To many, the American Revolution draws up images of noble revolutionaries bravely taking on their stronger mother country, fighting for their ideals of independence, self-government, and liberty.
GOD BLESS AMERICA
However, I believe their motivations were much less noble. They just wanted to relive salutary neglect, without having to take financial responsibility for the French-Indian war. For one, historians generally agree that even up until 1775 (with the Olive Branch Petition) the Americans were just trying to have America as it was before, under Britain’s rule. It was only around this time that Americans realized their only two choices to live under much tighter restrictions from the Empire or to establish their own independence.
Britain had no choice but to attempt to task the colonies, or risk the decimation of the empire. And what do they do? They start protesting. May I remind you that British citizens were paying more tax than the Americans, for the debts of a war that was fought significantly in North America? Debts that would go to saving the mother empire from falling apart, in a time where America wasn’t even sure it could operate independently.
Get it together guys.
It’s well known that Americans also protested the Tea Act despite it actually lowering the price of tea, on the grounds that the British were trying to trick them into paying more taxes, and that they could not accept being taxed without representation. But could it have been a load of patriot fervor? Consider the context: this is before the Coercive Acts, where anger against the British may have been more justified. (Britain definitely went a bit overboard there) This is after the Townshend acts, a set of laws designed to generate revenue to pay royal judges in the colonies, in order to stifle smuggling in the colonies. These protests were more of a national tantrum than anything. The colonists were just justifying their anger, and who knows how many of them actually believed what they were preaching?
However, the Revolutionary War was not entirely the fault of the Americans; the British did do many unfair things. The Coercive Acts were oppressive, authoritative, and enraging. They did nothing to patch up relations between the countries and Britain refused to accept the revolutionaries’ requests for peace. Admiralty courts were also very authoritative, even if Americans were guilty of a strong smuggling sector. The Proclamation of 1763 could not have been made at a worse time. It didn’t stop westward expansion very much, it just set the precedent for colonists to disobey the mother country. The way the British held themselves over Americans was also a factor. Combined with America’s slow unification and military confidence after the French and Indian war, it’s no surprise that the colonists did what they did and succeeded.
In conclusion, the time leading up to the Revolutionary War was a lot more complex than one might think, and it’s not as simple as saying “Britain was authoritative and victimizing the colonists”.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Darth_Vader.jpg Author: LucasArts
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Paris_Tuileries_Garden_Facepalm_statue.jpg Author: Alex E. Proimos
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:American_Bald_Eagle.jpg Author: Unknown
Bailey’s The American Pageant, Chapters 6-8