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The Factors That Led to the American Revolution

By Rajastan28 Mar 31, 2011 1255 Words
The factors that led to the American Revolution

In 1763 the British defeated the French in the French and Indian War which shifted the power to Great Britain in North America. The British, however, were attacked by Indian tribes in fear that they would allow colonist to invade their tribal lands. The British reacted with the passing of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 which limited colonial expansion to appease the Native Americans but this angered the colonists who thought that it wasn’t North America was any of Britain’s business. This would spark a string of impositions Britain placed on the North America which would anger the colonist. On April 5, 1764 the British parliament passed the Sugar Act with the aim of help clear some of the national debt that Britain inherited from the French and Indian War. The Sugar Act lowered the duty on foreign-produced molasses from six pence per gallon to 3 pence per gallon, in attempts to discourage smuggling. The act further stipulated that Americans could export many commodities, including lumber, iron, skins, and whalebone, to foreign countries, only if they passed through British ports first. The act also placed a heavy tax on formerly duty- free Madeira wine from Portugal. This affected the colonials economically, especially merchants and shippers, as they argued that the profit margin on rum was too small for it to be taxed. [1] In addition many colonists viewed this as Britain involving themselves in their daily lives. The act allowed customs officials to transfer smuggling cases from colonial courts with juries to juryless vice- admiralty courts in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Until 1768, vice-admiralty judges were awarded five percent of all confiscated cargo and ships, a clear incentive to come to a guilty verdict. The vice-admiralty courts also reversed traditional judicial ideology, by burdening the defendant with the task of disproving the charge of smuggling rather than assuming innocence until guilt was proven. [2] Despite the passing of the Sugar Act Britain still struggled with the national debt. This prompted them to pass another act on the colonists as the British citizens paid 26 shillings in tax while the colonist paid just 11/2 shillings. The Stamp Act was passed by Parliament on March 22, 1765 with an effective date of November 1, 1765.Prime Minister Grenville encouraged the development of this act which required Americans to buy special watermark paper for newspaper and all legal documents. This was seen as a direct imposition by the British on Americans who thought that they had no representation in Parliament. Unlike the Sugar Act, which was discriminatory as it affected mainly merchants and shippers, the Stamp Act concerned every American as it affected anyone who made a will or bought a newspaper. This was a first as they never had been taxed internally by Britain before and had traditionally tax themselves through colonial assemblies. Many colonists believed that the Parliament was not look after as they had no representation and could easily not see the best interest of them. Colonists conceded that as they were British subjects, Parliament did reserve limited powers of legislation over them. [3] As a result a group of artisans, storekeepers and businessmen formed the Loyal Nine to oppose the Stamp Act. Their goal was to force Stamp Act distributors to resign by November 1, 1765 before tax were due. New York merchants boycotted British good, and were soon joined by other cities. [4] This was seen as a very dangerous move as Britain’s revenue depended heavily on the Americans as they exported of their about 40% of manufactured goods to America. On August 1766 King George III selected William Pitt as the new prime minister which was seen as a positive move by the colonist as Pitt was against taxing colonists. However Pitt became seriously ill and the effective control of government went to Charles Townshend. The colonist were disappointed as they thought that the appointment of Pitt could mark a new era in relation between America and the British Empire as he was view as a friend rather than a oppressor. Townshend was relative contrast to Pitt as he thought that the colonists were not pulling their weight as British subjects.[5] In 1765 the fist Quartering Act stated that soldiers were to be housed and feed in American barracks and public houses and if number required in uninhibited houses, barns and inns. In 1776 the New York provisional assembly refused to house troops which forced the troops to be housed on the naval ships they arrived on. As a result for failure to comply with the act they were forced to allocate funds to the quartering the British troops. The second Quartering Act was passed on 1774 which was a part of the Intolerable Acts which was Britain’s way of regaining control of American colonies. The Townshend Acts were a series of laws passed from 1767 by Charles Townshend relating to British colonies in North America. John Dickinson’s Letters From a Pennsylvania Farmer was the first public opposition from the Townshend Acts. The Revenue act was passed to make British East India Tea Company more competitive than smuggled Dutch Tea. The Revenue Act was mainly seen as an invasion of privacy as they custom official board were given the right to search houses and businesses for smuggled goods. [6] The Revenue Act was said to help pay for the cost of maintaining an American army but was speculated afterwards to help pay for the pay increases of some government officials and judges. [7] Merchants began to organize boycotts to put pressure on the importation of British goods. This boycott started in Boston and spread to New York, Philadelphia and Virginia. Violence broke out in Massachusetts as a consequence of continued rioting and displeasure of the British treatment to the American colonies. 1700 British troops were sent to restore order in the colony but relation between the soldiers and residence were inhospitable and tension reached fever pitch when custom informer killed an eleven year old German boy on February 22, 1770. On his funeral a crowd gathered outside the Boston custom offices aim to throw stones at passing custom officers. Troops gathered and were provoked into firing into the unruly crowd killing five. The Boston Massacre was seen as proof that Britain sent troops to suppress political opposition by force. Although this was five years before the actually war of independence it was seen as the first step because it indicated that more bloodshed was soon to come. The thought of war was now a reality to colonist in order to protect themselves from the bullying British. The British and the North American colonists were continually bickering throughout the years after the French and Indian War. The British became engulfed in national debt due to the war and sought ways to reduce the debt but unfortunately for the colonists this meant heavy taxation. This did not sit well with them especially because they had no representative in the British Parliament. Relation deterred further when Townshend became Prime Minister and imposed more tax and it finally broke loose after the Boston Massacre.


[1][2][4] Cappon, Lester J. Atlas of Early American History: The Revolutionary Era, 1760-1790 (1976) [3] Draper, Theodore. A Struggle For Power:The American Revolution [5] Knollenberg, Bernhard. Growth of the American Revolution, 1766–1775. [6][7] Ammerman, David. In the Common Cause: American Response to the Coercive Acts of 1774.

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