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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > American Age of Discovery, Colonization, Revolution, & Expansion > American Revolution

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American Revolution 1763-1789 The birth of a new nation - to commence at the Proclaimation of 1763 to the end of the Articles of Confederation.

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  #1  
Old 18 Mar 12, 15:06
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Why did the Americans win the Revolutionary War?

What are you opinions on why the Americans won the war against the British. I believe a large part was French help, but also because of British lack of enthuisiasm by the end of the war.
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  #2  
Old 18 Mar 12, 16:12
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Originally Posted by Douglas MacArth View Post
What are you opinions on why the Americans won the war against the British. I believe a large part was French help, but also because of British lack of enthuisiasm by the end of the war.
Pretty much. Of course the Spanish and Dutch joined in and they found themselves in a global war without any allies. Britain herself was coming under threat with the West Indies being more valuable to protect that than the 13 colonies. Underestimation of the problem/issues by London. I still think Lord North was an idiot. If Pitt had been around he'd have sorted it with some good old fashioned compromise...
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Old 18 Mar 12, 16:17
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French aid was a contributing factor. The British wanted to hang on to the American colonies but they were fighting the French in several places , Europe the Caribbean , & the Mediterrean so they were stretched at least as far as the UK & USA were during WW II. But the
BIG problem the British had was the government was not going to change the way they wanted to run the colonies . So the Americans had reason to rebel . And so they did . Some people will wonder why did not the revolution catch on in Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick ?
I have an answer, In the Nova Scotia & New Brunswick they were heavily linked to the UK. Quebec is another issue . For the French Canadian
population they had a quater century of stability after the conquest with a government that recocgnized their language , religion and to a degree laws. There were legislatures in especially the NE that wanted to eliminate the RC church and were anti french but wanted to absorb Quebec. Oh the Contintental Congress invited Quebec to join the 13 colonies so who do the Quebecois trust state legislaters or congress or the British ? They side with the latter . Oh there are people who want to join the USA . But they were mainly Montreal English merchants
and after the Americans leave Montreal they scurry to Boton or NYC.
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Old 18 Mar 12, 17:23
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Three reasons:

-George Washington and the creation of the Continental Army which learned how to fight the British on even terms and despite the handicap of the militia, whom the Continentals called 'long faces).

-The French alliance.

-The contributions of foreign officers such as Duportail, von Steuben, Gimat, and de Kalb.

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M
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Old 18 Mar 12, 22:09
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I may get scolded for this... The under researched or underpublished side of this are the various peacefeelers and back door negotiations, particularly from 1780 or 81. As I understand it the Rebels made it known they would not bar the British from further trade in the former colonies. To put it another way if the Brits gave up and negotiated independance sooner they would retain something akin to favored trade status. If they procrastinated the Rebels would be 'forced' to favor France. The North American colonies had been a major profit center for British merchants, banks, and investors. The opportunity to preserve at least part of that was too good a deal to pass up, even if it meant some sort of weird self government in those rebellious places.

Post Independance Britain remained the largest source of investment money via London Banks (tho not all that money was British origin), in the United States for many decades. Basically we rebels got the crowns tax collectors and monoply licences out and a continued flow of investment money.

Sweet

I am unsure what France got out of it.

Last edited by Carl Schwamberg; 18 Mar 12 at 22:18..
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Old 19 Mar 12, 01:10
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Quote:
Of course the Spanish and Dutch joined in...
Might have hit on a good point there, to take it a bit farther;

Had the British Empire become so arrogant that it found itself without friends, in a position similar to what Germany faced a century and a half later?

Success breeds envy, or was there more to it than that?
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Old 19 Mar 12, 02:36
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I think the British were a bit war weary. They certainly were having trouble raising easy money to finance the war. Hiring German mercenaries was expensive.

While the British seized just about every objective they wanted, it never seemed to end the war. The Colonies were severely underdeveloped. There were few roads and the rivers did not always take you where you needed to go. In Europe it was much easier to campaign. There were supplies that could be looted from the locals and magazines to supply ones troops. Here the British had to carry just about everything along with them.

Washington and Greene could lose a battle yet still preserve the American Army.

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Old 19 Mar 12, 05:38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exorcist View Post
Might have hit on a good point there, to take it a bit farther;

Had the British Empire become so arrogant that it found itself without friends, in a position similar to what Germany faced a century and a half later?

Success breeds envy, or was there more to it than that?
Certainly post 7 years war Britian had become very powerful certainly vis a vis the French pre war. The AWOI made them vulnerable to being attacked elsewhere and even great powers have their limits. Once engaged by the other European powers, the 13 colonies became less important later on strategically as more " lucrative" posessions came under threat, including the West Indies and of course the home island. The other European powers saw an opportunity to weaken the rising power that was Britain and they took it.
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Old 19 Mar 12, 05:59
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'While the British seized just about every objective they wanted, it never seemed to end the war.'

But the British could not hold onto anything in the interior. At the end of the war they only held New York, Savannah, and Charleston, and that was because of the Royal Navy.

Greene fought three battles against British armies in the south. Tactically he lost, as the British held the field in all three cases-but the British armies were mauled and had to withdraw.

Further, the Americans and French captured two British armies completely-at Saratoga and Yorktown.

