Evaluate the relative importance of the following as factors prompting Americans to rebel in 1776:
Restriction of civil liberties
British Military Measures
The legacy of colonial religion and political ideas
The British colonies in America from the time they were established up until around 1763 had a policy of Salutary Neglect. Salutary Neglect meant that the British would not interfere with the colonies national or even international affairs. This benefitted the colonies, they got to experience some forms of democracy, and they also were able to experience independence in a way though they took it for granted. The British after the Seven Years War, which was fought on American soil, for the Americans protection, decided that the colonies should be required to pay for it in taxes. Britain was in debt, and their economy was in a recession, so the well off colonies tax money would have helped them considerably. The tax would only be the beginning to a long line of British policies further upsetting the colonial people.
Parliamentary taxes on the colonial peoples started with the Navigation Acts in 1660, but they were not an issue to the colonial people because they were too difficult to enforce. Then in 1764 the Stamp Act was passed, this was the first direct tax on the colonists. The Navigations Acts and the Sugar Acts of 1764, which was a tax placed on imported molasses and sugar, had not directly affected colonists, it affected the merchants. The merchants in hand would just raise prices. The stamp act was completely different. It said that any document or printed item would need to have a stamp placed on it purchased from the British government. The Stamp Act upset the colonists; it would be their real reason for rebellion. The time when the stamp act was passed is when we hear the infamous line “No taxation without representation” and they were right to make that demand. The mistake of not making simple reforms, like allowing one representative in parliament per colony would lead to revolts, and even groups coming together. Some revolts were peaceful while others, which affected the tax collectors and stamp sellers, were violent resulting in the tarring and feathering of the British officials. The Sons of Liberty, led by Samuel Adams, James Otis, and Patrick Henry, were a very radical and overdramatic group, Patrick Henry would make the fateful statement of “Give me liberty or give me death.” On October 7th, 1765 the Stamp act congress would meet there were representatives from 9 of the 13 colonies. The representatives made a decision to boycott British goods. By March of 1776, the Stamp Acts will have been appealed, but the government in England is not happy.
The taxation of the colonists was very important to what would eventually be the American Revolution. The people of the colonies were finally united, though they have not called for an army to be made or haven’t talked about independence, they are starting to come together, and make their differences blur.
The restriction of civil liberties was also a major part of the original rebellions. One act passed by England’s government was the Declaratory Act. The Declaratory act said that the British government could pass any laws needed in order to hold together Britain and her colonies. That meant that Britain was planning on interfering more though there were not yet any direct effects. In 1767 the Townshend acts, named after Charles Townshend the British finance minister, placed taxes on imports. These tariffs were imposed on everything. The British thought this would be better suited for the colonies because again it was not direct. It affected prices in that they went up, but the people themselves did not have to personally pay the government they paid the merchants. Parliament proposed the raised money would pay the colonies officials and judges, and that the taxes in Britain could be...
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