Resource: Thomas Bender



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Friday, June 20: The Revolution in Global Context/ Impact of the Revolution
Resource: Thomas Bender, A Nation Among Nations: America’s Place in World History ( New York: Hill & Wang, 2006).
Sometimes historians say that the American Revolution was about two questions: home rule (i.e., wanting independence for GB) and “who will rule at home?” (i.e., how much change, what kind of government, etc.). Recently historians have begun to look at a third question: what was the global context of the revolution? Looked at another way, these three questions are all part of the theme we’ve had this week for looking at the revolution: the connection between the local/personal/daily life and something bigger, indeed global.

What kind of revolution?
[Start with a BIG surface to write on—several pieces of paper together? And develop the web on this “board.”[
We call this the American “revolution”. What is a revolution? What is revolutionary about this one?
Step 1: List all the kinds of “revolutions” you can think of. [Put “revolution” in the center. The first ring of the web is the types of revolution.]
Step 2: Let’s choose some. What makes these “revolutionary”?

Step 3: A quick focus on the French Revolution (1789); compare with U.S.






France

U.S.

Political Change

-Overthrow the king; put him on trial; cut off his head;

-abolish nobility/feudalism too;

-establish a republic;

-women, blacks, Jews have full political participation

-all citizens can vote

-women sit in assembly;

-Declaration of the Rights of Man & Citizen; Declaration of the Rights of Woman;


-Gain independence from British king;

-establish a republic with a

-written constitution (first!).

-Extend vote to adult men with property, but not to other groups.



Economic Change

-Nationalize property owned by church;

-Abolish “unfair” system of local taxes (salt tax);

-Regulation of the unions (can’t organize unions because it separates man from man);

-Price controls (regulate bread)



-Cut mercantilist ties to England,

-claiming a right to free trade with all comers;

-Ultimately open door to expansion of trade, western expansion, capitalism, and industry.


Social Change

-End slavery in the empire;

-political rights to women, blacks, & Jews.

-End nobility

-Disestablish church

-Establish new civic ceremonies

-Establish militia



-End slavery in some states;

-political rights to single women with property in New Jersey;

-political rights to free black men with property in some states.

-permanent disestablishment of the church;

-Native Americans not included as either citizens or allies.

Step 4: Now focus on the American Revolution. What kinds of elements would make it revolutionary? Divide into “political,” “social,” “economic,” etc. to help elicit ideas.


Step 5: Debate—How “revolutionary” or “radical” was the American Revolution?
Step 6?: Write or outline. Give 3 examples for each.

A revolution is . . . .

The American “revolution” was revolutionary because . . .

The American revolution was not as revolutionary as it could have been because . . .


[This question allows us to do three things. A) Define “revolution.” B) Learn about outcomes of the revolution at home. C) Address a question American historians have been asking for a long time—how “radical” was this revolution? Was it just a war for independence? A baron’s revolt? Or did it bring out significant change, and if so, in what ways? This is a conversation that WE are having in which we can simultaneously learn about outcomes & discuss the question. With my students—and with yours—I’d do this as a debate AFTER we learned about outcomes.]
A Different Perspective

This conversation raises important questions, but even if we look at France—even if we look at other revolutions that drew their inspiration from the U.S.—the focus is still mainly on the U.S. Let’s “zoom out” as they say in Mapquest and look at the era of the American revolution from a more global perspective.


American independence was not a local struggle or even a David & Goliath event of little America struggling against the great British empire. Rather, as one historian has written, in the revolution a “civil war was quickly transformed into an international one with global implications, fought on a global scale, from Lake Champlain to the West Indies, from southern England to the Cape of Good Hope and the Coromandel coast of India.” (Bender, 63). So we have to take this seriously not because we live in a global age, but because they did.
Step 1: What does it mean to say that the American Revolution was international, with global implications? What do you know about the global context of the Revolution? (generate a list-- )
Step 2: Bring a map of the world.
Step 3: Give each person a strip with a country and some information. (Maybe they should get 2 copies of the strip?) Read your strip. Post it on the map.
Step 4: Reflecting on our map. Looking at a distance—what do you notice? Who put up strips that were a surprise or that you had questions about? What does the American Revolution have to do with . . . [continent by continent]? [NB: this won’t be everything there was either]
Step 5: What links this all together? Themes in the global history of the revolution—trade, empire, and liberalism in the 18th century.
In the 18th century, European nations (e.g. Spain, England, France, the Netherlands, the Ottoman Empire, Russia, etc.) made two important changes in the way they handled their colonies.

