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The Rising of American Identity

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In 1607, when the first colony was established in Jamestown, Virginia, the colonists were still essentially British subjects living in America. They were ruled by the king overseas and in exchange for the protection provided by Britain, respected and obeyed the rulings of the monarch. However, as thirteen colonies were ultimately established and developed, an American identity began to emerge along with American ideals that diverged from those of the British. As the American colonies developed, the British king tried harder to maintain control over its overseas colonies, ultimately leading to conflict America and Britain and discussions within the American Continental Congress for independence. While the Continental Congress was unwilling to break its allegiance with king and mother country because of the protection Britain had provided the colonies as well as the jobs and status that certain citizens had because of connections with Britain, the Continental Congress was ultimately willing to break its allegiance with king and mother country because of the unjust colonial suppressions such as taxes and the ignorance of the king.

When Columbus first discovered the New World in 1492, Spanish dominated colonization. However, England, after unity in the country and defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, slowly rose to dominance, overpowering the Spanish. The colonies, thus, had the protection of the great military power of their mother country. For example, France, which had also been colonizing America, was a constant threat to the colonies in terms of land but was chased out of North American during the French and Indian War in the mid-eighteenth century. Breaking allegiance with the king and mother country would, therefore, not only remove a strong military protection of the colonies, but also create a military opposition between the colonies and America. As there was no official American army at the time, many felt it impractical and dangerous to enter war against such a massive and experienced army. In addition, many Americans of high status benefitted from connections with Great Britain. They were given more power by the British monarch to make rulings in the colonies and were generally a lot more wealthy. These people, therefore, did not want to break their loyalty to Britain for fear that they would lose their status and money.

Despite reluctance in declaring independence, the Continental Congress was ultimately willing to break its allegiance with king and mother country as unjust colonial suppressions grew increasingly stronger and the American ideals deviated further away from those of the British. As the colonies developed, freedom and equality were emphasized for the freemen of the country. The colonists were therefore offended when the king attempted to grip the American colonies more tightly. in March 1765, in order to lessen some of Britain’s debts, the Stamp Act was passed, declaring that all colonial documents had to use specific paper upon which there was a tax. In May 1765, the Quartering Act was passed, stating that colonial assemblies had to pay for supplies to Britain. The colonists resented these taxes as they were taxed without consent. At the time, Britain endorsed virtual representation, meaning that a British representative made decisions for the colonies with the colonists’ “well-being” in mind. However, the colonists, who had developed a more democratic and widespread participation in elections or votes, did not feel represented and therefore demanded the repeal of the taxes. However, the monarch continued to justify the levying of taxes, such as the Tea Act which led to the Boston Tea Party, during which the colonists dumped all the taxed tea into the Boston Harbor. In fury, the king passed the Intolerable Acts, punishing Massachusetts, and increased British military presence in the colonies to stamp out political opposition. The Continental Congress was also further willing to break its loyalty from Britain after King George III rejected the final plea for peace and promise of allegiance from the colonists in the Olive Branch petition, openly declaring the colonists in rebellion. As the royal suppressions on the colonies grew stronger, violating the newly developed colonial ideals in the process, the Continental Congress became increasingly willing to break its allegiance with king and mother country.

Although the Continental Congress was unwilling to break its allegiance with Britain and the British king because of the protection Britain had provided the colonies as well as the jobs and status that certain citizens had due to connections with Britain, the Continental Congress was ultimately willing to break its allegiance with king and mother country because of the unjust colonial suppressions such as taxes and the ignorance of the king. Britain had a massive and experienced army compared to America’s new and inexperienced army, so declaring independence and engaging in war was risky for the colonies. However, constant taxes, British military presence, and the ignorance of the king to the colonists’ protests contrasted the newly formed American ideals of freedom and equality, leading to the Continental Congress’ final break in loyalty to Britain.

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