The Result of the French and Indian War
During the early months of 1763, the Treaty of Paris had been signed and the French and Indian War came to a close in colonial America, temporarily ending foreign conflicts within North America, although peace between the European powers of Great Britain and France had been established, this war evoked tension between England and its American colonies. The French and Indian War caused the American Revolution because its outcomes such as the large debt led to Parliament passing taxes, acts, and systems that enraged the colonists to the point that they sought independence. Many of these acts attempted to heal the wounds of the French and Indian War but only managed to create new ones. In June of 1765, Parliament passed the Quartering Act, forcing colonists to provide food and clothing to British troops, which had been difficult to accomplish during the war. The colonists had sent no representatives to Great Britain to negotiate this act that had been forced upon them (French and Indian). Many colonists were outraged by the act, especially New Yorkers who had their legislation suspended as a result of ignoring the act. John Dickinson, a Pennsylvanian legislator and lawyer, describes his New Yorker brothers’ blight in Letters from a Pennsylvanian Farmer when he states, “The Crown might have restrained the governor of New York even from calling the assembly together, by its prerogative in the royal governments. …It seems therefore to me as much a violation of the liberty of the people of that province, and consequently of all these colonies, as if the Parliament had sent a number of regiments to be quartered upon them, till they should comply” (Dickinson). American colonists viewed the Quartering Act as tyrannical and a sign that Parliament can dictate the lives of Americans without any representation. Although the colonies swore an oath to the British Crown, they maintained a self-sufficient government with laws and leadership of its own. That changed however when the British brought their war to the American’s backyard. Dickinson goes on to say, “If the British Parliament has a legal authority to issue an order that we shall furnish a single article for the troops here and compel obedience to that order, they have the same right to issue an order for us supply those troops with arms, clothes, and every necessary, and to compel obedience to that order also; in short, to lay any burdens they please upon us” (Dickinson). British politicians, despite the colonists’ outcries, claimed that the Quartering Act was justified because the colonies should be responsible for the economic casualties brought upon England from the war on the frontier. Faith Jaycox, a historian, Ph.D. candidate, and author of Colonial Era, An Eyewitness History relays how the British planned on fixing their economy when she claimed, “In April 1763, a month after the Treaty of Paris was signed; George Grenville became the Crown's chief adviser. He immediately developed plans to reduce England's unprecedented national debt and to balance future budgets. Grenville was determined to require colonists to finance part of their own administration and defense” (Jaycox). American colonists disagreed, believing that they should not be responsible for the results of a foreign war and were greatly aggravated by the Quartering Acts. Following the Quartering Act in 1765 was yet another unpopular act made to reduce the debt from the French and Indian War, the Stamp Act, which placed taxes on paper products in the colonies. The Stamp Act was largely unpopular due to the fact that, once again, none of the colonies sent representatives to negotiate the act and was viewed as negligence to the colonists’ rights. An article titled The American Revolution: Causes of Conflict authored by Kennedy Hickman supports the colonists’ frustration when it states, “On March 22, 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act which called for tax stamps to be placed on all paper goods sold in the colonies. This represented the first attempt to levy a direct tax on the colonies and was met by fierce opposition and protests,” (Hickman). No law, tax, or act at the time had been more greatly opposed by the colonies than the Stamp Act. Dickinson once again describes the colonists’ anger in his letters when he says, “With a good deal of surprise I have observed that little notice has been taken of an act of Parliament, as injurious in its principle to the liberties of these colonies as the Stamp Act was…” (Dickinson). Parliament offended the colonies to the point that rebellious actions occurred. Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy by Glenn Hastedt explains how, although mainly caused by the Tea Act, the Boston Tea Party was a rebellious response to all hated British acts, including the Stamp Act (Hastedt). The latter two acts pushed the colonists’ tempers even further than before. The Tea Act and Sugar Act, even more hated acts conceived in order to repay war debts, also angered colonists and pushed them further towards revolution. This act kicked off open hostilities and opposition between the British and the American colonies. Hastedt explains how the Boston Tea Party, a result of the Tea Act, caused England to punish Massachusetts when he says, “Colonial resistance was met with imperial resistance. The British government of Lord North was determined to reassert its control over the colonies, and in 1774 Great Britain passed the Coercive Acts. It placed