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I think 4 and 5 above bring up excellent points. With that being said, I usually think of treason as more of an act with a specific, much more narrow purpose than a revolution. Revolutions exist to enact wide-sweeping change while treason is more of a protest against a specific action or person.
Under the United Kingdom’s Treason Act of 1351, the American revolutionaries seemingly could have been found guilty of treason under the act’s third clause, if the British had prevailed in the war:
if a man do levy war against our lord the King in his realm, or be adherent to the King’s enemies in his realm, giving to them aid and comfort in the realm, or elsewhere
In 1775, colonial authorities charged John Hancock, Sam Adams, Joseph Warren, and Benjamin Church with high treason and high misdemeanors. The four men eluded arrest.
The American Revolution is probably more accurately classified as a war of independence, in which the citizens of a nation’s colony broke away from that nation, rather than a revolution in which a faction within a country displaced the rulers or ruling party.
In his classic Anatomy of a Revolution, Crane Brinton notes that the American Revolution did not follow the general pattern of revolutions. See http://www.historyteacher.net/EuroProjects/ExamReviewSheets/AnatomyOfARevolution.htm
This is an interesting question!
I absolutely believe that it was a true revolution. Think of what they were up against when they chose to fight the British! The odds were almost insurmountable that they could even put a dent in the British Army and Navy, let alone organize themselves well enough to be a threat. The instigators of the American Revolution were gutsy, brave, and what I call true patriots who were willing to die for their beliefs and for the freedom of a new nation. Yes, there were missteps and mistakes along the way, but in the end, the revolutionaries' dreams were finally realized.
The difference between treason and revolution is the difference between individual and group. A few people commit treason. A group commits revolution.
The difference between treason and revolution is simply the difference between success and failure. A successful mass movement becomes a revolution, while an unsuccessful one becomes treason.
American revolution was a successful one and therefore a revolution. Further, we must remember that it was not motivated by consideration of personal benefits by the leaders of the revolution, or to favour some aspiring ruler at the cost of the existing one. Another, important consideration is that it benefited the American people violating the justified rights or freedom of other people.
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