The essential reason for the American Revolution was that the
colonists saw themselves as Englishmen, entitled to the rights of
Englishmen, while the British saw them as mere colonists, to be
exploited in whatever way would serve England best. The result was
that the British mistreated the colonists, gradually creating the
anger among them that lead to war.
In 1764, the British government levied the first taxes on the American
colonies. These were designed not to help serve the colonists, but to
raise money for the British government. This was sometimes called the
Sugar Tax, because among other things, it taxed sugar. The colonists
rapidly realized they would benefit in no way from this tax, and
Then the British government forced colonists to allow British troops
to ?invade? their homes, taking food and shelter there whenever they
liked. Once again, the colonists grumbled. While they were busy paying
the British government high taxes, they were also being forced to feed
and care for British soldiers. It seemed unjust.
In 1765, a Stamp Act was passed, which taxed certain documents, from
marriage licenses to newspapers.
Now the British government had entirely changed (for the worse) the
colonists? every day lives. Everyday food items were taxed, their
homes were not their own, and now their means of business and
communication had been hampered.
It was around this time that the catch phrase ?No taxation without
representation? began. While taxes were legal, they weren't always
morally right or just. The colonists were, after all, getting all the
disadvantages of being part of the British government, but none of the
benefits. They no longer felt the British government was on their
side. They felt bullied and mistreated and used.
In the meantime, the British government was busy passing new taxes.
Now lead, paint, paper, glass, and tea?-more essentials of colonial
life, were taxed. In addition, the New York legislature was refusing
to house British soldiers; the British government reacted by
completely shutting down that legislature until they cooperated.
Colonists were beginning to feel they had *no* rights.
The colonists reacted by sharply reducing the amount of British goods
they imported from England; imports dropped by about one half. Still,
the British government did not seem to listen. Instead, in response to
colonial protests, 4,000 British troops were sent to the colonies to
?restore? Boston. Conditions worsened rapidly, as the colonists did
not respond well to being bullied by the troops.
In 1770, the Boston massacre occurred. Sixty colonists surrounded
British sentries and began throwing snowballs at them. Someone fired a
gun. Which led to more gunshots. In the end, 11 colonists were hit and
five died. Colonists now felt their lives mattered not at all to the
Finally sensing that bullying the colonists was leading to more
violence, Parliament repealed many taxes, but kept the tax on tea in
order to prove they were the ones with the power.
The colonists were hardly appeased. After years of being ill-treated
(from their view point) by the British government, the repealing of
certain taxes did not seem to be enough.
The new Tea Act also called for a monopoly on the tea trade from the
Americas to the East India Tea Company. The Governor of Massachusetts
insisted the tea by unloaded in Boston. On December 16, 1773,
thousands of colonists heard Samuel Adams speak about how wrong it was
for the Governor to deny clearance for ships wanting to leave with tea
still on board. After this speech, the crowd went to the waterfront,
50 dressed as Indians. They boarded three vessels docked in the
harbor, and threw 90,000 pounds of tea overboard.
Parliament instantly imposed the ?Coercive Acts? (or "Intolerable
Acts"). They closed the port of Boston until the colonists paid for
the tea they had destroyed, the Royal governor took control of
Massachusetts?s government, sheriffs could now only be Royal
appointees, and juries would be selected by Royal officials. In
addition, the British announced the right to quarter soldiers anywhere
in the colonies.
The colonists had had enough. The first Continental Congress met in
Philadelphia, from September 5th to October 26th 1774, and the
For more about these ?steps? that lead to the Revolution, check out
?Causes of the War? at http://www.multied.com/revolt/causes.html
To read the Stamp Act, visit: http://www.law.ou.edu/hist/stamp.html
To learn more about the Boston Massacre, see The Boston Massacre
Historical Society: http://www.bostonmassacre.net/
For more on the ?Intolerable Acts? check out History Wiz:
"American Revolution" "causes of"