Discuss the factors that led to the American declaration of independence in 1776. On July 4, 1776, thirteen colonies in the north received her independence from the Great Britain. The American Revolution began as early as 1763 but the thought of being an independent nation began in 1767. Before 1763, the colonist in America praised the British government as John Adams stated, “the [British government was the] most perfect combination of human power in society for the preservation of liberty.” After the seven years war, however, the British were bankrupt and the parliament decided to make interest from the American colonies. This led to many up raises known as the American Revolution. Such up rises include the stamp act, quartering act, declarative act etc. The major impact that influenced the Americans to change their views about Britain to become an independent nation was the Townshend act also known as the revenue act. The British were in need of funds after the seven years war and thought it was ideal to tax the Americans.
The stamp act was an immediate act that followed the sugar act. This act imposed tax on documented paper, newspaper, playing cards and other items to help assist the British army. This act however was not received well in the Americas. Colonist believed that parliament had no right to tax them especially since they had no representation in parliament. The Americans boycotted the British goods and used only products from their land. The British parliament knew that an up roar may be caused by this act so they also sent out the quartering act, where soldiers were sent so that the stamp act may be followed. The stamp act congress were formed and they pleaded to the parliament to repeal the act. The act was repeal but the declaratory act took its place. “Parliament did not admit the contention of the Americans that it was without power to tax them. On the contrary, it accompanied the repeal with a Declaratory Act. It announced that the colonies were subordinate to the crown and Parliament of Great Britain… [And] therefore had undoubted authority to make laws binding the colonies in all cases whatsoever”.
With the Declaratory act in place it gave way for the Townshend act to take action. In 1767, the Townshend act was passed by the parliament and it collected duties and customs on colonial imports and exports in the hands of British commissioners appointed by the king. It also imposed a tax on lead, glass, paint, paper and tea. Lastly this act also gave the East Indian Company a monopoly on the import of tea. The Americans saw all these the same way they saw the stomp act. For them, only their local assemblies had the right to tax them. A group of persons known as the writ of assistance gave warranty searches to revenue officers. In Massachusetts court, the writ of assistance was opposed by James Otis in a speech of five hours. In his speech he not only attacks the writ but the parliament as well. He said “What a scene… Every man, prompted by revenge, ill-humor, or wantonness to inspect the inside of his neighbor’s house, may get a writ of assistance. Others will ask it from self-defense; one arbitrary exertion will provoke another until society is involved in tumult and blood”.
The writ brought so much hate to the colony that John Adams then stated, “Then and there, the child independence was born”. This was the overturn for the people of the northern colonies. Furthermore, the all duties were repeal except for the tea. This led to a revolt known as the Boston tea party where 90,000 tons of tea was thrown away by Boston activists. The Intolerable act was passed closing the Boston Harbor. Around this time many assemblies who opposed the parliament were dissolved. With assemblies being dissolved, colonies took on a new phase to move forward and began to claim their right as “English men” and that parliament were unlawful. In December 1775, the parliament passed the prohibitory act that seized all trades in America. “America was now outside of the king’s protection… American ships and cargo was now fair game for Royal Navy”. What gave a good inspiration for the Americans was Thomas Paine’s pamphlet ‘common sense’. Paine was not only against parliament but the king as well. He summed up that the British constitution was bases on aristocracy and monarchy and that Americans had no choice but independence.
The Townshend act was the turning point in the American Revolution. The continental congress took steps the first steps to independence by recommending (13) colonies and adopted the republic system of government. Written by Thomas Jefferson, the declaration of independence was approved in July 1776 and summarized the British violated the contract with the American colonies. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.
Beard, Charles & Beard, Mary. A History of the United States. Norwood: MacMillan. 1921 Benjamin, Thomas. The Atlantic World. New York: Cambridge University Press. 2009
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