Social Sciences

Start Free Trial

What were the Pros and Cons of the American Revolution? (in point form)

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The American Revolution had many consequences. While most Americans would view the Revolution as a positive event, there were some downsides to it. The positives and negatives of the Revolution are listed below.

Pros:

  • The American Revolution allowed the colonists to gain their independence from Britain and enjoy the self-government...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

The American Revolution had many consequences. While most Americans would view the Revolution as a positive event, there were some downsides to it. The positives and negatives of the Revolution are listed below.

Pros:

  • The American Revolution allowed the colonists to gain their independence from Britain and enjoy the self-government that they craved. The colonists demanded responsive government and thought that they could have a better ruling system than Parliament—now was their chance.
  • The American Revolution allowed the U.S. to legally expand to the Mississippi River. This meant valuable farmland for a relatively young population.
  • The experiment in self-government from the American Revolution allowed for the creation of a Constitution. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are still valuable documents in the United States, as well as inspirations for oppressed people everywhere.
  • The revolution caused many to rethink the role of women and slaves in society. Women would continue to be oppressed, but many states in the North released their slaves. This can be partially attributed to slavery not being as valuable as it was on Southern plantations.

Cons:

  • The divisiveness of the American Revolution split families. Many Loyalists were permanently blacklisted from government.
  • U.S. expansion was a factor in the destruction of native cultures in the West.
  • There was an economic depression as the Continental dollar fell, and the young nation had no trade deal with Britain, its chief trade partner.
  • The French Revolution was indirectly caused by the American Revolution. The Americans could not have won without French backing; however, the message of liberty was too tempting for the French underclass. The French Revolution was seen as a positive by many in the young United States, but it was also responsible for such bloodletting events like the Reign of Terror and the Napoleonic Wars. It is impossible to separate these events from those happening in the New World.
  • The divisiveness in American politics was especially virulent after the Washington administration. It is a small miracle that a civil war did not break out between the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans.
  • A smallpox epidemic broke out during the early days of the American Revolution. The U.S. army experimented with live smallpox inoculations, but sometimes these only killed the person receiving the vaccine. This disease would not have spread as quickly if not for both the British and American armies in the field, as well as overall scarcity of resources and sanitation. These disease vectors would not have been as powerful if the American Revolution did not happen. This story can be read in the book Pox Americana: The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-1782.
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Your question does not make it clear whether one should refer to the positive and negatives outcomes of the conflict or if the focus should be on the pros and cons of the war itself, i.e. whilst it was being fought.

There were major political, economic and social effects, both negative and positive, during, and as a consequence of, the Revolution:

Pros:

  • American Independence: The country was finally free of British rule. States could now work together and express their autonomy. They now had the opportunity for self-determination and could establish their own laws.
  • The drafting of the Constitution: This is one of the major results of the conflict since it drove the states to draw up a charter which expressed the fundamental rights of all of its citizens. This has become the cornerstone for governance.
  • The growth of American nationalism: Americans were unified in their fight against British domination. It was essential that they share a common purpose in order to defeat the British.
  • Unity: The states were unified and were determined to form a unitary government which eventually led to the formation of the United States of America.
  • The separation of church and state: These two institutions were inalienably linked prior to the revolution. Once independence had been achieved, it was decided that the they should be separated. One had no influence on the other. This separation became a fundamental tenet of the constitution.
  • Positive changes in the attitude to women: Women had to assume greater responsibilities during the conflict and this resulted in greater respect and regard for them after the war. They were deemed more the equal of men and respected for their significant contributions in winning the war. 
  • Positive effect on attitudes to slavery: Many of the northern states adopted anti-slavery legislation after the war. In a few of the southern states slaves were set free or allowed to buy their freedom. The revolution introduced more liberal thinking and the principles of emancipation found greater relevance in the minds of the populace.

Cons:

  • Division over the war: The revolution created much conflict within families, communities and between states about the purpose of the conflict. Many were loyalists whilst others were neutral and others, of course, were determined to fight for freedom. As a result, these differences of opinion led to dissension and dispute during, and even after, the war. 
  • Financial loss: The war had been an expensive venture for both sides. States had to make huge loans to finance the conflict and found themselves in huge debt after the conflagration. The immense cost would result in massive deflation and a valueless currency which would also lead to economic depression. 
  • Negative impact on commerce: America lost a major trading partner in Britain. Trade between the two countries came to a standstill. Even though America could freely trade with other countries, the economic losses were of such magnitude that it would result in depression.
  • Economic depression: Since Congress could not pay most of its debts, many individuals lost faith in their new government. Debtors were demanding the repayment of debts which forced Congress to demand dues from states which refused to pay. States raised taxes to pay their own war debts. Money all over the country was in desperately short supply.
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The American Revolution resulted from a conflict between Thirteen American Colonies, who were opposed to the tyrannical administration of the British monarchy and parliament. One of their main complaints was the issue of taxation without representation in the British government. The escalation of these demands led to a split in the American society with the emergence of two opposing factions. The Patriots who were against British authority, and Loyalists who sought to maintain the relationship with the British Monarchy.

Pros of the American Revolution include:

  • The establishment of the United States as an independent nation
  • The creation of a new Constitution which was among the benefits of self-rule/ determination
  • The establishment of a strong national government that provided an opportunity for equal representation
  • The conflict inspired other territories to assert their rights for self-governance

Cons of the conflict include:

  • Significant loss of lives from both sides
  • High financial losses, debts, and inflation, especially on the American side, crippled the treasury and threatened the country’s economy
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team