Benefits of the American Revolution: An Exploration of Positive Externalities

Publication Date

July 2018

Document Type


Publication Title

The Library of Economics and Liberty


It has become de rigueur, even among libertarians and classical liberals, to denigrate the benefits of the American Revolution. Thus, libertarian Bryan Caplan writes: “Can anyone tell me why American independence was worth fighting for?… [W]hen you ask about specific libertarian policy changes that came about because of the Revolution, it’s hard to get a decent answer. In fact, with 20/20 hindsight, independence had two massive anti-libertarian consequences: It removed the last real check on American aggression against the Indians, and allowed American slavery to avoid earlier—and peaceful—abolition.” One can also find such challenges reflected in recent mainstream writing, both popular and scholarly.