Argument on radical or conservative movement The 13 American colonies revolted against their British rulers in 1775. The war began on April 19, when British soldiers fired on the Minutemen of Lexington, Mass. The fighting ended with the surrender of the British at Yorktown on Oct. 19, 1781. In 1783 Great Britain signed a formal treaty recognizing the independence of the colonies. Through the hardships of life in a wild, new land, the American settlers gained strength and a firm belief in the rights and liberties of the individual man.
They revolted because England interfered with their trade and industry, demanded unjust taxes, and sent British troops to compel obedience. At first they fought only for their rights. After a year of war they fought for a radical change in American life. Ever since the beginnings of settlement, England and America had been growing apart. In 1774, England was still an aristocracy, ruled by men born and bred to a high station in life.
Their society was one of culture and refinement. The common people, deprived of abundant opportunity at home, accepted a position of dependence. They regarded hard work, deference to superiors, and submission to rulers as their way of life. But in America things had taken a different turn. The tone of society was essentially democratic.
There were no lords or hereditary offices. The Americans did not like to look up to superiors, nor were their leaders set apart by privileges of birth and inherited wealth. The opportunities of the New World made men enterprising, energetic, and aggressive. Restraints were few, custom counted for little, and rank for less. Between these two societies there could not be much in common. With such opposing viewpoints and extreme change in social and economic structure, America began to yearn for independence and self-rule, and break away from the rule of Imperial Britain. The many taxes imposed on the colonies by English leaders also created great conflict between the two sides. American colonist felt that they were not represented in Parliament and therefore could not tax its people.
But Parliament felt that they looked out for the best interest of the entire empire, therefore had the right to enact legislation. This caused political unrest and uprisings within the colonies. Protest took the form of newspapers, sermons, and pamphlets. Riots and events such as the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party began to show the colonist distrust of British rulers. With tensions rising between the factions, the Americans were opting for a drastic change in the system.
When America finally decides to declare its independence and go to war, it is a sign of radical action. Britains’ army was four times as big and consisted of well trained and experienced soldiers. Americans, on the other hand, had soldiers who were poorly trained and equipped. There was no central system of housing, paying, or feeding of the troops, and supplies of gunpowder and clothing were inadequate. Add to that, the jealousy and strife within the colonies itself.
It seemed highly unlikely that America would win its independence. But the Americans had something the British did not. It was the desire to advance their political beliefs. Such beliefs rarely mattered to the Europeans. Americans took a courageous stand and were willing to go through war and bloodshed in order to change the rule of the nation. When America voted for independence in 1776, a stupendous task faced the patriots.
They had to improvise an army and a new government at the same time, to meet unusual situations arising daily, to find trusted leaders, and to get 13 proud states to work for the common cause. And all this had to be done with little preparation, at a time when the menace of defeat and reprisals for rebellion and treason cast dark shadows over the land. It was the brave risk taking and decision making of the colonist that shaped the radical movement known as the American Revolution.