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The Influence of the Glorious Revolution in England on the Continental and Colonial Development of the Early United States

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One spark can set a forest ablaze. One knocked-over domino piece can cause the rest in the row to fall. One royal couple’s succession of the throne of England in 1688 and their reign helped influence Americans’ desire for rights, liberty, and self-governance. These ideas and principles that emerged from the Glorious Revolution had a big influence on the Revolutionary War, which freed Americans from British tyranny and control and enabled the new nation to expand and develop its own politics, economy, and culture between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I believe that The Glorious Revolution had a big impact on the development of the early United States’ continental and colonial development.

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in 1588, the English navy defeated the Spanish Armada. This won it the reputation for having the world’s strongest navy. Spain’s consequent loss of dominance over the seas paved the way for English colonization in the New World. In 1607 during the reign of King James I, England founded its first successful colony, the Virginia Colony. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, twelve more colonies were established along the Atlantic Coast of North America. Two were charter colonies, three were proprietary colonies, and seven were royal colonies.

During Catholic King James II’s reign in 1686, he merged the New England colonies and two of the middle colonies, New York and New Jersey, naming it “The Dominion of England.” He appointed Sir Edmund Andros as its royal governor. Governor Andros trod on the colonists’ rights and livelihoods, by imposing laws that taxed them, banned international trade with all countries except England, and limited their ability to assemble. His enforcement of the Navigation Acts damaged America’s economy and frustrated the colonists, especially New Englanders who relied heavily on maritime trade and shipbuilding for profit.

In 1688, King James II abdicated the throne and escaped the country upon the arrival of William III of Orange and his forces. He and his wife, Mary II, both of whom were Protestants, ascended the throne. News of the Glorious Revolution reached the colonists and in 1689, rebellions were organized to dispose of King James’s appointed government officials. The colonies’ original forms of government were thus restored, except in Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth. Signed by Queen Mary II and King William III in 1689, the English Bill of Rights replaced absolute monarchy with constitutional monarchy, which gave Parliament more power and protected the rights of the people of England.

English philosopher John Locke’s ‘The Two Treatises on Government’, which he felt compelled to publish because of the Glorious Revolution, argued in favor of the limitation of the power of the monarchy, and that government’s responsibility was to protect people’s rights. If it did not, the government could be legally overthrown by the people. These principles, and those found in the English Bill of Rights, shaped American thought and attitudes in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Many of America’s Founding Fathers were influenced by Locke’s ideals, including Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison. In 1776, most, but not all, of the colonies signed the Declaration of Independence, uniting them into one country.

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I believe the Revolutionary War, fought between American Patriots and the British in the late eighteenth century over England’s tyrannical control over the colonies, was fought on the principles found in John Locke’s writings, albeit not solely. The American Patriots’ victory at the Battle of York in 1781 and the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783 allowed the colonists in support of the cause for revolution to embrace their new identity as Americans. England acknowledged that America was its own independent nation and yielded the Northwest Territory, which extended the nation’s boundaries.

America developed unique politics. During the Critical Period in the eighteenth century, the absence of a strong national and federal government was a prominent issue in America. The Articles of Confederation, ratified in 1781, weakened the new nation, by giving states certain powers over Congress. Each state imposed its own tariffs, created its own laws, gave little to no money towards the nation’s war debts, created its own trade relations, and more. The ratification of the Constitution between 1787 and 1790 gave the federal government the power to manage and strengthen the new nation. The addition of the Bill of Rights in 1791 protected individual Americans’ rights and liberties, should the government abuse its power.

America developed a unique economy. During James Madison’s presidency, the War of 1812 halted American on trade with England caused Americans to manufacture their own goods, which decreased their dependency on European trade for goods. During the Industrial Revolution between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the United States experienced the emergence of a commercial economy due to the rise of entrepreneurship, especially in the South, and a desire for profits. Advancements in technology and the creation of new inventions spurred America’s agricultural and industrial economic growth. For example, Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin in 1792 made it faster and easier for people to gin cotton, causing cotton to become one of the south’s major and most profitable exports. In 1789, Samuel Slater, with his knowledge of England’s textile technologies, built water-wheeled machinery that powered his textile mills. The expansion of his textile mills and factories in the United States grew rapidly between the early and mid-nineteenth century. After the War of 1812, Henry Clay’s American System plan was introduced to the House in support of strengthening America’s economy and connecting the regions together. One element of the American System highlighted the importance of federally financed infrastructure for the ease and speed of national trade. The construction of roads, such as the 600-mile long National Road constructed between 1811 and 1838, bridges, canals, steamboats, and more occurred throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

America developed a unique urban culture. After Napoleon Bonaparte’s defeat in the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, America encouraged European immigration to the United States’ western states and territories. Immigrants flooded into the country, especially from Ireland and Germany, for a variety of reasons, such as to escape troubling situations in their own countries, such as the Irish Potato Famine in 1845 and the failed German revolutions between 1848 and 1849, and search for a better life and prosperity, such as the Chinese who were intrigued by Gold Rush in California. The influx of immigrants brought diversity to the United States, but many of them shared common interests, including the theater, minstrelsy, and the British sport of boxing.

The Glorious Revolution in England helped pave the way to American democracy, political thought, economic advancement and prosperity, territorial expansion, cultural distinctiveness, and more. Its results, such as the signing of the English Bill of Rights in 1689 and the writings of John Locke, showed Americans that corrupt monarchy could be removed and that governments are established to protect the rights, life and liberty of the people, which had a large role in the events that led to America’s independence and growth in the years that followed.

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The Influence of the Glorious Revolution in England on the Continental and Colonial Development of the Early United States. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 3, 2023, from
“The Influence of the Glorious Revolution in England on the Continental and Colonial Development of the Early United States.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022,
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