War for Independence
- Pages: 6
- Word count: 1437
- Category: Liberty
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The French and Indian war left England with over £133 million in debt, and England’s plan to reduce it left the country with a revolution brewing across the pond (). Although arguably the most obvious reason for Americas split from England, the start of the revolution all boils down to the money, proving that the colonists have at least one thing in common with modern Americans. Beginning with a stricter enforcement of the Navigation Acts by Prime Minister George Grenville, England started to use American taxes to pay off their war debt and tighten control over the colonies. There was no one representing the colonists in Parliament, therefore they had little to no say in the governing of the land they lived in. The American colonists were not going to sit idly by and allow themselves to be taxed without consent, and this was the moment the revolution began. The revolution began over monetary issues, but in time the money came to represent so much more than wealth. It represented the freedom and liberty that the British were attempting to strip the colonists of. The introduction of acts such as the Sugar Act of 1764, the Currency Act of 1764, the Stamp Act of 1765, and the Townshend Acts 1767 were what sparked a revolution consisting rebellious acts ultimately leading up to the Boston Massacre, Boston Tea Party, and eventually the Revolutionary War.
The Navigation Acts were passed by parliament in 1650 with the intent to control colonial trade and bolster the economy in the colonies (Shi). England was trying to tighten its grasp on the colonists with this act, but the act was also designed to benefit the colonists in the long run and hurt competing countries. When George Grenville increased enforcement of the Navigation Acts, he targeted American Smugglers who were playing a crucial role in the economy of the colonies at that point (Eakin). This angered the colonists but did not stir up as much dissent as the Sugar Act did. Grenville sought to equally distribute the tax burden between the colonies and England, referring to the Americans as the, “least taxed people in the world” (Shi). With these taxes he sought to fund soldiers left behind by the British after the French and Indian war to more or less keep an eye on the colonists. Intended to further reduce smuggling through the French or British officials, the Sugar Act cut the tax on molasses in half while adding new duties on other goods. This act was very unforgiving to smugglers; those captured were often tried without juries. Thus far acts by parliament had only monitored colonists trading rather than collecting revenue without the colonist’s consent. This is the point where colonists began to openly question their overall allegiance to their mother country. If they were to accept Parliament’s absolute authority in governing them, they would have to accept this tax (Shi). For many of the colonists, this was not something they were willing to accept, and they were not quiet about their objections. This is one of the first examples of public resistance to the British, marking the beginning of America’s split from England and the start of the revolution.
Grenville’s taxation of the colonists did not stop with Sugar Act. Next came the Currency Act of 1764 which caused widespread inflation throughout the colonies by prohibiting the printing of paper money (Shi). Grenville heightened the strain between England and the colonists even further with the Stamp Act of 1765. The Stamp Act restricted colonists paper use to only official stamped paper in order to rake in revenue for the British Army. This marked the first internal tax on specific American goods (Shi). The Stamp Act only intensified tensions between the British and American colonists and sparked the most backlash from the colonies thus far. The Sons of Liberty, a group of enraged colonists led by Samuel Adams, emerged in the aftermath of the Stamp Act and only escalated the revolution within the colonies (Shi). This group led “non-legal” resistance such as attacks against public officials and stamp distributors, riots, and vandalism (Eakin). Along with these non-legal protests, there were colonists who chose to oppose the Stamp Act in a legal and non-violent manner. Legal protestation led by colonial assemblies coined the infamous phrase, “no taxation without representation” as a result of this legislation. The Nonimportation Movement was another form of legal rebellion that surfaced throughout the colonies. This was a movement in which the colonists vowed to only buy American-made goods and boycott British-made ones (Shi). This boycott was extremely successful caused British merchants to actually side with the colonists so to not alienate their loyal colonist customers (Shi). The Stamp Act angered and involved many colonists who had not yet joined the in revolution, such as women. The Daughters of Liberty was a group of patriot women who helped the boycott of British goods by making clothes for themselves and fellow patriots (Shi). The colonists did succeed in getting the Stamp Act repealed with a colonial assembly led by Benjamin Franklin. However, when Parliament decided to repeal the Stamp Act, they passed the Declaratory Act. This act confirmed parliaments claim to be able to tax and otherwise legislate for the colonies (Eakin). This attempt to tighten control even harder on the colonies not only left the “taxation without representation” issue unresolved but pushed many more colonists towards the boiling point strengthening the already existing revolution.
Relations between England and the colonies only got worse with the passing of the Townshend Acts, which were taxes placed on essential colonial imports such as tea, glass, lead, paint, and paper (Shi). This outraged the colonists more so than any previous tax and gave the appointed governors more power than ever before. However, the Townshend Act was not all bad. It managed to unite the north and south colonies who traditionally had been more or less independent states (Eakin). With a newly united north and south, and more animosity towards the British than ever before came greater pushback than ever before and turned the revolution violent for the first time. The Boston Massacre was a direct result of tensions caused by the Stamp Act. Boston was well known as the center of rebellion and British soldiers were sent there to control the attacks on public officials and vandalism. The presence of the soldiers in Boston only escalated the situation in an all-out brawl with casualties. The Townshend Act was repealed, besides the tax on tea, but the hostilities did not subside (Shi). The tea issues got even worse with the passing of the Tea Act of 1773. This act actually made the tea cheaper in an effort to trick the colonists into paying the tax unknowingly (Shi). This sparked the infamous Boston Tea Party led by the Sons of Liberty. Tensions reached had reached their peak on both sides. This was one of the first major turning points in the revolution for the British. King George III wrote, “We are now to establish our authority [over the colonies] or give up entirely” (Shi). This was the choice at hand. With neither side willing to compromise anymore a war between the British and American’s had now become inevitable.
The American Revolution began the second England began to increase control of the colonies through unjust taxation. Starting with Grenville’s strict enforcement of the Navigation Acts and the Sugar Act, each time the British collected taxes from the colonists without their consent they were, by extension, striping the colonists of their freedoms and liberties. The resistance to this thievery by the British, no matter how small, started a revolution that would alter the course of history forever. To the colonists their tax money was so much more than just money. If the British indeed had the right to collect taxes without consent, what else did they have the right to? What would be next- the colonists’ possessions, property, or religious freedom? The Sugar, Stamp, Currency, and Townshend Acts were the peak of a slippery slope that the British would eventually plummet over, costing them arguably their most valuable resource: their colonies. In the begging the revolution may have consisted of small things like open opposition, but even this small act encompasses the theme of the revolution. The right to publicly voice dissent against the governing body was what the colonists were fighting to preserve. Over time the more Tax Acts were passed, the more the colonists resisted, and open opposition would turn into protest, riots, a declaration of independence, and eventually war.