The British came to impose serious taxes as a result of the French Indian war. These in turn were unacceptable to a people which considered itself not to be responsible for the causes of the war. The confrontation had been in fact another matter of European dispute that had to be solved outside the continent in the colonies.
Third, there is a disagreement in the way in which the war was perceived at the local level. The American colonies viewed this struggle as a need for independence from a regime that continued to impose an undemocratic control over its institutions and the lives of the people. On the other hand, the British saw it as a rebellion that must be immediately squashed. In its view, it was a war for the maintenance of a certain order, while the Americans viewed it as one of disruption of this order. While the colonists fought a war of independence and of rebellion, the British sought to win a war that would keep the current situation unchanged.
Finally, another important issue is the fact that there were two distinctive views on government. In this sense, the colonies tried to address the issue of democracy under a system of representativeness and the rule of the people, the British tried to impose their imperial rule on the people. The colonists were the promoters of the free trade with the world, while the British supported the idea of the monopoly of trade with the colonies, inside the imperial system of trade. This would come to be a crucial matter largely due to the fact that it represented two different perspectives on internal control and foreign intervention.
Explain how Britain became diplomatically isolated, how American diplomacy was successful in gaining European support, and how this combination brought the War for Independence to a satisfactory conclusion
The effects of the American Revolution can be considered to have been immediate, especially in Europe. This is largely due to the actual causes of the revolution and to its outcome.
The first initial reaction of the defeat of the British forces was the ignorance of the troops coming back from the free colonies. In this sense, "For the British establishment and people the American Revolutionary War was a humiliating disgrace to be forgotten as quickly as possible. The soldiers who fought hard for 6 years to maintain the British Crown returned home to find themselves ignored. Victories such as Long Island and Brandywine do not appear as battle honors on any regimental colors." (British Battles, n.d.) the reaction was not unexpected. From the point-of-view of the British Army it had been unconceivable to lose the war, especially considering the important military forces they had at their disposal. Nonetheless, the enthusiasm of the colonists as well as the strategies applied by the American fighters allowed them to win the war and gain independence.
The diplomatic reactions were as well expected. The United States had fought a war based on the new ideas and premises of the liberal thought. In France, new beliefs on the equality of men, his inherited rights, and the civil rights promoted by the Constitution made the French in particular acknowledge the revolutionary effort achieved by the colonists. At the same time, the new leaders of the free colonies were advocating a new political direction in the sense that it was time for the people to have control of their lives and not state institutions.
The American diplomacy was successful in rallying the support of the French particularly because the French had been constant rivals with the British. In this sense, "the leaders in Philadelphia decided to risk their fortunes with the French. France, they perceived, would determine the outcome: it was disposed to help, although not to enter the contest. "We must cultivate her good disposition, draw from her all that we can, and in the end their [the French] private aid must assist us to establish peace or inevitably draw them in as parties to the war" (Toth, 1989, 183). Therefore, the U.S. decided to benefit from the struggles between the two continental rivals and to get the support from one which in general terms followed similar lines of thought as the colonists.
Finally, an important aspect must be taken into account. The American Revolution was not simply a matter of local affairs. More importantly, it benefited from the support of other countries such as Ireland, or Italy (Toth, 1989). This was due to the fact that there were immigrants in the colonies who wanted to get away from the rule of the British Empire. In the end, this support would prove to be decisive not necessarily for the way in which the war eventually ended but for the aftermath. More and more people came to identify themselves with the principles promoted by the Revolution which clearly were in disagreement with the imperial desires of the British Crown. This in turn would attract a diplomatic isolation of the Empire, one that would not however hinder its place in Europe.
Brainard, R. (2005) "Shays' Rebellion." 18th century history. 11 June 2008. http://www.history1700s.com/articles/article1120.shtml
British Battles. (N.d.) the War of the Revolution 1775 to 1783. Accessed 11 June 2008 http://www.britishbattles.com/american-revolution.htm
Calliope. (2008) "Shays' Rebellion." A Historical Synopsis. 11 June 2008. http://www.calliope.org/shays/shays2.html
Jenkins, P. (1997) a history of the United States. New York: Palgrave.
Middlekauff, R. (1985) the Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789. New York: Oxford University Press..
Toth, C.W. (1989) Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite: The American Revolution & the European Response. Whitston Publishing: New York.