Causes of the American Revolution
Nicole Urbina 1763-1776
The American Revolution
Most likely, we would not be here without the American Revolutionary War. This revolution was an on going unofficial conflict between Great Britain and the colonists of the thirteen North American colonies up until the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, which officially began the American Revolutionary War. The causes of the revolution are many and may have initiated as far back as 1763 with the Great Awakening, which encouraged ideas of liberty, equality, and fighting for moral principles. The Proclamation of 1763 was granted by King George III restricting the movement of individuals commanding that no colonists could settle west of the Appalachian Mountains. Some social causes of the American Revolution were taxation without representation (Stamp Act, Tea Act and the Townsend Act), which caused the colonists to work harder for less. Obviously, these were also considered economic issues for the colonists. The Quartering Act, which allowed British soldiers to stay in colonists homes whether they wanted them there or not, was another social cause of the American Revolutionary War. According to British law, the actions that the colonists were taking were illegal and unjust. However, from the stand point of the colonists they had no voice in the laws that affected their lives. All decisions and laws were made by King George III and by the British governors of the colonies who he appointed to rule over the colonies. The colonists felt morally obligated to stand up and fight against an oppressive government.
The Navigation Acts
The purpose of the Navigation Acts were to put mercantilism into practice. However, there were two rules the colonists had to follow when trading goods. One, trade with the colonies was to be conducted only with English or colonial ships. Second, certain items (sugar, tobacco, and indigo) were to be shipped only within the empire; trade to other nations had to first travel through England. Many colonists were not satisfied with these laws, but were furious with the passage of the Sugar Act of 1733. The colonists were opposed to it because they were forced to buy more costly sugar from the British West Indies. These acts restricted colonial trade and hindered manufacturing and caused increasing resentment against England.
The Proclamation of 1763
The Proclamation of 1763 was issued by King George III after the French and Indian War. He issued the proclamation, and by doing so honored the Treaty of Paris, so that the colonists would avoid any conflict and tension among the American Indians. It indicated the Indians' rights to the land and did not permit the colonists to settle west of the Appalachian Mountains. The colonists were frustrated because they were eager to settle in that land and did not want British soldiers to live among them.
The Stamp Act
Parliament (the legislative body in England) developed the Stamp Act in 1765 which demanded colonists to buy a stamp for paper products. The Stamp Act was created to pay the debt of the French and Indian War, and to raise additional funds for the British military to protect its colonies. Samuel Adams launched the Committees of Correspondence, groups that communicated with other towns and colonies about British taxes, which protested the Stamp Act by boycotting certain goods. Samuel Adams also advised the Sons of Liberty, which were groups of men that protested British polices and occasionally used violence to get their point across. During the Stamp Act Congress in 1765, the colonists discussed and agreed that only the colonial governments should tax the colonies and sent an appeal to the king to repeal it. Since the king was overwhelmed by the protests and boycotts, he had no choice but to repeal the Stamp Act.
The Quartering Act
The British Parliament also passed the Quartering Act of 1765 which forced colonists to quarter or house and feed British soldiers. Britain sent even more troops to keep order among the colonies after the Stamp Act protests. Of course the colonists did not appreciate having soldiers come into their homes uninvited. It was costly to house and supply the soldiers, but it also was a question of privacy. Another provision of this act allowed British soldiers to issue blank writs of assistance (search warrants). These were the two major problems that the colonists were faced with and felt as though they had lost their rights over their own property.
The Townshend Acts
The Parliament passed the Townshend Acts in 1767. The Townshend Acts made colonists pay taxes on imported tea, glass, and paper to pay for rising military costs of Britain. The Daughters of Liberty made their own clothing instead of buying from the British. This protest, as well as other protests, seemed to work and Parliament withdrew most of the taxes, but left the tax on tea. Still, anger grew among the colonists and once again the Sons of Liberty used violence and attacked homes of some of the British officials and tax collectors to try and influence these government officials.
The Boston Massacre
It all began on March 5, 1770, when a crowd swarmed around a colonist and a British official having an argument. As the crowd enlarged the more tension grew among them, until the first shots were fired. A total of five colonists were killed during this event. Samuel Adams used this occasion as propaganda to encouraged colonists to act. On the other hand, John Adams decided to represent the soldiers in this trial to demonstrate that colonists value the right to a trial by jury for all citizens.
The Tea Act & Boston Tea Party
The Tea Act was created by Parliament in 1773. The Tea Act enforced that the British East India Company was the only company allowed to sell tea to other colonies, which made this monopoly. The colonists were upset with the Tea Act even though tea cost less, because once again they were being forced to pay import taxes to Britain. Some Sons of Liberty disguised themselves as American Indians, boarded the ships and dumped crates of tea into the Boston Harbor on December 16, 1773.
The Coercive Act (Intolerable Acts)
Parliament passed laws called the Coercive Acts, also known as the Intolerable Acts because of their brutality, in the spring of 1774. These laws blocked all trade between Boston and Britain, forbade town meetings, granted Britain control of the Massachusetts colony, and strengthened the Quartering Act. Since the port of Boston was closed, the trading of goods also stopped. This encoraged support for Boston and it stirred the revolutionary spirit throughout the colonies.