  1. They began to expand their economic and political control over their colonies, seeking to integrate the colonies more closely into imperial economies. These changes raised the costs of empire, which they tried to pass on to the colonies through taxes.

  2. Responding to liberal enlightenment ideas about government, they tried to reform government structures, sometimes giving local people more say through representative assemblies.

As these changes took place, colonies around the world rebelled. “Resistance movements appeared on every continent in the 2nd half of the 18th century.” (Bender 72)


  1. A third change took place in the relationship between empires and colonies in the 18th century: European nations began to see the colonies as integral to struggles for power in Europe. Wars that had previously been limited to Europe or to the colonies became global conflicts, fought on several continents.

So in North America, the British and French (and the Spanish) were fighting a series of wars dating back to the late 1600s over trade, particularly in “Indian Country.” Because trade was international in scope, these wars had repercussions around the world. Thus a struggle that started in Ohio in the 1740s ended up being fought not only in America but in Africa, Asia, and Europe among England & Prussia on one side and France, Austria, & Spain on the other. We call it the “French & Indian War,” but European historians call it the Seven Years War and recognize it as a battle in a “Great War” between France & England that lasted over 100 years. The end of the 7 Years War established Britain as dominant in North America, India, and on the major ocean trade routes. France ceded a lot of territory in India and North America to England. And although Spain didn’t lose anything in that war, it almost lost the Philippines & Cuba. So both France & Spain were looking for another war to get back what they lost and to get more advantage over England. They saw their chance when war broke out in America in 1775.


By declaring independence, Americans invited other European powers to internationalize the war. France & Spain, and later the Dutch, jumped at the chance to get revenge on England, offering money and later ships and troops to the patriots (though only France was a formal ally). The American patriots, on their side, got international recognition and badly needed materiel. Native Americans also formed alliances with both Americans and the British in the hope of protecting land and trade.
For the Europeans, the greatest battles of the American Revolution didn’t even take place in North America. At most, George Washington never commanded more than 16,000 troops in battle. But 100,000 French & Spanish troops participated in an assault on Gibraltar and over 50,000 tried to invade England, just to name two non-American battles.
In the end, the treaties were only incidentally about American independence. The real questions were about empires and about trade.

-The French did not regain land in India or North America. They did get slave trading posts back in West Africa.


-The Spanish wanted Gibraltar, but instead got East and West Florida.
-The Dutch got back forts, ports, and cities in Southeast Asia by promising not to interfere with British ships.
-Native Americans didn’t even get representatives at the treaty table and their land was signed over to the new American government as if Native American governments did not exist. Instead, the new American government claimed the Ohio Valley and access to the Mississippi River trade routes.
-Despite losing the 13 colonies, the British ended up in a stronger position worldwide, holding on to key assets and asserting their naval power.
Finally, after our textbooks say the Revolution ended and the treaties were signed, the wars for empire went on. Americans continued to fight with Native Americans and clashed continually with the French and the British—whose own wars continued—until they had to fight them again in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Trade was at the heart of these conflicts—Americans wanted free trade and objected to mercantilist policies that limited their trade. They also wanted to get in on new trade in the Pacific with China and India. At the same time, the liberal ideas of the 18th century gave rise to the French Revolution, which in turn sparked the most radical revolution of the era—St. Domingue/Haiti. Discontented colonists around the world, who objected to the tax and economic policies of their empires and wanted more autonomy and representation, were now faced with two kinds of revolution—the more political, more moderate American Revolution and the more radical, more socially transformative French Revolution. The ideas, the government forms, and the question of radicalism shaped both these revolutions and then came home to affect politics at home in the new U.S.
Questions/Answers

[More information. . . ]



BEFORE/A NEW LOOK AT “TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION”

When the colonists made “no taxation without representation” their slogan, we have seen that they were thinking about British tyranny as well as about their pocketbooks. But there was a global side to this as well. All over the world in the mid to late 18th century, colonized peoples rebelled against empires with similar slogans. Why?


In the 18th century, European nations (e.g. Spain, England, France, the Netherlands, the Ottoman Empire, Russia, etc.) made two important changes in the way they handled their colonies.

  1. They began to expand their economic and political control over their colonies, seeking to integrate the colonies more closely into imperial economies. These changes raised the costs of empire, which they tried to pass on to the colonies through taxes.

