Factors Leading to the American Revolution

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Some say that the Revolution was doomed to happen ever since people stepped foot on this continent, others argue that it would not have happened if it weren't for a set of issues that finally drove the colonists to revolt. These issues, in order of descending importance, were Parliamentary taxation, the restriction of civil liberties, the measures of the British military, and the legacy of colonial religious and political ideas.

The most important issue prompting Americans to rebel in 1776 is clearly Parliamentary taxation. This began early in colonial life with the system of mercantilism. The long and short of this system was an effort by the British to ensure a favorable balance of trade between Britain and the American colonies. There were numerous laws requiring all goods purchased by Americans to come directly from Britain regardless of where they were originally produced, while in Britain they were subjected to taxation which raised the price to the colonists. Simultaneously certain colonial goods were required to be sold directly to Britain at unfairly low prices for resale to the world from Great Britain. It also required that all goods to and from America were to be transported on British ships. So the colonists basically became pirates and smuggled goods from America to other places and then different goods back to America. Smuggling became an important source of wealth for many Americans such as John Hancock. The mercantile system was only an annoyance to the colonies until approximately 1763 when for the first time the British set out in earnest to enforce the mercantile system. The result was alienation of the colonists who had up until that time sought only to claim the "rights of Englishmen," not to separate from the mother country.

This annoyance was exacerbated in 1763 by the strict enforcement of the navigation laws, and the sugar act of 1764 which was the first law passed by Britain for raising tax revenues in the colonies for the...
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