British oppression: the cause of the American Revolution?

Topics: American Revolution, Townshend Acts, Boston Tea Party Pages: 5 (1732 words) Published: February 3, 2004
The American Revolution was costly and bloody war that granted the Americans the independence for which they fought. This 8-year-long revolutionary war from 1775 to 1783 is considered one of the greatest revolutions of all time in that the Americans had defeated the most powerful nation in the world at the time, Great Britain. The American Revolution is a critical event in the history of the United States and has been explored and evaluated by numerous historians of the 20th century. Whether or not the revolution is justifiable by the American colonists is a long, debatable subject. Some historians assume that the American Revolution is a result of colonial selfishness and ideology whereas some argue that "only oppression ... can justify war" (McLaughlin C. Andrew). All in all, it can be conclusively demonstrated that British oppression towards the colonists is largely responsible for the American Revolution. In fact, particularly after the French and Indian war, England was beginning to rule tyrannically and severely oppress the colonists especially in the economic field.

Before interpreting how Britain oppressed the colonists after the Seven Year's War, it is important to know that even before this war Britain was already showing oppression under the practice of mercantilism. Hacker comments that "beginning in 1660 England gave new strength and direction to its empire. It began exerting stronger controls over the economic activities of the colonies" (DiBacco et al. 59) These stern policies were known as the Navigation Acts. The first Navigation Act of 1660 ordered that all colonial trade had to be in British ships or colonial ships with British captains. This act also ordered that goods such as indigo, sugar, and tobacco were to be sold only to England or another colony. Furthermore, "The law was directed against the Dutch maritime trade, which was very great at that time" (Elson Henry). The second Navigation Act of 1663 assured that all European imports to the colonies were required to pass through Britain first. There, government collected both import and export duties on the same goods. Because this law hurt the colonies, it was later ignored. However, as Elson states: "had this law been strictly enforced, the effect on the colonies that produced the "enumerated" goods would have been disastrous." (Elson Henry) The last Navigation Act that was ordinanced in 1673 sent British tax officials who collected duties on colonial goods destined to England. From these Navigation Acts by Britain it becomes evident that England started oppressing the colonists even before the French and Indian war. I was suggested by Elson that the Navigation Acts were "unfortunate for British interests; it served to alienate the colonists, little by little, and prepared them for the final break with the mother land.(Elson Henry).

By 1760, England began tightening the screws on the colonies especially after the French and Indian War. Economic and political crisis started to be seen. Additionally, Britain was in debt and did not want to risk another war. Therefore, to keep piece with the Indians Britain issued the Proclamation if 1763 which declared that all land west of the Appalachians was to the Indians and off-limits to the American colonists. This proclamation infuriated the colonists who wanted to seek westward, and provoked resentment which would later lead to the American Revolution (DiBacco et al. 73). This protest to the Proclamation could be considered legitimate because as Hacker states:

Stringency and bankruptcy everywhere confronted the merchants and big farmers; seamen and laborers were thrown out of work, small tradesmen were compelled to close their shops and small farmers were faced by ruin because of their expanded acreage, a diminished market and heavy fixed charges made particularly onerous as a result of currency contraction. Into the bargain, escape into the frontier zones--always the last refuge of the...
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