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Episode
151

The American Revolution

Apr 20, 2021
History
-
26
minutes
USA
18th Century
Colonialism
The British Empire
Revolution
France
War

The United States of America is a global superpower, but 250 years ago its eastern states belonged to Great Britain.

Learn about how they broke free, why they rose up against their colonial masters, and how the story almost had a very different ending.

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[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:22] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:23] I'm Alastair Budge and today we are going to be talking about The American Revolutionary War, or as it’s more often called, The American Revolution.

[00:00:33] This is the second part of this three part series on The Age of Revolution. 

[00:00:40] In part one we talked about The Industrial Revolution, and in the next part, part three, we will talk about The French Revolution.

[00:00:49] And before that there was actually a related episode on The Enlightenment, without which perhaps none of these revolutions would have happened.

[00:00:59] So, you can of course listen to all of these episodes individually, but they are probably even more interesting as a trio, or even as a quartet.

[00:01:10] You might think it’s a bit strange to have someone from Britain talking about The American Revolution, because, well, it’s not something that people in Britain tend to talk about a lot, as the British lost.

[00:01:24] But it is a fascinating story, and for better or for worse, the American Revolution, and the subsequent creation of The United States of America, has had a global impact that is hard to match.

[00:01:38] It is a long and complicated story, so we will focus on the most interesting parts, and tell it through the formula of causes, course, and consequences. 

[00:01:50] So, why did it happen, what actually happened, and what has this meant for America, for Britain, and for the world.

[00:02:01] OK then, let’s get stuck into it.

[00:02:05] Before we dive right into the causes of The American Revolution, let’s just remind ourselves of what was actually going on in the mid 18th century.

[00:02:16] Firstly, America.

[00:02:17] Now, America as a term, and as a concept, didn’t really exist. 

[00:02:23] The continent we now know as North America had been colonised by the British, French and Spanish, starting with Christopher Columbus in 1492.

[00:02:34] While the Spanish conquered most of what is now Mexico and the south of North America, the eastern and northern parts were colonised by French and British settlers

[00:02:46] The French and the British got into some territorial disputes, there was the 9 year French and Indian war, the British won, and the French handed control of everything to the east of the river Mississippi over to the British.

[00:03:04] Meanwhile, in Europe, the French and the British had been fighting something called the Seven Years War, which was a struggle for global domination, and sucked in countries such as Spain, Prussia, Russia, Portugal and Sweden.

[00:03:21] The result was, technically at least, a British victory, but it left Britain with huge debts. 

[00:03:28] Wars, as we all know, are expensive.

[00:03:32] In order to try to raise money to pay these debts, Britain looked to its colonies in America for money.

[00:03:41] To clarify exactly which colonies we are talking about here, we’re talking about 13 colonies on the eastern coast of what we now call The United States of America, so that's: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

[00:04:08] Now, who were the people actually living in these states?

[00:04:13] Were they Americans?

[00:04:15] Well, yes and no.

[00:04:17] Yes, because they lived in America.

[00:04:20] But no, because the vast majority of them were relatively recent immigrants from Europe, and they were still technically British citizens. 

[00:04:31] 85% of the immigrant population came from Great Britain, which included Ireland at the time, but there were also lots of people from countries like the Netherlands and Germany.

[00:04:45] Although the 13 colonies were mainly made up of immigrants from Europe, there were other significant populations – about 250,000 slaves, transported barbarically from Africa, who worked on the cotton, rice, and tobacco plantations of the southern states. 

[00:05:06] And there were the tribes of the Native Americans whose unhappy story of gradual submission to the colonists is a sad story for another time.

[00:05:17] Other European nations will feature too in our story – German mercenaries on the British side and, as is so often the case with anything involving the British military adventures abroad, this won’t be the last time we’ll hear from the French.

[00:05:34] So, that’s the context, what then were some of the immediate causes that brought about the start of the American Revolutionary war?

[00:05:45] As ever, it is a combination of underlying, background factors and immediate sparks which lit the blaze and caused the outbreak of hostilities, caused the fighting to start.

[00:06:00] The most significant underlying cause was the deteriorating relationship between Britain and its fast-growing, increasingly prosperous, increasingly rich, and independent-minded colonies

[00:06:14] Let’s use the image or metaphor of a family. 

[00:06:19] One could say that this is a bit like the natural development of any fast-growing, independent-minded teenager who seeks independence from their parents. 

[00:06:30] In the end they need their own space and to be able to run their own lives.

[00:06:36] However, there was nothing inevitable about the initial rebellion. 

[00:06:42] In 1763 Britain was broke, it had large debts, after financing the war in North America as well as the Seven Years War in Europe.

[00:06:52] The British colonies in North America were prosperous, they were doing well economically, and King George III of Britain decided to raise taxes on the 13 colonies, which had relied heavily on the military support of Britain in the French and Indian War.

[00:07:11] The raising of taxes wasn’t in itself the problem, but rather the way in which it was done.

[00:07:19]There was a well established principle in British law that you should not be taxed unless you are democratically represented in government, but these 13 British colonies in America had no representation in the British parliament. 

[00:07:36] They simply had to do whatever was decided in Westminster, in the Houses of Parliament back in London.

[00:07:44] Starting in 1765, the British imposed taxes on the British colonies in America, and these were deeply unpopular. 

[00:07:55] The first large tax, called The Stamp Act, required British colonists to pay taxes on stamps on a whole range of things, from official documents through to playing cards.

[00:08:09] Before long, there was a popular movement against this tax, with the slogan “no taxation without representation”, meaning you couldn’t be taxed if you weren’t represented democratically.

[00:08:24] There was an increasing anti-British feeling, with people boycotting British goods, not buying British goods, and some small-scale protests.

[00:08:35] It wasn’t for another five years though, not until 1770, that things really came to a head

[00:08:44] The Boston Massacre was when British soldiers shot and killed five protestors, and then three years later, in 1773, again in Boston, there was the Boston Tea Party, when volunteer American soldiers dressed as native Americans, went onto British ships in the Boston harbour and threw the precious tea overboard.

[00:09:10] Britain sent soldiers to Boston to control the situation, but tensions continued to grow. 

[00:09:18] The American colonists started to arm themselves, they started to form small armies, in anticipation of the conflict that was to come.

