How The Revolutionary War Begun Essay, Research Paper
How The Revolutionary War Begun
Following the French and Indian War, or otherwise known as The Seven Years
War, Britain was in major debt as with many countries after war. On the other hand the
Colonies were thriving from trade and agriculture. At the end of the war the parliament in
England had no organized plan to reduce the enormous debt they had bestowed upon
themselves. Financing the French and Indian War had almost doubled the national debt.
The parliament had stumbled into the beginning of the Revolutionary War without even
knowing it. They were looking in an entirely different direction when the colonies
exploded with a rage that eventually turned into the American Revolution.
The Seven Years War s outcome also affected the impacted the Revolution by giving soldiers experience that would later help them lead armies and make decisions to win the Revolution. Among these men were the prestigious names of Paul Revere, Ethan Allen, Horatio Gates, Charles Lee, Daniel Morgan and the man who is known as our founding father George Washington. During the French and Indian War Washington was assigned a mission which was a success and he was considered a hero which later helped his success in the revolution and the presidency later on .
The King s minister were trying to find a way to finance the King s military
policy. During the French and Indian Wars England had paid for the defense of the
Colonies as well as providing most of the troops and leadership in the war. But, rather
than demobilize at the end of the war, King George III decided to keep the army at 3/4
strength. Eighty five regiments were kept on alert in case of renewed hostilities between
the British and French. There was still the problem of paying for the regiments though.
They could not tax the countryside any more because of current taxes that were already
too great. The solution, however, was to station most of the army in Ireland and the
Colonies requiring locals to house and feed the soldiers. They also made up the Sugar
Act, Stamp Act and the Towshend Duties to cover the 359,000 needed yearly to sustain
the regiments in the Colonies.
The first of all the taxes or Acts was the American Revenue Act of 1784, or called the Sugar Act. It wasn t even a new tax even. It was a change of an old customs duty. In order to stop trade from the West Indies to the Colonies Parliament in 1733 had passed a protective tariff on sugar, molasses and other raw materials from the West Indies. To avoid paying the customs duty the colonists just smuggled in the goods. They objected to following these new duties because they had long acknowledged as legitimate. In the second place the sugar act reduced the duty on a gallon of molasses by 50%. The only thing was that mechanisms were put in place so they could collect the duty and the American shippers were forced to pay it. Objections were heard to the sugar act because it was said that it was revenue not regulation and so was illegitimate. the stamp act was legitimate . The tax was laid directly on the colonist purposely for raising revenue . What the tax did was make most papers illegal by making all legal documents have to have the particular stamp assigned to the nature of the document. It was forced upon documents, newspapers and pamphlets. In England that Stamp tax was a part of daily life and was collected without a hassle, but the American colonists did not take it lightly and protested it emphatically. Even the Loyalists protested the tax.
The Colonies even formed a congress called the Stamp Act Congress that protested daily in parliament against the stamp act. Angry mobs crowded streets and tarred and feathered many of the tax collectors. This all brought back the old suspicion that most tax collectors and officials were not collecting for the royal treasury but for their own pockets. Also they were enraged that it was Parliament that enacted the Stamp act and not the local legislature and thus began the phrase, No Taxation Without Representation .
Since the colonists could not represent themselves in Parliament then they had to form all taxes with a local legislature. This is the basis for the entire Revolutionary War. The British believed that Parliament was supreme over all of the English lands and had the divine right to rule over them without conflict. Although Parliament did have a representative for the Colonies the colonists did not believe in virtual representation. The problem was that the virtual representatives did not represent the colonies they represented what they thought of the colonies along with mainly thinking of themselves when they voted. In fact, they stood to benefit more from the taxation of the colonies because it would reduce their taxes and raise their wages.
Then all of a sudden in 1766 the controversy ended. William Pitt, the hero of the Seven Years War, made a speech that begged for the colonies right to tax themselves while affirming Parliament s supremacy in all other matters. Pitt s speech swayed everyone and the stamp act was repealed. On the same day, however, Parliament passed a Declaratory Act that gave them power over all legislative matters. The colonists were so happy that they paid no attention to this. The colonists had won this battle.
A few months later the Sugar Tax became 1d. and the cost of smuggling it in was predicted at 1+d. So the smugglers began to pay the tax as it was less costly to bring it in legally. This new duty brought in a substantial amount of money into the Royal Treasury and for the time being everyone was happy.
Although things were looking better for Britain they still were in dire need of funds to pay for their troops in America. In 1767 however chancellor Charles Towshend proposed a new way to receive revenue for the Parliament. The Towshend Act. IN this act was proposed new duties on imports such as glass, lead, paints, paper and tea. It was very similar to the Sugar act although it was much broader. But the Americans would not go along with this plan. A colonist and revolutionist, John Dickinson, wrote a pamphlet caller Letters from a farmer in Pennsylvania. IN it he warned all Americans that the Towshend Duties were every bit as much a revenue tax as the Stamp Act and should be heavily opposed. Everyone agreed. merchants agreed to boycott trading with England in one port after another. And not only did they stop importing goods that were on the list of duties they halted all trade with the Mother Country, thus starting to break away from England. When American imports fell almost one-third from their normal imports the English Foreign minister took notice. He repealed the Towshend Duties in 1770, but left the duty on tea . The Americans objected this but could not sustain the painful nonimportation agreements. The merchants resumed trade with Britain except for the importing of tea.
