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The American Revolution

The Causes and Consequences

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POLITICAL CAUSES
ECONOMIC CAUSES
POSITIVE CONSEQUENCES
NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES
BIBLIOGRAPHY
THE NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

1. AMERICA DIVIDED OVER THE WAR

Although most Americans were not happy about the British taxation laws, the country was divided about the war. Most historians estimate that about one fifth of the population were loyalists, two fifths were ardent patriots, and the rest were neutral. The divisions cut across geographical, social, an economic lines. The differences separating a Patriot from a Loyalist were unclear but feelings were nonetheless bitter. Individual Loyalists were often set upon by mobs, tarred and feathered and otherwise abused. Some were thrown into jail for no legitimate reason; others were exiled and their property confiscated. Battles between Tory units and the Continental Army were often exceptionally bloody. Neighbor was against neighbor, father against son, and son against father. This really caused a great division among the colonists even after the war.

2. MONETARY COST

The war also proved to be a very expensive undertaking. The war as a joint effort between the Congress and the states. Congress financed Washington’s Continental Army; and the states supported various militia groups for short-term service. The states contributed $5.8 million in cash to the cause and they met Congress’s demands for beef, corn, rum, fodder, and other military supplies. The Congress also borrowed a lot of money to finance the war, estimated at about $8 million. Americans bought bonds worth between $7 and $8 million during the war. Congress also issued more than $240 million in paper money, the states over $200 million more. The currency fell rapidly in value, causing an inflation that caused a lot of hardship and complaints from the people who, in effect, paid much of the cost of the war through the depreciation of their savings.

3. INITIAL COMMERCIAL PROBLEMS

The revolution also freed American trade from the restrictions of British mercantilism. Although, it proved to be a mixed blessing, the commercial benefits described by Thomas Paine in "Common Sense" did not materialize right away. Even though Americans could now trade directly with Europe, it brought economic losses of a much larger magnitude.

British merchants who were eager to regain markets closed to them during the revolution shipped goods of all kinds into the United States. Americans took advantage of the bargains which aggravated the situation because the economy had suffered a big blow from the war.

4. ECONOMIC DEPRESSION

After the war ended there were major debts that Congress could not pay. This undermined public confidence on the new government. Congress owed money from veterans who fought the war, private individuals, and foreign governments. It did not help that the foreign governments who lent money to America to finance the war was now demanding repayment.

Because of the depression, the individual states refused to pay Congress their dues. At the same time, the states had to charge their residents high property taxes to help pay for their own war debts. People all over America became hard-pressed for cash.

A movement to give the Confederation power to tax imports and impose a five percent tariff duty failed in Congress because it required the unanimous consent of the states. This would have enabled Congress to pay off some of its obligations.

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