[00:09:28] Then, in a place called Lexington, in Massachusetts on 19 April 1775, the real fighting broke out, with the so-called “shot heard around the world”. 

[00:09:42] It was a full-blown battle between British soldiers and the Massachusetts militia, and resulted in the death of over a hundred men. 

[00:09:53] Britain was now at war with its American colonies.

[00:09:57] Now, I said earlier that there was nothing inevitable about the revolution. 

[00:10:03] This was because the natural tendency of so many of the colonists was to have considerable loyalty towards the mother nation, which had after all protected them and, through victory in the recent war, it had won them the opportunity to expand West into lands that were previously under the control of the French. 

[00:10:27] A number of the founding fathers of The United States had spent time in England as a way of completing their education. 

[00:10:35] They had very strong family links with Britain. 

[00:10:39] Most importantly, perhaps, the people who led the revolution, such as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Madison and George Washington, they were prosperous, successful men who had many reasons to want to keep the status quo - or things being as they were. 

[00:10:59] In so many ways they were unusual revolutionaries. Through rebelling and being traitors to their mother country they risked everything.

[00:11:10]So it is not surprising that there were powerful ideals that united them and drove them on, not only to rebel, but also to design the system of government or constitution of the new United States that was based on a very distinctive set of beliefs.

[00:11:31] Here it is perhaps helpful to revisit some of the ideas of the European Enlightenment from the episode on The Enlightenment. 

[00:11:40] Key figures in the American revolution, such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, were profoundly influenced by Enlightenment thinking and also by the writings and actions of the thought leaders of the English Revolution [or the English Civil War], such as John Milton, who worked closely with the English republican leader, Oliver Cromwell and who is best known for his famous epic poem, Paradise Lost. 

[00:12:10] Of even more importance and immediate impact was a pamphlet, a short document, of a mere 47 pages that was published in 1775 by an Englishman called Thomas Paine, who had only just recently emigrated to Pennsylvania. 

[00:12:30] This anecdote is a fascinating insight into how a small book can have a dramatic impact on world history.

[00:12:39] Paine’s pamphlet, which is called Common Sense, was written in the simplest of English with the desire that it should reach a very broad audience and that it could also be listened to by everyone when it was published in Pennsylvania early in 1775. 

[00:12:59] It was a sensation

[00:13:00] It is estimated that almost half of the 2.5 million people living in the colonies would have either read or listened to it. This means that it still holds the record for being read or heard by a higher proportion of the population of the United States than any other publication. 

[00:13:22]In this work, Paine demolishes the arguments in favour of trying to remain under British sovereignty or under British control. 

[00:13:32] Perhaps his greatest achievement is to paint a vivid picture of what an independent, republican United States could be like, ruled by themselves and through elected representatives, elected annually, elected every year. 

[00:13:51] This sensational and brave piece of work was instrumental in galvanising – or setting in motion – a process of rebellion. 

[00:14:02] Have a look, even if you just read the first few paragraphs, it really is quite inspiring, and is written in an English I'm sure you will be able to understand. 

[00:14:14] It also has such a modern feel to it. 

[00:14:17] For example, when the author gets particularly excited or wants to stress something, he “shouts'' in capital letters, so, he tells us, do not mistake King George III [“the sullen-tempered Pharaoh of England”] as someone noble and powerful, “ an ASS FOR A LION” (An ass for a lion is all in capital letters). 

[00:14:43] You can appreciate how so many of the words used in such a pamphlet, which would have become a common reference point as the revolution gathered pace would have had a powerful sound bite quality to them. 

[00:14:59] For example, it is, he argues, “very absurd“ to think “a continent to be perpetually governed by an island.”

[00:15:08] Even reading it now, it is easy to get fired up, and I’m from the country that lost this war.

[00:15:15] And perhaps an even more inspiring document was one that was to come a few months later, on the fourth of July of 1776, The Declaration of Independence.

[00:15:28] This stated, amongst other more important things such as that the United States was an independent country, it stated that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

[00:15:49] Quite inspiring, right?

[00:15:51] But it is an important and sobering reminder of this bold statement‘s limitations that the Declaration had no reference to the slave trade; in fact, the version originally drafted by Thomas Jefferson had a clause which condemned the slave trade; sadly this was removed in order to secure the agreement of the southern colonies, where the economy relied so much on this inhuman practice.

[00:16:22] Now, moving onto what actually happened during the American Revolutionary War.

[00:16:28] So, by 1776 Britain was at war with its American colonies.

[00:16:34] It was a slightly strange situation, because the divisions between who was fighting for Britain, and who was fighting for America weren’t completely clear - there were Englishmen, like Thomas Paine, who had only been living in America for two years before becoming a fierce believer in revolution, and backer of independence. 

[00:16:56] And there were plenty of what we could consider Americans, who fought on the side of the British army. 

[00:17:03] Not everyone on the American side was looking for independence from Britain, and indeed before independence was declared, the colonies had simply proposed to put down their arms in exchange for the British reducing the taxes. 

[00:17:19] But King George III, the King of Britain, refused.

[00:17:23] In terms of the people involved, the standing armies of both sides were relatively small, fewer than 50,000 men.

[00:17:32]At its peak, the British had 22,000 British soldiers as well as 25,000 what’s called loyalists, so Americans who were loyal to Britain and fought for the British.

[00:17:44] There were also another 30,000 or so German mercenaries, soldiers who were paid to fight for the British.

[00:17:53] And let’s not forget the slaves.

[00:17:55] The British, out of self-interest I should add, offered freedom to slaves who worked on their opponents’ plantations, meaning that somewhere between 25-50,000 black slaves served with the British army. 

[00:18:11] All in all, the soldiers fighting for the British numbered almost 150,000.

[00:18:18] Meanwhile, the colonists' army was smaller, no more than 48,000 men at any one time. 

[00:18:26] It was, at the start at least, not a professional army, they weren’t professional soldiers, and for the first years of the war they suffered several heavy defeats against the better trained and better armed British army.

[00:18:41] The leader of the American army, a man called George Washington who was later to become the first president of The United States of course, he realised this, and he enlisted the help of Prussian soldiers to train his army, to turn his amateur soldiers into professionals. 

[00:19:01] The Prussians arrived in the winter of 1777 and turned the American army from a group of untrained amateurs into a force to be reckoned with.

