Great Britain regulated trade in the American colonies to
such a great extent that there was growing annoyance among
the settlers at the controls and checks imposed upon them.
There were acts of rebellion and this hostility flared into
war on 19 April, 1775; when shots were exchanged in
The first battle of the war was fought at Bunker Hill
Charlestown in which Britain won; they also scored decisive
victories in New York (1776) and Philadelphia (1777). But
the American Continental Congress had appointed George
Washington (1732-99) to take charge of the untrained
American soldiers and he inspired them to fight for their
freedom. Further inspiration was provided on 4 July, 1776
when the Congress issued the Declaration of Independence
drafted by Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration renounced
allegiance to the British throne and resolved "that these
United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and
independent states.'' Americans were aided in their fight by
Britain's enemies in Europe and in 1777 the British general
Burgoyne (1723-92) was forced to surrender at Saratoga.
In 1781 General Cornwallis (1738-1805) besieged at Yorktown
by French ships which prevented aid from reaching him by
sea, surrendered and the War of Independence ended. America
was granted its independence in 1783 and George Washington
was elected the first President of USA.
Boston tea party
– It is an incident related to the War of
Independence in America when settlers in colonies threw a
shipment of 342 chests of tea into the sea at Boston in
1773. To suppress the agitation, the colony of Massachusetts
was brought under direct control of the Crown.
The Turkish empire included south-east Europe and the Middle
East. The Greeks were the first people to revolt against the
Turks in 1821.
Russians supported the Greeks, Britain and France also
joined in supporting the Greeks in 1827. All three countries
joined together to destroy the Turkish empire and the Turks
were forced to yield. The Greeks achieved independence in
When the Dutch gained independence in the late sixteenth
century, the southern provinces of the Netherlands (roughly
equal to modern Belgium) remained under the rule of Spain,
and later Austria. During the Napoleonic, wars they were
overrun by the French and when Napoleon was defeated in 1814
Belgium was reunited with the Netherlands as one kingdom.
The union with the Dutch was not accepted in Belgium.
Although the two peoples had much in common, problems arose
out of differences in religion, language and social customs.
Under the Dutch king the Belgians, felt that they were being
regarded as second-class citizens. This led to riots against
Dutch rule in 1830 and quickly developed into a full-scale
The Belgians declared their independence in 1830 and drew up
a national Constitution in 1831 inviting Leopold of
Saxe-Coburg (1790-1865) to become their first king.
In the 18th century France was under the despotic rule of
King Louis XVI, who was not only inexperienced but also
weak, feeble and lacked administrative capabilities. He
believed in the Theory of Divine Right of Kings. At the time
French society consisted of nobles, clergy and the
commoners. Nobles belonged to the highly privileged class
and enjoyed special rights. As one-fifth of the land was the
property of the church, the clergy monopolized offices of
the church and led a luxurious life. The commoners were
isolated as the most under-privileged class which comprised
peasants in villages, workers in cities and middle-class
The commoners were awakened by French philosopher of the
time who attacked the church, the crown, and old traditions,
of despotic rule. Montesquieu (1689-1755) who was dead
against the Divine Right Theory of kings; Volatire
(1664-1774) who exposed the tyranny and arbitrary practices
of the King, abuses of the Church and social inequalities;
Rousseau (1712-1778), were the 18h century philosophers of
France, who through their writings and ideologies of
liberty, equality and fraternity prepared the nation for
this great revolution in France.
French Revolution not only made France a Republic but also
gave new direction to the oppressed people of other
countries, helped advocated and furthered the cause of
liberty, fraternity and equality by awakening people against
despotic rulers in their countries.
The great revolution in Russia took place in two stages. The
first stage of the Russian Revolution began in February 1917
with the overthrow of the Czar Nicholas II. The second stage
in October of the same year led to the establishment of the
world's first communist state by the Bolsheviks under Lenin.
