The American Revolution represents a point in American history when the Americans rose up against the British colonialists to demand independence. The uprising pitted together thirteen states of North America against the British. By 1774 each state was allowed to govern itself autonomously but within the British Empire. Historians have come to differ about the significance of the revolution with many championing the fact that it was conventional because the Americans were fighting for rights they already possessed. The other group believed that the colonist had the right to defend themselves against the unconstitutional decrees passed by the British parliament e.g. the stamp act of1765.
This essay is going to discuss the justification or vice versa of the rebellion, the important powers and liberties the Americans believed they were being denied by the British colonialists and the proof to support this allegation. It will also discuss the primary causes of the upheaval and the events leading to it.
Were the Americans justified to revolt or not?
The Americans were justified to revolt because they lacked representation in the British parliament. Some colonies governed themselves while others were governed by the king’s appointees. The laws passed by the British parliament served its interests not that of the American colony. Since the colonies were autonomous in governing themselves, they passed their independent laws and ignored those of the British parliament (Wood, 2002).
The colonists believed that there could not be taxation without representation. After the French and Indian war, king George of England wanted the colonists to pay for the costly affair through taxation. One of the greatest opponents of taxation was Patrick Henry of Virginia, who claimed that the laws were enacted in a parliament without a representative of the colonists. A lawyer by the name James Otis coined the phrase, “No taxation without representation”. The Americans were also against the stationing of British forces in there territories without their consent. The Americans were not also entitled to revolt because the British had granted the colonists enough civil rights to the point of granting them autonomy in the running of their congressional governments.
Events preceding the war and Causes of the revolution
The French and Indian war of 1754-1763 resulted when the Indians joined the French side to fight against the British for fear that the British were going to annex their land. The Britons were interested in the fur trade which was under French jurisdiction. The war came to a close when Quebec fell under Major General James Wolfe. The war resulted in France losing most of its territories to their opponent and marked the start of taxation of the colonies to pay for the war.
In order to cater for the costs of the French and Indian war, the colonialists introduced the stamp act of 1765. The act stipulated that all official documents must carry a stamp bought from the British. This tax greatly annoyed the Americans and the British were subsequently forced to withdraw and lower the tax imposed on sugar sourced from the French and the Spanish.
The Townsend act of 1767 introduced new taxes on all imports from Britain to the colonies. It affected goods such as glass, paints, paper and teas. The motive of the scheme was to raise money for the administration of the colonies. When the Americans refused to buy British goods citing non representation, all the taxes were removed except tax on tea.
The people of Boston resented the stationing of troops in their town. Tension between the two groups came to a burst on the evening of March 1770. Soldiers guarding customs house on king street Boston were harassed by the residents and when reinforcement arrived, shooting ensued and resulted in the death of three civilians and injuring eight others whom two later succumbed to their injuries. During the trials the soldiers were charged with manslaughter and were later released (Lancaster and Plumb, 2001).
In order to enforce British custom laws and reduce smuggling, patrol ships would stop merchant ships and examine their cargo for contraband. One such ship was the Gaspee. On June 1772 it was set ablaze by a group led by a wealthy merchant by the name John Brown. Despite the British ordering a full investigation and a gift for identifying the perpetrators, nothing was forthcoming.
To assert more control on the colonists, the British resumed paying the governor’s salary to avoid the influence the colonies had by withholding the salary. This infuriated the Americans as they saw it as an attempt to curtail their liberty and further British interests and control.
In response to the Boston Tea Party, the colonial parliament passed four acts which came to be known as the “intolerable acts”. This resulted in the closure of the Boston harbor, disbandment of the elected government of Massachusetts and replacing it with the king’s appointees. The incoming governor had powers to regulate public gatherings. The biggest impact was brought by the passage of the Quebec act which extended the Canadian territory to the Ohio River. The purpose was to eliminate the right to land by the colonies. The British wanted to use Massachusetts as an example to other colonies but the effects were the reverse as the colonies rallied together against the British(Lancaster and Plumb, 2001).
What begun as an agitation for their liberties ended up being struggle for self-rule, many battles were fought before the Paris treaty was finally signed. The following are the major battles; battles of Lexington and concord, bunker hill, long island, white plains, fort Washington, Trenton, Princeton, Brandy wine, Germantown, Oriskany, Bennington, Saratoga, Monmouth, savannah, Charleston, Camden, king’s mountain, Cowpens, Guilford, Eutaw springs and Yorktown.
The American Revolution was justified because it was wrong for the British colonialists to pass legislation in London without representation. The king’s appointees limited the democracy of the colonies because there was no choice of leadership. The Americans also had the right to revolt because their freedom of movement was restricted by the decree of King George limiting movement beyond the Appalachian Mountains. Taxation without representation was also a trigger of the revolution. The revenues went to paying for the French and Indian war but not to benefit colonies.