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Anonymous historystu
2 weeks ago
In what ways did the American Revolution reshape social and economic structures in the colonies? How did the war impact different social classes and marginalized groups, and what lasting changes emerged as a result?

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2 weeks ago

The American Revolution (1775-1783) was a conflict between 13 British colonies in North America and their parent country, Great Britain. It was made up of two related events: the American War of Independence (1775-1783) and the formation of the American government as laid out by the Constitution of the United States in 1787. First, the war achieved independence from Great Britain by the colonies. Second, the newly created United States of America established a republican form of government, in which power resided with the people.

The ideals of liberty and equality, though not universally applied, chipped away at rigid social hierarchies. Wealth and status became less tied to birthright and more to individual merit. The war itself also created economic opportunities, with wartime industries and privateering enriching some. However, the revolution's impact wasn't equal. While some slaves saw a chance to escape to British lines, the institution itself remained largely intact. Similarly, Native Americans were often caught in the crossfire and lost land as westward expansion accelerated. The revolution's lasting legacy was a complex one: a more democratic society, a booming (but unequal) economy, and the unresolved question of slavery, which would eventually tear the nation apart.

You may want to summarize the following text which I obtained from an Encyclopedia regarding the social division is caused:

The contrast between the rich and the poor was stark in the colonial cities. In 1774 about 29 percent of the adult men in Boston possessed no taxable property at all. These men were wage earners, working for others. They lived in the back of shops, taverns, or rented rooms. Since they had little or no property, they could not vote, and thus lacked direct political power.

Next in social rank were the artisans and small shopkeepers. Constituting almost half of a town’s population, they owned about one-third of the total wealth. Shopkeepers had once dominated town life, but their political and social influence had waned with the rise of wealthy merchants. Artisans feared a similar decline in their position; the influx of British manufactures might destroy their small businesses, reducing them to the status of property-less wage laborers. As threatened social groups, artisans and shopkeepers were vital to the revolutionary upheaval. They took the strongest stand against the new British measures of taxation and control. They also challenged the political domination of the merchants and lawyers.

Urban merchants also played key leadership roles in American resistance. By 1770 these men, about 10 percent of the taxpayers, owned from 50 to 60 percent of the total wealth of these towns. Their wealth also gave them much prestige and enabled them, and their lawyer allies who handled complex commercial transactions, to dominate political life.

The gap between rich and poor was much narrower in the farming regions of the Northern colonies. However, even in rural communities, where most Americans lived, social differences were increasing. Inequality was especially apparent in areas where crops were raised for sale, rather than just for subsistence. For example, in the Southern colonies, great disparity existed between plantation farmers who grew rice and tobacco on a large scale and family farmers who grew food to feed themselves. In both the North and the South these differences divided farming communities.

In 1775 it was not clear whether the many divisions within American society—among racial and ethnic groups, religious denominations, and social classes—and the fragmented character of colonial political institutions would prevent a unified movement for independence. But it was increasingly apparent that the battle with Britain for American home rule would also involve a struggle among Americans over which people would rule in the new country.
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