The American Revolution
Why did Americans lead a revolution on the British empire? How does the Declaration of Independence reflect American ideas, individualism, equality, and liberty? The American Revolution is one of the most important events in the United States because this led to the United States becoming a nation free of British rule. In 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence then submitted it to congress. According to the textbook, the author writes, “In Congress, the Pennsylvanian John Dickinson, perhaps the most underrated of the “Founding Fathers,” urged delay. On June 1, he warned that independence was a dangerous step since America had no national government or European allies” (David 142).
In June 1776, delegates of the thirteen colonies gave permission to take the final step in making the United States free of tyranny two of which would become president. The Second Continental Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence at Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 4, 1776. This ultimately resulted in an idea that expressed “all men are created equal” and have a right to maintain governments, therefore stating King George was unfit to rule the colonies. However many Americans were at civil war between Patriots, Loyalists, and the middle group that was indifferent to the newly founded country.
First major opposition
One of the first major oppositions to British rule was the Stamp Act of 1765 lead by Britain’s prime minister, George Grenville. The textbook states, “On February 13, 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act, which required colonists to purchase stamped paper for virtually every use: newspapers, pamphlets, bonds, leases, deeds, licenses, insurance policies, college diplomas, even playing cards” (David 127). This, of course, angered many colonists for the reason it was the first act that placed a tax on internal goods and services instead of external imports and exports.
Many colonists started developing an American point of view that had a perspective on defending religious freedom, equal economic opportunity, self-government, and territorial expansion. Colonists began calling themselves Patriots or Whigs that supported American ideals, those that were opposed to American ideals were called Tories which meant “friend of the king”. Protests in the colonies began to mainly irrupt around the seasons of spring and summer in 1765. According to the textbook, protesters began calling themselves Sons of Liberty, which was first organized by Samuel Adams in the 1770s (David 128). According to the textbook, “The protesters, calling themselves Sons of Liberty, emerged in every colony often meeting beneath ‘liberty trees’-in Boston a great elm and in Charleston, South Carolina, a live oak. In New York City, the Sons of Liberty erected liberty poles as symbols of their resistance (British soldiers would tear them down almost as soon as they were put up ).
In Virginia, Patrick Henry convinced the assembly to pass the ‘Stamp Act Resolutions,’ which asserted yet again that the colonists could not be taxed without first being consulted by the British government or represented in the British Parliament by their own elected representatives” (David 128). In November, the Stamp Act Resolutions ended the Stamp Act.
In another attempt to extract more revenue from the colonies the Townshend Act, led by Charles Townshend in 1767, caused more uproar of colonists against the British Parliament. Many believed this act would make royal governors independent and disrupt the balance of powers. As relations begin to weaken with motherland Britain, a city called Boston in Massachusetts was the first of many massacres in America. According to the textbook, “On the evening of March 5, 1770, two dozen Boston rowdies-teens, Irish men, blacks, and sailors- began taunting Hugh White, a British soldier guarding the Customs House… A squad of soldiers arrived to help White, but the surly crowd surrounded them. When someone threw a club that knocked a soldier down, he arose and fired his musket. Others joined in. When the smoke cleared, five people lay dead or dying, and eight more were wounded” (David 132). This event caused colonists to boycott British imported goods. Parliament ended the Townshend Act except for the tea tax.
In June 1772, a naval event called The Gaspee Incident further showed how weakened the relations were with Britain. A British ship ran aground near Rhode Island that led to the ship’s crew seizing local fauna, which caused angered locals to murder the captain and set fire to their ship. This event caused Samuel Adams to organize a group called the Committee of Correspondence, which forms a network of rebellion. When the Tea Act of 1773 was passed it allowed companies to send tea to America without paying taxes. The Committee of Correspondence gave word to colonists that Britain was trying to buy colonist’s obedience by cheap tea prices which led to Patriots dumping 342 chests of tea into the harbor. This event was the turning point in the rebellion which is now known today as The Boston Tea Party. Parliament punished Boston with harsh laws known as the Coercive Acts. These laws closed Boston’s port, colonies had to pay for The Boston Tea Party damages, allowed British soldiers to live in private homes, and disallowed colonial trials of Britsih soldiers. Many colonists came together to help Boston and led the conflict to come down to a single question, “whether we shall or shall not be governed by the British Parliament” (David 136).
The Declaration of Independence not only brought colonists together to fight for their freedom from British rule but the values that make America what it is today. After the proclamation of independence, many Americans became determined to make their own society the way they wanted. In the textbook, “Most American Patriots still spoke the same language and worshipped the same God as the British, but they no longer thought the same way about things that mattered” (David 145). Americans gained liberty by being able to have religious freedom and territorial expansion. America is able to govern itself without external governing by maintaining trades and relationships with outside nations. The founding fathers valued individualism by giving the people natural rights and the ability to elect who they see fit to govern. Later after the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution gave way to limited government by constructing laws that gave the government no more power than what is written in the constitution. It is not true that Americans weren’t all equal at the beginning of the U.S. formation, many Africans, Indians, women, and many more were treated differently than the norm of society, but now in the present many Americans are equal under the Constitution amendments. The Declaration of Independence also allowed all Americans a chance at pursuing their own dream regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into by giving Americans an equal chance at prosperity.
Ultimately the Declaration of Independence was led by acts placed by the British Parliament that caused Americans to pay more for goods and also events caused by Britain soldiers or their king. It began with Thomas Jefferson writing the first draft of the Declaration of Independence and it being revised until ratified on July 4, 1776, by the founding fathers. America would not be the same if it wasn’t for its independence.
- SHI, DAVID E. AMERICA: the Essential Learning Edition. W W NORTON, 2018.