Orgins The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America. By 1774 each colony had established a Provincial Congress, or an equivalent governmental institution, to form individual self-governing states. By 1774 each colony had established a Provincial Congress, or an equivalent governmental institution, to form individual self-governing states. The British responded by sending combat troops to re-impose direct rule. Through representatives sent in 1775 to the Second Continental Congress, the new states joined together at first to defend their respective self-governance and manage the armed conflict against the British known as the American Revolutionary War (1775–83, also American War of Independence). They then severed ties with the British Empire in July 1776, when the Congress issued the United States Declaration of Independence, rejecting the monarchy on behalf of the new sovereign nation. The war ended with effective American victory in October 1781, followed by formal British abandonment of any claims to the United States with the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
1767–1773: Townshend Acts and the Tea Act In 1767, the Parliament passed the Townshend Acts, which placed a tax on a number of essential goods including paper, glass, and tea. Angered at the tax increases, colonists organized a boycott of British goods. In Boston on March 5, 1770, a large mob gathered around a group of British soldiers. The mob grew more and more threatening, throwing snowballs, rocks and debris at the soldiers. One soldier was clubbed and fell. All but one of the soldiers fired into the crowd. Eleven people were hit; three civilians were killed at the scene of the shooting, and two died after the incident. The event quickly came to be called the Boston Massacre. On December 16, 1773, a group of men, led by Samuel Adams and dressed as American Indians, boarded the ships of the government-favored British East India Company and dumped an estimated £10,000 worth of tea from its holds (approximately £636,000 in 2008) into the harbor. This event became known as the Boston Tea Party.
Finance Britain's war against the Americans, French and Spanish cost about £100 million. The Treasury borrowed 40% of the money it needed. Heavy spending brought France to the verge of bankruptcy and revolution, while the British had relatively little difficulty financing their war, keeping their suppliers and soldiers paid, and hiring tens of thousands of German soldiers. Britain had a sophisticated financial system based on the wealth of thousands of landowners, who supported the government, together with banks and financiers in London The efficient British tax system collected about 12 percent of the GDP in taxes during the 1770s. In 1775 there was at most 12 million dollars in gold in the colonies, not nearly enough to cover current transactions, let alone on a major war. The British made the situation much worse by imposing a tight blockade on every American port, which cut off almost all imports and exports.
National debt The national debt after the American Revolution fell into three categories. The first was the $12 million owed to foreigners mostly money borrowed from France. There was general agreement to pay the foreign debts at full value. The national government owed $40 million and state governments owed $25 million to Americans who had sold food, horses, and supplies to the revolutionary forces. There were also other debts that consisted of promissory notes issued during the Revolutionary War to soldiers, merchants, and farmers who accepted these payments on the premise that the new Constitution would create a government that would pay these debts eventually. The war expenses of the individual states added up to $114 million compared to $37 million by the central government. In 1790, at the recommendation of first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, Congress combined the remaining state debts with the foreign and domestic debts into one national debt totaling $80 million. Everyone received face value for wartime certificates, so that the national honor would be sustained and the national credit established.