[00:19:13] Now, we have skipped over a lot of the details of the battles and fighting, but it can be summarised as relatively small battles not involving vast numbers of soldiers. The British had some early success, as did the Americans.

[00:19:30] By 1778 though, despite the improvements that the American army had made, the British looked like they had the upper hand, and that they were on the cusp of victory, they were about to win the war.

[00:19:45] In order to prevent its archrival Britain from this great victory, France decided to enter the war, joining forces with the Americans, providing considerable money, troops and a fleet of over 100 ships. 

[00:20:01]Now, one can see why the French decided to enter the war - to stop Britain. 

[00:20:07] Yet when we think of what was to happen in France just 10 years later, it does seem like a slightly foolish decision for the French king to support a movement to seek independence from a central ruler. 

[00:20:21] No doubt Louis XVI was so convinced of his own power and god-given right to rule that the idea that his own people might try a similar thing in France didn’t even cross his mind.

[00:20:35] We should also not forget the Spanish, who joined the French in 1779, who hoped to regain territory that they had lost in America, and to regain the territories of Menorca and Gibraltar back in Europe.

[00:20:50] Were it not for the entry of France, and to a lesser extent, Spain, there is little doubt Britain would have won the war. 

[00:20:59] And who knows how the world might have been different if that had happened.

[00:21:04] But France and Spain did join the war, and there was no way back for the British. 

[00:21:10] On September 3, 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed, which ended the war and acknowledged the existence of the United States of America as a free and independent country.

[00:21:25] Although the entirety of this story, with its idealism, bloodshed, vivid and various characters, is grippingenthralling and exciting – perhaps the most intriguing part of the whole story lies in the consequences of the American revolution. 

[00:21:45] I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that these consequences have affected virtually every country in the world.

[00:21:54] Firstly, and perhaps obviously, the American Revolution resulted in the foundation of the United States of America, with its emphasis on its ground-breaking founding ideals and in particular on its distinctive civil liberties. 

[00:22:11] Secondly, at the heart of its foundation was a written constitution which had at its core the revolutionary principle that the government derives its “just powers from the consent of the governed”. 

[00:22:26] This, the world‘s first written constitution, has provided the model for so many other countries’ constitutions.

[00:22:34] Similarly the process of throwing off colonial rule and abandoning the old model of rule by a monarch and a hereditary aristocracy - meaning people who simply were born into the ruling class - this was an inspiration to other countries. 

[00:22:52] Comparable revolutions followed in places as diverse as Latin America, France of course, and especially in the 19th and early 20th centuries, across old Europe. 

[00:23:05] Unsurprisingly, when you listen to part three of this mini-series, the one on the French Revolution, you will find many echoes of the American one in it.

[00:23:16] Finally, there is one other consequence which is perhaps a little more controversial. It has to do with the idea of the new America as a symbol of human aspiration and idealism

[00:23:30] Remember that the country was originally settled by people fleeing religious persecution in Europe and seeking greater control over their own lives and freedom from interference. This thread in American culture has, I think, continued with the country‘s tradition of immigration. 

[00:23:50] Tom Paine calls it “an asylum for mankind”. 

[00:23:54]As is famously written in the poem on the Statue of Liberty which would’ve greeted many millions of immigrants arriving by ship in New York, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…“

[00:24:11] The combination of all these factors has made the United States of America a source of continued fascination and interest for the rest of the world. 

[00:24:21] This has been particularly evident during the final three months of the Trump presidency when so many of those founding ideals and the strength of the American constitution have been put under such severe pressure and have generated both scrutiny and anxiety around the world.

[00:24:42] For many people, it can seem strange that Americans have such a fascination, and almost cult-like obsession with the founding fathers of the country, with the idea that everything in the constitution is almost holy and must be preserved. 

[00:25:01] But with a knowledge of the unlikely story of the American Revolution, it becomes much easier to understand some of the reasons why.

[00:25:12] OK then, that is it for today's episode on The American Revolution.

[00:25:18] I hope it's been an interesting one, that you've learnt something new, and that you feel like you now have a slightly better understanding of the history of a country that has an influence on every single one of us.

[00:25:31] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode. 

[00:25:34] We actually have quite a few members who live in America, so I would be particularly interested to know what you thought of this episode. 

[00:25:43] You can head right in to our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away to other curious minds.

[00:25:52] And as a final reminder, the next episode is going to be on the French Revolution, part three of this mini series of The Age of Revolution and I hope you’ll enjoy it.

[00:26:02] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:26:08] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]


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[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:22] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:23] I'm Alastair Budge and today we are going to be talking about The American Revolutionary War, or as it’s more often called, The American Revolution.

[00:00:33] This is the second part of this three part series on The Age of Revolution. 

[00:00:40] In part one we talked about The Industrial Revolution, and in the next part, part three, we will talk about The French Revolution.

[00:00:49] And before that there was actually a related episode on The Enlightenment, without which perhaps none of these revolutions would have happened.

[00:00:59] So, you can of course listen to all of these episodes individually, but they are probably even more interesting as a trio, or even as a quartet.

[00:01:10] You might think it’s a bit strange to have someone from Britain talking about The American Revolution, because, well, it’s not something that people in Britain tend to talk about a lot, as the British lost.

[00:01:24] But it is a fascinating story, and for better or for worse, the American Revolution, and the subsequent creation of The United States of America, has had a global impact that is hard to match.

[00:01:38] It is a long and complicated story, so we will focus on the most interesting parts, and tell it through the formula of causes, course, and consequences. 

[00:01:50] So, why did it happen, what actually happened, and what has this meant for America, for Britain, and for the world.

[00:02:01] OK then, let’s get stuck into it.

[00:02:05] Before we dive right into the causes of The American Revolution, let’s just remind ourselves of what was actually going on in the mid 18th century.

[00:02:16] Firstly, America.

[00:02:17] Now, America as a term, and as a concept, didn’t really exist. 

[00:02:23] The continent we now know as North America had been colonised by the British, French and Spanish, starting with Christopher Columbus in 1492.

[00:02:34] While the Spanish conquered most of what is now Mexico and the south of North America, the eastern and northern parts were colonised by French and British settlers

[00:02:46] The French and the British got into some territorial disputes, there was the 9 year French and Indian war, the British won, and the French handed control of everything to the east of the river Mississippi over to the British.

