The American revolutionary era began in 1763, after a series of victories by British forces at the conclusion of the French and Indian War (also, Seven Years War) ended the French military threat to British North American colonies. Adopting the policy that the colonies should pay a larger proportion of the costs associated with keeping them in the Empire, Britain imposed a series of direct taxes (later known as the "Stamp Act"), followed by other laws intended to demonstrate British authority, all of which proved extremely unpopular in America. Benjamin Franklin, appearing before the British Parliament testified "The Colonies raised, clothed, and paid, during the last war, near twenty-five thousand men, and spent many millions." Because the colonies lacked elected representation in the governing British Parliament, many colonists considered the laws to be illegitimate and a violation of their rights as Englishmen. The opinion of the British Government, which was not unanimous, was that the colonies enjoyed "virtual representation." In 1772, groups of colonists began to create Committees of Correspondence, which would lead to their own Provincial Congresses in most of the colonies. In the course of two years, the Provincial Congresses or their equivalents rejected the Parliament and effectively replaced the British ruling apparatus in the former colonies, culminating in 1774 with the coordinating First Continental Congress. In response to protests in Boston over Parliament's attempts to assert authority, the British sent combat troops, dissolved local governments, and imposed direct rule by Royal officials. Consequently, the Colonies mobilized their militias, and fighting broke out in 1775. First ostensibly loyal to King George III and desiring to govern themselves while remaining in the empire, the repeated pleas by the First Continental Congress for royal intervention on their behalf with Parliament resulted in the declaration by the King that the states were "in rebellion", and the members of Congress were traitors. In 1776, representatives from each of the original 13 states voted unanimously in the Second Continental Congress to adopt a Declaration of Independence, which now rejected the British monarchy in addition to its Parliament, and established the sovereignty of the new nation external to the British Empire. The Declaration established the United States, which was originally governed as a loose confederation through a representative democracy selected by state legislatures (see Second Continental Congress and Congress of the Confederation). Ideology behind the Revolution
Main articles: American Enlightenment, Liberalism in the United States, and Republicanism in the United States The ideological movement known as the American Enlightenment was a critical precursor to the American Revolution. Chief among the ideas of the American Enlightenment were the concepts of liberalism, republicanism and fear of corruption. Collectively, the acceptance of these concepts by a growing number of American colonists began to foster an intellectual environment which would lead to a new sense of political and social identity. Natural rights
Main articles: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Thomas Paine
This section requires expansion. (July 2012)
In this c. 1772 portrait by John Singleton Copley, Samuel Adams points at the Massachusetts Charter, which he viewed as a constitution that protected the peoples' rights. John Locke's (1632–1704) ideas on liberty greatly influenced the political thinking behind the revolution. John Locke's Two Treatises of Government, published in 1689, was especially influential. The theory of the "social...