From 1763-1776, tension between the colonies and Britain increased until at last, the colonists declared independence. After the French and Indian war ended in 1763, Britain was deeply in debt and began taxing the colonies. Gradually, the colonists became resistant to British rule. Their unrest was intensified by numerous policies and taxes that the colonists resented, leading them to establish new values and causing them to resist British rule.
In those years, Britain passed many unpopular laws. The Proclamation Line of 1763 marked the end of Salutary Neglect, or the British not enforcing laws in the colonies. Even though the British had won this land in the French and Indian War, the policy said colonists could not settle west of the Appalachian Mountains. Ignoring the law, colonists continued settling in the land. Soon after, in 1764, the Sugar Act was passed. Colonists had not paid the original tax, so although the Sugar Act reduced prices they were paying more because it was enforced. Foreign textiles, wine, coffee, and indigo were also taxed. Within the next two years, more laws were passed stating the colonists couldn’t print paper money, had to purchase stamps for all printed documents, and had to supply British troops with food and shelter. Soon after, the Townshend Acts of 1767 were passed in order to sneakily raise revenue in order to fix Britain’s debt. In 1774, the Intolerable Acts were passed, which were harsh measures meant to punish Boston for their rebellion. Among other things, these acts closed Boston Harbor to all trade, hurting all colonists as it was their second largest port. The colonists were infuriated. Forced to comply, colonists began to want a republic.
Soon after the British started enforcing their restrictions, republican values in the colonies became more prominent. Though the colonists realized Parliament had the right to impose taxes to regulate trade, they wanted to rule themselves. In their minds, taxation to raise money was unfair. They denied Parliament should have any authority over their affairs and wanted a colonial legislature instead. Being made up of colonists, the legislature would know which taxes were fair and necessary. As stated in the Declaration of Independence, they believed they had the right to abolish the government, as it was not protecting their unalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In general, colonists had republican values and were prepared to fight for their beliefs.
Almost immediately, the colonists began to fight for their rights. At first, they ignored the laws they disliked. But soon, policies started to be enforced. New taxes put a burden on all colonists, and they started to resist the laws imposed on them by Parliament. Additionally, a gang called the Sons of Liberty was formed to encourage people to boycott British goods and intimidate those who were enforcing laws and taxes. Less violent forms of protest were the Virginia Resolves, the Stamp Act Congress, and “Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania”. Respectively, they declared colonists should only be taxed by their own representatives, asked King George for relief and to repeal the Stamp Act, and said Parliament was able to tax to regulate commerce, but did not have the right to tax the colonists to raise revenue. As a result, the Stamp Act and Townshend Acts were repealed and tension calmed until the Boston Tea Party in 1773, when colonists dumped 342 chests of British tea into the harbor, causing the Intolerable Acts to be passed. After this incident, the colonists rose up, declared their rights, and started boycotting British goods. Soon after, the Revolutionary war began.
British involvement in America strained the relationship between the two, making colonists rebel and want to become a republic. After the battles of Lexington and Concord, war was inevitable, as was the imminent parting of the two. In 1776, following over a decade of harsh taxation and strict enforcement of laws, the colonies separated from Britain. Colonists’ desire for independence caused years of struggle for the entire population, but eventually, they were rewarded with their own nation, free from British rule.
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