BEFORE THE REVOLUTION
Beginning in 1763 with the Proclamation of that year, Americans began to feel that a revolution would be justified if the Crown crossed the line and violated the rights that all men should have. England showed many examples of poor judgment in their management of the colonies that resulted in the citizens of America feeling that these rights were being oppressed and even denied. Events between 1763 and 1776, such as the Stamp Act, the Intolerable Act, the Boston Massacre, and the Quartering Act all pushed the colonists closer and closer towards rebellion. These policies were some of the causes of the Revolutionary War.
In the years leading up to the American Revolution, the relationship between Great Britain and their colonies in North America deteriorated rapidly. One of the things that most angered the colonists were direct taxes placed upon them to help Mother England pay for a war the Americans had no part in. The Stamp Act, pushed by Lord Grenville and passed in 1765, was one of these direct taxes. This law forced the colonists to pay for stamps on papers such as legal documents, licenses, cards, newspapers, and pamphlets. This angered the American people because it was a tax that affected everybody throughout the social spectrum.
In 1770 violence broke out in the form of the Boston Massacre. To most of the colonists this came across as something much more horrible than what it really was. Still, in a time as unstable as this opinion matters more than fact, and the people of America believed that five colonists were murdered in cold blood by the British. The reason that this angered the colonists is obvious: the country that was supposed to be nurturing their children in the New World was now turning on them in the worst way.
Another statute passed in England that caused ripples throughout the colonies was the “Intolerable Act,” originally called the Coercive Act but changed by the pro-independence propaganda of North America. It was passed in 1774 in response to the Boston Tea Party as a way to punish the citizens of Boston. Part of the law forced the Boston Harbor to be shut down. This did not go over well in a colony built upon the sea trade. Chastisement like this also showed the unjust rule of England because it punished both the innocent and the guilty alike. Other parts to this five-section rule included putting Boston under martial law and the Quartering Act. This new Quartering Act authorized the troops to stay within a town, instead of barracks provided by the colony, whenever their commanding officers thought it was necessary. Once again the colonists were offended and became angry. A thick feeling of tension now hung in New England. With enemy troops stationed close to peoples? homes and businesses, it was felt that fighting would soon break out.
One of the stages of any revolution is words. Pamphlets like Common Sense by Thomas Paine persuaded many Americans to support the cause for independence. I personally agree with this piece of literature. The only area that I have somewhat of a quarrel with is the fact that he places all the blame solely upon the king. Many of the laws and acts which angered the Americans so much were not the king?s ideas, but ideas of people in the Parliament such as Lord Grenville and Charles Townshend. Still, he could have stopped them from reaching the colonists if he personally disagreed with them. I strongly agree with Paine?s ideas of how it was our destiny to become free and that we needed to proclaim America as its own independent republic. Above all, I agree with his view that an independent America would be more prosperous than one with all Britain?s restrictions on things such as trade, religious freedom, and the right to a free trial.
The idea of independence was not shared uniformly throughout the thirteen colonies. About one-third of American citizens believed that it was more logical and ethical to stay loyal to the British crown. These loyalists thought a revolution would be nothing but pure treason. The passion that was felt for independence was also not the same in every location. In most of the colonies of New England, where the punishments from Britain were felt the hardest, there was a fire inside the hearts of men for a free republic. They did not look at separation as just a way to become a more wealthy state. They blended it with their religion and saw it as the divine thing to do in order to create a more just society for the benefit of all men (not including black people and women). As you worked down from this area, the passion for independence gradually became less. In most of the southern colonies, the tyranny of the crown was not affecting life that much. However, independence would result in a more free trading market that the plantations of the South favored.
In conclusion, the majority of the American people supported independence. A
tougher, more simple race of people had spawned, and they needed their own republic in order to truly grow and prosper. There were those who wanted to remain loyal; those who stuck beside England through all the misguided acts and actions taken against the colonists over the decade before the Revolution. Still, in the end the patriots were victorious, and the United Stated of America was born.