Causes of the Revolutionary War


This Site:

Discovery of America

The Explorers

Post Columbian Exploration

Thirteen Original Colonies

Colonization of America

Colonial Life

Colonial Days and Ways

Independence Movement

The Patriots

Prelude to War

Revolutionary War

Revolutionary War Battles

Overview of Revolutionary War

Revolutionary War Timeline


Civil War

American Flag

Mexican War

Republic of Texas


Map of New World

Map of the New World

The first permanent settlement of the New World was made by the Pilgrims in the year 1620. They moved here in order to escape tyranny, and to be able to practice their faith without persecution. By relocating to the other side of the world, they hoped to escape tyranny, and establish a new way of doing business.

The New World became a dream and a destination for many seeking a better way of life. The original Pilgrims were followed by boat after boat of people with the courage to help establish something new and better on the opposite side of the globe.

Unfortunately, the long arm of tyranny followed them all the way to the new world, and soon they were faced with the same oppressive government practices that had driven them out of Europe in the first place. As these practices grew, and became more established, Pilgrims gave way to Patriots, and the seeds were planted for an American Revolution.

The following sidelights on this period of World History have a permanent interest, as showing conditions apart from those connected with direct military operations.

In the session of the British Parliament in 1756, that body attempted to extend its authority in a signal manner over the colonies of the New World. They passed laws to regulate the internal policy of the colonies, as well as their acts for the common good. The law in Pennsylvania, under which Franklin's militia were raised, was repealed by the King in council; the commissions of all officers elected under it were cancelled, and the companies were dispersed. Volunteers were forbidden to organize for their defense; and the arrangements made by the Quakers with the Delawares, to secure peace and friendship with the Indians, were censured by Lord Halifax at the head of the board of trade and plantations, as " the most daring violation of the royal prerogative." Each Northern province was also forbidden to negotiate with the Indians. But the spirit of the colonists could not be brought into subjection to arbitrary royal authority. A person who had long resided in America, and had just returned to England, declared prophetically, " In a few years the colonies in America will be independent of Great Britain " ; and it was actually proposed to send over William, Duke of Cumberland, to be their sovereign, and to emancipate, them at once.

Taxation Without Representation is Tyranny

Four great wars had burdened Great Britain with a debt of about $700,000,000 in 1763. Her treasury was low, and she looked to the colonies for contributions to her revenues. At the beginning of the French and Indian War, the board of trade had contemplated a scheme of colonial taxation, and Pitt had intimated to more than one colonial governor that at the end of the war the government would look to the colonies for a revenue; yet he dared not undertake a scheme which the great Walpole had timidly evaded. Pitt's successors, more reckless, entered upon a scheme of taxation under the authority of Parliament, boldly asserting the absolute right and power of that body over the colonies in "all cases whatsoever." Then began the resistance to that claim on the part of the colonies which aroused the government to a more vigorous and varied practical assertion of it. For more than ten years the quarrel raged before the contestants came to blows. The great question involved was the extent of the authority of the British Parliament over the English American colonies, which had no representative in that legislative body—a question in the settlement of which the British Empire was dismembered. The colonies took the broad ground that "taxation without representation is tyranny."

The crown officers in America had long urged the establishment of a parliamentary revenue for their support. Their whole political system seemed to be but methods for the increase and security of the emoluments of office. To meet their views, they advised a thorough revision of the American governments—a parliamentary regulation of colonial charters, and a certain and sufficient civil list. This latter measure Grenville opposed (1764), refusing to become the attorney for American office-holders, or the founder of a stupendous system of colonial patronage and corruption. His policy in all his financial measures was to improve the finances of his country and replenish its exhausted treasury. When the Earl of Halifax proposed the payment of the salaries of colonial crown-officers directly from England, Grenville so strenuously opposed it that the dangerous experiment was postponed. The rapacity of crown-officers in America for place, money, and power was a chief cause of public discontent at all times.

