Lieux et formes de pouvoir / Places and forms of power : The American Revolution - Anglais - Terminale STMG

Lieux et formes de pouvoir / Places and forms of power : The American Revolution - Anglais - Terminale STMG

digiSchool vous propose un cours de Terminale STMG à propos de la notion d'anglais : Places and forms of power.

Retrouvez le sujet The American Revolution, où les thèmes de lieux et formes de pouvoir vous seront illustrés.

Téléchargez gratuitement ce cours d'anglais pour votre Bac STMG.

Lieux et formes de pouvoir / Places and forms of power : The American Revolution - Anglais - Terminale STMG

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After the colonisation of Northern America by British settlers, in the 17th century, the colonies grew to become successful areas, with a growing population, exchanges and trade, and their own local governments and systems. Thus, over the decades, the American colonies started to develop an identity, culture and spirit of their own. They started to dissociate from their mother country, Great Britain.

Naturally, by the mid-18th century, conflicts arose and disagreements led to the idea of separating the American colonies from the kingdom. This led to the American war of Independence, a long war (from 1755 to 1783), which, in different steps, and with the help of France, ended up with the official declaration of US independence on September 3rd, 1783, in the Treaty of Paris.





A la deuxième moitié du XVIIIe siècle, l’empire britannique comporte treize colonies en Amérique du Nord : le New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, le Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, le New Jersey, la Pennsylvanie, le Delaware, le Maryland, la Virginie, la Caroline du Nord, la Caroline du Sud, et la Géorgie. Toutes les colonies étaient très similaires, tant au niveau politique qu’au niveau culturel ou légal. 



Map of of the Thirteenth Colonies (1876)


Alors que les colonies ont pris de l’importance petit à petit et sont devenues des territoires développés, la Grande-Bretagne a décidé de mieux les contrôler pour en tirer le plus d’avantages possibles, notamment au niveau économique. Ce contrôle est passé par la création de nouvelles taxes, tel que le Stamp Act en 1765. Les colons, opposés à cette influence grandissante de l’Empire, ont commencé à refuser de payer et boycotter certains produits en provenance de Grande Bretagne. De plus, ils n’avaient aucun membre au Parlement à Londres pour les représenter.

Ces désaccords et tensions ont naturellement mené les colons Américains à vouloir quitter l’Empire britannique et former leur propre nation. C’est ainsi que la Déclaration d’Indépendance fut signée, le 4 juillet 1776, et la guerre entre les deux camps démarra.

Les forces américaines ont bénéficié de l’aide de la France, et ainsi ont gagné la plupart des batailles qui les ont opposés aux Anglais. Ceux-ci ont fini par capituler en octobre 1781, et ont accordé l’indépendance à leurs anciennes colonies.




Even though they were part of the British Empire, the Thirteen Colonies of Northern America had established their own, local political system. They had self-governments and elected members (there were regular elections and a lot of men could vote) to decide on laws and justice, and for them, the authority of the British Crown was very distant. As the years passed, they grew more and more assertive, claiming their power and importance. The colonies soon started collaborating with each other, and shared a common identity, that they didn’t share with Great Britain. However, all the royal colonies were supervised by governors appointed by the government in England. Because of the growing importance and wealth of the colonies, London wanted to have more control over them, but the colonies preferred working together, without the authority of Great Britain. 

In 1765, the conflict over the Stamp Act was particularly demonstrative of the tension between the Empire and the colonies: Parliament had decided to pass the Act, which stated that printed items (newspapers, magazines, playing cards, legal documents, etc.) had to be printed on official paper made in London. The money from these prints was a tax, directly to the British Empire. This law was very unpopular in the colonies. The colonists raised the idea of “no taxation without representation”: because the colonies didn’t have any members to represent them in the Parliament in London, they should not have to pay taxes. As a result, there was local protest (in the streets) in the colonies, several committees were organised to discuss the law, and a Stamp Act Congress was held in New York; it was the first “official” gathering of Americans from different colonies to talk together about their unity and their conflict with England.

