The American Revolution

Before the French and Indian War, something called the Salutary Neglect was in place. This was an unofficial policy that avoided strict enforcement of British laws so that the colonies would stay obedient to Britain. After the French and Indian War however, Britain incurred a huge debt. To pay off this debt Britain looked toward the colonies and decided to tax them. The days of Salutary Neglect were over and taxes were imposed on the colonists. This irritated the colonists since they were used to smuggling supplies and avoiding taxes.

To add to this, Britain passed the Proclamation of 1763 which prohibited the colonists from settling west of the Appalachian Mountains, the territory that the whole war was fought over. It seemed unfair that the colonists had to pay taxes for a war that brought them almost no benefit.

In 1764, Britain passed the Sugar Act which increased taxes on sugar imported from the West Indies. The Stamp Act which was passed in 1765, really upset the colonists because this required tax stamps on many items and documents including playing cards, newspapers, and marriage licenses. This led to the Stamp Act Congress where 27 delegates from nine colonies met in New York City and drew up a statement of rights and grievances thereby bringing colonies together in opposition to Britain.

The relationship between Britain and the colonies was strained further with the Quartering Act and Townshend Acts and eventually violence erupted at the Boston Massacre in 1770. The Boston Massacre was somewhat exaggerated in the paintings by the colonists to show that the British were really cruel and they were shooting innocent colonists. In reality, the colonists were throwing sticks and provoking the soldiers too.

Britain kept passing laws that aggravated the colonists such as the Tea Act. The Tea Act eventually led to the Boston Tea Party where the colonists dumped all the tea in Boston Harbor. The British were furious and passed the Coercive Acts or as the colonists called them: Intolerable Acts. As a result, 2 of the 13 colonies met in Philadelphia from September-October, 1774. One of the main results of this was the creation of The Association calling for a boycott of British goods. This was also known as the First Continental Congress.

In the end, the American Revolution grew out of increasing restrictions placed upon the colonies by the British. One interesting side note: It is estimated that only one-third of the colonists were in favor of rebellion. One-third continued to side with the British. The last third were neutral concerning the rebellion and break from Great Britain.

Works cited:

The American Pageant (11th Edition)

Boston Massacre:

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