George Washington Before the Presidency Term Paper
- Length: 10 pages
- Sources: 5
- Subject: American History
- Type: Term Paper
- Paper: #50784867
Excerpt from Term Paper :
Not only did King George remove the self-government rights of the American colonists, but he also reduced those colonists to a status that was even lower than his loyal British subjects (Harvey & O'Brien, 2004). They did not even have the same rights has the average and common British citizen. Some of these rights that the Americans suddenly found themselves lacking were rights to appropriate taxation, trial by jury, and control over their own homes so that soldiers who needed to sleep somewhere for the night during wartime could not simply barge in and insist that they would sleep there through the night (Harvey & O'Brien, 2004). Basically, because of King George's revocation of the American rights to self-government, the American people no longer had any rights at all, and were once again controlled solely by the British (Richardson, 2003). It seems likely that King George was trying to punish the Americans for moving forward and starting to slowly sever ties with England. Giving up control of the colonists was not something he was prepared to do.
The colonists in America had no representation in the British government, and they were denied a vote in the Parliament (Harvey & O'Brien, 2004). King George also shut down the Boston ports and made sure that British officials were tried in Britain, not America, if they were assumed guilty of a crime. King George spent most of his reign alternately ignoring the colonies and treating them as though they were small children who needed punishment (Ferling, 2000). He ignored them for quite some time, until he realized that they were beginning to go their own way. In an effort to reconcile them to Britain, he began punishing them. What he failed to realize was that this only caused them to pull further away from Britain, and would never bring King George the unity that he was looking for (Richardson, 2003).
General George Washington saw this, and many others saw it, too. Washington was tapped to be a leader because of his honorable qualities, but also because of his social and economic abilities (Harvey & O'Brien, 2004). When he married Martha, he inherited much of the wealth that she had. He gained a lot of land and money, and he also gained a lot of prestige in the community (Harvey & O'Brien, 2004). He did not marry her for this reason, but it came as an added benefit. It helped him win the Presidency, but before that it helped him gain respect and other needed attributes so that he could play an important part in the American Revolution (Harvey & O'Brien, 2004).
One of the largest economic causes was the unfavorable trade balance between the colonies in America and the mother country of England (Harvey & O'Brien, 2004). The American colonists were purchasing goods and services from England, and many of them were encouraged to use these raw materials that they received to make finished goods for themselves and for resale to the mother country (Richardson, 2003). While this sounded like a good deal, the exchange rates between England and America were in favor of the English (Hacker, 1940). In other words, individuals who made goods with the things they bought from England were finding that they could not resell these goods at a high enough rate to make much money from them. They made a little bit of money, but it was not much compared to what they had hoped to make.
Because of this, English capitalists had more than four million pounds invested in the tobacco in the southern region of the Americas. Because the tobacco farmers then owed England a great deal of money for the investment capital, they were constantly forced to keep expanding their agricultural areas, as well as engaging in other activities, such as the fur trade, to meet their debts and obligations to the people of England (Hacker, 1940). While Washington and others like him who had enough money were not struggling through tough times, he knew many people that were, prompting him to be aware of just how serious the situation was becoming between England and America (Harvey & O'Brien, 2004).
Unfortunately for the northern colonies, they could not grow large amounts of tobacco to sell to England. Instead, they provided lumber, furs, iron, and other items which the English needed. Many of the things that the northern colonies could provide, however, were things that were not needed by England (Harvey & O'Brien, 2004). For example, the northern colonies could not send any of their livestock to England, lest it disturb the agricultural industry in the mother country. The unfair balance of trade between England and America, though, soon took its toll on many of the American settlers, both financial and emotionally, as well as physically (Hacker, 1940).
It was not just the imbalance in the trade prices that caused economic problems between England and America (Harvey & O'Brien, 2004). There were also many taxes that were placed on such items as tea and paper. Many of these items were used by the American colonists on a daily basis, and it became difficult for them to afford these commonalities because of the extent of tax that England had placed upon their shipments. Eventually, the colonists decided to present a united front to England (Harvey & O'Brien, 2004). They boycotted all British products. The merchants in England lost a great deal of money because of these boycotts, and they turned their wrath and displeasure on King George who had ordered the extensive taxation in the first place (Richardson, 2003). When the British people started to turn on King George and he started to lose some of his power, this was when the American colonists knew that it was time for them to make their break. If they did not do it then, they may never get the chance to do it (Harvey & O'Brien, 2004).
Social causes did not play as large of a factor in the American Revolution as did political and economic causes, but it is still important to be aware of the fact that the American people had changed a great deal since they had left Britain several years ago (Harvey & O'Brien, 2004). They had made their way in a new world, and they had survived it. They were beginning to feel as though they were free, even though they knew deep in their hearts that they were not (the Revolution, 2003; Harvey & O'Brien, 2004). Even knowing about the lack of freedom, they wanted the freedom, and many of them - Washington included - were beginning to feel that they needed to find a way to gain the freedom that they were strongly desiring (Harvey & O'Brien, 2004).
The American colonists had changed their perspective on life a great deal in the time that they had been in the new world (Ferling, 2000). Their social interactions with others were quite different than they would have been in the mother country. In the American colonies, everyone was more or less equal. Everyone worked and did their share, and everyone worked to elect the government that ruled the people (Harvey & O'Brien, 2004). Social class was not as important as it was in England, and the Americans begin to look at themselves as simply Americans and not divided into specific classes based on how they were raised or how much money their families had (the Revolution, 2003). Washington was aware of this as well. He was interested in the social status and the freedom that money brought him, but he also did not feel that he was better than others because of it. He was mostly a humble and honorable man, and he was interested in helping others and his country, instead of just himself.
As can be seen from an examination of the political, economic, and social causes of the American Revolution, many things contributed to it, and George Washington's role in it was very strong and important (Harvey & O'Brien, 2004). Whether or not it would have happened eventually anyway is a matter for historians to continually debate, and they will likely do so. It seems as though it would have eventually occurred, simply because the American colonists were moving toward freedom anyway. By living far away from England, they began to see themselves as a separate entity, and that set the stage for their desire to be on their own (Harvey & O'Brien, 2004). Whatever the reasons, the American Revolution gave the American people the start on the freedoms that they enjoy today in the country, and was undoubtedly fought with bravery and courage.
George Washington was thought to be one of the bravest individuals who was involved in the American Revolution. He lost some battles, but he won many more than he lost, and his men were very loyal to him, despite the adverse conditions that they often found themselves in during many…