Who benefited most from the American Revolution and its immediate aftermath?

In some ways, the British benefited the most in areas where the Indians fought for them. The Indians did not commit any massacres or tortures against British soldiers or civilians.

The Patriots, on the other hand, emerged victorious from the Revolution, obtaining independence, representative government, and a flood of new civil liberties and freedoms. 

The Loyalists, or Tories, were the Revolution’s losers since they backed the Crown. However, from a longer-term perspective, the Americans profited more.

The Thirteen Colonies created sovereign states that beat the British during the American Revolutionary War.

They gained freedom from the British Crown and established the United States of America’s constitution. It was the first constitutional liberal democracy in the modern period.

The taxation of American colonists by the British Parliament, a body in which they had no direct representation, was a source of contention.

Before the 1760s, Britain’s American colonies maintained a great degree of internal autonomy, regulated by colonial legislatures on a local level.

The Stamp Act of 1765 levied internal taxes on official documents, periodicals, and most everything produced in the colonies, resulting in colonial outrage and the formation of the Stamp Act Congress, which brought together members from different provinces.

The revolution had both short- and long-term consequences. The establishment of state constitutions in 1776 and 1777 was perhaps the most important immediate effect of proclaiming independence.

The revolution also released tremendous political, social, and economic forces that would reshape post-Revolutionary politics and society, including expanded political and governance engagement, legal codification of religious tolerance, and population expansion and dissemination.

The revolution had a tremendous impact on women’s lives in the nascent United States of America in the near term.

The revolution would have far-reaching consequences for both enslaved people and free blacks and the institution of slavery itself.

It also impacted Native Americans, as it allowed for western settlement and the formation of governments hostile to their territorial claims. The revolution ended the mercantilist economy, allowing for new trade and manufacturing prospects.

Aftermath

A collection of public domain images of the American Revolutionary War, together in a montage
A collection of public domain images of the American Revolutionary War, together in a montage

Following the Revolutionary War, there was a period of instability and transition. The collapse of monarchical control, changing administrative institutions, religious fragmentation, family system problems, economic upheaval, and enormous population shifts increased insecurity and uncertainty. 

Although the states had unified politically under the Articles of Confederation in 1777, they did not exist as one country.

Each state maintained its sovereignty and was governed by its constitution. Congress battled to keep the states united, and there were often conflicts of interest.

Slavery would have been abolished sooner, or the treatment of indigenous people would be just if the American Revolution had not occurred, which shows a high level of historical naivete.

Indeed, it is far more likely that Native Americans’ conditions would have remained unchanged without the American Revolution, and slave emancipation in the British West Indies would have been significantly delayed.

The state of European colonists throughout the British empire, not just those who became the United States, would have deteriorated.

Genuinely democratic politics became conceivable in the former American colonies after the revolution.  People’s rights have been enshrined in state constitutions. 

Liberty, individual rights, equality among men, and anti-corruption sentiments became ingrained as essential liberal republican beliefs.

The greatest threat to Europe’s old order was the challenge to hereditary political authority and the democratic principle that government is founded on the consent of the governed. 

Many other colonial peoples saw the example of the first successful revolution against a European empire.

It also saw the first successful establishment of a republican form of a democratically elected government. They realized that they, too, could break away and become self-governing nations with a directly elected representative government.

See also  Top 10 accomplishments of Woodrow Wilson

Benefits brought by the American Revolution

The First Abolition

Four generations of a slave family South Carolina
Four generations of a slave family in South Carolina

Before the American Revolution, slavery was lawful in every New World colony, British or otherwise, and practically every colony had enslaved persons.

Though enslaved people made up a far higher fraction of Georgia’s population, over twice as many Africans were enslaved in the province of New York as in Georgia as late as 1770.

Nonetheless, by 1804 all northern states had achieved outright abolition or gradual emancipation due to the revolution’s liberated spirit.

Vermont was the first state to remove adult slavery in 1777, despite its participation in the revolution. It remained an independent republic until 1791, when it was allowed to join the union. 

Slavery was likewise abolished in the Northwest Territory by the Confederate Congress in 1786. Parliament did not wholly and formally dissolve the institution in the mother country until 1833.

Human bonding was attacked by the revolution, even in the southern colonies. Several southern states outlawed the importation of slaves and eased the practically universal prohibition on masters freeing their slaves.

Separation of Church and State 

North Congregational Church in Farmington Hills, Michigan
North Congregational Church in Farmington Hills, Michigan

The revolutionary separation of religion and state was more pronounced in the South than in the North, unlike in the case of slavery.

