American Revolution

Jaime Feal
American History Essay

Among the many complex factors that contributed to instigating the American Revolution, two stand out most clearly: England’s imposition of taxation on the colonies and the failure of the British to gain consent of those being governed, along with the military measures England took on the colonists. Adding to these aforementioned factors were the religious and political legacy of the colonies, and the restriction of civil liberties by the British.
Parliamentary taxation was undoubtedly one of the greatest factors inspiring the American public to rebel in the years leading up to the American Revolution. One of the most striking examples of this kind of taxation was the Stamp Act of 1765. After many years of fighting, England badly needed revenues from their colonies, and they sought to acquire these revenues from the New World, thereby increasing their influence over the colonial governments. These theories of “New Imperialism” were what prompted Prime Minister Grenville to pass the Stamp Act. The Stamp Act of 1765 stated that persons of almost any profession were obliged to buy stamps for their documents. In other words, the act imposed a tax on every printed document in the colonies. For example, a printer had to buy stamps in order to legally be able to distribute his publications. While the act itself was not so detrimental to the economy, it was the ideals behind the act (a direct attempt on the part of the mother country to further itself and raise revenues in the colonies) which drove the revolutionaries’ cause. In October of 1765, the same year the act was passed, the Stamp Act Congress met with delegates from nine colonies and petitioned the King of England, along with the two houses of Parliament. This petition and reaction to the act became the first formal cry for reformation with regard to England’s control over America.
In addition to the Stamp Act of 1765, other various taxations aroused a spirit of revolution in America. One year before the Stamp Act, the Sugar Act of 1764 lowered the duty on molasses and raised the duty on sugar. While this act was designed to raise money, the majority of the Americans did not view it as any different than traditional taxations. Another set of taxes, known as the Townshend Duties, taxed goods imported to the colonies from England. Townshend judged this to be more practical because the duty was on “external” goods (those imported to the country) rather than “internal” goods, which the Stamp Act had attempted to address. However, the already distraught and rebellious American public would not allow it. Soon after the Townshend Duties, the colonial governments were urged by the Massachusetts Assembly to revolt and stand up against every tax, external or internal, imposed by Parliament. Eventually, as a result of all the taxes and regulations, the expression “no taxation without representation” emerged. The Americans were clear and concise on what they wanted: Whether the tax be internal or external, whether it be designed to raise revenue or control trade, it could not exist without the consent of the colonists who were being taxed.
The final test of will came when the British government passed the Tea Act of 1773. This act effectively cut out the middleman, or colonial merchant, in the tea trade between Britain and America. This infuriated the colonial merchants, because a powerful monopoly had taken away their ability to trade in the valuable tea. Not only did the economic results of the Tea Act anger the merchants, but also the idea of taxation without representation once again sprang to the forefront of American minds. The complete boycott of tea by Americans ensued. This boycott was extremely important, because it unified the colonies in a mass popular protest. It is also worth noting that American women became actively involved in this protest, since they were the main consumers of tea in America. Riots and protests burst across the county, the biggest and most influential one being the famous “Boston Tea Party”. In this riot, an English boat carrying tea shipments was docked in the Boston Harbor. Three bands of fifty men each went aboard the ship, and wildly emptied the tea chests overboard into the harbor.
The Boston Massacre exemplifies how British military