  2. Responding to liberal enlightenment ideas about government, they tried to reform government structures, sometimes giving local people more say through representative assemblies.

As these changes took place, colonies around the world rebelled. You are familiar with some of these rebellions—the American revolution, the French revolution, wars for independence in Latin America; but also consider rebellions against imperial authority in the Safavid Empire in Iran, the Mughal empire in India, the Ottoman empire, resistance against the Dutch in South Africa and Java, uprisings in New Granada in South America, the Incas’ rebellion in Peru, Pontiac’s rebellion on mainland North America, and the successful uprising in St. Domingue (Haiti). “Resistance movements appeared on every continent in the 2nd half of the 18th century.” (Bender 72) So when American colonists objected to taxation, they were objecting to the British manifestation of an international trend toward taxing colonies to support empires. And when they claimed the right to representative government, they were responding not just to British tradition but to Enlightenment ideas that had led to government reform around the globe. It wasn’t their revolution that was unique but the fact that they went first and that their rebellion succeeded.


DURING/JAMES MADISON

Speaking at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, James Madison, said:


Carthage & Rome tore one another to pieces instead of uniting their forces to devour weaker nations of the Earth. The Houses of Austria and France were hostile as long as they remained the great powers of Europe. England & France have succeeded to the preeminence & to the enmity. To this principle we owe perhaps our liberty.
How, then, did the American colonists owe their independence to the long struggle between France and England?
First, it is important to understand that a third change took place in the relationship between empires and colonies in the 18th century: European nations began to see the colonies as integral to struggles for power in Europe. Wars that had previously been limited to Europe or to the colonies became global conflicts, fought on several continents.
In North America, the British and French (and to some extent the Spanish) were fighting a series of wars dating back to the late 1600s over who would control “Indian Country.” Why? Trade! Because trade was international in scope, these wars had repercussions around the world. Thus a struggle that started in Ohio in the 1740s ended up being fought not only in America but in Africa, Asia, and Europe among England & Prussia on one side and France, Austria, & Spain on the other. We call it the “French & Indian War,” but European historians call it the Seven Years War and recognize it as a battle in a “Great War” between France & England that lasted over 100 years. The end of the 7 Years War established Britain as dominant in North America, India, and on the major ocean trade routes. France ceded a lot of territory in India and North America to England. And although Spain didn’t lose anything in that war, it almost lost the Philippines & Cuba. So both France & Spain were looking for another war to get back what they lost and to get more advantage over England. They saw their chance when war broke out in America in 1775.
This, by the way, was an important argument for declaring independence. By doing so, the Americans claimed their war was not just a civil war and invited other European powers to internationalize the war. France & Spain, and later the Dutch, jumped at the chance to get revenge on England, offering money and later ships and troops to the patriots. The American patriots, on their side, got international recognition and badly needed materiel. French funding, for example, provided 80% of the gunpowder Americans used in the revolution.
Of course, Europeans were not the only foreign powers to get involved—Native Americans formed alliances with both Americans and the British in the hope of protecting land and trade too.
As it happened, the greatest beneficiaries of the revolution were the British and the Americans.

-The French did not regain land in India or North America. They did get slave trading posts back in West Africa.


-The Spanish wanted Gibraltar, but instead got East and West Florida.
-The Dutch got back forts, ports, and cities in Southeast Asia by promising not to interfere with British ships.
-Native Americans didn’t even get representatives at the treaty table and their land was signed over to the new American government as if Native American governments did not exist.
-Despite losing the 13 colonies, the British ended up in a stronger position worldwide, holding on to key assets and asserting their naval power.
-And of course the Americans got independence, access to the interior trade routes (eastern side of the Mississippi River) and a lot of land. Also in the wake of the Revolution, both the English and the Americans began to get interested and involved in trade with India and China.
AFTER/TRADE AND ATLANTIC REVOLUTIONS

The global significance of the revolution did not end in 1783, when the treaty was signed, or in 1789 when the Constitution was ratified. There were all kinds of on-going issues, but I want to talk briefly about three.


