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Factors Leading to the American Revolution

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Essay title: Factors Leading to the American Revolution

Factors Leading to the American Revolution

For over a century Great Britain had ruled the colonies in America. Since the founding of the Chesapeake Bay colony in the south in 1607, and the Massachusetts Bay colony in the north in 1630, the colonies had relied on the crown for many of their needs. Over time the colonists established a social and economical system that was almost independent of the British Empire. In April of 1775, after many transgressions on both sides, the colonists decided that they no longer needed, or wanted the support, protection, and leadership of the country that founded them. There were many factors, both immediate, and longstanding that lead to the decision to fight for freedom from British rule.

The American Revolution had some of its beginnings in the French and Indian war. For seven years, Britain battled the French and Indian nations in the colonies. Where the colonies militia fought beside the troops of the British army and learned war first hand. After winning the war, Britain had a large debt 140 million pounds. To pay these expenses, it was reasoned that taxing the colonies should pay the debt. The war had been fought to protect the land of the Ohio River Valley, land that was part of the colonies.

Even before the French and Indian War, political harmony between the colonies and the British was already being breaking down, due to all of the new acts that were passed in accordance with the mercantile theory of economics. This theory of economics believed that the goal of the individual should be to increase the total wealth of the country, and that the world wealth was finite. The British believed that the colonies only existed to increase the wealth of Britain.

The belief in mercantilism and a large war debt lead to Britain's passing of many acts aimed at taxing the colonies, the first of which were the Navigation Laws. These laws mandated that all goods from the colonies had to be carried by British ships, thus making British merchants richer because everybody wanted goods form the New World and they would now have to go threw Britain to get them. The Navigational Acts were adhered to on the surface but were disobeyed by the common people when necessary.

Another such act was the Proclamation of 1763. This inhibited the colonists from crossing the Appalachian Mountains for hunting or farming. Britain instilled this proclamation in order to cut the area Britain had to guard with soldiers. The colonists, however, took this as another way the English were controlling them and making them subservient to English authority, in defiance they clogged the westward trails. This is one of many examples of British or colonial acts being misinterpreted by their counterparts across the sea.

However, one if the largest differences of opinion came with the colonies' perception of "taxation without representation". From the colonists’ point of view, it was impossible to consider themselves represented in Parliament unless they actually elected members to the House of Commons. This idea conflicted with the English principle of "virtual representation," according to which each member of Parliament represented the interests of the whole country, even the empire, despite the fact that this electoral base consisted of only a small minority of property owners from a given district. The rest of the community was believed to be represented on the ground that all inhabitants shared the same interests as the property owners who elected members of Parliament. Most British officials held that Parliament was an imperial body representing and exercising the same authority over the colonies as over the homeland. The colonial leaders argued that no "imperial" Parliament existed; their only legal relations were with the Crown.

Britain followed the Proclamation of 1763 with a series of taxes on specific items. The first of which was the Sugar Act of 1764. This increased the duty on foreign sugar import from the West Indies. Such acts as the Quartering Act of 1765 and Stamp Act of 1765 followed the Sugar Act and added to the frustration that was felt by the colonists.

The Stamp Act required the use of stamped paper or the affixing of stamps, certifying legal documents. Tavern owners and newspaper printers were also affected by the Stamp Act. Where relatively few were affected by the Sugar Act, the Stamp Act angered many colonists and community leaders. This prompted the colonists into forming protests groups between the states called the Stamp Act Congress. This was the first time that all the states began to work together for a common goal, forming such organizations as the Sons of Liberty.

A boycott of British goods caused the suffering British merchants to throw their weight behind a repeal movement, and in 1766 Parliament yielded, repealing the

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