Sincerely,
M
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Old 19 Mar 12, 09:09
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I think it just got to the point where it wasnt worth it anymore. The British had lost one army after Saratoga and another after Yorktown. It gets to theh point that even if they had "won" and supressed the rebellion, the cost of holding on indefinitely would have been exhorbitant...with an emboldened colonial populous. Not to mention the costs of making sure the colonists didnt kill themselves off rehashing wartime disagrements (royalist vs rebels). I mean, after 8 years, whats the benfit in retaining colonial control vs the costs of doing so? Especially if it menas losing other territorial interests to the French and Spanish.

By 1781, the colonial economy (such as it was) had crashed...but the army was better trained and better off than it had been during the whole war and had just come off conventional victories at Cowpens and Yorktown. It wasnt looking better for the British after 8 years and better off not losing more lucrative possessions like the Caribbean islands or india.
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Old 19 Mar 12, 19:58
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Armed and hostile population with an active and spirited militia. The British were unprepared to deal with occupation beyond a few large ports. It was, after all, militia who bottled the British up in Boston and chased them back when they tried to patrol the interior. Twas militia who won the day at Bennington and stocked Gates army sufficiently to make him capable of bottling up Burgoyne at Saratoga. In 1780 when the British tried to occupy South Carolina, supply lines were constantly difficult. Communications required entire companies of cavalry. The militia drained them of money, supplies, and morale. On his departure to North Carolina in Jan 1781, Cornwallis instructed communication via patrols of 150 men or more. At Guilford, it was the VA militia who came on the scene and provided Greene with sufficient force to take on Cornwallis. Same with the rest of Greene's southern campaign. Without Pickens, Sumter, Marion, and Clarke there is no army with enough strength to take on Rawdon.
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Old 19 Mar 12, 20:16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
I may get scolded for this... The under researched or underpublished side of this are the various peacefeelers and back door negotiations, particularly from 1780 or 81. As I understand it the Rebels made it known they would not bar the British from further trade in the former colonies. To put it another way if the Brits gave up and negotiated independance sooner they would retain something akin to favored trade status. If they procrastinated the Rebels would be 'forced' to favor France. The North American colonies had been a major profit center for British merchants, banks, and investors. The opportunity to preserve at least part of that was too good a deal to pass up, even if it meant some sort of weird self government in those rebellious places.

Post Independance Britain remained the largest source of investment money via London Banks (tho not all that money was British origin), in the United States for many decades. Basically we rebels got the crowns tax collectors and monoply licences out and a continued flow of investment money.

Sweet

I am unsure what France got out of it.
That is perhaps the best confirmation of everything I've ever thought about, regarding the final settlement of the Revolutionary War. It makes perfect sense on all levels, especially in the most important realm of international trade. The British kept their most important source of whole goods trade, ie. cotton, hemp for ropes, food grains, pork, beef, mutton and fish, lumber and old growth, whole trees for ship's masts; all of which vital for keeping an international empire's ships on the high seas.
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Old 19 Mar 12, 23:16
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Britain with its proto centralized banking system was a far more efficent and attractive source of capitol for the US. France was a mess, with bankruptcy just around the corner, the Dutch or Ventians not what they used to be, and rest too fragmented and without enough of the long running connections that already existed between the Scots, English and former Scots & English. Where best to find investment money for plantations and cannals across the Appalacian Mountains? With a small Florintine of Hamburg banking house you have never done business with, or your earlier partners in London? there were opportunities for the others, but the London bankers held the best cards in this game. One can imagine their impatience as the suppression of the rebellion dragged. War was not so good for business
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Old 19 Mar 12, 23:24
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Elijah,

I beg to differ with you on the Militia. The British did not decide to vacate Boston until the heights around it received the cannon captured at Fort Ticonderoga. The American population was roughly divided into thirds. One third favored independence, one third wanted to stay under the crown, the rest wanted to be left alone by both sides!

At Saratoga Morgan and Arnold led mostly Continental troops reinforced by Militia. The Militia did do a nice job on the troops Burgoyne sent into Vermont.

In the Southern States the Militia tried to stop Cornwallis and got beat. The problem was the British thought they could hold the captured region without a road system and not enough civilians to forage off of. Cornwallis drove wherever he wanted until he decided it was time to evacuate. The Royal Navy failed him then at Yorktown. There it was the French Navy that trapped him and he was hemmed in by Continentals and French troops. There were some Militia there, the same guys he pushed through to get there.

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Old 20 Mar 12, 00:38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pruitt View Post
Elijah,

I beg to differ with you on the Militia. The British did not decide to vacate Boston until the heights around it received the cannon captured at Fort Ticonderoga. The American population was roughly divided into thirds. One third favored independence, one third wanted to stay under the crown, the rest wanted to be left alone by both sides!

At Saratoga Morgan and Arnold led mostly Continental troops reinforced by Militia. The Militia did do a nice job on the troops Burgoyne sent into Vermont.

In the Southern States the Militia tried to stop Cornwallis and got beat. The problem was the British thought they could hold the captured region without a road system and not enough civilians to forage off of. Cornwallis drove wherever he wanted until he decided it was time to evacuate. The Royal Navy failed him then at Yorktown. There it was the French Navy that trapped him and he was hemmed in by Continentals and French troops. There were some Militia there, the same guys he pushed through to get there.

Pruitt
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