Britain & France: What Americans wanted from the Revolution most of all was the right to free trade. They hoped to be neutral trading partners for all comers. However, they had to deal with the British wanting to still monopolize their trade as well as the lost of British protection from pirates. Americans ended up paying tribute to Barbary pirates and having to fend off both British and French ships that boarded their vessels and, once war broke out in Europe again, impressed their sailors. Finally, the British had promised to withdraw from the Ohio Valley but did not. These issues shaped American foreign policy through the 18th and the early 19th century. Americans got drawn into the “Great War” again when the Napoleonic Wars spilled over into the War of 1812 in North America.
Atlantic Revolutions: Before the French Revolution, the American Revolution “stood for revolution throughout the whole Atlantic world.” Once the French Revolution happened, it had a greater influence on other nations in terms of inspiring future revolution. But the key documents from the American Revolution—the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Federalist Papers—had a lasting effect. Latin American countries, in particular, drew on the American presidential system of government, which still distinguishes Western Hemisphere governments from European ones. Interestingly, many Latin American countries also looked at the American Revolution as a model precisely because it was NOT as radical as the French Revolution. In America, after all, the rebels had gotten rid of monarchy without “mobilizing the lower classes . . . or producing a slave revolt.” (Bender 95).
Haiti: Ironically, the French Revolution—and particularly its impact on Haiti—helped limit the impact of the American Revolution at home. Slaveholders in the new United States greatly feared that the Haitian example would inspire slave revolts at home—with good reason. Leaders of slave revolts in the Caribbean and would-be leaders of revolts in the United States all referred to Haiti. Racists in the United States used Haiti to argue against emancipation and even to resist efforts to expand civil rights in Reconstruction and after. After the Revolution, southern fears that slaves imported from the Caribbean would bring revolutionary ideas from Haiti helped lead to the end of the international slave trade.

At least in part because of the lessons of Haiti—Americans were slow to lend support to other European freedom struggles in the 19th century—Greece, Hungary, Italy, Germany.




Barbary States (Algiers, Morocco, Tripoli, Tunis)


United States fought a war against them in 1801-1805. After the Revolution, Americans lost British protection and were attacked by pirates who wanted tribute in exchange for hostages.

South England


Nearly invaded by a fleet of 500 French & Spanish troops—1779

Caribbean


1739 War of Jenkins’ Ear: England vs. Spain over the right to search ships

Portsmouth, England


Main port of the British Royal Navy, which dominated the oceans in the 18th century

Portugal


Commercial reforms (including taxes on colonies) and administrative reforms (including more representation in colonies) led to rebellions in Pernambuco and Rio de Janeiro


Iran


Safavid Empire experienced rebellions in the 18th century

India


Sikhs resisted efforts of Mughal elites to tax them more in 1720s.

Arabia


Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and his followers resisted the authority of the Ottoman empire in the late 18th century and sought autonomy from the empire.


Ohio River Valley


Pontiac’s Rebellion sought to push the British empire out of the valley and to strengthen & confirm the national identity of peoples living there.


France


In 1689, King Louis XIV tried to stop William of Orange from taking the British crown. Britain mobilized a Grand Alliance (Holland, Spain, Sweden, Savoy, and Bavaria, Saxony, and the Palatinate) against France. First in a long series of wars.


India


The British East India Company did the work of the British Empire here. Asserted British authority, gave local rulers pensions and military services in return for taxes. While co-opting local leaders, this also put the Company in debt and sent it to Parliament for help—which led to the Tea Act in 1773.


Ireland


Resistance to British rule in the 18th century, gaining an independent Irish Parliament in 1782 (lasted until 1798 when another rebellion, with French support, led the British to end the Irish Parliament).


South Africa


Dutch settlers disputed Dutch land and trade policies in late 18th century

Java


Dutch settlers rebelled over taxes and control of labor, late 18th century

Cairo, Egypt


Rebellion against the Ottoman empire, 1785-1798

Greece


Independence movement from the Ottoman Empire in 1820s

Haiti (St. Domingue)


Slave revolt against French authorities in 1791; Americans—especially southern slaveholders—saw it as a real danger to the United States, fearing it would inspire slave rebellions. Limited American support for other revolutions; limited movement toward emancipation and rights for blacks in the U.S.. U.S. government refused to recognize it as a new nation in 1804 or to call it Haiti. Internationally, Haiti represented the most radical interpretation of the Rights of Man articulated in the French Revolution.


Jamaica


1797-8; British colonial authorities clashed with free blacks (Maroons)

Peru


Tupac Amaru led a rebellion in 1780 against Spanish imperial policies that expanded trade within the empire but led to more taxes and undermined customary economic and political practices. “Long live our great monarch—long live Carlos III and may all duty collectors die!”


