Causes of the American Revolution

How England Instigated The American Revolution

Soon after England established the colonies in the New World, it began a period of salutary neglect. The English rarely intervened with colonial business. It was during this time that the colonies began gradually to think and act independently of England. This scared England, and initiated a period in which they became more involved in the colony's growth. Parliament tried to establish power in the New World by issuing a series of laws. The passage of these laws undermined the Colonist’s loyalty to Britain and stirred the Americans to fight for their freedom.

Before 1763, the only British laws that truly affected the colonists were the Navigation Acts, which monitored the colony’s trade so that it traded solely with England. As this law was not rigidly enforced, the colonists accepted it with little fuss. The colonies also accepted England’s right to monitor trade. The change of course in 1767 was what really riled the colonists. England began to slowly tighten its imperial grip to avoid a large reaction from the colonists. Additional problems began when England passed the Writs of Assistance, which gave British officials the right to seize illegal goods, and to examine any building or ship without proof of cause. This was a powerful weapon against smuggling, but most importantly to the Colonists; it allowed the invasion of their privacy. This was crossing the line and violating the rights of an English man. The Colonists even went so far as to hire a lawyer, but the court ruled against him.

During the Seven Years War, the British sent over ten thousand troops to America to deal with property problems at the frontier. This cost a large amount of money, and Britain did not want to see the sum come out of its own pocket. To pay for some of the expense, Britain began to pass acts to tax the colonists and lighten the severe debt the empire was in. The Sugar Act of 1764 was an example of a tax that had many affects on the Colonial lifestyle. The act stated that any foreign exportation of lumber or skin had to first land in Britain. It also raised the price of imported sugar from the Indies. This act was accompanied by a strict enforcing of the former Navigation Acts due to the sudden increase of smuggling. This enhanced the tension between England and the New World. The law also changed trials for offenders; they were held away from the place of the crime, and the judge was awarded 5% of confiscated goods, increasing the number of guilty sentences handed down. In reality, the laws were so regulated it was hard not to make an error! The Quartering Act in 1765 was a burden to all the colonists; it required certain colonies to provide food and housing to the British Troops on demand. This was viewed by many as an indirect tax, though an inexpensive one. While the previously passed laws caused some protest, the one which brought out the most public opposition was the Stamp Act in 1765. The Sugar Act had failed to produce enough money, and Parliament was forced to pass the Stamp Act. The Act stated that all Americans must used specially stamped (watermarked) paper for printing bills, legal documents, even playing cards!

England saw these taxes as reasonable; after all, the Americans were merely paying for the soldiers in their colonies, a measure for their safety. As Americans did not deem the soldier’s presence as necessary in the New World, obviously they despised the tax. And worst of all, these taxes were decreed without any word from an American, as there was no representative for the New World in the British parliament. Americans believed it was understandable for the British to legislate when the subject involved the Empire as a whole, such as trade, but only Colonists could tax colonists, not the British government, 3,000 miles away and deaf to the American views. The Prime Minister claimed that the Colonists were “virtually represented” in parliament: each member stood for the empire as a whole. The Colonists disagreed because they believed that Parliament did not care about or understand them and therefore did not have the American people’s best interest