[00:03:04] Meanwhile, in Europe, the French and the British had been fighting something called the Seven Years War, which was a struggle for global domination, and sucked in countries such as Spain, Prussia, Russia, Portugal and Sweden.

[00:03:21] The result was, technically at least, a British victory, but it left Britain with huge debts. 

[00:03:28] Wars, as we all know, are expensive.

[00:03:32] In order to try to raise money to pay these debts, Britain looked to its colonies in America for money.

[00:03:41] To clarify exactly which colonies we are talking about here, we’re talking about 13 colonies on the eastern coast of what we now call The United States of America, so that's: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

[00:04:08] Now, who were the people actually living in these states?

[00:04:13] Were they Americans?

[00:04:15] Well, yes and no.

[00:04:17] Yes, because they lived in America.

[00:04:20] But no, because the vast majority of them were relatively recent immigrants from Europe, and they were still technically British citizens. 

[00:04:31] 85% of the immigrant population came from Great Britain, which included Ireland at the time, but there were also lots of people from countries like the Netherlands and Germany.

[00:04:45] Although the 13 colonies were mainly made up of immigrants from Europe, there were other significant populations – about 250,000 slaves, transported barbarically from Africa, who worked on the cotton, rice, and tobacco plantations of the southern states. 

[00:05:06] And there were the tribes of the Native Americans whose unhappy story of gradual submission to the colonists is a sad story for another time.

[00:05:17] Other European nations will feature too in our story – German mercenaries on the British side and, as is so often the case with anything involving the British military adventures abroad, this won’t be the last time we’ll hear from the French.

[00:05:34] So, that’s the context, what then were some of the immediate causes that brought about the start of the American Revolutionary war?

[00:05:45] As ever, it is a combination of underlying, background factors and immediate sparks which lit the blaze and caused the outbreak of hostilities, caused the fighting to start.

[00:06:00] The most significant underlying cause was the deteriorating relationship between Britain and its fast-growing, increasingly prosperous, increasingly rich, and independent-minded colonies

[00:06:14] Let’s use the image or metaphor of a family. 

[00:06:19] One could say that this is a bit like the natural development of any fast-growing, independent-minded teenager who seeks independence from their parents. 

[00:06:30] In the end they need their own space and to be able to run their own lives.

[00:06:36] However, there was nothing inevitable about the initial rebellion. 

[00:06:42] In 1763 Britain was broke, it had large debts, after financing the war in North America as well as the Seven Years War in Europe.

[00:06:52] The British colonies in North America were prosperous, they were doing well economically, and King George III of Britain decided to raise taxes on the 13 colonies, which had relied heavily on the military support of Britain in the French and Indian War.

[00:07:11] The raising of taxes wasn’t in itself the problem, but rather the way in which it was done.

[00:07:19]There was a well established principle in British law that you should not be taxed unless you are democratically represented in government, but these 13 British colonies in America had no representation in the British parliament. 

[00:07:36] They simply had to do whatever was decided in Westminster, in the Houses of Parliament back in London.

[00:07:44] Starting in 1765, the British imposed taxes on the British colonies in America, and these were deeply unpopular. 

[00:07:55] The first large tax, called The Stamp Act, required British colonists to pay taxes on stamps on a whole range of things, from official documents through to playing cards.

[00:08:09] Before long, there was a popular movement against this tax, with the slogan “no taxation without representation”, meaning you couldn’t be taxed if you weren’t represented democratically.

[00:08:24] There was an increasing anti-British feeling, with people boycotting British goods, not buying British goods, and some small-scale protests.

[00:08:35] It wasn’t for another five years though, not until 1770, that things really came to a head

[00:08:44] The Boston Massacre was when British soldiers shot and killed five protestors, and then three years later, in 1773, again in Boston, there was the Boston Tea Party, when volunteer American soldiers dressed as native Americans, went onto British ships in the Boston harbour and threw the precious tea overboard.

[00:09:10] Britain sent soldiers to Boston to control the situation, but tensions continued to grow. 

[00:09:18] The American colonists started to arm themselves, they started to form small armies, in anticipation of the conflict that was to come.

[00:09:28] Then, in a place called Lexington, in Massachusetts on 19 April 1775, the real fighting broke out, with the so-called “shot heard around the world”. 

[00:09:42] It was a full-blown battle between British soldiers and the Massachusetts militia, and resulted in the death of over a hundred men. 

[00:09:53] Britain was now at war with its American colonies.

[00:09:57] Now, I said earlier that there was nothing inevitable about the revolution. 

[00:10:03] This was because the natural tendency of so many of the colonists was to have considerable loyalty towards the mother nation, which had after all protected them and, through victory in the recent war, it had won them the opportunity to expand West into lands that were previously under the control of the French. 

[00:10:27] A number of the founding fathers of The United States had spent time in England as a way of completing their education. 

[00:10:35] They had very strong family links with Britain. 

[00:10:39] Most importantly, perhaps, the people who led the revolution, such as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Madison and George Washington, they were prosperous, successful men who had many reasons to want to keep the status quo - or things being as they were. 

[00:10:59] In so many ways they were unusual revolutionaries. Through rebelling and being traitors to their mother country they risked everything.

[00:11:10]So it is not surprising that there were powerful ideals that united them and drove them on, not only to rebel, but also to design the system of government or constitution of the new United States that was based on a very distinctive set of beliefs.

[00:11:31] Here it is perhaps helpful to revisit some of the ideas of the European Enlightenment from the episode on The Enlightenment. 

[00:11:40] Key figures in the American revolution, such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, were profoundly influenced by Enlightenment thinking and also by the writings and actions of the thought leaders of the English Revolution [or the English Civil War], such as John Milton, who worked closely with the English republican leader, Oliver Cromwell and who is best known for his famous epic poem, Paradise Lost. 

[00:12:10] Of even more importance and immediate impact was a pamphlet, a short document, of a mere 47 pages that was published in 1775 by an Englishman called Thomas Paine, who had only just recently emigrated to Pennsylvania. 

[00:12:30] This anecdote is a fascinating insight into how a small book can have a dramatic impact on world history.

[00:12:39] Paine’s pamphlet, which is called Common Sense, was written in the simplest of English with the desire that it should reach a very broad audience and that it could also be listened to by everyone when it was published in Pennsylvania early in 1775. 

