Were the Colonists Right in Revolting?

As Americans, we have a lot of national pride and as a result we are inclined to believe that the colonists “did the right thing” by rebelling against the British. A cursory examination at the matter leads people to believe that the British government was a malevolent beast that was torturing the innocent and benevolent people of America. A more thorough investigation, however, might provide a more accurate and complete picture of the situation.

The Facts:

  1. The British imposed many acts and taxes on the colonists following the French and Indian War.

  2. The Americans were not being directly represented in Parliament.

  3. The British developed a very strong empire that ruled a significant portion of the population of the world while the empire existed.

Following the French and Indian War, the British was in a lot of debt. And what does a country do when it is in a lot of debt? It either levies heavy taxes or increases the amount of money in circulation. British obviously chose to stick with the former option. Because the colonists had benefited from the British victory of the French and Indian War, the British thought it was fair to impose taxes and smuggling laws on the colonists. I would also believe that it was fair for the British to tax the colonists, except the colonists also fought in the French and Indian War. If the colonists also fought in the war, should they not also be rewarded for their efforts? Furthermore, some acts passed by the British demonstrated that they were clearly more concerned with dominating the colonies rather than just acquiring money to pay off their debt.

Besides the facts that the British were not acknowledging the colonists’ efforts in the French and Indian War and that they were more concerned in controlling the colonies with their acts than paying off debt, they were also not allowing the colonists to represent themselves in the British government, by claiming it was unnecessary because of “virtual representation”. How does that even work? How can people on the small island of Great Britain, thousands of miles away from the colonists, know what problems the colonists are facing and what needs to be solve these problems. The purpose of a government is to “protect the freedom of individuals to pursue their ends to the extent compatible with the like freedom of others” according to Kant. While Britain is arguably allowing citizens that live in Great Britain to “pursue their ends” there is “incompatibility” with the ends of the British on the island, and the colonists. If a government is not fulfilling its duty, it should obviously be rebelled against.

What would have happened if America had not revolted against the British? The British Empire dominated the world during the 18th and 19th centuries. They ruthlessly exploited people in Africa and Asia through enforcement of harsh policies. Most regions that were under British rule have only recently been liberated. The majority of these former British territories are part of third world countries in the contemporary world. They face issues such as poverty and high crime rates. David Cameron himself has told Pakistani students that the British are responsible for many of the problems that exist in the world today. Although America faces many problems today, if the colonists had not rebelled against the British, it is extremely likely that it would have to face many more problems than it does today.

It is evident from this analysis that America made a very important decision by deciding to revolt when it did. You may be surprised that this conclusion matches with the perfunctory reflection on the American Revolution made at the beginning. But this is not a coincidence. Instead, it demonstrates that quick, casual overviews of a topic or situation can efficiently and effectively provide the complete picture of the situation.







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