American Revolution


     What are the decisive events and arguments that produced the American

Revolution? "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times (Charles

Dickens)." This best describes the Americas in the 1700ís. The
settlerís went through the best of times from obtaining religious freedom, to
becoming prosperous merchants, and finally to establishing a more democratic
government. However, it was the worst of times in the sense that the settlers in
the Americaís were taken advantage of my their mother country, England. The
hatred of being under anotherís control was one of the main reasonís that
led to the American Revolution. In the 1600ís, England began to colonize

America. King James I had urged those against the Church of England, such as the

Puritans, to settle in America. Many settlers came to America to obtain
religious freedom. Merchants settle din America to profit off the land since
land was free or cheap at the time. Settling in America gave people hopes and
dreams that they can do something with their lives. Even indentured servants had
the hope of someday owning land as soon as they were done with their service. It
was unlikely but they had hope. The Atlantic Ocean made communications hard
between England and the colonies. Because of the difficulties in communication,
the colonists developed an independent spirit. Harvard College allowed most

Americans to read protests against British injustice printed in papers,
pamphlets, and books. The college provided education and writings of Greek
philosophers such at John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau. The ideas of these

Greek philosophers that men were created equal dwelled in these colonists mind.

England expected the American Colonies to serve itís economic interests, and
it regulated colonial trade. In general, the colonists accepted British
regulations. For example, they agreed not to manufacture goods that would
compete with British products. Things began to change in the 1700ís. England
had largely neglected the administration of the American Colonies while it
fought France in a series of wars during the 1700ís. But after the French and

Indian War ended, the British government sought to tighten itís control over
the colonies in fear that the colonies have gotten too powerful. The treaty of

1763 ending this war made England master of Canada and of the land between the

Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River. The chief motive had been
nation advantage: but as one of the results the 13 colonies might now live in
peace. George Grenville, Britainís prime minister in 1763, did not concede
that the colonists had any political rights. He now sough ways to make the
colonies most profitable to England at the least expense. Settlers were pouring
into the Ohio Valley, and land speculators were busy with schemes for opening
the country won at so great a sacrifice from the French. Such activity excited
the worst fears of the Indians. That year, a great chieftain, Pontiac united the
tribes and led them in a series of destructive raids on the advancing frontier.

Britain feared a long and bloody Indian war, which it could not afford. To quiet
the Indians, England issued the Proclamation of 1763. This decree prohibited
settlers from buying lands beyond a line that ran through the sources of the
rivers flowing into the Atlantic. England, it seemed, meant to favor the Indians
and the fur traders. It would do so at the expense of the pioneer, the land
speculator, and the colony whose charter gave it a claim to a section of the
interior extending westward to the Mississippi River. But the settlements east
of the "Proclamation Line" were not to be neglected. For their defense

England decided to station a large army on the frontier. England decreed that
the colonies should contribute toward the expense of this protection by paying
taxes imposed by Parliament. The Americans having been accustomed to
self-government, strongly resisted the new laws, especially tax laws. The Sugar

Act placed a three-penny tax on each gallon of molasses entering the colonies
from ports outside the British Empire. Several Northern colonies had thriving
run industries that depended on imported molasses. Run producers angrily
protested that tax would eat up their profits. The Quartering Act ordered the
colonies to supply the soldiers with living quarters, fuel, candles, and cider
or beer. The Stamp Act levied a direct tax on all newspapers printed in the
colonies and on most commercial and legal documents used in business. The Stamp

Act resulted in riots. The objections of the Stamp Act Congress stemmed from the
colonistsí belief that the right of taxation belonged only to the people and
their elected representatives. The delegates argued that Parliament had no power
to tax the colonies because the colonies had no representative in Parliament.

Their argument was simply, "no taxation without representation."

Parliament abolished the Stamp Act in 1766, but passed the Declaratory Act. The

Declaratory Act stated that the king and Parliament had full legislative
authority over the colonies in all matters. The Exchequer Charles Townshend soon
developed a new plan for raising money from the colonies in and indirect way.

The Townshend Acts placed duties on glass, lead, paint, paper, and tea imported
into the colonies. Another act set up a customs agency in Boston to collect them
efficiently. The colonists accepted Britainís right to regulate their trade,
but they argued that the Townshend duties were taxes in disguise. To protest the
duties, Americans stopped buying British goods. To avoid paying the Townshend
duty on tea, colonial merchants smuggled in tea from the Netherlands.

Britainís East India Company had been the chief source of tea for the
colonies. The smuggling hurt the company financially, and it asked Parliament
for help. Parliament passed the tea Act, which enabled the East India Company to
sell its tea below the price of smuggled tea. This led to the Boston Tea Party.

England responded to the Boston Tea Party by passing several laws that became
know as the Intolerable Acts. One law closed Boston Harbor until Bostonians paid
for the destroyed tea. Another law restricted the activities of the

Massachusetts legislature and gave added powers to the post of governor of

Massachusetts. Those powers in effect made him dictator. The third measure
provide d that British officials accused of committing crimes in a colony might
be taken to England for trial. The fourth act allowed the governor of

Massachusetts to quarter soldiers at Boston in taverns and unoccupied buildings.

The last Intolerable act extended the boundaries of the province of Quebec to
the Ohio River and gave the Roman Catholics in the province both religious
liberty and the double protection of French and English law. Several committees
called for a convention of delegates from the colonies to organize resistance to
the Intolerable Acts. The convention was later to be called the Continental

Congress. The First continental Congress met in Philadelphia from September 5 to

October 26, 1774 to protest the Intolerable Acts. The Congress voted to cut off
colonial trade with England unless Parliament abolished the Intolerable Acts. It
also approved resolutions advising the colonies to begin trainin the citizens
for war. None of the delegates to the First Continental Congress called for
independence from England. Instead, the delegated hoped that the colonies would
regain the rights which Parliament had taken away. The congress agreed to hold
another Continental Congress in may 1775 if England did not change its policies
before that time. The defects of British rule was the main contribution of the

American Revolution. For a long time England had let the colonies drift along
with little restraint. There was no central colonial office which weas supposed
to supervise them; executive authority in England was divided among several
ministers and commissions that did not act quickly or in unison. The Board of

Trade, which knew more about the colnies than any other body, did not have the
power either to ecide things or to enforce decrees. English politics were filled
with corruption, and agents sent to Anmerica were often brive-taking politicians
too incompetent for good positions at home. Relations between the colonists and

England steadily worsened from 1763-1775. This was the time when Parliament
passed a number of laws to increase Great Britainís income from the colonies.

The colonists reacted angrily. They lived far from Britain and had grown
increasingly self-reliant. Many Americans believed that the new British policies
threatened their freedom. In late 1774, Englandís King George III declared,
"The die is now cast, the colonies must either submit or triumph." A
few months later, the Revolutionary War broke out.

Bibliography

American Revolution. World Book Encyclopedia. World Book Inc. Chicago:

Illinois. 1997. Pg. 270-274. American Revolution. Comptons Interactive

Encyclopedia. 1994 Bailyn, Bernard. The Ideological Origins of the American

Revolution. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Cambridge:

Massachusetts. 1967. Goldfield, David etal. The American Journey: A history of
the Untied States. Prentice hall. Upper Saddle River: New Jersey. 1998. Pg.

130-153.