PinkMonkey Online Study Guide-World History
6.1 Causes of the American Revolution
There were several causes that created discontent in the colonies thus leading to the American War of Independence.
1. A spirit of self-reliance and enterprise was shown by the English colonies, which had established their own political institutions. However George III and the British Parliament did not give any political rights to the colonies which in turn felt like slaves in the political field. Each colony had a legislative assembly and a governor appointed by England. They gained great political experience by running their political institutions. Thus they resented the political control of England and had a strong desire for self-government. They did not consider it necessary to be under the control of England, their mother country.
2. The colonists held neither affection nor loyalty towards England. The religious intolerance of the English rulers had forced them to leave England. Further, England did not attempt to maintain good relations with the colonies.
3. The colonies felt that they were being badly treated in the economic field. England attempted to improve her industry, trade and commerce at the cost of her colonies.
In order to regulate the trade of the colonies, England had been passing Navigation laws for over a century. Thereby all goods from the colonies had to be shipped in British vessels, while goods of certain kinds could only be sold to British merchants. The colonists felt that such laws were unjust to the colonies and were only enforced for the advantage of England.
In 1764, the Sugar Act was passed requiring the payment of a duty or tax on imported sugar and certain other imports. A tax was also imposed or certain exports. These impediments on their trade were resented by the colonists. Yet British officers were appointed at the ports to board ships and collect the taxes.
Officers were also given Writs of Assistance by the courts, that is written orders permitting them to search houses and also ships for taxable goods, since some importers tried to evade paying taxes on imports. Much opposition was aroused by these writs.
In 1765, the Stamp Act was passed requiring newspapers,
pamphlets, legal documents and such others to bear revenue stamps.
The government could collect money through the sale of these stamps.
However the colonies protested strongly by passing resolutions of
protest in their assemblies and sending delegates to appeal to George
III. Eventually the Stamp Act was repealed in 1766, though it was
asserted that the Parliament still had the right to tax the colonies.
In order to enforce these laws, the Parliament sent additional soldiers.
The Quartering Act authorized the stationing of soldiers in the
American towns. Under this Act 1000 soldiers were sent to Boston
where quarrels and fights soon occurred.
The Townshend Acts of 1767, imposed duties on tea, glass and paper imported by the American colonies. This created such great agitation that the Parliament had to withdraw all duties in 1769, except the nominal one on tea.
4. Another cause was military in nature. England expected the colonies to bear part of the expenses of defense. Though England had saved the colonies from the French menace in the seven years war, the colonies declared that the British Parliament did not have the right to tax them. Yet the colonistsí slogan, íNo taxation without representationí was not heeded by George III. He felt that they could be easily suppressed.
5. The colonies were populated by hard-working, freedom-loving, intelligent farmers, adventurous sailors and enterprising producers. Since they could think and act for themselves in every field they did not feel there was any need for them to be guided by the mother country. Their desire to be free from England grew stronger with time.