What Caused the American Revolution - History Essay

Published: 2021-06-23
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At the end of the seven-year war that concluded with the treaty of Paris, the British colonists in north America anticipated a bright future free of wars and disruptions from the catholic powers at the time which were Spain and France. At the time, with the British flag flying over much of north America, the colonists looked forward to uninterrupted peace, expansion and prosperity as now they had the identity of free Britons after the British victory over France. Although at first the colonists were to some extent proud to be British, it gradually changed over time when disagreements arose on how Great Britain was treating its colonies as compared to how the colonies felt they should be treated. The colonists in the thirteen American colonies were of the idea that they deserved all the rights and liberties afforded to the British in Britain. On the other hand, the Englishmen in Britain felt that the colonies were in place to be utilized as they saw fit (Kurtz and Hutson 135). Growing tensions and rebellions would eventually result from such disagreements among other practices that the crown placed on the colonists, all of which led to the American revolution.

The American revolution cannot be attributed to a specific cause, rather it was as a culmination of several factors, chief among which was the taxes that were enforced on the colonies. The conclusion of the French and Indian war left the crown in huge debt. Furthermore, there were uprising from the territories newly acquired from France, as such, the British decided to keep in place an army in the American colonies (Maier). Thus, in order to maintain the army as well as get the funds to relieve the debt, the British, in order to raise the money required, resulted to raising taxes in the colonies through parliamentary acts.

Two acts, the sugar act and the stamp act, were the initial cause for the conflict between Britain and the American colonies. the sugar act sought to raise money for securing, defending and protecting the colonies while the stamp act excised taxes on pamphlets, newspapers, advertisements among other commercial and legal documents in America. Those in violation of the stamp act were liable of trail without a jury in the admiralty courts. The colonists as a result were opposed to the stamp act as it resulted to the violation of the right to a trial by jury. Furthermore, the two acts went against the English principle of taxation without representation thus the colonists felt Britain had no right to enforce such acts on America as the colonists did not have representatives in the House of Commons (Kurtz and Hutson 143).

In response, the British did not see the need for the colonists to have representatives as they argued other Englishmen in remote also did not have representatives and further still, the representatives in the house of commons represented all British in every part of the world, not just those who elected them. The colonist however could not accept this reasoning as their new way of thinking could not rationalize the notion of a legislator representing and defending the interests of people who had not chosen him (Maier). As a result, the colonist petitioned for a repeal of the two acts as allowing them to take effect would create a precedent for new taxes unfavorable to the colonists.

In 1765, there was an uprising in Boston that led to the resignation of the Massachusetts stamp collector. His resignation meant that there was nobody in that colony to collects taxes. The uprising also led to the resignation of other stamp collectors in the other colonies and with little effort, the stamp act did not go into effect. The resignation of the various stamp collectors was due to the fact that it was becoming increasingly difficult to enforce the will of the crown after the uprising in Boston. This difficulty was also being experienced by the governors of the various states, a situation that was further worsened by the fact the Britain did not offer their agents in the colonies any guidance or support (Skemp156). This action led to the parliament repealing the act, however replacing it with a declaratory act that allowed the parliament to bind all colonies.

In affirming this right, the parliament passed an act that levied duties on paper, glass tea and other imports into America. These taxes were to help pay for the colonies defense and the salaries of the royal officials who were dependent on the provincial assemblies. The colonists, to a degree, agreed with this move as they saw it as the right of the crown in its governing activities, however, they felt that once more, the acts of parliament were unconstitutional and destructive to the colonies (Skemp 161) as they were being taxed without any representation. In addition, these acts of parliament were infringing on American liberties in that the British were levying taxes on goods that came from Britain while at the same time the colonists were not allowed to export from any other party apart from Britain. Furthermore, these acts only favored one party, the British, and effectively established a monopoly that the British controlled. In an effort to avoid further violence, the colonists organized non-importation associations that pressured the parliament to repeal all but the tea duties.

Several other acts, most notably the coercive acts, were passed by the parliament, mostly facilitated by the colonists response to the duties. The colonists saw the tea duty as a violation of their right to trade as the British, through the East India Company sought to monopolize trade in the American colonies (Kurtz and Hutson 150). as a result, the colonists boycotted British products and even going as far as sabotaging tea shipments. Such sabotages thus resulted tot the coercive acts that afforded a royal government with greater control which meant, among other processes, that royal officials that committed felonies in the colonies would be prosecuted in Britain.

However, these coercive acts, which were meant to isolate specific colonies, specifically Massachusetts had the opposite effect of rallying the remaining colonies in defense of Massachusetts. As a result, the colonies in the fight for the freedoms and liberties, resulted to the formations of a continental congress that adopted a statement of right that urged the citizens of the colonies to act in their own defense against the unconstitutional acts by the British parliaments. The statement of right was the foundation of the colonists belief that people have the right to stand up to a government that did not represent the needs of the people (Kelly).

The continental congress however, prior to the revolution, made several other attempts at dialogue towards peace to the crown by even declaring their loyalty to the king. However, the king did not respond in their favor but rather issued proclamations stating that the congress would hang for their defiance. Thus, it was clear that the crown did not view the colonists as equals and as a result was not willing to compromise with them a point that the colonists also inferred from the kings response. Thus, the colonies drafted the declaration of independence from the British empire which marked the beginning of the American war towards independence.

Works cited

Kelly, Martin. "Causes of the American Revolution." 31 March 2017. ThoughtCo. Document. 22 April 2017.

Kurtz, Stephen G and James H Hutson. Essays on the American Revolution. Chapel Hill: UNC Press Books, 2013. Print.

Maier, Pauline. "The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History." 2009. The American Revolution, 17631783. Web. 22 April 2017.

Skemp, Sheila L. Benjamin and William Franklin: Father and Son, Patriot and Loyalist. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 1994. Print.





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