The colonists of America slowly came to realize that they must break from Britain due to the growing feeling of being considered lower than the British. They realized they had no say in government, and under the rule of the british, they would never be able to prosper. The conditions of their rights slowly disintegrated, as the construction of parliament becomes more and more powerful and intolerable. The language used to protest british, throughout the time, leading up to the revolutionary war, were legal, and political, but the primary cause would have been economics.
In the beginning, the colonist were proud to be part of the British empire. Though they had limited trade, they produced raw materials vital to England. The English would then ship back those raw materials in the form of finished goods, to purchase. Britain had loosely controlled the colonies, the british believed the colonial government was inferior, as long as only a few serious conflicts occurred between Britain and America, the british government permitted colonial assemblies to oversee the royal governors and to pass the laws that suited to the needs of the colonists.
They did not always enforce the laws, and let things just fade away. This supports the term “salutary neglect”(Edmund Burke), which was the belief their leniency was actually beneficial. The result was the colonist developed a political and economic system that was virtually independent. The colonist were also grateful of the protection from the Indians and the french, and the fact that they kept shipping lanes open. The Loyalty after the French and Indian War, was a belief that the British would bring peace and prosperity back to the colonies.
Then there was the Idea of Republicanism, this really started to take hold around the end of the French and Indian war. That idea inherently was an idea of opposing hierarchical and authoritarian institutions, such as aristocracy and monarchy. The absence of English nobles such as barons, and bishops, in the colonies, also helped to bolster Republicanism. The theory of the English government being corrupt, was a heavy factor in the mind of the colonists. The idea of the colonists were viewed as tenants was beginning to show through to the American colonies.
The major conflicts between the British and the colonies began to surface after the French an Indian war, which is also known as the seven year wars. During the war, the colonists were gaining strength and pride as more and more soldiers from the colonies were enlisted and began to face battles. This helped them to gain military strength and knowledge of how to fight as soldiers and to become unified. The major problem during the war was the treatment of the colonists by the British soldiers.
The colonists were demoralized and looked down upon, never being able to reach a status above the rank of captain. The idea of the colonists was instead of contempt, they should be honored for the risks of their health and well being to create and secure Britain dominance. At the end of the war, the peace settlement at Paris 1763, the British had decided that the colonies should be responsible for a majority of the debt, for troops and supplies used to fight the french. The british were also alarmed with the insistence of the colonies to trade with the enemy.
In London 1765, their was a shift in policy toward the Americans to have to pay a small tax, to help pay for the control of the colonies by the british. The Stamp Act in 1765, would be a result of this shift, which was called “taxation without representation” by the colonies, this would help pay for the cost of keeping a stable force of british troops in the American colonies. All authorized documents, including deeds, mortgages, newspapers, had to have a british government stamp, in order to be considered legal.
Taxation without representation was resented by the colonists because it said, raising taxes without consent was illegal and that the commercial benefits of the colony should be shared within the colonies, instead of England becoming more and more economically prosperous. Petitions were sent to England, and completely ignored. This brought on outrage, the colonists believed, they could not be deprived of the privilege to make laws themselves. The colonists felt that this brought them to the level of servants.
The Sons of Liberty, a group created by the colonists, were the most active in opposing the stamp tax. They used violence against the official stamp agents and were robbed of their possessions and property, and then would be forced to witness it’s destruction. In an attempt to resist the stamp act, the colonists formed the Stamp Act Congress as a means to protest against the acts. Colonist merchants agreed to stop bringing in british goods until the act was abolished, and trade was considerably weakened.
The colonist refused to use the stamps on official and business papers and that practice became common, and the courts would not punish people, if the stamp was not on legal documents. Benjamin Franklin at the time a British supporter, argued to the house of commons, at the time he was a representative of Pennsylvania. Disgusted and rejected, Ben eventually returned to the colonies. Parliament repealed the act on march 4, 1766. The repeal was to have gone along with the Declaratory Act, which declared the right of the british government to pass acts lawfully and binding to the colonists.
These boiled down to new taxes on finished goods, they colonies again outraged, again boycott English goods. The next set of acts in an attempt to try and control the colonies were the Townshend acts. These acts were passed by the british in 1767. This act had two measures. The first measure called for the suspension of the New York Assembly, which was being penalized it for not complying with the law, enacted two years earlier, requiring the colonies to provide adequate quartering of British troops in the new world.
The second measure, called the Revenue Act, imposed customs duties on colonial imports of glass, red and white lead, paints, paper, and tea. A subsequent legislature act was established , it was a group of commissioners in the colonies to administer the custom services and to make sure the duties were collected. These were resented by the colonists, a response was published criticizing the measures, as a response to this the British dissolved the Massachusetts legislature in 1768.
The colonists resistance to the Townshend acts resulted in economic and moral upheaval. On March 5th, 1770, this all came to a head with the Boston Massacre, this was between British troops and a group of citizens of boston. British troops were quartered in the city to discourage demonstrations against the Townshend acts. Citizens constantly harassed the troops, and during a demonstration, some of the boston citizens threw rocks at a squad of British soldiers, the soldiers fired into the crowd and killed five men.
Samuel Adams to create anti-British sentiment in the colonies, skillfully exploited the incident. The story blew way out of proportion the events of this day and was a major turning point of relations between the few supporters Britain still had. This would be one of the final straws in swaying the public opinion to feeling a complete need to separate from England. The next and very decisive protest would have been on December 16, 1773, by a group of boston citizens, they protested the british tax on tea imported to the colonies, also known as The Boston Tea Party.
Although the other taxes of the Townshend acts were eventually repealed by parliament, the tax on tea was retained to demonstrate the power of parliament to tax the colonies. The citizens would not allow the unloading of the tea off of three British ships, that arrived in Boston in November 28th ,1773, with 342 chests of tea. Thomas Hutchinson had to make decision to pay the taxes or not. He would not let the ships return to england, until the taxes were paid.
Fueled by Samuel Adams, the citizens disguised themselves as Native Americans, boarded the ships in a non-violent manner, and emptied the 342 chests of tea, in the Boston harbor. The colonists refused to pay for the tea, in retaliation the British closed the port, until the damages of the Boston Tea Party were paid off.. At that point Massachusetts was put under military rule. This would complete the fear of the colonies that they would all eventually be under tyranny rule. As the tensions grew the colonists finally united on the First Continental Congress in September, 1774 and began training their army.
The Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, was ratified on July 4th. On April 1775, in Lexington Concord, the American Revolution began. The primary cause of the American Revolution in my mind would have to have been economics, though it was also very much about colonial liberty. The majority of the policies that affected the colonist between 1763 and 1776 were economic changes that limited the economic success of the colonies, these policies also had a negative political influences that led to the American revolution.