[00:12:59] It was a sensation

[00:13:00] It is estimated that almost half of the 2.5 million people living in the colonies would have either read or listened to it. This means that it still holds the record for being read or heard by a higher proportion of the population of the United States than any other publication. 

[00:13:22]In this work, Paine demolishes the arguments in favour of trying to remain under British sovereignty or under British control. 

[00:13:32] Perhaps his greatest achievement is to paint a vivid picture of what an independent, republican United States could be like, ruled by themselves and through elected representatives, elected annually, elected every year. 

[00:13:51] This sensational and brave piece of work was instrumental in galvanising – or setting in motion – a process of rebellion. 

[00:14:02] Have a look, even if you just read the first few paragraphs, it really is quite inspiring, and is written in an English I'm sure you will be able to understand. 

[00:14:14] It also has such a modern feel to it. 

[00:14:17] For example, when the author gets particularly excited or wants to stress something, he “shouts'' in capital letters, so, he tells us, do not mistake King George III [“the sullen-tempered Pharaoh of England”] as someone noble and powerful, “ an ASS FOR A LION” (An ass for a lion is all in capital letters). 

[00:14:43] You can appreciate how so many of the words used in such a pamphlet, which would have become a common reference point as the revolution gathered pace would have had a powerful sound bite quality to them. 

[00:14:59] For example, it is, he argues, “very absurd“ to think “a continent to be perpetually governed by an island.”

[00:15:08] Even reading it now, it is easy to get fired up, and I’m from the country that lost this war.

[00:15:15] And perhaps an even more inspiring document was one that was to come a few months later, on the fourth of July of 1776, The Declaration of Independence.

[00:15:28] This stated, amongst other more important things such as that the United States was an independent country, it stated that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

[00:15:49] Quite inspiring, right?

[00:15:51] But it is an important and sobering reminder of this bold statement‘s limitations that the Declaration had no reference to the slave trade; in fact, the version originally drafted by Thomas Jefferson had a clause which condemned the slave trade; sadly this was removed in order to secure the agreement of the southern colonies, where the economy relied so much on this inhuman practice.

[00:16:22] Now, moving onto what actually happened during the American Revolutionary War.

[00:16:28] So, by 1776 Britain was at war with its American colonies.

[00:16:34] It was a slightly strange situation, because the divisions between who was fighting for Britain, and who was fighting for America weren’t completely clear - there were Englishmen, like Thomas Paine, who had only been living in America for two years before becoming a fierce believer in revolution, and backer of independence. 

[00:16:56] And there were plenty of what we could consider Americans, who fought on the side of the British army. 

[00:17:03] Not everyone on the American side was looking for independence from Britain, and indeed before independence was declared, the colonies had simply proposed to put down their arms in exchange for the British reducing the taxes. 

[00:17:19] But King George III, the King of Britain, refused.

[00:17:23] In terms of the people involved, the standing armies of both sides were relatively small, fewer than 50,000 men.

[00:17:32]At its peak, the British had 22,000 British soldiers as well as 25,000 what’s called loyalists, so Americans who were loyal to Britain and fought for the British.

[00:17:44] There were also another 30,000 or so German mercenaries, soldiers who were paid to fight for the British.

[00:17:53] And let’s not forget the slaves.

[00:17:55] The British, out of self-interest I should add, offered freedom to slaves who worked on their opponents’ plantations, meaning that somewhere between 25-50,000 black slaves served with the British army. 

[00:18:11] All in all, the soldiers fighting for the British numbered almost 150,000.

[00:18:18] Meanwhile, the colonists' army was smaller, no more than 48,000 men at any one time. 

[00:18:26] It was, at the start at least, not a professional army, they weren’t professional soldiers, and for the first years of the war they suffered several heavy defeats against the better trained and better armed British army.

[00:18:41] The leader of the American army, a man called George Washington who was later to become the first president of The United States of course, he realised this, and he enlisted the help of Prussian soldiers to train his army, to turn his amateur soldiers into professionals. 

[00:19:01] The Prussians arrived in the winter of 1777 and turned the American army from a group of untrained amateurs into a force to be reckoned with.

[00:19:13] Now, we have skipped over a lot of the details of the battles and fighting, but it can be summarised as relatively small battles not involving vast numbers of soldiers. The British had some early success, as did the Americans.

[00:19:30] By 1778 though, despite the improvements that the American army had made, the British looked like they had the upper hand, and that they were on the cusp of victory, they were about to win the war.

[00:19:45] In order to prevent its archrival Britain from this great victory, France decided to enter the war, joining forces with the Americans, providing considerable money, troops and a fleet of over 100 ships. 

[00:20:01]Now, one can see why the French decided to enter the war - to stop Britain. 

[00:20:07] Yet when we think of what was to happen in France just 10 years later, it does seem like a slightly foolish decision for the French king to support a movement to seek independence from a central ruler. 

[00:20:21] No doubt Louis XVI was so convinced of his own power and god-given right to rule that the idea that his own people might try a similar thing in France didn’t even cross his mind.

[00:20:35] We should also not forget the Spanish, who joined the French in 1779, who hoped to regain territory that they had lost in America, and to regain the territories of Menorca and Gibraltar back in Europe.

[00:20:50] Were it not for the entry of France, and to a lesser extent, Spain, there is little doubt Britain would have won the war. 

[00:20:59] And who knows how the world might have been different if that had happened.

[00:21:04] But France and Spain did join the war, and there was no way back for the British. 

[00:21:10] On September 3, 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed, which ended the war and acknowledged the existence of the United States of America as a free and independent country.

[00:21:25] Although the entirety of this story, with its idealism, bloodshed, vivid and various characters, is grippingenthralling and exciting – perhaps the most intriguing part of the whole story lies in the consequences of the American revolution. 

[00:21:45] I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that these consequences have affected virtually every country in the world.

[00:21:54] Firstly, and perhaps obviously, the American Revolution resulted in the foundation of the United States of America, with its emphasis on its ground-breaking founding ideals and in particular on its distinctive civil liberties. 

[00:22:11] Secondly, at the heart of its foundation was a written constitution which had at its core the revolutionary principle that the government derives its “just powers from the consent of the governed”. 

[00:22:26] This, the world‘s first written constitution, has provided the model for so many other countries’ constitutions.

