America was colonized during the early period of imperialism by Britain. The process of colonization of America began with the exploration activities, which were conducted by the European explorers. The explorers always informed their governments about the resources in America. This encouraged the Europeans to have much interest in commercial and agricultural activities in America (Frank, 1998, p. 89). Native Americans were among the early people who lived in America. Their population was seriously affected by wars and epidemic diseases, which were prevalent during the 16th century. Migration facilitated the emergence of other societies in
America. For example, Afro-Americans emerged as an outcome of slavery (Frank, 1998, p. 90). American Indians also formed a part of this society. The arrival of the British colonials in America led to oppression and exploitation of the Americans. In order to protect their interest, the Americans had to resist the British rule through all the possible means. This led to the American Revolution, which facilitated the independence of America.
In 1607, the British brought many drastic changes in the American society. They interfered with the American civilization. Apart from Britain, other European powers such Sweden and France also attempted to obtain colonies in America. The major aim behind colonization was the need to gain resources from America (Guevara, 2009, p. 231). During the British rule in the American colonies many changes occurred, and they were not in favor of the Americans’ interests. Slavery which had begun during the ancient period now became worse. The American society became increasingly stratified during the British rule. This led to the development of inequalities, which really affected many inhabitants of the American colony. These social injustices prepared the ground for the American Revolution.
The American Revolution
The revolution started in 1763 when the ‘French and Indian war’ came to an end. The British government wanted the Americans to provide the financial resources for maintaining the colonies. The British colonialists wielded their power by charging high taxes on their subjects. The Americans did not accept those policies. Many Americans also felt that the British rule was illegal since they were not having representatives in the British government (Guevara, 2009, p. 215). They, therefore, protested against the British.
Causes of the American Revolution
This was a lobby group that facilitated the spread of ideas such as republicanism and democracy. These ideologies enabled them to gain political consciousness. Republicanism inspired many people, and it was instrumental in advancing the course of the revolution (Middlekauff, 2007, p. 107). According to this ideology, the national interest should come first. They were, therefore, committed to fighting for self governance.
Religion was very significant during the American Revolution because it gave the citizens moral encouragement to resist colonialism. During the Revolution, church leaders took leadership roles in political organizations (Middlekauff, 2007, p. 112). For instance, they engaged in committees of correspondence. Some of them even participated in armies of resistance.
Controversial British Legislation
The Americans rejected most of the punitive acts that were enacted by the British government. For example, they enacted navigation acts. Through these acts, the colonial government was able to dominate the economic system and the Americans really suffered (Brinkley, 2009, p. 304). This made them fight against oppression.
American Political Opposition
Opposition of the British rule was also done through correspondent committees, which served in various capacities in the colonial government (Doyle, 2009, p. 76). Members of these committees also led the Americans during the protests.
Role of Women
Even though women were not a part of the major political activities throughout the revolution, they also played a role in facilitating the revolution. They provided intelligence by simply spying on the British activities (Doyle, 2009, p. 90). Women also provided food and other logistics to the soldiers.
During the colonial period in America, Britain was much preoccupied with advancing its economy (Henretta & Dumenil, 2007, p. 113). For example, it was undergoing industrial revolution. In this regard, Britain enacted colonial policies that would favor its maximum exploitation of its colonies. The following economic factors, therefore, partly contributed to the onset of the American Revolution.
The British government came up with a number of land policies in America after the end of the war between it and France. This war lasted for seven years, and it was mainly caused by the desire of the two powers to have colonial possessions in the western part of America. Britain which emerged victorious after the war annexed all the land that had been contested (Brinkley, 2009, p. 230). Soon after the war, Britain started enforcing major changes in land policies especially in its western colonies. The main importance of this policy was to facilitate British control over the Western colonies. In this respect, three other polices also emerged after the enactment of the new policy, and they included the following (Frank, 1998, p. 178).
The exclusion policy was the first one, and it was meant to remove the Americans from the western region. Secondly, we had the implementation of the exclusion policy. Thirdly, the British set up modalities of financing the exclusion program, which was to be achieved through a series of taxation policies (Doyle, 2009, p. 123). In this case, it was the American citizens that were supposed to pay for the cost of removing their colleagues from the West.
Thus, unfair taxation was one of the main economic factors that were responsible for the onset of the revolution in America. Even though the British government could device other mechanisms for raising funds, they saw the Americans as the most viable source of finance for accomplishment of the exclusion plan (Henretta & Dumenil, 2007, p. 145). This was because the British government had incurred much expense during the war with France. Moreover, the taxes were relatively high in Britain compared to the colonies. The legislators also had their constituencies in Britain and not in the colonies. With all these issues put into consideration, the British parliament saw taxation of the colonies as the most suitable way of raising funds for the exclusion program (Guevara, 2009, p. 114).
