Why did loyal British subjects in 1763 become revolutionary American rebels in 1776?
Loyal British subjects from all over Europe inhabited the thirteen colonies that made up America in 1763. You had immigrants from not just Great Britain, but also Germany, Ireland, and Scotland. This created a diverse population of colonists who all came to America for different reasons, but the one thing they all had in common was that they were bold enough to travel across the ocean and start a new life. From the beginning it was clear that the colonists were brave people and willing to do whatever to escape religious and economic troubles. It was no surprise that after the Enlightenment ideas of Locke and Newton reached America that these bold people would expect the natural rights they were entitled to. It is safe to say that the Enlightenment movement was the start of a domino affect that resulted in the American Revolution.
As our textbook describes it, the Enlightenment period “encouraged people to study the world around them, to think for themselves, and to ask whether the disorderly appearance of things masked the principles of a deeper, more profound natural order” (Roark Ch 5) The Enlightenment ideas of John Locke proved to be the most influential as they became the base of the early American government. He believed “government was a social contract obtaining power by consent of the governed, and individuals agreed to surrender certain power to it.” (Doyle, 8/12) While in the beginning the colonist agreed with John Locke’s views, it wasn’t until around 1765 when Britain tried to gain more control over the colonies through the initiation of the Stamp Act that the colonists began to use these ideas to defend their rights. Even though at this time they had no interest in separating themselves from England, it was this belief that they were entitled to some say in their government and taxation that resulted in the “The Declaration of Rights and Grievances.” Which...
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