Victory in the Seven Years’ War made Britain the master of an enlarged royal area But victory was very costly; the London government struggled after 1763 to make the American colonists to accept some of the financial costs of the empire What began as a disagreement about economic policies soon exposed clashing differences between Americans and Britons over valued political principles The ensuing clash between the Americans and the Britons gave birth to a new nation The Deep Roots of Revolution:
The New World nurtured new ideas about the nature of society, citizens, and government Two ideas in particular had taken root in American colonists by the mid-18th century One was republicanism; models of the ancient Greek and Roman republics defined a just society as one in which all citizens willingly subordinated their private, selfish interests to the common good.
By its very natures, republicanism was opposed to hierarchical and authoritarian institutions such as aristocracy and monarchy A second idea came from a group of British political observers known as “Radical Whigs”.
They feared the threat to liberty posed by the subjective power of the monarchy and his ministers relative to elected representatives in Parliament They warned citizens to be on guard against corruption and to be eternally watchful against possible conspiracies and to uncover them of their hard-won liberties The circumstances of colonial life had done much to encourage alert attitudes. The Americans grew accustomed to running their won affairs; distance weakens authority and it came as a shock when Britain after 1763 tried to strengthen grip on the colonists Mercantilism and Colonial Grievances:
The British authorities embraced a theory, called mercantilism that justified their control over the colonies The Possessing colonies discussed distinct advantages, since the colonies could both supply raw materials to the mother country and provide a market for exports The London government looked on the American colonists more or less as tenants. They were expected to provide products such as tobacco, sugar, and ships’ masts.
Parliament passed laws to regulate the mercantilist system; the first of these, the Navigation Law of 1650 was aimed at rival Dutch shippers trying to elbow their way into the American carrying trade Since the colonists bought more from Britain than they sold there, the difference had to make up in hard cash. To simplify everyday purchases, the colonists resorted to butter, nails, pitch, and feathers for purposes of exchange Parliament prohibited colonial legislatures from printing paper currency and from passing indulgent bankruptcy laws—Americans thought welfare was being sacrificed The Merits and Menace of Mercantilism:
Until 1763, various Navigation Laws imposed no intolerable burden London paid liberal bounties to colonial producers of ship parts, over the protests of British competitors; Virginia tobacco planters enjoyed a monopoly in the market The colonists also benefited from the protection of the world’s mightiest navy and a strong, seasoned army of redcoats, all without a penny of cost Mercantilism stifled economic initiative and enforced an irritating dependency on British agents and creditors. Revolution broke out because Britain failed to recognize an emerging nation when it saw The Stamp Tax Uproar:
Victory-flushed Britain emerged from the Seven Years’ War holding one of the biggest empires in the world and the biggest debt, some 140 million pounds, about half of which had been incurred defending the American colonies Prime Minister George Grenville first aroused the resentment of the colonists in 1763 by ordering the British navy to begin strictly enforcing the Navigations Laws He also secured from Parliament the so-called Sugar Act of 1764, the first law ever passed by that body for raising tax revenue in the colonies for the crown After bitter protests, the duties were lowered substantially, and the agitation died down but resentment was kept burning by the Quartering Act of 1765 Stamps were required on bills of sale for about fifty trade items as well as on certain types of commercial and legal documents, including playing cards, pamphlets, newspapers, diplomas, bills of lading, and marriage licenses Grenville’s noxious legislation seemed to jeopardize the basic rights of the colonists as Englishmen; both the Sugar Act and the Stamp Act provided for trying offenders in the hated admiralty courts, where juries were not allowed Angry colonists cried, “No taxation without representation,” and the Americans made a difference between “legislation” and “taxation” Parliament Forced to Repeal the Stamp Act:
