The American Revolution
The colonists in America had enjoyed relative freedom from England since they arrived. They came to the New World, after all to escape England, for whatever reasons they may have had-religious, economic, or social. So when England decided in the eighteenth century that they were going to crack down on the colonies, the announcement was not met with open arms. In fact, rebellion was inevitable.
Parliament tried to establish power in the New World by issuing a series of laws. The passage of these laws undermined the Colonists loyalty to Britain and stirred the Americans to fight for their freedom. The colonies also accepted Englands right to monitor trade. The change of course in 1767 was what really riled the colonies. England began to slowly tighten its imperial grip to avoid a large reaction from the colonists. During the Seven Years War, the British sent over ten thousand troops to America to handle property problems in the colonies. This cost a big amount of money, and Britain did not want to see the funds come out of their pocket. To handle some of the cost, Britain began passing acts to tax the colonists and help with the big debt the empire was in.
The Sugar Act of 1764 was an example of a tax that had many effects on the Colonial lifestyle. The act stated that any foreign export of lumber or skin had to first land in Britain. It also raised the price of sugar from the Indies. The British took advantage of the colonists, when the Quartering Act in 1765 passed Americans were forced to house and feed British soldiers any time they demanded. This limited the colonists freedom and only spread more anger throughout the colonies. The laws were so regulated it was hard not to make an error. The one that brought out the most public opposition was the Stamp Act in 1765. The Sugar Act wasnt covering the debt, and Parliament was forced to pass the Stamp Act. The Act stated they must use stamped paper for printing bills, legal documents, and playing cards. England saw these acts as needed to cover the expense for the soldiers protecting the colonies; the Americans did not feel the soldiers needed to be in the New World and hated the taxes. The Prime Minister claimed that the Colonists were represented in the parliament: each member stood for the empire as a whole. The acts imposed by England to control and monitor America only succeeded in helping with their independence. The Colonists were left with two options as a result of the Stamp Act, either confront parliament, and risk a fight with the big and powerful mother land, or live with the acts without complaining and give up their right to self govern. The Colonists started many groups like the Sons and Daughters of Liberty to intimidate the officials, who mandated the Stamp Act. In 1765, Congress met and decided that Parliament cant tax the colonists or deny their right to a trail by jury. This Congress was the first step towards unity. Merchants of the colonies began to boycott goods from Britain; they made up a big portion of the population, and thus made an impact on England. In 1766, the Stamp Act was revoked, giving the colonists their first victory towards independence. The Declaratory Act was passed which confirmed Parliaments right to legislate over the colonies always and in all cases.
The Parliament had all control over Colonists and had no more excuses except to obey the laws. The colonists wanted to forget the past and move on, they believed their rebellion had made Britain realize importance to the empire. Time went on and the colonists began to realize the whole purpose of the acts was to get them to forget all bought self-ruling.
In 1776, a new Prime Minister, William Pitt, was appointed who opposed taxing the colonies. He was in bad health, so the former treasurer Charles Townshend took over. He began to insist that parliament start taxing the colonies again. When protesting for the Quartering Act caused a lot of angry towards parliament, who thought the repeal of the Stamp Act was a good enough gift for the Americans. Townshend was so angry at the protest that he passed the Suspending Act, which nullified all acts from New York after October 1st if they refuse to pay their expenses for the soldiers. The tension would soon give way to the colonys loyalty to Mother England. Townshend passed a series of acts known as the Townshend Duties. There was a tax on glass, paint, paper and tea and the monies from these would cover the salaries of the governors. The sole purpose of this was to get control turned over to England. The Americans despised the act, as this was another means of controlling them. The hard cold fact was that they were still being taxed without someone representing them. Despite their outrage for the tax it was light and tea was easily smuggled in.
In 1768, to control the colonists against order, two platoons of troops were brought into Boston. In 1770, the Boston massacre took place, in which six Colonists were killed after protesting to a group of soldiers. This was the first spill of blood in the American Revolution. One group of British soldiers after the next was sent into America to enforce the acts, which made the colonists even more hostile. Committees formed to promote friction to England and its Acts. Letters were written to the colonies to rebel against the acts, and Great Britain, seeing as a start of rebellion ordered all colonies to disregard the letters. The colonies also refused to import British goods, urging the British merchants to apply pressure on parliament to repeal the Townshend Duties.
In 1770, a new Prime Minister, Lord North, was elected and he got rid of the Townshend duties but kept the tax on tea. Also, there was a change in the arguments made by the colonists, which was that no more acts without the approval of the colonists. The change caused 1,700 troops to be sent into Boston and provoked the Americans more. By 1773, a lot of British loyalty had subsided low in the colonies. The Colonists were ignoring the tea tax, and just smuggling in foreign tea. The Americans had been collecting muskets and other weapons and taking them to Concord waiting for the war with the British to start. A group of some 130 minutemen were organizing for the defense against 800 advancing British soldiers. Eight Americans were killed and several wounded, this was known as the Battle of Lexington, the first in a series of wars in a span of eight-years between the colonist and Britain.
In January of 1776, Thomas Payne published Common Sense; a letter that stated kingship is hazardous to liberty and is undemocratic. It stated to disown the king. At this point in time the colonist were ready for an all out war against the British.
The road to revolution was inevitable when the Stamp Act was passed. It was at this point that the different views of the Colonist and the British really began to blossom. When this happened, the Americans had already developed such a sense of freedom that nothing the British could do would have destroyed it. Once this self-reliance was achieved there was nothing the British could do to repress it. The road to the American
Revolution was long and hard. Britain insisted on passing act after act to tax the colonies and ruin their devotion to the crown. Through all of the trouble the acts caused, it made the colonies push together for their independence. Once together as a whole, the colonies were able to develop their own individuality and defeat the British Soldiers for their freedom of the controlling British ruling.
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