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The American Revolution

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The American Revolution

In 1775 broke out the American Revolution. The American colonies were subjected by mother country, under George III, to a heavy taxation but they was not represented in the British Parliament and so they rebelled. With George Washington formed an army and in 1776 Thomas Jefferson, with the help of Benjamin Franklin and John Adams wrote the Declaration of Independence. In 1783 with the treaty of Versailles Great Britain accepted American independence.

The new colonies

With the new Prime Minister William Pitt, England recovered the colonies lost with the conquest of India, Australia, which became a big prison, and Canada, which was divided in two provinces between Catholic and Protestant.

The French Revolution

The French Revolution broke out in 1789 after the American Revolution. France with Napoleon concentrated on war and from 1793 to 1814 Britain became the leader of the European coalitions formed against France and Napoleon. After a series of victories Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo in 1815 by the Duke of Wellington .

Social reforms

The French Revolution had frightened the British aristocracy, who suspected any social reforms. In 1811-l2 broke out the Luddite Riots when workers attacked factories. In 1819 eleven people were killed and many people injured; this episode is known as Peterloo Massacre. In 1832 passed the Reform Bill, which eliminated 150 'rotten boroughs', besides was extended the right to the vote. Other important reform were:

the Factory Acts, forbidding the employment of children under nine;

the abolition of slavery and slave trade in British colonies;

a new system of national education.


The new ideas of freedom for the individual brought to the economic liberalism. Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations say that the true basis of a nation's wealth is the work of its population, which must to be left free to act. It must only be subject to the laws of:

individual self-interest;

supply and demand.

From 1760 to 1840 there was the Industrial Revolution. Fundamental to the Industrial Revolution were some technical innovations:

the use of new materials as iron and steel;

the use of new energy sources: coal, petroleum, electricity, the steam engine;

important developments in transportation and communication;

a new organization of work: the factory system.

Consequences of Industrial Revolution

The fast industrial developing brought to a great social unrest. Because of the new machine, the unemployment increased considerably and many people had to live in crowded slums, where the sanitary conditions were very bad. In 1824 were founded the first Trade Unions. In 1830 was born a new word: Socialism. In Britain, the industrialist Robert Owen proposed the first social reform, who improved working and living conditions. The children were considered smalls adults and so their rights were recognized. Also women began to demand emancipation and Mary Wollstonecraft was a pioneer in this field.


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