Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Katherine Grandjean


History may be written by the victors, but war is not a solo act. Yet the narrative surrounding the American Revolutionary War makes it seem as though the other major actor in the conflict, Great Britain, only reacted to the events in the North American colonies and yielded no personal motives to ultimately declare war. Responsibility for deciding to go to war in 1775 is essentially removed from British pre-war political and military leaders. Limited discussion is held about the exogenous factors that would have influenced British decision makers. This thesis, however, seeks to fill that gap. It assesses how and why Great Britain’s North American military strategy evolved the way it did. I map changes in strategy starting in 1768 when the first schooner, packed with British military forces, arrived in Boston Harbor until April 1775 with the march on Concord. Through three chapters looking at the important English personalities in charge of the military decision-making process, the actions of Great Britain’s neighboring countries, and the strength of England’s economy from 1768–1775, the nuances of the causes of warfare are discussed.