitted.”7 Also, unlike the sugar Act, i beg your pardon primarily influenced merchants, the rubber stamp Act directly affected numerous teams throughout early american society, consisting of printers, lawyers, college graduates, and even sailors who play cards. This led, in part, come broader, more popular resistance.

Resistance come the rubber stamp Act took 3 forms, distinguished largely by class: legislative resistance by elites, financial resistance through merchants, and popular protest by typical colonists. Colonial elites responded by passing resolutions in your assemblies. The most renowned of the anti-Stamp plot resolutions to be the Virginia Resolves, passed by the residence of Burgesses on might 30, 1765, which asserted that the colonists were entitled to “all the liberties, privileges, franchises, and immunities . . . Possessed by the world of good Britain.” once the Virginia Resolves were printed throughout the colonies, however, castle often included a few extra, far an ext radical resolutions not passed by the Virginia home of Burgesses, the critical of which check that just “the general assembly of this swarm have any right or power to impose or lay any kind of taxation” and also that everyone who said differently “shall be considered an foe to this his majesty’s colony.”8 These added items spread out throughout the colonies and helped radicalize succeeding responses in other early american assemblies. These responses at some point led to the calling of the rubber stamp Act congress in new York City in October 1765. Nine swarms sent delegates, who had Benjamin Franklin, man Dickinson, thomas Hutchinson, Philip Livingston, and James Otis.9