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What Helped Cause the Revolutionary War?
The American Revolution, the fight for our independence and one of the most remembered events in our history. It’s when America became its own, uncontrolled by any other country and democracy. But what most people don’t know is how this revolution came about. What really caused this act of rebellion against England? What events, people and actions helped cause the Revolutionary War?
The French and Indian War, (also known as the Seven Years War) which occurred thirteen years before the Declaration of Independence was signed, was basically a world war with all the countries fighting for the Ohio Valley area, though England and France were the main components. This piece of land was extremely valuable in trading with the Native Americans and contained three river passages down to Louisiana where more trading could be done with a few southern colonies. The war was started accidentally by our very own George Washington when he was sent on a mission by England to warn the French to leave the Ohio area. His party fell upon a group of French negotiators, and Washington’s party of Indian allies began killing and scalping them for no apparent reason. This at the time was an act of war and it in turn started the French and Indian war. After nine years of fighting (or seven years if you lived in Europe) England won the war, now ruling America and the rest of the world. England took all of the French’s land but allowed the Spanish some land for them to still own. The French became outraged toward England and looked for a way to get revenge. They got their chance thirteen years later at the start of the Revolutionary War. The French became a close ally of the American citizens against England and without the French’s help an American victory would be very unlikely.
Even though the France no longer owned land in North America, there were still many French settlers in the colonies. The French colonists did not like that England ruled the world and England feared of a revolt or that the French would not obey the laws. To solve this, Parliament sent several thousand British soldiers to America to enforce the laws and keep the peace. This action was extremely expensive and caused England to go into debt in their already low economy. To pay for the war and gain England’s wealth, Parliament issued several tax acts on the American citizens. One of the most enraging acts’ for the colonists was the Stamp Act of 1765 which taxed on any paper documents, including letters, newspapers (which were highly popular during this time) playing cards, legal documents and more. This affected everyone, not just a select group as some of the past acts had done.
Two years later, the Townsend Act was issued. This act gave Parliament the power to decide each governor’s salary. Originally, this had been the colonial assembly’s decision. The colonial assembly was made up of the everyday man, therefore, giving power to the people. Now Parliament had taken away even more of their power.
Some of the other acts included the Sugar Act, which was a tax on all sugar products, the Quartering Act, which enforced colonists to house and feed British soldiers if they were in need, and the Navigation Act, which controlled what the colonists sold and traded to other countries. Parliament also allowed actions called “writs of assistance” to occur. This allowed law officials to have search warrants for ships to check for smuggling without consent or specification of what they were looking for to the owner of the ship.
Americans became angry quickly at all of these actions and taxes, though they weren’t really angry at the taxes themselves. They knew England was protecting them from the after effects of the war and it was part of their duty to help pay for it. What was really the source of discontentment was that they didn’t have a say in these actions. They wanted a representative in Parliament to share their feelings and opinions and also to vote for or against for these laws and taxes. Parliament thought this argument was absurd and radical. Britain still had the thought of deference, that some men were above others and deserved more respect. Yet America had almost abolished that form of thinking (with the exception of slaves). Because England seemed to not be listening, colonists started boycotting English goods. People stopped buying as much as they could from the English merchants and they would not buy again until their voices could be heard. It greatly affected the merchants’ profits, enough to where Parliament began getting complaints and pleads to decrease or drop the taxes. America had finally gotten their attention, and Parliament slowly began annulling the taxes and acts. The only one they left was the Sugar Act.
The Boston Tea Party occurred in 1773 when colonists dressed up as Indians and threw tea overboard several English ships. This act was done undoubtedly to abolish the sugar tax.
Besides actions, wars and taxes, people played a large part in the Revolution. There are many remembered names, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and John Hancock to name a few. But they were not the only men who rallied the Americans to cry for a revolution.
One man by the name of John Dickinson wrote twelve articles in the Pennsylvania Chronicle newspaper called “Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania” in 1767. His articles concerned the taxes and acts, proclaiming that England’s Parliament had no right to levy taxes, whether they were internal or external. Samuel Adams, a die hard patriot, completely agreed with Dickinson, though Adams was a bit more active than Dickinson and many other revolutionists. Adams organized protests and put them in newspapers, organized the Sons of Liberty, and was the main force behind the boycotts on British goods. The royal governor called him the “most dangerous man in Massachusetts.” Many other colonies soon followed Adams’s example.
In early 1776, Thomas Paine’s book Common Sense was anonymously published. America’s argument had mainly been with Parliament, but in Paine’s book, he accused the monarchy of the ill treatment of the Americans. He said the people should abandon King George lll and declare their independence.
Within three months, 100,000 copies of the book had been sold to the colonists. This brought up to the majority the idea of independence. Continental Congress soon began the process of moving forward with this action. On
June 7, 1776, Virginian Richard Henry Lee moved that “these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.” America’s independence came on July 2, 1776, though the remembered date is two days later.
America and its citizens went through a long and hard journey, but they finally had their independence. The strength of the people united with one purpose proved stronger than England’s force. They had a strong sense of pride in the colonies, self governmental system, and lives they had created in this New World. Most people do not remember or know of the Revolution’s start and instigations. With this knowledge we can better understand what provoked the divorce of the United States of America and Great Britain.