How did America Change in the Revolutionary Era?
How did America Change in the Revolutionary Era?
The revolutionary era was a momentous period in the history of America. America underwent numerous changes during this period. During the Revolutionary Era (1775 – 1783), the American Patriots defeated the British leading to the establishment of the United States of America. In this essay, I discuss how the nation changed economically during the revolutionary era. America is a powerful country economically and a part of this has it foundation in the happenings of the Revolutionary Era. A revolutionary war was expensive and required funding hence the need to understand how America changed economically during this period.
Raising taxes on sugar and stamps were punitive means by which the British used to raise funds to pay off the huge war debt. These taxes had economic ramifications for the American colonists who felt that the taxes on sugar and stamps were a violation of their liberties and rights. The Sugar Act lowered taxes on French molasses so that the colonies could get enough molasses for use in brewing rum that was popular among Americans. However, the Sugar Act heavily punished smuggling of molasses which was an attractive venture. Similarly, the Stamp Act imposed taxes on paper used to produce newspapers, court documents, wills, licences, and pamphlets. These tactics of raising revenue faced taxpayer hostility because they made consumer goods expensive and unaffordable for many of the American colonists. A person living through this time period would experience trade disruptions due to punitive penalties of smuggling sugar. A person would also harbor feelings of unfair taxes.
Furthermore, the British used economic manipulation such as the enactment of the Tea Act in 1773 to gain control over the colonies. Prior to the enactment of the Tea Act, Americans bought taxed British tea. However, a large quantity of the tea consumed in the colonies was smuggled from Dutch sources. The intention of the Tea Act was to lower tax on British so that Americans could get it at a lower retail price compared to the smuggled tea. The endgame of this was that Americans will be motivated to obey the laws imposed by the British. Americans resisted the Tea Act and this led to the British imposing military rule and enacting more bad laws. The interesting thing from the Tea Act is that it was not meant to raise more revenues but it was used as a manipulation tool. Economic manipulation, instead of pacifying the Americans, it led to more suspicions and resistance whose outcome was the British tightening their control over the colonies. Economic manipulation was against the principles of a free market economy and it served to worsen the fortunes of the British companies.How did America Change in the Revolutionary Era?
The Americans were reluctant to call for independence from Britain because they had not achieved economic independence. Several colonies were active trade partners with Britain and they feared cutting off Britain would be catastrophic for their economies. These colonies did not envision economic independence once they gain political independence. Considering that Britain offered the colonies protection from enemies such as Spain and France, the quick assumption of independence would result in economic turmoil. Therefore, America did not make great economic leaps during this period because of existence of wars, colonialism and trade inter-dependence.
Even though Americans were initially reluctant to call for independence from Britain, George Washington planned to beat the British by creating a continental army and arranged for it to be paid by a currency issue authorized by the congress. Full blown war against the British was going to be costly economically hence the necessity of a $2 million currency issue. Part of defeating the British was creating a semblance of a legitimate government able to run its economic affairs without seeking external help. Issuance of a continental currency was an economic milestone since the currency would quickly spread throughout the population among farmers, soldiers, and suppliers of munitions.
The Articles of Confederation provided the structure of government and its associated powers but failed to give the created national government the power to directly collect taxes.
Building an economically sound government required taxation to be implemented since the government required money. Money was required to finance government functions such as trade regulation, postal system, surveying of lands, and other costs. Collecting taxes to support the economy was a complex process that involved state legislatures levying taxes individually and paying into the common treasury. Furthermore, tax money was collected based on the population of the individual states. If you lived in a more populous state, you would pay a higher tax.
Part of economic acquisition was through acquisition of the western lands. The expansion of the national land was purely through individual states volunteering to do so. Land was an important economic resource for the government hence the initial disputes on ownership of western lands. However, this is an issue that was voluntarily resolved among the states hence putting the Union on a good economic foundation.
The current country we live in was greatly shaped by the economic changes of the Revolutionary era. A fair taxation regime borrows from mishaps of the era with regards to taxation. Resistance to economic manipulation birthed the need to run a free market-based economy that is free from Executive interference. Furthermore, issuance of $2 million currency prior to gaining independence from the British set in motion the current existence of a strong U.S currency. Furthermore, claims to western lands and the eventual agreement among the states birthed the necessity to exploit for economic reasons.How did America Change in the Revolutionary Era?