In the 18th century, the United States was still a set of 13 colonies on which Britain exercised its authority. At the end of a long war of independence, the thirteen colonies federated and adopted a Constitution that has long been held to be a model.
How dic the colonists conquer their freedom? Why does the constitution of the Republic become a model?
I. 1st the revolts
Around 1750, the English territories of America were located along the Atlantic coast, from Canada to Florida. They were divided into thirteen colonies. To the North settled the Puritans, protestants denouncing the Anglican Church, driven by persecution; while tropical South was a place for pro-slavery planters.
Certain measures adopted by the English government were rejected by the settlers:
- they did not have the right to expand on the Western Territories, reserved for Indians;
- they were not represented in Parliament even though they paid taxes;
- they opposed heavy taxes imposed by London on some products, as the establishment of monopolies (the Americans were forced to buy their tea to the English East India Company).
December 16, 1773, in Boston, Americans did throw to the sea cargo of tea of three English ships. The episode is known as « the Boston Tea Party ».
II. the war of independence
• In retaliation, the British closed the port, taxed the city and sent troops. The settlers decided to arm themselves and to fight against England which refused to negotiate. The fighting began in 1775. The following year, on July 4, 1776, representatives from the thirteen colonies gathered in Philadelphia voted the Declaration of independence of the United States of America.
• English troops were better equipped but were unfamiliar with the field. The insurgents received military support from France, traditionally hostile to Britain. In 1778, France sent 38 ships and 6,000 men, commanded by La Fayette, a freedom-loving noble.
• In 1781, the British surrendered at Yorktown and in 1783 recognized the independence of the United States (treaties of Paris and Versailles). The war of independence developed a strong national feeling among Americans. Inspired by the philosophy of the Enlightenment, they put in place a Republican and federal State.
The battle of Yorktown took place during the war of independence of the United States of America from September 28 to October 17, 1781. She confronts the American insurgents and allies French commanded by the comte de Rochambeau in the British controlled by Lord Cornwallis. After 21 days of combat, the latter went, with one quarter of the British forces engaged in the war: the battle sign the certain defeat of England.
III. the Constitution of United States of America
• In 1787, a Federal Constitution was adopted in Philadelphia. The federal Government is a common to thirteen States authority, which deals with defense, diplomacy, trade and finance. The powers are clearly separated, which represents in the eyes of the Americans a pledge of respect for freedoms.
• The Executive is in the hands of a president elected for four years. The first is George Washington (1732-1799), elected in 1789. The legislative power belongs to the Congress made by the House of representatives and the Senate. The judiciary is ensured by the supreme court. However, each State remains master of his righteousness, his police and his teaching.
The Bill of Rights, containing the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, was ratified on Dec. 15, 1791.
• However, there was a limit : only the rich have the right to vote. Women, the poor, the blacks and Indians were excluded from political life. Despite these limitations, the opponents of absolutism, in Europe, considered the United States of America as a land of freedom; its Constitution as a model.