[00:22:34] Similarly the process of throwing off colonial rule and abandoning the old model of rule by a monarch and a hereditary aristocracy - meaning people who simply were born into the ruling class - this was an inspiration to other countries. 

[00:22:52] Comparable revolutions followed in places as diverse as Latin America, France of course, and especially in the 19th and early 20th centuries, across old Europe. 

[00:23:05] Unsurprisingly, when you listen to part three of this mini-series, the one on the French Revolution, you will find many echoes of the American one in it.

[00:23:16] Finally, there is one other consequence which is perhaps a little more controversial. It has to do with the idea of the new America as a symbol of human aspiration and idealism

[00:23:30] Remember that the country was originally settled by people fleeing religious persecution in Europe and seeking greater control over their own lives and freedom from interference. This thread in American culture has, I think, continued with the country‘s tradition of immigration. 

[00:23:50] Tom Paine calls it “an asylum for mankind”. 

[00:23:54]As is famously written in the poem on the Statue of Liberty which would’ve greeted many millions of immigrants arriving by ship in New York, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…“

[00:24:11] The combination of all these factors has made the United States of America a source of continued fascination and interest for the rest of the world. 

[00:24:21] This has been particularly evident during the final three months of the Trump presidency when so many of those founding ideals and the strength of the American constitution have been put under such severe pressure and have generated both scrutiny and anxiety around the world.

[00:24:42] For many people, it can seem strange that Americans have such a fascination, and almost cult-like obsession with the founding fathers of the country, with the idea that everything in the constitution is almost holy and must be preserved. 

[00:25:01] But with a knowledge of the unlikely story of the American Revolution, it becomes much easier to understand some of the reasons why.

[00:25:12] OK then, that is it for today's episode on The American Revolution.

[00:25:18] I hope it's been an interesting one, that you've learnt something new, and that you feel like you now have a slightly better understanding of the history of a country that has an influence on every single one of us.

[00:25:31] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode. 

[00:25:34] We actually have quite a few members who live in America, so I would be particularly interested to know what you thought of this episode. 

[00:25:43] You can head right in to our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away to other curious minds.

[00:25:52] And as a final reminder, the next episode is going to be on the French Revolution, part three of this mini series of The Age of Revolution and I hope you’ll enjoy it.

[00:26:02] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:26:08] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]


[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:22] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:23] I'm Alastair Budge and today we are going to be talking about The American Revolutionary War, or as it’s more often called, The American Revolution.

[00:00:33] This is the second part of this three part series on The Age of Revolution. 

[00:00:40] In part one we talked about The Industrial Revolution, and in the next part, part three, we will talk about The French Revolution.

[00:00:49] And before that there was actually a related episode on The Enlightenment, without which perhaps none of these revolutions would have happened.

[00:00:59] So, you can of course listen to all of these episodes individually, but they are probably even more interesting as a trio, or even as a quartet.

[00:01:10] You might think it’s a bit strange to have someone from Britain talking about The American Revolution, because, well, it’s not something that people in Britain tend to talk about a lot, as the British lost.

[00:01:24] But it is a fascinating story, and for better or for worse, the American Revolution, and the subsequent creation of The United States of America, has had a global impact that is hard to match.

[00:01:38] It is a long and complicated story, so we will focus on the most interesting parts, and tell it through the formula of causes, course, and consequences. 

[00:01:50] So, why did it happen, what actually happened, and what has this meant for America, for Britain, and for the world.

[00:02:01] OK then, let’s get stuck into it.

[00:02:05] Before we dive right into the causes of The American Revolution, let’s just remind ourselves of what was actually going on in the mid 18th century.

[00:02:16] Firstly, America.

[00:02:17] Now, America as a term, and as a concept, didn’t really exist. 

[00:02:23] The continent we now know as North America had been colonised by the British, French and Spanish, starting with Christopher Columbus in 1492.

[00:02:34] While the Spanish conquered most of what is now Mexico and the south of North America, the eastern and northern parts were colonised by French and British settlers

[00:02:46] The French and the British got into some territorial disputes, there was the 9 year French and Indian war, the British won, and the French handed control of everything to the east of the river Mississippi over to the British.

[00:03:04] Meanwhile, in Europe, the French and the British had been fighting something called the Seven Years War, which was a struggle for global domination, and sucked in countries such as Spain, Prussia, Russia, Portugal and Sweden.

[00:03:21] The result was, technically at least, a British victory, but it left Britain with huge debts. 

[00:03:28] Wars, as we all know, are expensive.

[00:03:32] In order to try to raise money to pay these debts, Britain looked to its colonies in America for money.

[00:03:41] To clarify exactly which colonies we are talking about here, we’re talking about 13 colonies on the eastern coast of what we now call The United States of America, so that's: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

[00:04:08] Now, who were the people actually living in these states?

[00:04:13] Were they Americans?

[00:04:15] Well, yes and no.

[00:04:17] Yes, because they lived in America.

[00:04:20] But no, because the vast majority of them were relatively recent immigrants from Europe, and they were still technically British citizens. 

[00:04:31] 85% of the immigrant population came from Great Britain, which included Ireland at the time, but there were also lots of people from countries like the Netherlands and Germany.

[00:04:45] Although the 13 colonies were mainly made up of immigrants from Europe, there were other significant populations – about 250,000 slaves, transported barbarically from Africa, who worked on the cotton, rice, and tobacco plantations of the southern states. 

[00:05:06] And there were the tribes of the Native Americans whose unhappy story of gradual submission to the colonists is a sad story for another time.

[00:05:17] Other European nations will feature too in our story – German mercenaries on the British side and, as is so often the case with anything involving the British military adventures abroad, this won’t be the last time we’ll hear from the French.

[00:05:34] So, that’s the context, what then were some of the immediate causes that brought about the start of the American Revolutionary war?

[00:05:45] As ever, it is a combination of underlying, background factors and immediate sparks which lit the blaze and caused the outbreak of hostilities, caused the fighting to start.

[00:06:00] The most significant underlying cause was the deteriorating relationship between Britain and its fast-growing, increasingly prosperous, increasingly rich, and independent-minded colonies

[00:06:14] Let’s use the image or metaphor of a family. 

[00:06:19] One could say that this is a bit like the natural development of any fast-growing, independent-minded teenager who seeks independence from their parents. 

[00:06:30] In the end they need their own space and to be able to run their own lives.

