How Land Speculation, Debt, and Trade Monopolies Led to the American Revolution
Was the American Revolution fought to achieve abstract ideals of
individual freedom or to serve economic interests?
?Both!? is the answer provided by Prof. Thomas D.
Curtis in this intriguing study. He shows how British policy,
particularly as it related to the speculation in lands on the
western frontier (in the Appalachias and the Ohio Valley), had the
unintended effect of uniting diverse interests into a force for
rebellion. The leaders included heavily indebted southern
landowners (including George Washington), northern urban land
speculators (including Benjamin Franklin), and wealthy northern
merchants who feared, after 1773, that England would impose trade
monopolies that would bankrupt them. Artisans, shopkeepers,
and small-scale farmers were influenced by combinations of economic
and ideological motives. Small-scale land-oriented interests
consisted of the settlers who wanted cheap land for farming in the
western frontier areas, but who were denied legal title to the
Indian lands by British law.