Modern World History 2.7 The American Revolution

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threw a little money at their local

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legislatures now and then, but they otherwise

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ignored the taxes imposed on them by Big

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Brother Britain. You know one of those

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classic "la la la la, I can't hear you"

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situations, yeah. And they got away with

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it, too, until 1754. That was the year the

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French and Indian war started in North

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America. That was the one where colonists

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were fighting, yep, the French and the

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Indians. Well, we call them Native

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Americans now, but being PC wasn't

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exactly the strong suit of the 1700s.

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Anyway, while the American colonists put

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their trust in Natty Bumppo's bad self to

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save them, it was actually the British

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Army that stepped up and did a lot of

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the fighting. Classic big brother. By 1763,

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the Brits had won the war, but at great

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cost. Literally. And who better to pay for

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the war than the people the British had

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been protecting? That's right, the

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American colonists got stiffed with a

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bill for the French and Indian War. They

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were less than pleased. You know, they

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were expecting at least to go Dutch on

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this one. Well, as Parliament imposed more

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and more taxes on the American colonies

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to pay for the war, the American

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colonists became more and more furious. Though, to be fair, many of these taxes were

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already in place in England and its other

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colonies around the world. But who has

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time to think about other people when

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you're watching your piggy bank drain

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like an hourglass? Well, if the colonists

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were going to have to hand it all over--

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their beloved cash--to their big brother,

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well then they ought to at least have

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some representation in Parliament, right?

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The concept is so simple it even rhymes.

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Can't argue with a rhyme, but England did.

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The Americans were as familiar with the

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ideas of the Age of Enlightenment as

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their brethren in Europe, but what really

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lit a revolutionary fire under their

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bottoms was when writers like Thomas

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Paine took all these ideas about how

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government should work and said, "Hey, we

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could do this whole democracy thing

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right here, right now." Crazy, right? In the

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end, the American colonists wanted

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representation and accountability from

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the British government, and they didn't

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get it. So, the revolution began. Take

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notes, kids. When your big brother doesn't

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give you what you want,

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its revolution time. What? It was your

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turn to play Xbox, it's only fair. Well,

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the result of the revolution, the brand

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spankin' new United States of America,

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wasn't, in retrospect, the most equal of

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nations. Women got the short end of the

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stick, so did minorities, and our country

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still hasn't recovered from the whole

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slavery mishap. But in the 18th century,

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the establishment of the United States

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was as radical as Miley Cyrus swinging

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across our screens naked on a wrecking

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ball. All of a sudden, people all over the

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world wanted revolution too. Okay, so maybe

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that's not the best analogy. We don't

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exactly know anybody who climbed on

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construction equipment to copy Miley. But

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countries did copy the US. In 1791, slaves

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on the island of Haiti revolted. 12 years

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later, they kicked the French out and

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formed their own state. In 1789, the

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French rose up against the monarchy. By

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the end of 1793, king Louis XVI's

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head was in a basket, and Marie Antoinette

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could no longer make pithy comments

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about, you know, letting them eat cake.

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Well, twenty years after the French Reign

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of Terror, Simon Bolivar was working hard

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to free Venezuela from Spain. He would go

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on to free much of South America from

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Spain's grasp and become something of a

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dictator in the process. And so,

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revolution became the newest cool fad,

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like going gluten-free or something. Many

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Americans were horrified at these later

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revolutions. There was so much blood and

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death, not to mention free black people.

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Every slave holder in the United States

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looked at Haiti and, well, flipped their wig.

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In other words, after the Americans had

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successfully delivered themselves from

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big brother Britain, they became pretty

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conservative and primarily interested in

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establishing a stable nation that would

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survive the upheavals of history. They

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weren't radical in the least. And, well,

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who knew better than them that a

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revolution could come any second and

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totally rock their world? The problem is, once

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you open Pandora's box and see what

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democracy looks like, even if it isn't

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perfect, then it's really hard to put the

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lid back on the box. Well, other people

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around the world looked at the American

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experiment and determined that they

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wanted democracy too, even if it meant

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unleashing all the bats and zombies and

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Kardashians that came out of the

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Pandora's box along with it.