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essay - The formation of the American Republic was a...

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-1 The formation of the American Republic was a revolutionary and momentous occasion in American history. At the time of the Declaration of Independence, the 13 colonies were disparate places, some consisting of staple farmers, aristocracy and slaves, others consisting of merchants, shipbuilders and fisherman. What bound those 13 colonies together was the feeling of oppression by Britain that was in full effect in the years leading up to the American Revolution. Due to the economic and political hardships which had been imposed upon the American colonials by the mother country, Americans found the need to form their own government and pushed brazenly forward towards independence. In the first four days of July, 1776, free American men declared that it had become necessary to dissolve the political bands which had connected them with Britain and create their own country 1 . While it easy to create a heroic and romantic image of the founding fathers of the American Republic as freedom fighters, railing against the tyranny of Britain, it must be extensively noted that much of the strive towards independence had to do with money. By 1760, a debt of 4,000,000 pounds was owed to British merchants by Americans, the majority of which was owed by those living in the Southern colonies 2 . A significant portion of the money owed by Southerners was based on the sale of future crops as a form of later payment for their debt, and the South had become very reliant on manufactured goods from Britain and the Northern colonies, as there was little industry in the South 3 . The Mercantilist system used by Britain to administrate her colonies was beneficial to the American colonies in some ways, as it provided them a global market on which to sell their goods, but it created a state of Colonial subservience to the Crown and 1 Paraphrased from the Declaration of Independence as found here:Cornel Lengyel, Four Days in July: The Story Behind the Declaration of Independence. (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company Inc., 1958), 317 2 John C. Miller, Origins of the American Revolution (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1943), 9 3 Ibid., 15
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the rich merchants of England. In the years leading up to the war, it is estimated that roughly 75 percent of profit from tobacco, the lifeblood of the Southern plantation owner, was ending up in the pockets of the British through shipping costs, taxes and commissions 4 . In addition, the mercantilist policies of Britain crippled American industry, prohibiting the creation of iron and steel mills necessary for manufacturing 5 This mercantilist system did not entirely hinder the colonies however, and many of the laws prohibiting certain kinds of trade were breached with smuggling or other illicit activities. Indeed, America was a happy country for the most part and in the years leading up to the revolution any talk of independence would have been unheard of, but the creation of new restrictive laws would rouse the rebel in the average American citizen and push him towards armed conflict.
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