The most conspicuous assembled against he hated stamp tax was the Stamp Act Congress of 1765, which brought together in NYC 27 distinguished delegates from nine colonies The members drew up a statement of their rights and grievances and requested the king and Parliament to repeal the repugnant legislation The Stamp Act Congress, which was largely ignored in England, made little splash at the time in America but its ripples began to erode sectional suspicions because it brought together the same table leaders from the different and rival colonies (unity) More effective than the congress was the widespread adoption of nonimportation agreements against British goods; nonimportation agreements were in fact a promising stride toward union Sometimes violence accompanied colonial protests; Groups such as the Sons and Daughters of Liberty, took the law into their own hands; they enforced the nonim-portation After a stormy debate, Parliament in 1766 grudgingly repealed the Stamp Act The Townshend Tea Tax and the Boston “Massacre”: Control of the British ministry was now seized by the gifted “Champagne Charley” Townshend. He persuaded Parliament in 1767 to pass the Townshend Acts. The tax on tea was especially annoying The colonists took the new tax less seriously largely because it was light and indirect and found that they could secure smuggled tea at a cheap price The Boston Massacre occurred on the evening of March 5, 1770 a crowd of some 60 townspeople set upon a squad of about 10 redcoats, under aggravation the troops opened fire and killed or wounded eleven “innocent” citizens The Seditious Committees of Correspondence:
By 1770 King George III was actively attempting to proclaim the power of the British monarchy. The Townshend Acts had failed to produce income, though they did produce near-rebellion The government of Lord North, finally persuaded Parliament to repeal the Townshend revenue duties but the tax on tea was kept. Samuel Adams’s signal contribution was to organize in Massachusetts the local committees of correspondence Their main functions were to spread the spirit of resistance by interchanging letters and thus keep alive opposition to British policy. Virginia created such a body as a standing committee of the House of Burgesses within a short time, every colony had established a central committee Tea Parties at Boston and Elsewhere:
By 1773 nothing had happened to make rebellion certain; nonimportation was weakening more colonists started paying the tea tax again and t Fatefully, the British colonial authorities decided to enforce the law; once more, the colonists rose up against it Massachusetts governor Thomas Hutchinson had already felt the fury of the mob and this time he was determined not to budge; he ordered the ships to be emptied Provoked beyond restraint, a band of Bostonians, clumsily disguised as Indians, boarded the docked tea ships on December 16, 1773 and smashed open 342 chests and dumped the contents into Boston harbor Parliament Passes the Intolerable Acts:
A furious Parliament responded fast to the Boston Tea Party with measures that brewed a revolution; in 1774, it passed a series of acts designed to chastise Boston Most drastic of all was the Boston Port Act; it closed the tea-stained harbor until damages were paid and order could be ensured By other “Intolerable Acts” were accompanied in 1774 by the Quebec Act The Quebec Act, from the viewpoint of the French-Canadians was a smart and peacemaking measure but from the viewpoint of the American colonists, this Act was especially poisonous; it seemed to set a dangerous example in American against jury trials and popular assemblies The Continental Congress and Bloodshed:
Most memorable of the responses to the “Intolerable Acts” was the summoning of a Continental Congress in 1774 Twelve of the thirteen colonies sent 55 well-known men After continued argument the Congress drew up several dignified papers; these included a ringing Declaration of Rights The most significant action of the Congress was the creation of The Association the delegates sough only to abolish the offensive legislation But the fatal drift toward war continued; Parliament rejected the Congress’s petitions In 1775 the British commander in Boston sent a detachment of troops to Lexington and Concord; they were to seize stores of colonial gunpowder Imperial Strength and Weakness: Provoked Americans had boldly rebelled against a mighty empire. Britain was weaker than it seemed at first glance. America’s geographical expanse was enormous; the Americans wisely traded space for time A Thin Line of Heroes: Colonial Americans were not a well-armed people.
One reason for the final alliance with France was the need for a source of firearms American militiamen were numerous but also highly unreliable; able bodied American men had received basic training and many of these recruits served for shorts terms in the rebel armies but poorly trained militiamen could not stand up in the open field against professional British troops advancing with bare blades Blacks also fought and died for the American cause by war’s end more than five thousand blacks had enlisted in the American armed forces, they also served on the British side. Quiz Answers: 1. Republicanism and Radical Whigs. 2. Various – Sugar Act, Stamp Act, Tea Tax, Intolerable Acts, Townshed Act, Quartering Act 3. They belived in “No taxation without representation. ” 4. Boston Massacre. 5. Because of the Tea Tax. Quiz Questions 1. What are the 2 ideas that shaped the American Political thought? 2. What were 2 of the Acts that were imposed by Britain? 3. What was the position of the colonists towards the taxes? 4. What event happened on March 5, 1770? 5. Why did some of the colonists dress up as Indians and throw tea into the water?
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