The Road to the American Revolution, Pt. 2
Growing discontent and Thomas Paine
Following the enacting of the Townshend Acts, colonists began to feel more and more dissatisﬁed with the role that the British crown was playing in their lives. Aside from the high taxation on imported products, colonists began to feel that their rights were being infringed upon. The Quartering Act of 1765 was a clear example of this. Thomas Paine, a British immigrant to the colonies summed up the growing discontent in the colonies and the developing idea of independence in a pamphlet in the year 1775: ‘Everything that is right or reasonable pleads for separation...‘Tis time to part. Even the distance at which the Almighty hath placed England and America apart is a strong natural proof that the authority of one over the other, was never the design of Heaven.’ Thomas Paine, 1775.
The Declaration of Independence and Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Paine’s words not only gave a voice to the dissatisfaction over British rule, but also served as a model as to how a single document could express the widening view of independence. Written by a Virginia-born lawyer and farmer named Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence (1776) is considered to be the most important document of American history. Signed on 4 July, 1776, the Declaration legally declared the independence of the American colonies from British rule. It is a masterpiece of written expression that draws upon the ideas of John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. From its preamble (introduction): ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident. That all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends it is the...