Samuel AdamsWith the dawn of 1766, there were, here and there, almost whispered expressions of a desire for political independence of Great Britain. Samuel Adams had talked of it in private; but in Virginia, where the flame of resistance to the Stamp Act burned with vehemence, Richard Bland, in a printed Inquiry into the Rights of the British Colonies, etc., claimed freedom from all parliamentary legislation; and he pointed to independence as a remedy in case of a refusal of redress. He appealed to the "law of nature and those rights of mankind which flow from it," and pleaded that the people of the English colonies ought to be as free in the exercise of privileges as the people of England—freedom from taxation, customs, and impositions, excepting with the consent of their general assemblies. He denounced the navigation laws as unjust towards the colonies, because the latter were not represented in Parliament. This was but an expression of sentiments then rapidly spreading, and which soon grew into strong desires for political independence.

When Parliament assembled on Nov. 8, 1768, the King, in his speech, alluded with much warmth to the "spirit of faction breaking out afresh in some of the colonies. Boston," he said, "appears to be in a state of disobedience to all law and government, and has proceeded to measures subversive of the constitution, and attended with circumstances that might manifest a disposition to throw off its dependence on Great Britain." He asked for the assistance of Parliament to "defeat the mischievous designs of those turbulent and seditious persons "who had deluded, by false pretences, numbers of his subjects in America. An address was moved promising ample support to the King, and providing for the subjection of the rebellious spirit of the Americans. Vehement debates ensued. The opposition were very severe. Lord North, the recognized leader of the ministry, replied, saying: " America must fear you before she can love you. If America is to be the judge, you may tax in no instance; you may regulate in no instance. . . . We shall go through with our plan, now that we have brought it so near success. I am against repealing the last act of Parliament, securing to us a revenue out of America; I will never think of repealing it until I see America prostrate at my feet." This was a fair expression of the sentiments of the ministry and of Parliament. The address was carried by an overwhelming majority—in the House of Lords by unanimous vote. During this year addresses and remonstrances were sent to King George against the taxation schemes of Parliament, by the assemblies of Massachusetts, Virginia, Delaware, and Georgia. These were all couched in respectful language, but ever firm and keenly argumentative, having for their premises the chartered rights of the various colonies. But these voices of free-born Englishmen were not only utterly disregarded, but treated with scorn. The pride and the sense of justice and self-respect of the Americans were thereby outraged. It was an offence not easily forgiven or forgotten.

The influence of political agitation in the colonies began to be sensibly felt in Great Britain at the beginning of 1770. The friends of liberty in England were the friends of the colonists. The cause was the same in all places. There was a violent struggle for relief from thralls everywhere. America responded to calls for help from England, as well as calls for help in America had been responded to in England. In December, 1769, South Carolina sent £10,500 currency to London for the society for supporting the Bill of Rights, " that the liberties of Great Britain and America might alike be protected," wrote members of the South Carolina Assembly. In Ireland, the dispute with America aroused Grattan, and he began his splendid career at about this time. The English toilers in the manufacturing districts longed to enjoy the abundance and freedom which they heard of in America; and 1769 is marked by the establishment, in England, of the system of public meetings to discuss subjects of importance to free-born Englishmen. The press, too, spoke out boldly at that time. "Can you conceive," wrote the yet mysterious Junius to the King, "that the people of this country will long submit to be governed by so flexible a House of Commons? The oppressed people of Ireland give you every day fresh marks of their resentment. The colonists left their native land for freedom and found it in a desert. Looking forward to independence, they equally detest the pageantry of a king and the supercilious hypocrisy of a bishop."

Unrest in the Colonies continued to swell, and in 1763 men dressed as Indians boarded a British ship and dumped 340 chests of tea overboard, in protest to British Taxes. This act of defiance is remembered as the Boston Tea Party.



free web hit counter


Site Copyright 2003-2018 Son of the South.  For Questions or comments about this collection,


privacy policy

Are you Scared and Confused? Read My Snake Story, a story of hope and encouragement, to help you face your fears.