New Granada (Venezuela, Panama, Ecuador, Colombia)

1781 Comunero revolt against Spanish imperial policies that expanded trade within the empire but led to more taxes and undermined customary economic and political practices. “Long live the king! Death to bad government!”


Brazil

1789: Joaquim Jose da Silva Xavier sought to create an independent republic like the New United States, protesting new regulations from the Portugal.


Indian Country (Ohio, eastern Mississippi, and Tennessee River valleys)


British sought to expand there in 1747, leading to a French line of forts, which in turn led to the beginning of the French & Indian war

Prussia (Germany)

Allied with British during the 7 Years War (French & Indian War) against France, Austria, and Spain.


Nova Scotia

Site of a battle in the 7 Years War


Minorca

Site of a battle in the 7 Years War (French & Indian War)


Bengal (India)

Site of a battle in the 7 Years War (French & Indian War)


Coromandel coast (India)

Site of a battle in the 7 Years War (French & Indian War)



Manila

Site of a battle in the 7 Years War (French & Indian War)


West Africa

Site of a battle in the 7 Years War (French & Indian War)


Gibraltar

Site of a battle in the 7 Years War (French & Indian War); also site of a battle in the American Revolution when France & Spain sent 100,000 men to take Gibraltar from the British. They failed, and Gibraltar remained British.


Manila

Captured by England at the end of the 7 Years War; returned to Spain


Havana

Captured by England at the end of the 7 Years War; returned to Spain


New France, Quebec

French territory; ceded to England at the end of the 7 Years War; Organized by the British in the Quebec Act


Louisiana (French land west of the Mississippi)

Later the Louisiana Purchase; secretly ceded to Spain in 1762, just before the end of the 7 Years War

East & West Florida

Returned to Spain after the Revolution in exchange for the British keeping Gibraltar


St. Eustatius

Dutch possession in the Caribbean; vital source of military supplies to the colonists during the Revolution.


Paris

Site of treaty between Britain and the American colonies in 1783


Versailles

Site of treaties signed on the same day as the Treaty of Paris, 1783, but between Britain and France, and Britain and Spain


China

Focus of British and American trading interests after the Revolution


Venezuela

One of many Latin American countries that preferred to follow the less radical example of the American form of revolution than that of the French.


West Indies

Part of the British empire; after the Revolution, Americans were not allowed to trade there though they made up an important part of colonial America’s trade.


Ohio River Valley

After the American Revolution, British promised to remove their forts, but did not; Ultimately, their persistence helped lead to war.


Malta

Because the British refused to return Malta to the Knights of Hospitallers in 1802, war broke out with France. British began seizing American ships during this war.


Argentina

South American republic established after the American Revolution


Colombia

South American republic established after the American Revolution


Chile

South American republic established after the American Revolution


Mexico

North American republic established after the American Revolution


Peru

South American republic established after the American Revolution


France

Secretly gave the American colonies 1 million livres, matched by donations from the Spanish, which the Americans used to buy materiel for the American revolution. These funds paid, for example, for 80% of the gunpowder used in the war. Became a formal ally of the colonies in 1778.


Spain

Offered to ally with the British against the colonies, in exchange for Gibraltar. When the British refused, Spain allied with France (though not formally with the colonies) against Britain.


German principalities

Troops from various principalities were hired to help the British fight the revolution. Some 29,000 came to America as soldiers.


Senegal River (West Africa)

France got back slave trading posts here after the American Revolution as part of the Treaty of Versailles.


Southeast Asia

Contested by the Dutch and the British; After the American Revolution, the Dutch gained better access to forts & ports here in their settlement with the British, by agreeing not to interfere with British shipping.


Poland

Birthplace of Thaddeus Kosciuszko who came to the American colonies to fight in the Revolution, was made a brigadier general, and later went back to Poland to try to help his own country win independence.


Canada

By 1812, 4/5 of Upper Canada’s 100,000 people were American born. About 1/5 of them were refugees from the Revolution. So in a real sense, the American Revolution laid the foundations for the nation of Canada as well as of the U.S.

Montreal

Patriot troops defeated the British here in 1776

Quebec

Patriot troops failed to defeat the British here in 1776

Nova Scotia

British stronghold during the American Revolution, particularly after troops retreated from Boston early in the war

Russia

Britain tried to hire 20,000 mercenaries from here to fight the Revolution.



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