[00:06:36] However, there was nothing inevitable about the initial rebellion. 

[00:06:42] In 1763 Britain was broke, it had large debts, after financing the war in North America as well as the Seven Years War in Europe.

[00:06:52] The British colonies in North America were prosperous, they were doing well economically, and King George III of Britain decided to raise taxes on the 13 colonies, which had relied heavily on the military support of Britain in the French and Indian War.

[00:07:11] The raising of taxes wasn’t in itself the problem, but rather the way in which it was done.

[00:07:19]There was a well established principle in British law that you should not be taxed unless you are democratically represented in government, but these 13 British colonies in America had no representation in the British parliament. 

[00:07:36] They simply had to do whatever was decided in Westminster, in the Houses of Parliament back in London.

[00:07:44] Starting in 1765, the British imposed taxes on the British colonies in America, and these were deeply unpopular. 

[00:07:55] The first large tax, called The Stamp Act, required British colonists to pay taxes on stamps on a whole range of things, from official documents through to playing cards.

[00:08:09] Before long, there was a popular movement against this tax, with the slogan “no taxation without representation”, meaning you couldn’t be taxed if you weren’t represented democratically.

[00:08:24] There was an increasing anti-British feeling, with people boycotting British goods, not buying British goods, and some small-scale protests.

[00:08:35] It wasn’t for another five years though, not until 1770, that things really came to a head

[00:08:44] The Boston Massacre was when British soldiers shot and killed five protestors, and then three years later, in 1773, again in Boston, there was the Boston Tea Party, when volunteer American soldiers dressed as native Americans, went onto British ships in the Boston harbour and threw the precious tea overboard.

[00:09:10] Britain sent soldiers to Boston to control the situation, but tensions continued to grow. 

[00:09:18] The American colonists started to arm themselves, they started to form small armies, in anticipation of the conflict that was to come.

[00:09:28] Then, in a place called Lexington, in Massachusetts on 19 April 1775, the real fighting broke out, with the so-called “shot heard around the world”. 

[00:09:42] It was a full-blown battle between British soldiers and the Massachusetts militia, and resulted in the death of over a hundred men. 

[00:09:53] Britain was now at war with its American colonies.

[00:09:57] Now, I said earlier that there was nothing inevitable about the revolution. 

[00:10:03] This was because the natural tendency of so many of the colonists was to have considerable loyalty towards the mother nation, which had after all protected them and, through victory in the recent war, it had won them the opportunity to expand West into lands that were previously under the control of the French. 

[00:10:27] A number of the founding fathers of The United States had spent time in England as a way of completing their education. 

[00:10:35] They had very strong family links with Britain. 

[00:10:39] Most importantly, perhaps, the people who led the revolution, such as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Madison and George Washington, they were prosperous, successful men who had many reasons to want to keep the status quo - or things being as they were. 

[00:10:59] In so many ways they were unusual revolutionaries. Through rebelling and being traitors to their mother country they risked everything.

[00:11:10]So it is not surprising that there were powerful ideals that united them and drove them on, not only to rebel, but also to design the system of government or constitution of the new United States that was based on a very distinctive set of beliefs.

[00:11:31] Here it is perhaps helpful to revisit some of the ideas of the European Enlightenment from the episode on The Enlightenment. 

[00:11:40] Key figures in the American revolution, such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, were profoundly influenced by Enlightenment thinking and also by the writings and actions of the thought leaders of the English Revolution [or the English Civil War], such as John Milton, who worked closely with the English republican leader, Oliver Cromwell and who is best known for his famous epic poem, Paradise Lost. 

[00:12:10] Of even more importance and immediate impact was a pamphlet, a short document, of a mere 47 pages that was published in 1775 by an Englishman called Thomas Paine, who had only just recently emigrated to Pennsylvania. 

[00:12:30] This anecdote is a fascinating insight into how a small book can have a dramatic impact on world history.

[00:12:39] Paine’s pamphlet, which is called Common Sense, was written in the simplest of English with the desire that it should reach a very broad audience and that it could also be listened to by everyone when it was published in Pennsylvania early in 1775. 

[00:12:59] It was a sensation

[00:13:00] It is estimated that almost half of the 2.5 million people living in the colonies would have either read or listened to it. This means that it still holds the record for being read or heard by a higher proportion of the population of the United States than any other publication. 

[00:13:22]In this work, Paine demolishes the arguments in favour of trying to remain under British sovereignty or under British control. 

[00:13:32] Perhaps his greatest achievement is to paint a vivid picture of what an independent, republican United States could be like, ruled by themselves and through elected representatives, elected annually, elected every year. 

[00:13:51] This sensational and brave piece of work was instrumental in galvanising – or setting in motion – a process of rebellion. 

[00:14:02] Have a look, even if you just read the first few paragraphs, it really is quite inspiring, and is written in an English I'm sure you will be able to understand. 

[00:14:14] It also has such a modern feel to it. 

[00:14:17] For example, when the author gets particularly excited or wants to stress something, he “shouts'' in capital letters, so, he tells us, do not mistake King George III [“the sullen-tempered Pharaoh of England”] as someone noble and powerful, “ an ASS FOR A LION” (An ass for a lion is all in capital letters). 

[00:14:43] You can appreciate how so many of the words used in such a pamphlet, which would have become a common reference point as the revolution gathered pace would have had a powerful sound bite quality to them. 

[00:14:59] For example, it is, he argues, “very absurd“ to think “a continent to be perpetually governed by an island.”

[00:15:08] Even reading it now, it is easy to get fired up, and I’m from the country that lost this war.

[00:15:15] And perhaps an even more inspiring document was one that was to come a few months later, on the fourth of July of 1776, The Declaration of Independence.

[00:15:28] This stated, amongst other more important things such as that the United States was an independent country, it stated that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

[00:15:49] Quite inspiring, right?

[00:15:51] But it is an important and sobering reminder of this bold statement‘s limitations that the Declaration had no reference to the slave trade; in fact, the version originally drafted by Thomas Jefferson had a clause which condemned the slave trade; sadly this was removed in order to secure the agreement of the southern colonies, where the economy relied so much on this inhuman practice.

[00:16:22] Now, moving onto what actually happened during the American Revolutionary War.

[00:16:28] So, by 1776 Britain was at war with its American colonies.

