Change Or Preserve Essay, Research Paper
The American Revolution was fought to change oppressive taxation and Legislation by the English government in order to reinstate the social political, and economic structure of the colonies before the English oppression. The colonists were very content with their lives until the implementation of heavy taxation and oppressive measures by the English government as well as many English companies, such as the East India Company. After the wars, America gained its independence, but based it’s government around the welfare of the people, using John Locke’s theory of government serving the people, instead of the people serving government.
Before the heavy taxation and the despotic English laws, the Americans had a responsible representative government of their own. The most prominent men in a county or borough would run for election to represent that area. However, the system was not perfect in that newly established counties and boroughs were not allowed representatives, when so called “ghost-towns” with only a few residents were. This problem was solved by the theory of virtual representation, in which every representative would be a “virtual” representative for all of the English subjects. Its Economic system was doing well, based primarily on agriculture and overseas trade. It supported the growth of large cities such as Boston and New York, but also increased the rate of poverty in these areas by making the jobs of many city-dwellers dependent on good overseas markets. Its Social structure was unlike England’s in that it was not based heavily on social ranks. Having fancy titles did not mean much in American society because it didn’t afford you any special rights, unlike England’s nobles, which were allowed hereditary governmental power in the House of Lords.
As England began trying to extract reparation funds from America after the French and Indian war, it made many mistakes that would eventually lead to the American Revolution. The first thing they did was to instate taxes on man common things such as Sugar, with the Sugar Tax Act, and lead, paint, paper, glass, and tea with the Townshend Act. This would be within reason, but the English put forth the Currency Act, which demanded that the taxes be paid in specie, which was basically gold or silver. This was a problem because the colonists now used fiat, or paper money to trade within their own colonies. England also took away some of the colonists rights with the Quartering Act in 1765, which forced colonial families to take in and board English soldiers in their own homes. England also established the Writs of Assistance, which allowed English troops to search anywhere for anything with a blanket warrant. Anyone found with illegal goods was to be tried in an English admiralty court by a royal judge, with no jury. In 1774, the English government passed The Quebec Act, also known as the Intolerable Acts, which closed the port of Boston, imposed a British Governor elected by the Crown in Massachusetts, and gave the French land concessions in the west. As the English became harsher towards the colonies, the colonies felt the need to protect themselves. They set up the First Continental Congress in Pennsylvania with the goal of getting Parliament to return to its old, relaxed form of government using any method necessary short of war. England did not yield to their requests.
After the first battles at Lexington and Concord, and Bunker Hill, the Second Continental Congress issued a Declaration of their cause to take up arms. In it, they informed the government of their unjust practices, and told of how they planned to throw down their weapons if England “acknowledged their rights”. In response to the declaration, Parliament sent 25,000 more English troops to America, and turned the Revolutionary war into a war of independence.
After the war, America was finally an independent nation, and it was time to organize its government. It had an experimental period, in which it developed many of its current national principles. The new governments followed the form of the old ones, representative governments, but many new things were added. Bodies were needed to govern the whole nation. The Continental Congress served such a purpose. In it, each state was represented. The states also kept church and state separate, and emphasized school, although there was a movement to make the material taught more practical. Tom the average American, the government stayed almost as it was prior to the revolution.
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary defines revolution as “The
overthrow or renunciation of one government, and the substitution of another, by the governed” England corrupted the American government by over taxing it, and placing Royal officials into elected positions, among other things. The Americans renounced this corrupt government, and they revolted and substituted a government based around the one they had before the English corrupted it. They changed a corrupt government in order to preserve a good one.