What range of (long and short term) causes, when combined, provides a satisfactory explanation for why the American Revolution broke out in 1775?
In the period from 1756 to 1765 England was fighting the French in the Seven Years War in Europe. The English also fought the French in North America. The English won both at home and abroad, but at a high financial cost. The English government decided to make the American colonists pay for their protection against the French and help subsidise the costs of the Seven Years War. The American colonists, on the other hand, did not agree that they were vulnerable and believed they could protect themselves as they had done for the past one hundred years. So the British government passed acts such as the Townshend Revenue Act, which put a tax on tea, paper, paint, and lead. These acts forced the American colonists to pay off some of the great debt left by the Seven Years War. Some acts even allowed the British regular troops to stay in the colonists’ houses. The colonists were given no say in any one of these laws and acts. The colonists then began the outcry “No taxation without representation!” This eventually led to rebellion and the colonists went to war with Britain in 1775 in defence of their rights thus resulting in the American Revolution.
Hostilities that lead to the Seven Year War actually started in North America two years before the European war, in 1754. The American colonists helped the English fight against the French settlements and fortifications. When King George III ascended the throne in 1760 he found his treasury drained by these wars. The British had a huge debt and the British people were already being heavily taxed. The British Government decided to make the American colonists pay for their protection by imposing taxes on them. This was not popular, as the Americans had been spared the burden of paying taxes up to this point. Many immigrants had left Britain to get away from taxes such as the unpopular and unhealthy, “Window Tax,” which taxed the people of Britain according to the number of windows they had on their house.
There were many Acts passed that put taxes on various materials, which were thought to be the most popular imports from England. The Americans were not allowed to trade with any other country so these taxes were forced upon them. Such Acts forcing taxes were the Townshend Act, which put a tax on tea, paper, paint and lead; the Sugar Act which put a tax on molasses, sugar and wine; and the Stamp Act which put taxes on every legal document and newspaper. Customs officials were authorised to search homes and enforce these regulations. The Colonists resented this invasion of their privacy. Sympathy for the colonists was widespread even in England and included the statesman William Pitt who said, “Such searches violate immunity of an English home … where the king himself could not enter.”
The British considered the Proclamation Line of 1763 as an excellent way of protecting the colonists. It stopped the colonists from wandering over the mountains, making it easier for the British regulars to protect them against attacks from the French. The colonists, on the other hand, thought this was yet another way of making them pay taxes and made it easier for the British regular troops to keep an eye on them. Many of the colonists disliked the Proclamation Line because the land on the other side was free and another bonus was that if you lived on the other side of the Proclamation Line you didn't have to pay any taxes.
In 1764 the British government passed the Sugar Act, which put a tax on molasses, sugar and wine. This was a bad move for the British government as this act in effect reduced the rum supply. Molasses was used for making rum and there were not many other ways to make it. For many colonists this was unacceptable and was a major trigger in their rebellion. This also made the...