[00:16:34] It was a slightly strange situation, because the divisions between who was fighting for Britain, and who was fighting for America weren’t completely clear - there were Englishmen, like Thomas Paine, who had only been living in America for two years before becoming a fierce believer in revolution, and backer of independence. 

[00:16:56] And there were plenty of what we could consider Americans, who fought on the side of the British army. 

[00:17:03] Not everyone on the American side was looking for independence from Britain, and indeed before independence was declared, the colonies had simply proposed to put down their arms in exchange for the British reducing the taxes. 

[00:17:19] But King George III, the King of Britain, refused.

[00:17:23] In terms of the people involved, the standing armies of both sides were relatively small, fewer than 50,000 men.

[00:17:32]At its peak, the British had 22,000 British soldiers as well as 25,000 what’s called loyalists, so Americans who were loyal to Britain and fought for the British.

[00:17:44] There were also another 30,000 or so German mercenaries, soldiers who were paid to fight for the British.

[00:17:53] And let’s not forget the slaves.

[00:17:55] The British, out of self-interest I should add, offered freedom to slaves who worked on their opponents’ plantations, meaning that somewhere between 25-50,000 black slaves served with the British army. 

[00:18:11] All in all, the soldiers fighting for the British numbered almost 150,000.

[00:18:18] Meanwhile, the colonists' army was smaller, no more than 48,000 men at any one time. 

[00:18:26] It was, at the start at least, not a professional army, they weren’t professional soldiers, and for the first years of the war they suffered several heavy defeats against the better trained and better armed British army.

[00:18:41] The leader of the American army, a man called George Washington who was later to become the first president of The United States of course, he realised this, and he enlisted the help of Prussian soldiers to train his army, to turn his amateur soldiers into professionals. 

[00:19:01] The Prussians arrived in the winter of 1777 and turned the American army from a group of untrained amateurs into a force to be reckoned with.

[00:19:13] Now, we have skipped over a lot of the details of the battles and fighting, but it can be summarised as relatively small battles not involving vast numbers of soldiers. The British had some early success, as did the Americans.

[00:19:30] By 1778 though, despite the improvements that the American army had made, the British looked like they had the upper hand, and that they were on the cusp of victory, they were about to win the war.

[00:19:45] In order to prevent its archrival Britain from this great victory, France decided to enter the war, joining forces with the Americans, providing considerable money, troops and a fleet of over 100 ships. 

[00:20:01]Now, one can see why the French decided to enter the war - to stop Britain. 

[00:20:07] Yet when we think of what was to happen in France just 10 years later, it does seem like a slightly foolish decision for the French king to support a movement to seek independence from a central ruler. 

[00:20:21] No doubt Louis XVI was so convinced of his own power and god-given right to rule that the idea that his own people might try a similar thing in France didn’t even cross his mind.

[00:20:35] We should also not forget the Spanish, who joined the French in 1779, who hoped to regain territory that they had lost in America, and to regain the territories of Menorca and Gibraltar back in Europe.

[00:20:50] Were it not for the entry of France, and to a lesser extent, Spain, there is little doubt Britain would have won the war. 

[00:20:59] And who knows how the world might have been different if that had happened.

[00:21:04] But France and Spain did join the war, and there was no way back for the British. 

[00:21:10] On September 3, 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed, which ended the war and acknowledged the existence of the United States of America as a free and independent country.

[00:21:25] Although the entirety of this story, with its idealism, bloodshed, vivid and various characters, is grippingenthralling and exciting – perhaps the most intriguing part of the whole story lies in the consequences of the American revolution. 

[00:21:45] I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that these consequences have affected virtually every country in the world.

[00:21:54] Firstly, and perhaps obviously, the American Revolution resulted in the foundation of the United States of America, with its emphasis on its ground-breaking founding ideals and in particular on its distinctive civil liberties. 

[00:22:11] Secondly, at the heart of its foundation was a written constitution which had at its core the revolutionary principle that the government derives its “just powers from the consent of the governed”. 

[00:22:26] This, the world‘s first written constitution, has provided the model for so many other countries’ constitutions.

[00:22:34] Similarly the process of throwing off colonial rule and abandoning the old model of rule by a monarch and a hereditary aristocracy - meaning people who simply were born into the ruling class - this was an inspiration to other countries. 

[00:22:52] Comparable revolutions followed in places as diverse as Latin America, France of course, and especially in the 19th and early 20th centuries, across old Europe. 

[00:23:05] Unsurprisingly, when you listen to part three of this mini-series, the one on the French Revolution, you will find many echoes of the American one in it.

[00:23:16] Finally, there is one other consequence which is perhaps a little more controversial. It has to do with the idea of the new America as a symbol of human aspiration and idealism

[00:23:30] Remember that the country was originally settled by people fleeing religious persecution in Europe and seeking greater control over their own lives and freedom from interference. This thread in American culture has, I think, continued with the country‘s tradition of immigration. 

[00:23:50] Tom Paine calls it “an asylum for mankind”. 

[00:23:54]As is famously written in the poem on the Statue of Liberty which would’ve greeted many millions of immigrants arriving by ship in New York, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…“

[00:24:11] The combination of all these factors has made the United States of America a source of continued fascination and interest for the rest of the world. 

[00:24:21] This has been particularly evident during the final three months of the Trump presidency when so many of those founding ideals and the strength of the American constitution have been put under such severe pressure and have generated both scrutiny and anxiety around the world.

[00:24:42] For many people, it can seem strange that Americans have such a fascination, and almost cult-like obsession with the founding fathers of the country, with the idea that everything in the constitution is almost holy and must be preserved. 

[00:25:01] But with a knowledge of the unlikely story of the American Revolution, it becomes much easier to understand some of the reasons why.

[00:25:12] OK then, that is it for today's episode on The American Revolution.

[00:25:18] I hope it's been an interesting one, that you've learnt something new, and that you feel like you now have a slightly better understanding of the history of a country that has an influence on every single one of us.

[00:25:31] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode. 

[00:25:34] We actually have quite a few members who live in America, so I would be particularly interested to know what you thought of this episode. 

[00:25:43] You can head right in to our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away to other curious minds.

[00:25:52] And as a final reminder, the next episode is going to be on the French Revolution, part three of this mini series of The Age of Revolution and I hope you’ll enjoy it.

[00:26:02] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:26:08] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]