AP US - Pd. 5
30 March, 2011
The American Revolution
Between 1775 and 1787, Americans engaged in a conflict that was part, and to some degree a
cause, of what historians have come to call an “age of revolutions.”
The immediate goals of this
was to win a war, make a peace, and create ideologically sound,
stable governments on both the state and national levels.
By the end of the era, there was little
doubt that they had accomplished the first two of their goals, but serious questions were being
raised concerning the success of the last.
Despite problems that would have stopped lesser men,
George Washington and his army had been able to keep the British at bay, winning when they
could and losing as seldom as possible.
Meanwhile, the Continental Congress, blessed with
some remarkable diplomats, maintained a foreign policy, the success of which can be seen in the
Franco-American Alliance of 1778 and the Treaty of Paris of 1783.
But once the war ended, the
government that the British threat had held together found that its member states' willingness
to centralize power created more problems than it solved.
Economic dislocation plagued the
nation, as many thoughtful men searched for a way to transform Revolutionary rhetoric into
reality and to restore order without sacrificing liberty.
Among those taking a special interest in
how this would be accomplished were women, African Americans, Native Americans and other
Points for Discussion:
How did conflicts and rivalries among European nations both help and hinder the
American struggle for independence?
2. Which groups of Americans were the most likely to remain loyal to England and
3. Initially, most Americans believed they were fighting for a redress of grievances
within the British Empire. Why, then, did they change their minds and issue the
Declaration of Independence in 1776?
4. Discuss the overall philosophy of the Declaration of Independence. Who was the
intended audience for the document? What “rights” did it offer as a justification for
revolution? What made it a compelling expression of ideas that had already been
circulating in the colonies?
Compare and contrast the British and American conduct of the war. How did each
side propose to “win”? How realistic was each side’s assessment of the other? How
did each prewar assessment influence the ultimate outcome of the war?
6. On the basis of the text section titled “Debating the Past,” outline the schools of
thought regarding the causes of the American Revolution. Define each school of
thought. Which, if any, seems to be
the most intellectually satisfying to you and
why? Do you think the text subscribes to one of the schools of thought? Why or why