For two years political peace had been achieved. Until in 1770 a small group of British soldiers fired on a group of civilians that was harassing them. Some called it the Boston Massacre, but more levelheaded people realized that it was all accidental. Even John Adams, a leader of the resistance argued in favor of the soldiers in court. Good sense prevailed and a compromise had been reached with Parliament yet again.
Within a short time after the Boston Massacre the British ministry began another controversial episode that would become another brick in the wall towards revolution. The East India Tea Company had been steadily declining and loosing money for some time now and the Parliament decided to attempt to bring it back out of bankruptcy. So Parliament decided to force the tea upon to colonies in order to help out the suffering company. So they passed the Tea act which readmitted the duties that the tea company paid on importing the tea which let them sell it at a reduced price although they still had to pay the Townshend Duty on the import to the colonies but the price differential from the readmittence of the import duty would be big enough that it wouldn t matter. But at all four ports where the tea arrived — New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Charleston — people resisted the tea. The Americans thought the Tea Act was a bribe the people into paying the duty for tea indirectly which would show weakness and leave them open to more taxes and duties. In three out of four of the ports the tea was refused and sent back but the Governor of Boston Thomas Hutchinson wanted the tea to reach Boston. So he did all he could to see the tea reach the harbor. The tea act had brought the resistance back to life.
The Boston Tea Party was the beginning of the end to English rule in the Colonies. Everyone in England and all Loyalists were outraged at the actions taken by the radicals in Boston. The Americans had gone too far. In response to this Parliament closed down the port of Boston and began the Coercive Acts. The Coercive acts were a number of laws passed to limit the government of Massachusetts. In these laws was stated that the Governor was allowed to pick his own council instead of having them elected along with also being able to do the same with the judicial system, such as judges and lawyers. Above all, town meetings were banned except to elect the local statesman.
Parliament had hoped that this would isolate Massachusetts and use them as an example to all the other colonies who had plans to rebel against the mother country. But these did not put down the feelings of revolt inside the people. It sparked them to a higher level making the Americans feel as if that was what was going to happen to all of the colonies in the near future. So in response to the Coercive Acts in December of 1774 the colonies each sent delegates to the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia to protest.
The new governor of Mass. Gen. Thomas Cage, decided to abolish the assembly for it would do nothing but protest everything. But the revolutionary ideas were running too thick for them to be stopped so the assembly refused to disband and continued to meet, but now called the Provincial Congress. Their main purpose was to declare the colony s rights and to enforce the nonimportation agreement, but it soon assumed the form a shadow government. All taxes were now flowing into the Congress and not the official treasury. It began to warn towns to get their militias ready and to take up the collection of arms.
Although Governor Cage was a modest man who liked to keep the peace this outraged him. He looked the other way occasionally while the government was forming but when he had heard about a cache of arms being help 21 miles out of Boston at Concord he went crazy. Fearing for the government he sent troops there to destroy it. On April 18 the troops left Boston on a basic mission that would begin the revolution. A few miles up the road they encountered a small militia and shots began to fly. Then at concord there was even more resistance. Seeing that they were outnumbered the British began to retreat. The revolution had started.
There were still three basic causes for the war: the taxes, the Coercive Acts and the placement of troops in America. If not for the ignorant Parliament passing laws without thinking of consequence there probably wouldn t of been a war and it could of been peaceful maybe even stayed a colony until this very day.
A month after the first shots had been fired the Second Continental Congress met in May 1775 in Philadelphia . Some of the delegates hoped to compromise with Britain but others wanted independence from the mother country. Finally on July 4, 1776 , the delegates agreed on a Declaration of Independence that explained the reasons for their separation from Britain.
Many believe that the Declaration of Independence is one of the most important and influential pieces of work in American history. Not only because it protected natural rights such as life ,liberty and the pursuit of happiness but also it explained reason for separation from Britain . The main purpose in the document called the Declaration of Independence which was set out briefly and with supreme eloquence the fundamental premises of American nation hood. Also the document protected the colonies independence, the countries right to form alliances and to prepare a plan for a confederation.
Although this revolution seems, on the outside, that it was for change it was mostly to keep things the way they were. Without having to pay new taxes or having to change to be ruled by England. A leading historian once said, A salient feature of our Revolution was that its animating purpose was deeply conservative. The colonials revolted against British rule in order to keeps things the way they were, not to initiate a new era. We agree with this completely. Instead of accepting change as it came. Every bit of change from Britain was challenged in America by revolutionists and even Loyalists. All the new taxes no matter if they were good or bad were hated. Then again there is always the taxation without representation saying. That is true but they still did not want to be represented that was the last thing they wanted. They wanted local government and taxation like it was before the Seven Years War. The driving force behind the war was the continuing effort to keep things that same and not different. But after the war they were not prepared for the drastic changes that would come about. But we still got out independence from England and now have the most powerful, successful country in the world.