Although the British colonies had a relatively high level of religious tolerance before the revolution, just four of the thirteen colonies, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, had no established, tax-supported church.

Due to the revolution, the Anglican Church was disestablished in the five other southern states and New York.

The United States was the first to separate church and state on a national level with the constitution’s ratification and then the First Amendment. 

On the other hand, several New England states kept their established Congregational Churches, with Massachusetts being the last to abandon tax funding in 1833 entirely.

Republican Governments 

First page of an original copy of the twelve proposed articles of amendment, as passed by Congress
The first page of an original copy of the twelve proposed articles of amendment, as passed by Congress

Almost all of the former colonies adopted written state constitutions due to the revolution, establishing republican governments with constraints on governmental power codified in bills of rights.

Only Rhode Island and Connecticut kept their colonial charters, albeit with slight changes. 

The franchise was frequently enlarged by new state constitutions, with Vermont being the first jurisdiction to establish universal male suffrage without regard to property conditions or color.

The former colonies’ penal rules were reformed, making them less harsh and eliminating such barbaric physical punishments as ear-cropping and branding, which were still extensively used in Britain. 

Virginia’s capital offenses were reduced from twenty-seven to murder and treason.

Feudalism and aristocracy were being extinguished

An early 20th century representation of Loyalists fleeing to British Canada
An early 20th-century representation of Loyalists fleeing to British Canada

Quit- rents, a feudal land tax paid to colonial proprietors or the Crown, were due in all colonies outside of New England and had now been abolished.

Primogeniture (the only right of succession to the firstborn son) and entail (the restriction of selling, breaking up, or transferring an estate to someone outside the family) were abolished in all new states, either by statute or statute constitutional provisions.

This removed inefficient feudal encumbrances on land titles. Still, it also dealt a blow to male power and the patriarchal family by undermining traditional succession patterns and facilitating the rights of daughters and widows to own property.

Even the heinous treatment of Loyalists during the revolution led to the weakening of feudal rights in a roundabout way. All of the new states enacted legislation taking Loyalist property. 

The confiscations entailed a redistributionist land reform because many properties were proprietary grants to royal placement.

Employees no longer addressed their bosses as “master” or “mistress,” preferring the less subservient Dutch term “boss instead.” Men began to use the title “Mr.,” which had previously been reserved for the gentry.

Even though these were merely cultural shifts, they mirrored and reinforced the decline of coercive support for hierarchy in a self-reinforcing loop.

Indentured servitude for immigrants faded after the revolution. Most governments abolished legal sanctions imposing long-term labor contracts for residents, giving rise to the current system of free labor, in which most workers (save the military) can quit at any time.

See also  Top 10 accomplishments of John Adams

Impacts on Britain

A 1789 depiction of the Boston Tea Act Party
A 1789 depiction of the Boston Tea Act Party

Throughout most of their early existence, the British colonies in North America were subjected to a benign imperial government, which Edmund Burke referred to as “salutary indifference.” 

The mercantilist restrictions imposed by the United Kingdom were either not strictly enforced or were non-binding.

However, as the population grew in the colonies and its importance to the British economy in the mid-eighteenth century, imperial officials tightened control over the colonies.

Finally, in 1763, after the Seven Years’ War (also known as the French and Indian War in the colonies), when the British drove the French out of North America, this clique enacted a new colonial policy.

Unfortunately for the British, the Proclamation line alienated future American nationalists, causing them to ally with the radicals.

Great land speculators like Franklin and Washington had admired the British empire and backed its expansion enthusiastically until then.

But now, they were being denied the benefits of a victory to which they had contributed during the recent battle. 

The sentence in the Proclamation did not indicate that Native Americans would be treated better.

After all, the British army had helped incite and then crushed Pontiac’s Indian revolt after France had abandoned the region, using smallpox-infected blankets to spread sickness during the siege of Fort Pitt. 

With the defeat of the French, any actual check on settler aggression against indigenous peoples in North America had vanished.

Following the Proclamation of 1763, the colonies and the mother country experienced three crises in quick succession: the first over the Stamp Act (1765-1766), the second over the Townshend Duties (1767-1770), and the third over the Tea Act (1767-1770). (1773).

The first two featured British attempts to impose increased taxes on colonists, which sparked demonstrations and resistance from the colonists.

Colonial opposition to the Tea Act is perplexing because the act did not impose a direct tax on the colonists. Instead, it was virtually a financial bailout for the British East India Company, the classic mercantilist monopoly.

Before the act’s passing, the corporation had to sell its tea only in London, where it had to pay a duty. Private merchants would acquire tea destined for export and eventual sale in North America. 

