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The American Revolution

The Causes and Consequences




After winning the French and Indian War, King George II decided that it was time to tighten Britain's control over the colonies. There were several reasons for this, one was because the Indians still posed a threat to the British government and second, the French and Indian War which lasted seven years had cost Britain a lot of money. The King wanted the colonies to help pay for all those expenses.

The first of several laws to accomplish this was the Proclamation of 1763 which forbade the colonists to move westward past the Appalachian Mountains. In 1764, Britain passed a law that prevented the colonies to print and use their own money. These and several other laws passed to tighten the English reign on the colonies brought out a lot of anger and frustration. But the one law that really angered the colonists was the Stamp Act of 1765 which taxed all kinds of printed paper from wills, licenses, newspapers, diplomas, even playing cards.

The colonists could not take any more so they started speaking out against the new taxes. In October of 1765, nine of the colonies sent their representatives to new York City to discuss what they thought of the Stamp Act. They decided that the Stamp Act and all the other taxation laws were illegal since the colonies were not represented in the British Parliament. "No taxation without representation," was the common cry of all the colonies. The representatives sent a letter to England asking that the Stamp Act be repealed but the British government did not listen. Instead, they imposed more new taxes on the colonies like the Townshend Act. This act placed taxes on tea, glass, paper, and paint.

At this point, many colonists were so frustrated and angry that they refused to pay taxes or to buy any products from England. The Americans did all they could to rebel against the monarchy. Traders started to smuggle goods in and out of American ports to avoid paying taxes. And they started moving and settling across the Appalachian Mountains even though the British Parliament said they could not.

All this frustration and rebellion led to the formation of a club called the Sons of Liberty. The members broke into the homes of tax collectors, beat them up, and burned tax documents. Britain sent 40,000 troops to aid and protect the tax collectors. The colonists were told to provide housing for the soldiers which angered them even more. They showed it by constantly taunting the British troops, throwing rocks or snowballs at them whenever the opportunity arose.


In 1770, the first real battle between the colonists and British soldiers took place in Boston, Massachusetts. An armed clash like this was waiting to happen from the moment the British troops arrived in Boston. Brawls were a common occurrence between the British soldiers and the colonists, who were constantly taunting and insulting the troops.

The Boston Massacre started when a crowd of about 60 colonists surrounded the British soldiers guarding the customs house. The colonists began throwing snowballs and rocks at the troops. Suddenly, a single shot was heard and was followed by more shots. Five colonists were killed and many more were wounded. Two of the British soldiers were found guilty of killing the five colonists. They were punished by having their thumbs burned and then released. The colonists were angered by this light punishment and considered it a slap on the face.


In 1773, protests in the colonies against the Stamp Act had died down but the British Parliament passed the Tea Act. This revived all the pent-up emotions in the colonists. The Tea Act granted the British East India Company the monopoly of the tea trade in America. The tea company started delivering tea to America exempt from British taxes. This angered the American colonists because all the other tea traders still had to pay taxes to Britain. The Americans refused to buy any tea and refused to unload the tea from the British ships in the American ports.

About 50 colonists belonging to the Sons of Liberty boarded a tea ship in the Boston Harbor one night. They were dressed as Mohawk Indians and Paul Revere was their leader. These men threw 90,000 pounds of tea into the water while hundreds of colonists cheered them on from the port. This event became known as the Boston Tea Party. Many would agree that this was the most important event that led to the start of the American Revolution.


In 1775, although things have really heated up between Britain and the colonies, there was still hope of reconciliation and preventing the war. That was until King George hired soldiers from Germany called the Hessians. These soldiers were mercenaries known for their brutality and cruelty. This was a point of no return for the colonists because now they had to really fight and defend themselves form the British troops and the Hessians combined. All hope of averting the war was lost after the Hessians arrived on American soil.


In 1776, an Englishman named Thomas Paine published a book titled Common Sense. The book claimed that all monarchies, especially the King of England, were bad. The book also stated that America deserved to be free and run its own government without Britain interfering. The book became a bestseller and made the Americans believe that they should be free and independent from England.


Also in 1776, the Second Continental Congress met at the Pennsylvania State House to discuss the situation they were in. Many of the leaders wanted to secede from England and to become a free and independent nation. Some wanted America to have some independence while remaining a colony of England. Some were not sure what they wanted.

Because he was a good writer, Thomas Jefferson was given the job of writing the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson completed the document in three weeks and presented it to Congress. The documents were argued over and some of the words were changed. By July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Second Continental Congress. Fifty-six men signed it, John Hancock being the first one.

The Declaration of Independence showed England and the whole world that America was determined to become a free country. It established a new nation and was intended to gain complete independence from British control.

King George II

The Stamp Act

The Tea Act

The Boston Tea Party

The Boston Massacre