Revolution Russia joined the Allies in World War I to 1914,
and met with success in the beginning but was defeated in
1915-16 with over 5.5 million casualties in 2.5 years of
war. This led to shortage of war material and food which
thoroughly frustrated the soldiers.
On 7 March, 1917, workers struck work and attacked
Petrograd. Farmers revolted to villages and the frustrated
soldiers of World War I joined the general public to revolt
against the Czar. Riots broke out and lawlessness spread
throughout Russia. The Czar was dethroned and a temporary
government set up under prince Kerensky's leadership.
Kerensky was the follower of a midway policy (Mensheviks
group) but people wanted definite social and economic
Lenin who was deeply influenced by the principles of Karl
Marx took over leadership of the Bolshevik party which
wished to setup a common government. The unity of labourers
and peasants under the leadership of Lenin made the
revolution a success.
Lenin emerged as a great revolutionary leader; Czar Nicholas
II and his family were assassinated, power came into the
hands of the public, and landlords, traders and the clergy
were reduced to destitution. The Russian revolution set up a
new society on the basis of communist principles and thus
the great revolution came to an end.
This was a great revolution after the French revolution
(1789-93) which was not limited to Russia alone but affected
almost all countries of the world. It established the
ideology of Marxism and led to the independence of several
The Manchu Dynasty was overthrown and a republic proclaimed
in October 1911. First President Sun Yat-Sen resigned in
favour of strongman Yuan Shih-Kai. Sun organized the
Parliamentarian `Kuomintany' Party. Students launched
protests on 4 May, 1919 against League of Nations
concessions in China to Japan. Nationalist, liberal and
socialist ideas and political groups spread. The Communist
Party was founded in 1921. An Communist regime took power in
Mongolia with Soviet support in 1921.
In 1947 Algeria became politically unified with France but
the 86 percent Muslim population (Arabs and Berber) revolted
against French domination and in 1954 war broke out. French
deployed half a million troops against the rebels, but
instead of suppressing the revolution, troops supported the
agitation and it turned into a sort of civil war. General De
Gaulle was called upon and he ultimately planned the
Algerian independence which was achieved in 1962.
Elections in Pakistan in 1970 resulted in a split between
the Punjabis of West Pakistan and the Bengalis of East
Pakistan. By March 1971 the tension between the two groups
had escalated. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (1920-75) of East
Pakistan and his separatist party the Awami League launched
a civil disobedience movement and called for independence
from Pakistan's rule. On Pakistan's Republic Day (March 23)
people dragged down its national flag and unfurled the flag
of Bangladesh. Severe fighting took place between the
separatist (Mukti Bahini) and Pakistan's forces stationed in
East Pakistan. Mujibur Rahman was charged with treason.
However, formal independence was declared on 17 April, 1971
and fierce fighting continued in which India supported the
separatist group. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was nominated
President of Bangladesh while in jail and returned to
Bangladesh in January 1972 to a tumultuous welcome. He was,
however, assassinated in 1975.
In 1985 President Gorbachov inherited a collapsing empire.
Constricted by domestic pressures, he chose not to intervene
when, in a few dramatic months of late 1989 and early 1990,
communist governments of Eastern Europe collapsed under
popular pressure and new regimes declared themselves
independent of Soviet control. The tearing down of the
Berlin Wall, and subsequent reunification of Germany was the
most powerful symbol of change. The situation was little
better in the republics which constituted the Soviet Union.
The people were increasingly disillusioned by falling living
standards and inefficient government. Powerful nationalists
forces, from the southern republics of Armenia to Azerbaijan
to the old Baltic States in the north, now threatened to
break up the Soviet Union from within. In August 1991 an
attempt by communist `hard-liners' to restore the old system
in a coup d'etat failed, leaving the central Soviet
government stripped of any real power. As one republic after
another announced succession it was quickly clear that the
world possessed another `sick man'<197>with all the
attendant dangers. The collapse of Soviet Union signaled
the end of superpower confrontation.