There are cracks that began to emerge between North American colonists and their British rulers which culminated into the full-scale American Revolution. This was after a gradual combination of factors that led to growing dissent and opposing voices among the thirteen colonies that became rebellious against King George in the 1770s (Forest, 2013). There were various political, social, and economic reasons that led to disagreement between the way the British rulers handled the colonies and the away the British colonists in America felt they ought to be treated. The British felt that the thirteen colonies should be commercially exploited while the colonists, on the other hand, believed that they had to be treated fairly like their fellow Englishmen. This essay will trace the key factors that contributed to the colonists in America to rebel against their British rulers; the monarch and the Parliament.
One of the political reasons for rebellion against the Crown was the administrative structure of the British in which they increasingly used their local officials and soldiers more than the colonists. The British officials were empowered to have control over the colonists and this worsened matters by promoting bureaucracy and corruption (Huey, 2012). An instance of this excessive control was the 'Writs of Assistance' that gave British officials and soldiers the right to seize and search any trade goods or property that they suspected entailed smuggling or illegal commodities. Cargo ships, warehouses, and private residences were not spared in these searches and seizures with the British officials taking advantage to abuse their power. This only served to infuriate the colonists who also had to contend with the inconvenience and additional cost of sheltering the same soldiers in their homes yet the French and Indian War was over.
The location advantage of the colonists was another reason that made them clamor for freedom from their British masters all the way in Great Britain. The geographical distance between the two was both physical in that it gave the colonists a sense of independence and psychological in that it gave then the urge to colonize the new world from an autonomous perspective. They sought to have the ultimate freedom to explore new opportunities in America yet King George III aimed to deny them this opportunity by issuing a royal decree curbing the colonization of the western part of the Appalachian Mountains. This did not go down well with the colonists who had already invested in the territory, with the majority of them ignoring the royal decree in a move that heightened the tension between the British rulers and the North American colonists (Chopra, 2013).
Perhaps the most compelling of the reasons that led to the rebellion of the colonists against the British were the economic factors involved in this friction. The then recently concluded French and Indian War plunged the British administrators in an economic pit. The war, to begin with, was substantially expensive to fund and this meant that the rulers were eager to find the much-needed funds. The British rulers needed finances to offset the debts incurred during the war. Their attention turned to the thirteen colonies on which they imposed heavy trade regulations while introducing additional taxes. It is worth noting that the colonists were tied to their British rulers through trade and it is the same trade which was used as a tool to govern them. The colonists felt the pinch of this economic burden and disgruntled voices against the British rulers only grew louder (Forest, 2013). The British administrators ignored the pleas of the thirteen colonies and went ahead to enforce new taxes on the colonists. Among the new taxes to be enforced on the North American colonies were the Currency Act and the Sugar Act, both of which came into be in 1974. The Sugar Act effectively served to ensure certain commodities could only be exported to Britain alone while it also added substantial taxes on the molasses. The trade restrictions also meant that the colonies could only import goods and other essential supplies through Britain. As for the Currency Act, its enforcement outlawed the minting of money in America leaving the colonists with no choice but to rely on the dwindling British economy. The banking system was yet to fully develop and the colonists had a hard time raising capital due to little cash flow in the economy, a fact that led them to utilize credit and barter trade to acquire the supplies that they required. The 1765 Quartering Act passed by the Parliament arm-twisted the colonists to pay for the accommodation of British soldiers based in America, an economic burden that the colonists found unnecessary since the French and Indian war was over. The 1765 Stamp Act required the payment of tax on stamped documents as well as the Townsend Acts that made colonists pay taxes for commodities like tea. This increased opposition among colonists and led to the emergence of the Boston Tea Party which would secretly attack the Boston harbor and throw away the imported tea in acts of rebellion (Forest, 2013). The colonists in the thirteen North American colonies felt cornered by the under-representation, over-taxation, and lack of free trade which pushed them to rebel against the British rulers. This gave the emerging rebellion a momentum through the popular 'No Taxation No Representation' chant of the colonists.
There was the issue of government control that played a role in ensuring that the colonists rebelled against their British rulers. There existed a myriad of colonial legislatures which essentially meant that the North American colonies were in independent of the crown's rule in various ways. Some of these legislation permitted the colonists to pass new laws, levy taxes, and gather troops; with the majority of the colonists viewing these legislative powers as more of their basic right than a privilege granted by the crown. The British rulers were aware of these perceived autonomy in legislation and that is why they purposely sought to curb the legislative powers of elected institutions in colonial America. They instituted measures geared towards ensuring the colonists never attained the autonomy they wanted and this accelerated rebellion among the thirteen colonies (Huey, 2012).
Still on the issue of administration, the criminal justice system that the British rulers used in the North American colonies was rotten to the core. Political protests voicing dissatisfaction with the British rulers became the norm and the latter utilized the judicial system to silence the dissenting critics. The imprisonment of an author for publishing opposing views against the British was one of the examples that the monarch and the British Parliament used the criminal justice system to reign on their critics. Another illustration can be found through the Boston massacre in which the courts were used to crack down on the protesting colonists. It was an unfair system because British officers and soldiers on the wrong were extradited to Britain for trials where there would be few witnesses and even fewer convictions due to the absence of witnesses.
Lastly, the North American colonists' rebellion against their British masters was a manifestation of an emerging American way of independent thinking. The British colonists in North America had a general feeling of 'Americanness' which separated them from British citizens living in Britain. The rebellion against the British Empire and Parliament took shape in the 18th Century during the Enlightenment era which saw philosophers and critical thinkers begin to question matters pertaining politics, governance, the church, and other social issues. The colonists belonged to this school of thought given that most of the founding fathers were deeply engrossed in the writings of influential philosophers like Montesquieu, Hobbes, Rousseau, and Locke. The books authored by these deep thinkers talked about a limited government structure, the doctrine of separation of powers, and the social contract. Iconic men like John Adams and Benjamin Franklin started believing that it was the duty of the colonists to defy the unjust British laws and rebel against their rulers (Chopra, 2013).
The growing North American colonist rebellion against the British officials eventually developed into a full-scale war referred to as the American Revolution. Most of the grievances raised by the colonists served as a foundation for American democracy where the founding fathers carefully wrote the Constitution to iron out the contentious issues to safeguard the liberties of all individual American citizens. The rebellion was not in vain as it gave birth to the tenets of the modern day United States democracy.
Chopra, R. (2013). Choosing sides: Loyalists in revolutionary America. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Forest, C. (2013). The rebellious colonists and the causes of the American Revolution. North Mankato, MN: Capstone Press.
Huey, L. M. (2012). Voices of the American Revolution: Stories from the battlefields. Mankato, Minnesota: Capstone Press.
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