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The American Revolution



Delegates to the Peace of Paris talks sit together at a long table.

The American Revolution is somewhat of an anomaly among wars that involve the use of guerilla tactics and ungainly militias, because it lasted for only 6 years. Though the British were highly trained and effective as a large machine-like unit, they had difficulty matching the territorial understanding and passion for the cause of the Americans. Also holding an important position in allowing a patriot victory were the French, who were primarily responsible for the surrender at Yorktown. After the conclusion of the war, several changes occured. First, the Peace of Paris granted land and sovereignty, second, the American economy experienced unsurity and instability, and third, women, African Americans, and Native Americans all experienced a shift in their positions in society.
The peace negotiations after the war took place in Paris, France. On November 30, 1782 a preliminary treaty was signed, and a final document was accepted on September 3 of the following year. Almost all requests by the Americans were met, with the exception of Canada. The new American territory stretched all the way west to the edge of Spanish territory, the Mississippi River. Other provisions appeared in the Treaty as well, such as the use of Canadian waters by American fishermen. The British were expected to leave behind all American-owned property for the new nation's use. This included slaves, but the controversial issue of the slave trade was carefully not brought up within the document. (Goldfield)
Because this was a full-scale war, massive quantities of supplies were required by both sides. The demand sent the prices up multiple times, and the continental paper money that had flooded the market was near worthless. (Goldfield) America also lost her primary trading partner, Britain, as well as the West Indies territory. When demand for war supplies suddenly fell, surplusses created more inflation and high unemployment rates in urban areas. Trade with other countries in the Mediterranean became more difficult, as pirate attacks were frequent without protection from the British navy. (History Central) The Revolutionary War caused the fragile American economy to become highly inflated and instable.
However, the war did create some advantages for the economy. For example, British limitations on American trade were no longer in place, allowing the marine merchant and manufacturing industries to mature unchecked. With the Proclamation Line no longer in existence, agriculture could grow and spread into even more fertile territory. (History Central) Though the war did some serious damage to the country's fledgling economy in some ways, it did, in fact, bolster it in others.
Women were also affected by the war. Property rights moved a little bit more within reach, as the men left and allowed the women to run the farm, home, or business, and sometimes combinations of the three. The idea of spheres of influence was just coming into play, and women, like Abigail Adams, hoped to have men remember that they too had talents and abilities beyond that of a simple housekeeper. (Goldfield) In the time following the Revolution, women were granted more than they ever had been in the past.
In the north, the Revolutionary War actually assisted in the freeing of slaves, since many had participated in the Continental Army. The South, of course, viewed slavery as fully necessary to the economy, and was not so willing to spare the free labor as the North was. Some African Americans served with the British in the hopes of obtaining freedom, and opted to leave with them at the conclusion. Many slaves chose to relocate to the British West Indies, and yet others still journied to Canada and Africa.
Native Americans also felt the pressure of change in the post-Revolutionary War time period. Since the Proclamation Line was no longer, white settlers began to flood what had previously been considered Native American territory. This caused conflict and strife with groups such as the Cherokees of the Appalachian Mountains and the Shawnees of Ohio. (Goldfield) Many Indians joined the British as they had done in the French and Indian War. Therefore America claimed that they had lost all rights by participating in the war on the losing side. For all practical purposes they were to be a conquered nation. (Washburn) They did not have a representative at the Peace of Paris, and felt that they had been no part of the surrender agreement. (Goldfield) The Revolution was truly destructive towards the Native American population as a whole.
After the conclusion of the war, it became necessary for a loosely binding government to hold the nation together, at least to a slight degree. The Articles of Confederation were created, allowing some power to a national legislature, but still retaining most at the state level. It was a compromise during a time when the nation was still finding its footing as an individual. The post-war time economy had its negatives and positives, and the minority groups were each affected in their own way by the battles. The conditions of the country and destroyed relationship with Britain set the stage for the next true conflict, the War of 1812.
Works Cited
"Economic State OF THE United States At The End Of The Revolutionary War." History Central. 18 June 2006. Online. Internet. Available
Goldfield, David and Carl Abbott, Virginia DeJohn Anderson, Jo Ann Argersinger, Peter Argersinger, William Barney, and Robert Weir. The American Journey: A History of the United States. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1998.
Washburn, Wilcomb E. "Indians and the American Revolution." 18 June 2006. Online. Internet. Available