Accordingly, many taxation acts were implemented in order to generate revenue for the British army in America. The Sugar Act was implemented in 1764 and it was meant to reduce tariffs charged on non British products sourced from West Indies. It was also supposed to facilitate the collection of those goods (Doyle, 2009, p. 321). This act was followed by the first Stamp Act, which was implemented in order to provide income for the army. Soon after the enforcement of this act, the Quartering Act was also put in place, and it was meant to enable the British army to have access to social amenities from the Americans. More taxes were also levied on goods that were imported through the enforcement of the Townshend Act that was introduced in 1767. In addition to these acts, the British government also implemented the Navigation Acts, which further strained the economy of the Americans (Middlekauff, 2007, p. 145).
The Americans could not do much to eliminate the British army occupation of the west. However, they resisted the new taxes imposed on them through a series of peaceful methods. For example, they refused to buy goods that were imported from Britain. This boycott affected trading activities to an extent that the British government removed most of the taxes mentioned above (Guevara, 2009, p. 210). Even after the elimination of these taxes, the British still had the feeling that it was important to continue taxing the Americans. This saw the implementation of new taxes after a few years. The Americans had no choice but to react violently. The harsh economic policies led to a serious economic decline among the Americans. Therefore, the economic issues together with other factors led to the outbreak of the revolution.
Majority of historians have given much attention to the revolutionary leaders, in most of their analysis of the revolutionary period. For instance, “most of them link the success of the American Revolution to individuals such as John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and others” (Philip, 1962, p. 556). Although that attention is merited, it has somehow given a false impression of how the American Revolution was conducted. As pointed out by historians such as Breen, it is clear that the idea of the revolution emerged among the ordinary people, and not the leaders. John Adams was right when he mentioned that there was a division among colonies on how to approach the idea of gaining independence. For example, some individuals advocated for peaceful negotiations for their rights, while other favored military campaigns.
The local initiative by commissions that spread in various colonies further indicates that the revolution was driven through a concerted effort and not solely by the officials we link with nationalist cause. Indeed, the ordinary individuals willingly and vigorously engaged in the nationalist cause. This clearly indicates that ordinary Americans had the capacity to wield political authority in their territory with a sense of reason. It is also worth mentioning that by 1774, only few Americans could think of independence. In 1774, George Washington actually informed a friend of his that sovereignty was along term dream for the Americans. However, with great determination and focus the Americans managed to dislodge the British from their territory.
Declaration of Independence
According to many historians the Declaration of Independence is one of the most significant manuscripts that provide a chronological account of various events that facilitated the achievement of American independence. Several nations and organizations have also embraced its structures and tone in their own manuscripts and declarations. For instance, the Women’s Movement employed a similar strategy in writing their Declaration of Sentiments (Philip, 1962, p. 523).
The Declaration of Independence refers to the proclamation which the Continental Congress made in 1776. According to the provisions of this proclamation, the thirteen American Colonies that had resented the British rule were to be granted their autonomy. This meant that the Americans could have the chance to govern themselves without seeking guidance from Britain. The role of drafting the document was bestowed on Thomas Jefferson, and the Congress made necessary adjustment before it produced the final version. The declaration acted as an official statement that justified the voting of the Congress in favor of the decolonization. The voting took place on July, 2, 1776. On July 4, the final manuscript was produced. This was followed by the declaration of the Independence, which the congress issued in various forms. “Nevertheless, the Declaration of Independence was in fact not in principle essential in declaring independence from Great Britain” (Boyd, 1976, p. 439).
Many scholars have adopted different analysis of the Declaration. For instance, some them argue that the information of the Declaration is similar to 'Lawyer's Brief' (Jayne, 2000, p. 444). In my view, the declaration acted as justification for the decolonization of the colonies in America. Indeed, the colonial grievances highlighted in the Declaration revealed that the Americans were really in need of independence. After independence, the Declaration did not receive much attention. However, it gained prominence over the years as the question of human rights became more significant. According to Abraham Lincoln, the Declaration of Independence laid the foundation for democracy in America. Therefore, he argues that the principles entrenched in Declaration can be used as guidelines for interpreting the American Constitution.
The above discussion indicates that there were several factors that led to the American Revolution. As discussed above, the British rule in America interfered with the both political and economic systems of America (Brinkley, 2009, p. 45). However, destroying the Americans’ economic system had the greatest effect on their lives. It is the harsh economic conditions that motivated the Americans to resist British rule in their territories. It is apparent that the non-economic factors helped in implementing the Revolution rather than causing it. For instance, the American Enlightment was responsible for the spread of ideas such as republicanism, which enabled the citizens to resist colonization with an aim of eliminating their oppression (Middlekauff, 2007, p. 90). Likewise, religion was more of a source of inspiration for the citizens to resist colonization rather than a cause of the revolution.
Achieving political independence by the Americans was not only meant to enable them to rule themselves, but also to enable them to manage their resources in order to achieve economic prosperity. This leads to the conclusion that economic constraints were the main causes of American Revolution, because they caused much suffering among the Americans, thereby prompting them to resist colonization. The Americans finally regained their freedom after a serious struggle through military protests. Independence was finally granted to the American colonies in 1776. After independence the people of America started making constitutional changes that would enable them to develop their country.