• Unit 4: The American Revolution: Ideas and Experience

    By the mid-eighteenth century, Britain had colonies and trading posts across the globe. It emerged victorious from the Seven Years' War (1756–1763), but the war had pushed it to impose new taxes on its American colonies. Resistance from the colonists eventually led to revolution and the creation of the United States when they replaced their calls for greater local control of trade and taxes, with demands for independence and democratic institutions that would help govern a new nation.

    While the American Revolution (1775–1783) brought complete separation from Britain, the colonists struggled to agree on which institutions and values should structure the newly-independent state. During the revolution their leaders debated the nature of freedom and government, the best way to structure the state, the proper relationship between religion and politics, and other important topics. Their views reflected their fundamental beliefs and assumptions about human nature. In this unit, we explore the American revolutionary experience, the creation of the United States, and the ideas and ideals that helped shape this time of rapid political and social transformation.

    Completing this unit should take you approximately 9 hours.

    • 4.1: How to Study the American Revolution

    • 4.2: Timeline and Key Problems of the Revolutionary Era

    • 4.3: England and the American Colonies

    • 4.4: Colonial Resistance

    • 4.5: From Resistance to War and Independence

    • 4.6: Competing Visions of the New State and the Constitution

    • 4.7: The Republic of Letters – Ideals, Principles, and Goals of the American Revolution

    • 4.8: Outcomes and Legacies: The American Political System and Historical Memory

    • Unit 4 Assessment