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.