Kevin Phillips Discusses the Role Played by Money, Debt, & Trade in the American Revolution


Lauren asks Kevin Phillips why 1775 was a good year for revolution, and not 1776, the date commonly associated with the American Revolution. Mr. Phillips tells Lauren that it was in fact in the spring of 1775 that the government was formed, in june the army was created, and in july the congress passed the declaration of the causes and necessities of taking up arms. The king of Great Britain declared the colonies in rebellion by august of 1775. It was already widely recognized that the empire was being torn in half.

Kevin Phillips also dispels another myth, that being that the colonies were this unified and disaffected mass rebelling against the crown. Reality is more complicated. There were a certain number of important colonies that stand out above the rest, namely Massachusetts, Virginia and South Carolina. Lauren also spoke with Kevin Phillips about some of the economic causes of the revolution. As commonly as we hear 1776 associated with the date of the revolution, "taxation without representation," is often cited as the economic battle cry of the revolution. In reality, currency laws and trade restrictions were far more important, according to Kevin Phillips, who cites the Currency Act of 1764 as only the latest in many forms of monetary control over the colonies, as well as the various Navigation, which were a series of laws that restricted the use of foreign shipping for trade between the British Crown and its colonies, a process which had started in 1651.

Lauren also asks Kevin Phillips to compare the current financial system in America with that which existed in the colonies and Great Britain at the time of the revolution. How much of an influence did finance play during 1775 and in the preceding years, and how does this compare to what we have seen in America before and after the crisis of 2008.

For the second part of the interview that aired on Capital Account's December 6th Episode, see here: