Crash Course - Tea, Taxes and the American Revolution
John Green teaches you about the American Revolution and the American Revolutionary War, which it turns out, were two different things. John goes over the issues and events that precipitated rebellion in Britain's American colonies, and he explores the ideas that laid the groundwork for the new American democracy. Find out how the tax bill from the Seven Years War fomented an uprising, how the Enlightenment influenced the Founding Fathers, and who were the winners and losers in this conflict.(hint: many of the people living in the Colonies ended up losers) The Revolution purportedly brought freedom and equality to the Thirteen Colonies, but they weren't equally distributed.
8th Grade Review of Self-Government in the Colonies
The Virginia Company, from 1619, had been supportive of the House of Burgesses to make the laws for Jamestown Colony. This was the first legislature in the English colonies. In 1629, the Massachusetts colonists set up their legislature and called it the General Court. Within five years, the Massachusetts colonists began to elect their own delegates to the General Court.
In Pennsylvania, the King and the English government had given the land to William Penn. Therefore, with the ownership of the colony, the governor and a council made laws that an assembly had the right to approve or reject. By 1701, the Pennsylvania colonists had pushed William Penn to allow the General Assembly to make the laws - however, the king did have the power to overturn laws.
By 1760, all colonies in North America had a legislature. While these legislatures clashed with Britain, this was a new beginning of self-government for the colonies.
The Right to Vote
The colonies offered greater political opportunities for their citizens than did England. Between 50 and 75% of men in the colonies could vote - a much larger number than in England. Women, even if they owned property, were not able to vote in the colonies. Native Americans and African - neither free nor slave - were able to vote.
The Beginnings of Revolutionary Thinking
Revolutions often fail. The French Revolution culminated in the leadership of Napoleon, a ruthless emperor who tried to conquer Europe. The Russian Revolution brought years of civil war and a brutal regime headed by Stalin that made many Russian people even yearn for a return to the days of their monarch. How did the American Revolution yield a constitutional republic with greater freedom on a large scale than the world had ever seen? Successful revolutions never begin overnight. The American Revolution was 169 years in the making. Throughout the colonial experience, important stones were being laid into the foundation of American independence.
The distance British colonists enjoyed from their kings made direct rule nearly impossible. The Virginia House of Burgesses was the first representative assembly in the Western Hemisphere. The Pilgrims committed themselves to self-rule in the form of the Mayflower Compact before they had ever set foot on the new continent. Town meetings were quickly the norm throughout New England. The Quaker faith made equality a practice in the community and the meetinghouse throughout the Middle Colonies. The American colonists already realized all these important steps toward independence before 1700. Events in the early part of the eighteenth century made independence from Britain inevitable.
Self-government by the people was of paramount importance to the Europeans settling in North America. The Pilgrims drafted their own system of self-rule — the Mayflower Compact — before they landed on the new continent.
The European Enlightenment filled the heads of educated Americans with thoughts of liberty and progress. The Great Awakening ushered in new faiths where equality between ministers and the congregation was the norm. American newspapers achieved a sound victory for a free press with the Zenger verdict. A tradition of ignoring English law was firmly established by New England smugglers, who patently ignored custom regulations. The colonists were no stranger to rebellion, as the masses from New York to South Carolina rose in demands of equality. Diverse peoples from all over Europe flocked to the British colonies with absolutely no loyalty to the British Crown.
The stage had long been set for Americans to assert their independence from their British brothers and sisters. Many events transpired between the years of 1763 and 1776 that served as short-term causes of the Revolution. However, the roots had already been firmly planted. In many ways, the American Revolution had been completed before any of the actual fighting began.
The Zenger Trial
William Cosby (not the comedian of our time, but the Governor of New York in the early 1700s) ordered the public hangman to seize all copies of the Journal printed by John Peter Zenger. This is the story of an immigrant printer, an opposition political party, a brilliant lawyer from Philadelphia, and, most important, the Freedom of the Press.
Did you know that Newton was one of the inventors of the branch of mathematics called calculus? ... That Newton was friends with Edmund Halley of comet fame? ... That Newton took two years off so as not to catch the Bubonic Plague?