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The American Revolution was not only the idealistic fight for liberty and freedom that it is usually portrayed as; it was also an expansive conflict that led to many casualties on both sides. However, this conflict was in many instances preventable. The Revolution occurred as a result of decades of poor decisions by the British government in an effort to govern the colonies. The American Revolution occurred due to cultural differences, the ineffectiveness of England’s colonial policy, and the effects of the French and Indian War.
One of the main causes of the American Revolution was the cultural differences that had developed between the British and the American colonies. One clear difference in the two cultures was the popularity of liberalist and republican ideas in the colonies at the time. Prior to the revolution, enlightenment writers such as John Locke were becoming enormously popular among the colonists who sympathized with these ideas of opposition to tyranny. In addition, Locke’s idea of rule with consent of the governed greatly influenced our founding fathers. The adoption of these ideals in the colonies would be an early starting point as the colonies traveled on their road to freedom.
Another main cause of the American Revolution was the ineffectiveness of England’s colonial policy. One mistake made by British policymakers was the Proclamation of 1763. This proclamation forbid colonist from settling west of the Appalachian Mountains in an attempt to stabilize relations with Native Americans whose land was being encroached upon by settlers. Colonist at the time viewed this proclamation with downright outrage. They viewed this act as a restriction of their right to land which was a fundamental ideal of colonist at the time. This proclamation was in many colonist minds a blatant restriction of their liberties, and the first strike for English policymakers.
The next mistake of English colonial policy was the taxes they began to levy on the colonist after the French and Indian War. They began this with the Sugar Act of 1764 which actually lowered the tax on molasses, but it severely punished any colonial smugglers caught transporting molasses. Though this tax didn’t cause the widespread outrage of later acts, it was the first step on the road to taxation of the colonies. The first widely hated tax passed by the British parliament was the Stamp Act of 1765. This act placed a tax on any official documents including; wills, birth certificates, playing cards, etc. This act was the first of the taxes to be met with widespread public outrage. The reason this act was so widely hated was that it affected nearly every single person living in the colonies. Everyone needed these documents that were being taxed and the act was met with instant outrage. Another set of acts that were widely disputed were the Townshend Acts. This act taxed a plethora of goods to the colonies in an attempt to raise enough money to pay local colonial governors and justices. This was done in the hope that it would free these officials from colonial control, making them more likely to enforce the crowns policies. These set of acts were considered especially heinous because they paid for royal authorities in the colonies who many colonist viewed as next to useless. One important thing about these new taxes is that we must remember that prior to this, colonist were rarely taxed and if they were, there was no little to no enforcement of the taxes. So when these taxies began to be levied and enforced against them, they were commonly met with much public outcry. These taxes in particular would be some of the main contributing factors that led to the revolution and the coining of the phrase “no taxation without representation”.
Despite the widely hated Stamp Act, colonists were still not ready to break ties with England yet. The breaking point for many colonists was the passage of the Intolerable Acts. Passed as a response to the Boston Tea Party, this act severely limited the rights of colonists especially those in Boston. The Intolerable Acts were a set of four acts which seriously hindered the abilities of the colonists in Massachusetts, and to some extent in the other colonies, to live their lives in the manner they were accustomed. In Massachusetts alone these acts not only closed the port in Boston which was greatly detrimental to the cities whole economy, but they also it placed Massachusetts entire colonial government under royal control by having all official appointments made by the king of royal governor. In addition, the Administration of Justice Act allowed royal authorities to move trials to other colonies and even Britain if they did not believe a fair trial would be held in Massachusetts. However certain other Intolerable Acts affected the entire colonies. The main one was the Quartering Act which allowed British troops to be housed in colonial buildings. Though this would lead to the passage of our own Third Amendment, at the time it was the least protested of the Intolerable Acts. Together these set of acts would enflame colonist from Massachusetts to Georgia.
However, the mistakes British officials made in their colonial policies were not limited to taxes. They also made a grave mistake in their handling of the Gaspee affair. This incident occurred when a British customs ship ran aground while trying to pursue colonial smugglers off the coast of Rhode Island. In order to gain supplies, the soldiers of this ship basically pillaged a nearby colonial town. In response, local Sons of Liberty members later boarded the ship and burnt it to the ground. After being arrested, these men were informed that they would not be given trial by Rhode Island officials but instead the British would ship in an English court. This outraged many colonists who thought this was a sign that their court systems weren’t good enough. This was just another example of how ineffectual British colonial policies angered the colonists to the point of rebellion.
The final cause of the American Revolution was due to the effects of the French and Indian War. The main after-effect of the French and Indian War was that it left Britain nearly bankrupt. The war had taken so much of Britain’s wealth that they had become seriously in debt. To resolve this issue they began to heavily tax the colonist. These taxes as mentioned above would be one of the leading causes of the anti-British feelings felt around the colonies prior to the Revolution. However, there is another issue of importance regarding the relationship between the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. This issue is that many colonists felt betrayed and abandoned by the British following the war. They felt that in many instances they were left to face the French and their native allies with little if any help from the British. These feeling were intensified following the Treaty of Aix-La-Chapelle. In this treaty, the British returned Fort Louiseberg to the French. This is important because colonial forces had spent many months in their attempts to capture this fort. So when the British returned it to the French for next to nothing, it left a great feeling of resentment among colonists who had fought in the war. These are some of the ways that the French and Indian War led to the American Revolution.
These are just some of the many instances that led the American colonies to declare their independence from Great Britain. The American Revolution occurred due to cultural differences, the ineffectiveness of England’s colonial policy, and the effects of the French and Indian War. If these issues would have been better handled the American Revolution would have been prevented. However in the end, these set of occurrences would lead to rebellion and eventually the formation of the United States of America.
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