the Massachusetts colony under royal control and closed Boston Harbor until restitution was made for the lost tea. Contrary to British hopes this policy did not intimidate the colonists or divide them. Instead, it united them in opposition to Great Britain and led to the calling of the First Continental Congress in September 1774,” (Hastedt). The Sugar Act didn’t only offend the colonists due to lack of representation but also because it directly hurt the American economy. In 1764, Parliament passed the Revenue Act of 1764, also known as the infamous Sugar Act, which taxed sugar products imported into the American colonies for the manufacturing of rum. Rum was a vital product to the colonies because it was used in the triangular slave trade occurring between the colonies, the West Indies, Africa, and Europe. Parliament attempted to justify this act, claiming that it had the right to enact any and all taxes on the colonies for the sole purpose of raising revenue (Jaycox). This is no excuse for the lack of representation and damage done to American trade, however. To raise revenue to heal the economic damage done by the French and Indian War, England imposed the mercantile system upon its American colonies. England, the motherland, reaped the benefits of this system through the Navigation Acts while the colonies only suffered from it, losing its free market and trading opportunities with other countries. Alan Axelrod, author of Eyewitness to America's Wars, Vol. 1, explains the mercantile system and how it hurt the colonies. “Toward this end, he [King George III] approved the enforcement of the long-dormant Navigation Acts, the earliest of which had been on the books since the mid-17th century. This legislation had developed from a policy that historians call the mercantile system, which is a form of economic nationalism that incorporated strict government regulation of trade and commerce. Under mercantilism, the chief function of colonies was the enrichment of the mother country by furnishing raw materials that the mother country used to create manufactured goods that it would sell to the colonies. Both production and consumption were monopolistic, dictated by the mother country rather than a free market,” (Axelrod). The Navigation Acts stripped the colonies of their right to trade with whomever they pleased, antagonizing many American tradesmen and consumers. The British forced a monopoly on their irritated colonies, causing England to receive large profits while the colonies lost not only money but some of their freedom. These acts not only disrupted the economy of the colonies, but also the privacy of many Americans. Under King George III, the Navigation Acts allowed British officers to issue “writs of assistance.” These writs gave royal officials authority to search not only warehouses but also private homes without court order (Axelrod). This was a direct violation of the colonists’ rights, further frustrating the Americans with their British overseers and nudging them closer to rebellion. Although England was an ocean away and located on a different continent, they dictated the land that Americans were allowed to settle on. Great Britain gained an expansive territory after the French and Indian War, but angered many colonists by forbidding them to settle on it despite their dire need of it. Faith Jaycox describes this issue in detail, “As the French and Indian War drew to close, imperial officials began considering future policies for trans-Appalachian settlement. The completed plan was included in the Proclamation of 1763, issued by King George III on October 7. It declared land west of the Appalachian Mountains to be Indian Territory and prohibited white settlement there,” (Jaycox). American colonists were outraged by this proclamation and saw it as a betrayal, considering many (including veterans from the French and Indian War) already owned lands west of the Appalachians. Kennedy Hickman further describes the colonists’ reactions in The American Revolution: Causes of Conflict. “On October 7, 1763, King George III issued a royal proclamation which forbade American colonists from settling west of the Appalachian Mountains. … In America, the proclamation was met with outrage as many colonists had either purchased land west of the mountains or had received land grants for services rendered during the war,” (Hickman). The British attempted to raise revenue to repay war debts by keeping this land to themselves, but continued to push colonists towards the fight for independence. The British intention on forbidding American settlement was to conserve the profitable fur trade in order to boost the English economy (Hastedt). As American cities became overcrowded with the unemployed thanks to the surplus of British troops taking second jobs in the colonies, many colonists were outraged that they couldn’t merely move west and start anew. The acts and taxes Parliament forced on the colonies tried to fix the damage done by the French and Indian war but ended up angering the colonists to the point of revolution. England imposed tyrannical systems hurting the American economy without consent from a single American representative. The Quartering Acts, Stamp Act, Sugar Act, Navigation Acts, and the Proclamation of 1763 all violated the rights of the colonists, causing high tension between the colonies and England. Fighting and war would continue for the United States for centuries to come, and it all started with the outcomes of the French and Indian War.