|REASONS FOR THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
|REASONS FOR THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
TYPES OF GOVERNMENTS
Absolute Monarchy- A King or Queen have all of the power.
Dictatorship/Totalitarian- One person or small group has all of the power. They keep power by force.
Democracy- The people rule, or choose those who rule.
Direct Democracy- The population meets to vote on the issues.
Representative Democracy (Republic)- The people elect representatives to vote on issues.
WHAT GOVERNMENT DOES
Provide Protection From Danger - Law Enforcement, Fire, Military
Provide Essential Services-Education, Highways, Sanitation, Consumer Protection
Provide Consistent Rules & Laws -Through a Constitution, a consistent set of laws and a stable government
exist for the good of the people.
The American Revolution started on a “clean slate”. Americans could build a country from scratch.
New Territory (and growing).
No old political rivalries.
Many different ideas from many different cultures.
It happened during the Age of Enlightenment (context!).
The French and Indian War, 1754-1763 was a major cause of the Revolution. Britain won the war with a whole lot
of help from American colonists who fought bravely in the war.
The colonists were excited for three reasons:
It got the French out of Canada.
Stopped the French from helping the Natives.
It got the French out of the way for westward expansion.
American Colonists began to see themselves more as “Americans” than as “British colonists”. Since the colonists
first arrived in America, they pretty much ruled themselves.
American colonists had gotten used to:
No interference in their local governments from Britain.
No taxes from Britain.
Full Rights as British citizens (except for there being no representative in Parliament).
When Britain started getting tougher with America, the colonists didn’t like it. Imagine a 16 year old who was never
disciplined by his parents. Suddenly, the parents began to demand things from the teenager.
The French and Indian War was very expensive for Great Britain. The British government began funding it’s
colonies during the mid 1600’s.
Parliament and the King believed that since Britain was defending America and American colonists, the Americans
should pay for a part of it.
Not only did the British fight the French, but they also had to keep soldiers in America to defend the colonists from
American colonists argued that Britain would have fought that war anyway, because Britain had a really sweet deal
going on. According to the Navigation Acts, Britain gets all of America’s;
tobacco & other foodstuffs
The colonists assumed that as a reward for fighting so well in the French and Indian War, they would get:
Repeal of the Navigation Acts, so colonists could trade with whomever they wanted.
Protection against natives, as colonists moved west.
The colonists knew that there was no way Britain would have let France take all of that away, or let Natives interrupt
the flow of goods.
Since Britain did not want to keep fighting wars with Native Americans (too costly and too dangerous), they decided
to keep colonists from taking any more native lands.
Therefore the British government, Parliament (England’s Congress) and Britain’s King George III passed a
series of laws.
Parliament Passed the Proclamation of 1763 which forced all European-Americans to stay east of the Appalachian
Mountains. This would prevent any more problems with natives. 10,000 British troops would enforce the law.
1764 Parliament passed the Sugar Tax on molasses products.
1765 Parliament passed the Stamp Act, a tax on a variety of goods that must be “stamped” to show that the tax was
1767 Parliament passed the Towshend Acts, which taxed glass, paper, paint, lead, and tea.
1767 Parliament passed the Quartering Act colonists had to provide essentials to British soldiers stationed in tents
on Boston’s common (town green).
1773 Parliament passed the Tea Act, which Parliament thought the colonists would like, because it ended the tax
on tea. However, it wound up putting many merchants out of business, so it backfired.
1774 Parliament passed the Intolerable Acts which said that British soldiers have to be allowed to live for free in
With each new law, colonists grew angrier and retaliated with increasing violence. With each violent act, Britain
would retaliate with a new law, more harsh than the previous one.
In Massachusetts two groups, The Sons of Liberty and the Daughters of Liberty began to agitate for more freedom.
1773 - The Boston Tea Party was a riot protesting the taxes on tea. Members of the Sons of Liberty, dressed in
disguise, dumped shiploads of tea into the Boston Harbor.
Like with most disagreements, each side had a point.
Laws and taxes weren’t so high, it’s just that Americans hadn’t had to pay anything before.
There was no one to listen to the Americans’ GRIEVANCES (fair complaints). They had no representative in
Parliament. Colonists demanded “No taxation, without representation”.
The British did not consider Americans “Real Britains”.
Many American’s saw Britain as a cultural influence, NOT as their government.
The “Age of Enlightenment” had people talking about “Natural Law”, the rights of human beings.
Americans didn’t feel that they needed Britain anymore.
THREE TYPES OF AMERICAN COLONISTS
Colonists loyal to Britain and the King.
Colonists loyal to Britain, but wanting some more freedom.
Colonists who wanted Independence (remember there were many other Europeans living in America from other
nations who could care less about Britain).
The colonies sent representatives (delegates) to the First Continental Congress. The Congress would meet in
Philadelphia to enact laws for the colonies, and to decide how to respond to Britain’s government. This was a
serious act of defiance, one which could put them in danger as well.
HENRY LEE of Virginia proposed independence in June of 1776 before the Continental Congress, saying:
“These United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.”
Others agreed, and an independence committee was created, including:
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN THOMAS JEFFERSON
ROBERT LIVINGSTON JOHN ADAMS
During the time of the ENLIGHTENMENT, people would get the word out by printing “pamphlets”, small, short
JOHN LOCKE, a British philosopher had written a work called the 2nd Treatise of Government in 1690. Locke
Rulers get their power from the people giving them power.
Government’s only job is to provide protection of people’s lives, people’s liberties, and people’s property.
THOMAS PAINE wrote a pamphlet called COMMON SENSE, which reminded people of Locke’s views on
government. It explained how Britain had violated “contract” between the ruler (The King) and the governed (the
Common Sense convinced the 2nd Continental Congress to issue the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
The Declaration was approved on July 2nd, and signed July 4th.
JULY 4, 1776 the United States of America is officially created, with the signing of the Declaration of Independence
in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was written by Thomas Jefferson, and edited by Ben Franklin. Delegates to the
Second Continental Congress signed the document.
The Declaration of Independence declared the 13 colonies to be free of British rule, united under one nation; The
United States of America.
The power of the government comes from the people. If the people are unhappy, they may change that
government (through elections).
The people have specific human rights, basic rights shared by all human beings. It is the government’s
responsibility to protect these rights.
The Declaration also outlined the specific issues that had made the colonists angry with Britain.
Before the first shot was fired, Americans had already begun arguing over what kind of government they wanted.
They saw themselves as 13 SEPARATE COUNTRIES (STATES), united for defense only!
STATE (An independent nation with defined borders).
Each colony was unique, sharing some of the same ideas as its neighbor. However, America was already a
“melting pot”, blending many different cultures on a single continent.
Each colony was very different, with different lifestyles, goals and ideas about their own state, and what kind of
federal government (if any) should be created.