American Revolution the Book by John Richard Term Paper

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American Revolution

The book by John Richard Alden, The American Revolution, is written in an interesting style; it reads like a novel in places, making it entertaining as well as informative. But more than that, it offers background into the political and social dynamics leading up to and into the Revolutionary War.

For example, on pages 16-17, Alden writes that in 1774, when sabers were rattling on both sides leading up to the Revolutionary War, and the tension was growing on both sides, there were men in the British House of Commons who "urged a policy of conciliation," but, "It was all to no purpose." That's because only a handful of votes could be "marshaled against the proposals of the ministry and the King" to get tough on the colonists; in fact, "most of the Lords, who spoke for themselves alone, obstinately followed the King and his cohorts."

King George III had convinced the Lords that force against the colonists was "necessary" (17), but whether that was the general feeling in England among most citizens was not clear. Meanwhile, clearly the mood in British Parliament was war-like and belligerent; legislation passed with ease putting the squeeze on the colonies. A bill that closed the Newfoundland fisheries to New Englanders -- and restricted their overseas trade of all goods to Great Britain and the British West Indies -- "was passed before the close of March" 1774, after being brought to the floor in February.

The Lords and the King were quite sure that Spain and France would join on the side of the colonists, and they were right in their foresight. The Earl of Sandwich -- whom the author called "that fabulous incompetent" -- made a rather foolhardy remark which questioned the courage and competence of the American soldiers, which Alden quoted on page 17-18. The Americans were "raw, undisciplined, cowardly men," he stated. "I wish instead of 40 or 50,000 of these brave fellows, they would produce in the field at least 200,000, the more the better ... If they didn't run away, they would starve themselves into compliance ... The very sound of a cannon would carry them off ... "

Contrary to that rhetoric from the Earl of Sandwich, the author notes on page 19 that Tomas Gage, the British military leader in the colonies, had sent "ominous warnings" to the King -- but Parliament had not received his messages of concern -- that "the Americans would fight well; that it would require a year or two and a large army to conquer New England alone." Gage also warned that "estimates of men," according to Alden, "and means to subdue the colonies as a whole should be made and then doubled." He wasn't believed by the Earl of Suffolk, who claimed Gage was "too far gone to be recovered."

Later in his book, in Chapter 7,-page 90, Alden reports that on July 2, 1776, there was a landing of "thousands of British regulars" on Staten Island, the same day as the Continental Congress formally cut all ties between American and England. And the way the British troops were building up -- General Howe now had 34,000 "well-equipped men under his command," plus "mountains of paraphernalia and foodstuffs" -- it was beginning to look like the beginning of the end for the patriots. But it seems from reading this book that the British made enough little blunders here and there to give the patriots a little more time, a little momentum, and eventually, those little mistakes added up.

For example, when British warships sailed into Charleston harbor, on June 4, 1776, and could have landed some serious blows to the American effort in the south, the British commander, Colonel Parker, was "incompetent" and unlucky. The sand bar prevented the…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Alden, John Richard. The American Revolution: 1775-1783. New York. Harper & Brothers,


Divine, Robert A.; Breen, T.H.; Fredrickson, George M.; & Williams, R. Hal. America Past and Present. New York: HarperCollins, 1995.

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