The response of the Crown was strong: the government in London didn’t take into account the protest of the colonies, and passed more taxes. As the colonies grew restless, Great Britain wanted to strengthen their power over their American territories and people. 




In December 1773, the Tea Act was introduced by Parliament, after numerous other attempts at taxing the colonies on imported products. This Act stated that all the tea imported by the colonies had to be from the East India Company, a British tea company that was in financial trouble at the time. Thus, this new law was made to help the East India Company, and restricted the freedom of trade of the colonies, which didn’t have a choice regarding their importation of tea.

This law was welcomed with a lot of protest, and in Boston (in the colony of Massachusetts), on the night of December 16th, 1773, a group of around sixty men, some of them dressed as Native Americans, took possession of East India Company ships and dumped the big boxes of tea in the ocean. The value of the lost merchandise was of thousands and thousands of pounds (which represent even more in today’s money).    



“Americans throwing the cargoes of the tea ships into the River at Boston”


As a consequence, the British government passed even more laws, called the Intolerable Acts, to punish the colonies for their revolts. To counterattack the British government, the colonies boycotted British merchandise, and in 1774, they created the Continental Congress, a national government common to all the colonies. This government was created to stand up against the power of the British Empire, and it quickly became the colonies’ way of claiming independence and being assembled all together as a separate nation.




The first real actions of violence started in April 1775, with civil unrest in Lexington and Concord. During these events, British troops threatened to take the military store supplies of the local American militia. This plan was stopped by the American men, in a big fight with the British forces. The British were defeated by the Americans, but this battle was an important step in the escalation of violence in the conflict for Independence.

From there, the Revolutionary War started and in several cities, across all colonies, regular fights would take place, some won by the British army, some by the American rebels. The British troops organised themselves to attack, but the settlers' need for control over their territory and society motivated them to gather together and fight what they now considered to be the enemy. Most colonists were in favour of independence from the British Empire. This led to the signing, on July 4th, 1776, of the Declaration of Independence. It was written and approved during a Continental Congress, and among the writers of the Declaration are Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (who would become the first, second and third Presidents of the United States). The Declaration proclaimed that the Thirteen Colonies became independent and were not submitted to English laws and the English government.



The conception of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress


As war continued, with important long fights in New York or battles in New England, where the resistance to the British forces was important, one battle marked a big turning in the conflict : the battles of Saratoga, in 1777. They were difficult battles, one in October and one in November. The American forces showed their strength by resisting the British army, preventing them from winning. During these battles, the French officially showed their support to the American revolutionaries. France had been helping the colonists in secret for some time, but Saratoga is the moment where France publicly declared their support to the American revolutionary army. The French were a great help, and contributed to the defeat of the British on October 17th. The British troops were not large enough (there were more men on the revolutionaries' side), so they surrendered and the Americans won this key battle.



The British surrender to the American troops


During the following years, the war went on with numerous battles and fights in the colonies. The French forces, increased the number of men that fought on the side of the colonists.

In October 1781, the last steps towards Independence were taken with the battle at Yorktown, in Virginia. During that battle, the revolutionary troops, led by George Washington and the French general, Comte de Rochambeau, were much larger than the British army. On October 9th, they started bombarding the British fortifications, and the assault lasted a few days. The British had little chance of winning, and tried to resist as long as possible. However, on October 17th, they surrendered and declared to the American and French armies that they abandoned the fight. By the 19th, an act of surrender was signed and the British were defeated. The battle of Yorktown marked the failure of the British in their fight to keep their colonies in North America.

However, American independence was only officially signed on September 3rd, 1783, with the Treaty of Paris, in which the British Empire formally recognised the independence of its colonies, which became the first territories of the United States of America.


Useful words:

- the British Crown: la Couronne britannique

- assertive: confidents, sûr de soi

- appointed: nommé, désigné

- wealth: richesse

- playing cards: jeux de cartes

- gathering: rassemblement

- restless: agité

- strengthen: renforcer

- stand up against: s’élever contre

- civil unrest: troubles civils

- to threaten: menacer

- to surrender: se rendre

- failure: défaite

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