Causes of the American Revolution

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How England Instigated The American Revolution Soon after England established the colonies in the New World, it began a period of salutary neglect. The English rarely intervened with colonial business. It was during this time that the colonies began gradually to think and act independently of England. This scared England, and initiated a period in which they became more involved in the colony's growth. Parliament tried to establish power in the New World by issuing a series of laws. The passage of these laws undermined the Colonist's loyalty to Britain and stirred the Americans to fight for their freedom. Before 1763, the only British laws that truly affected the colonists were the Navigation Acts, which monitored the colony's trade so that it traded solely with England. As this law was not rigidly enforced, the colonists accepted it with little fuss. The colonies also accepted England's right to monitor trade. The change of course in 1767 was what really riled the colonists. England began to slowly tighten its imperial grip to avoid a large reaction from the colonists. Additional problems began when England passed the Writs of Assistance, which gave British officials the right to seize illegal goods, and to examine any building or ship without proof of cause. This was a powerful weapon against smuggling, but most importantly to the Colonists; it allowed the invasion of their privacy. This was crossing the line and violating the rights of an English man. The Colonists even went so far as to hire a lawyer, but the court ruled against him. During the Seven Years War, the British sent over ten thousand troops to America to deal with property problems at the frontier. This cost a large amount of money, and Britain did not want to see the sum come out of its own pocket. To pay for some of the expense, Britain began to pass acts to tax the colonists and lighten the severe debt the empire was in. The Sugar Act of 1764 was an example of a tax that had many affects on the Colonial lifestyle. The act stated that any foreign exportation of lumber or skin had to first land in Britain. It also raised the price of imported sugar from the Indies. This act was accompanied by a strict enforcing of the former Navigation Acts due to the sudden increase of smuggling. This enhanced the tension between England and the New World. The law also changed trials for offenders; they were held away from the place of the crime, and the judge was awarded 5% of confiscated goods, increasing the number of guilty sentences handed down. In reality, the laws were so regulated it was hard not to make an error! The Quartering Act in 1765 was a burden to all the colonists; it required certain colonies to provide food and housing to the British Troops on demand. This was viewed by many as an indirect tax, though an inexpensive one. While the previously passed laws caused some protest, the one which brought out the most public opposition was the Stamp Act in 1765. The Sugar Act had failed to produce enough money, and Parliament was forced to pass the Stamp Act. The Act stated that all Americans must used specially stamped (watermarked) paper for printing bills, legal documents, even playing cards! England saw these taxes as reasonable; after all, the Americans were merely paying for the soldiers in their colonies, a measure for their safety. As Americans did not deem the soldier's presence as necessary in the New World, obviously they despised the tax. And worst of all, these taxes were decreed without any word from an American, as there was no representative for the New World in the British parliament. Americans believed it was understandable for the British to legislate when the subject involved the Empire as a whole, such as trade, but only Colonists could tax colonists, not the British government, 3,000 miles away and deaf to the American views. The Prime Minister claimed that the Colonists were "virtually represented" in parliament: each member stood for the empire as a whole. The Colonists disagreed because they believed that Parliament did not care about or understand them and therefore did not have the American people's best interest at heart. The acts imposed by England to try to control and monitor America only succeeded in furthering its independence. The Colonists were left with two options as a result of the Stamp Act, neither of which were very appealing; either confront parliament, and risk a fight with the much larger and more powerful mother land of England, or succumb to the act without complaining and possibly give up the right to self govern for good. Many groups were founded by the Colonists, among them, the Sons and Daughters of Liberty, whose soul purpose was to intimidate the officials who mandated the Stamp Act in America into quitting. They rightfully assumed that if the officials who issued the act resigned the act would be stopped in its tracks. In 1765, the Stamp Act Congress met and decided that Parliament can not tax the colonists or deny their right to a trial by jury. This Congress was the first step towards colonial unity. The congress, led by the elite upper class, was careful to control the rebellion to avoid having troops sent to put the people in check. Merchants of the colonies began to boycott British goods, and as they constituted 45% of Britains consumer population, this made a large impact in England. The business community appealed to parliament to repeal the stamp act or have all the merchants go bankrupt. In March of 1766, the Stamp Act was revoked, marking the first victory in the long journey to America's independence. But, it was a small one and this was not to be the end of the struggle. In its place, the declaratory act was placed. It was a subtly worded act, which confirmed Parliament's right to legislate over the colonies always and in all cases. The Americans interpreted this in a positive way and did not rebel, viewing it as unimportant. The British Parliament had meant it literally: the Colonists had no more excuses and had to obey all laws passed by Parliament, including taxes. The colonists wanted to forget about all the troubles from the past, and were grateful for the repeal of the stamp act. They believed their rebellion had made Britain realize their vitality to the empire and all the anti-act groups disbanded. As time wore on the colonists gradually began to realize that the purpose of the Acts was to undermine their right to self-govern. In 1766, a new Prime Minister, William Pitt, was appointed who opposed taxing the colonies. His health was poor, and his duties were soon taken over by former treasurer Charles Townshend. He had been a former follower of Pitt, but when he controlled the power, he began to urge parliament to tax the colonies. Protest to the quartering act caused much hostility in parliament, who believed the repeal of the stamp act was gift enough to the Americans. Townshend was so angry at the protest that he passed the Suspending act, which nullified all acts from New York after October 1st if they refuse to pay their expenses for the soldiers. The building tension would soon undermine the colony's loyalty to England. At this point, one of the most important weapons America held in the Government was that it paid the salaries. Townshend proposed a series of acts be passed, known as the Townshend acts. There was a light duty on glass, paint, paper and tea and the revenue collected would pay the salary of the governors in the colonies. The purpose of this was to switch the control of the Colonial Government into the hands of England. The colonists abhorred the act, as it was merely another effort to control them. The fact still remained they were being taxed without representation. Despite their objections, there was little objection at the time, for the tax was light and tea was easily smuggled. In 1768, to control the outbreak against order, two regiments of troops were landed in Boston. In 1770, the Boston Massacre took place, in which a few Colonists were killed after provoking a group of soldiers. This was arguably the first blood spilled in the name of the American Revolution. More and more British Soldiers were sent off America to enforce the Navigation act, to the continued irritation of the Colonists. Committees were established to promote opposition to England and its intolerable acts. A letter was written to rile the colonies into shunning the acts, and Great Britain, seeing it as the beginnings of a rebellion, ordered all colonies to disown the letters. When the colonies refused, England insisted the Royal Governors disband the legislatures, which they do. This spurred the Colonies to band together against this threat to self-government and taxation without representation. The colonies also refused to import British goods, urging the British merc

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