Therefore, the colonists were forced to pay an extra tea import tax, the only Townshend Duty that was not repealed by 1770.

The corporation was awarded a monopoly on the re-shipment of tea to the colonies and a tariff refund under the Tea Act. As a result, the act had the paradoxical effect of lowering tea prices.

Despite this, the colonists defied the Tea Act for various reasons. Radicals, opposing legal tea importation, saw the legislation as a clever trick to persuade colonists to embrace Parliamentary taxes.

The act harmed American merchants, not just those who imported tea lawfully but also those who did it illegally, because it lowered the price of Dutch tea.

Global Impacts

Hierarchy of power under the Constitutional Act 1791
Hierarchy of power under the Constitutional Act 1791

The benefit of the American Revolution on the spread of liberal and revolutionary values worldwide is extensively documented. 

Its success sparked anti-monarchical, democratic, and independence movements in France and the Netherlands, Belgium, Geneva, Ireland, and Saint Domingue, the French sugar island (modern Haiti).

Before the revolution, the imperial authorities were more hesitant to impose the strict authoritarian control they attempted. They gradually came to terms with settlement demands for autonomy and self-government.

In short, the revolution resulted in two distinct types of British imperialism: one for indigenous peoples and another for European colonizers.

In Canada, this was instantly apparent. Quebec was separated into two colonies, Upper and Lower Canada, by Parliament’s Constitutional Act of 1791, each elected assembly. Quit-rents were also abolished as a result of the act.

See also  How did the Industrial Revolution change American society?

Surprisingly, the migration of American Loyalists, many of whom admired republican principles although opposing independence, contributed to these developments.

With a half-New England population, Nova Scotia had a representative assembly as early as 1758. The advent of the revolution forced the royal governor to suggest reforms to keep the colony loyal.

Three times as many Loyalists arrived in Nova Scotia as in Quebec, resulting in the division of New Brunswick in 1784 with its assembly.

Although Australia began as a penal colony under autocratic rule upon British colonization in 1788, activism for representative democracy began early and culminated with the Australian Colonies Government Act of 1850.

British New Zealand was once part of the Australian colony of New South Wales, but it was split apart in 1849 and given its government three years later.

In 1806 the British established a long-term dominance over South Africa. The Cape Colony had its parliament by 1854.

Even as the Revolutionary War raged, the slave colonies of the British West Indies asserted co-equality with the British House of Commons through colonial assemblies.

This takes us back to slavery. Slavery was abolished in Britain and its colonies by a Parliamentary act passed in 1833, which took effect in 1834, except for regions held by the East India Company.

The passage of the act was aided by a significant slave uprising in Jamaica two years prior and a close symbiotic relationship between American and British abolitionists.

The only way Britain could have kept all of its American colonies would have been to make political concessions to colonial elites. 

If cotton, tobacco, rice, and sugar planters in the United States had remained under British authority, they would have undoubtedly merged with West Indian sugar planters, forming a far more powerful pro-slavery lobby.

Furthermore, by 1833, American cotton had overtaken Caribbean sugar as an essential commodity in the British economy. 

In the early 19th century, cotton cultivation in the United States reversed what little anti-slavery sentiment had emerged in the southern states during the revolution. Causing slaveholders to stop apologizing for slavery and begin defending it as a positive good.

Slavery would have continued in North America and the West Indies after 1834 and possibly even after 1865 if the United States had not gained independence.

In truth, despite all of its evident expenses and excesses, the American Revolution resulted in significant net gains not only for citizens of the newly established United States but also, in the long term, for people all over the world.

Conclusion

Any revolution that benefits a significant portion of the people will confront severe free-rider issues. Another example is the American Revolution.

The answer is plain about who benefited the most from the American Revolution and its immediate aftermath: patriot American colonists.

American patriots were successful in toppling British power in the 13 colonies of North America due to the glorious revolution.

The demise of British colonial rule provided a new path for Americans to achieve self-government. After the founders founded the United States of America, it benefited them significantly on various levels, including political, economic, and religious.

Before the American Revolution, the supremacy of the British Parliament and King made it nearly impossible for the American people to engage in their administration meaningfully. 

The event, on the other hand, entirely dissolved the impasse.

On the economic front, the revolution shattered British mercantile rule and created new opportunities for local firms to thrive while adhering to democratic principles.

On the religious front, the British government historically utilized a variety of discriminatory religious laws to widen religious divides in the 13 colonies, particularly between Catholics and Protestants.

However, these rules became neutral when the revolution ended, establishing the United States of America as a secular nation.

Leave a Comment