War and Upheaval

By 1776, only a complete surrender by colonials or the British government would decide the case of American rights—and neither side was inclined to take such a step. As George Washington wrote, none of his fellow colonials "will ever submit to the loss of those valuable rights and privileges which are essential to the happiness of every free state." The British government, however, saw American opposition as the opinion of only a vocal minority and reassertion of its authority as the only way to keep the empire from entirely dissolving. With each side convinced that abdication of its position would lead to catastrophe, armed conflict was inevitable and, by the end of the war in 1783, would transform the Atlantic world.

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