Sunday, January 31, 2016

Why did the colonists declare independence from Britain in July 1776?

                  Declaring independence was not easy in colonial era. A lot of parties have to struggle through wars, debates, and changes among them. It also happened to the colonists who would like to declare independence from Britain in July 1776. They need to face the Seven Year’s war, changes in political and economic as well as debates with certain parties. The American Revolution was also impacted to them. Although those moments were hard for colonists, the war that happened in Massachusetts leads them to declare the independence.
                 The American Revolution brought development on political, intellectual, cultural, and economic in the eighteenth century. However, in the middle of those developments there was a failure made by Britain in defining the relationship between colonies and the empire as well as the imperial reform. The cause of this failure was the Seven Year’s war that asks British to pay fully attention on that both politically and economically. This pushes British to let the Spanish Succession happened in the beginning of the century and doubled its national debt into 13.5 times of its annual revenue. Another cause of Britain’s failure was the debate between its officials. Old Whigs and their Tory supporters believed to pay national debt by taking benefits through its authoritarian empire which are land and resources. However, the radical Whigs which usually called as patriot Whigs would like to focus on the national economic growth in terms of trading and manufacturing as well as to create equality between colonies and the mother country. The ideas from both sides were powerful to eliminate national debt. Ironically, it became powerless since both sides prevented coherent reform. Thus, there were notions developed by colonists about their place in the empire as well as their own local political institutions which resulted on the existence of colonial assemblies with duties to manage resident’s tax, colonies’ revenue, and grant salaries to royal officials. In addition, the eighteenth century also became the moment of Anglicization where colonists were similar to Britons in terms of culture. It could be seen from middling-class colonists who were able to afford British fashions and dining wares as well as to enjoy British liberties. Most immediately, the American Revolution was meant to reform British Empire in which this empire led to resistance.
                 After the victory of Seven Year’s war which also known as the French and Indian war, the parliament created Sugar Act and Currency Act in 1764.  Sugar Act was intended to increase enforcement towards smuggle of molasses in New England but cutting the duty in half of it. In the other hand, the purpose of creating Currency Act was to conduct a restriction towards colonies from producing paper money due to the scarcity of silver and gold coins. Those two Acts were restricted by Proclamation of 1763 so that some colonists feared the pattern of increasing taxation and liberties restriction. Because of this, the Stamp Act was created by Parliament in 1765 to regulate many documents to be printed on paper and stamped. To be detailed, there were three forms of Stamp Act depend on the class; elites for legislative resistance, merchants for economic resistance, and common colonists for popular protest. In the same year of creating this Act, the Stamp Act Congress was also conducted in New York in October attended by delegates sent by nine colonies, including Benjamin Franklin, John Dickinson, Thomas Hutchinson, Philip Livingston, and James Otis. This Congress issued a “Declaration of Rights and Grievances” to reassert idea about the same rights applied for both colonists and native Britons; rights to be taxed by the elected representatives and trial by jury. This brought a conflict since colonists disagreed with virtual representation addressed for them due to the unelected members to Parliament. Most importantly, there was a widespread of violence and intimidation throughout the colonies. One of the tragedies was violent riots in Boston that made Andrew Oliver, a stamp distributor for Massachusetts, resigned from his position.
                 Not only that, the participation of elite, middling, and working class colonists emerged to form a new resistance. There were circulated lists complete with a promise under signatures to not buy any British goods. This resulted on the cultural shift in which women took important role on that. They created spinning clubs to produce homespun clothing so that they will not rely on the imports of British clothes. This non-importation and non-consumption contributed to unite the colonies by forming Committees of Correspondence which will help to give the updated information about colonial resistance progress. In the middle of 1765 and 1770, there was a change of colonial resistance to be more inclusive and well-coordinated. If previously colonists of all ranks were not participated in politics but they were now took a role in the resistance by monitoring and enforcing the boycotts as well as not buying British goods. It was supported by fifty-one women in Edenton and North Carolina who signed an agreement about the existence of to boycotts. This agreement became popular across the continent since it was published in numerous newspapers. Then, Britain gave a fast respond on it. They made a “Coercive Acts” which combined four acts; Boston Port Act to close the harbor and cut off all trade, Massachusetts Government Act to control the entire colonial government, Administration of Justice Act to allow any royal officials who committed crime to be tried in Britain, and Quartering Act to allow British army arrived in colonists’ homes quarterly. However, the ministry seems did not support this Acts since they were still allowing colonies come to the aid of Massachusetts. By early 1774, Committees of Correspondence and or extra legal assemblies seize the power of the royal government as what Massachusetts did.
                 However, in 1775, a war happened in Massachusetts. There were 20,000 colonial militiamen, militia members, trapped the British effectively. The radical Massachusetts delegates asked the Continental Congress to lay siege to Boston until no supplies remained. Finally, Congress formed Continental Army, adopted the Massachusetts militia, issued a “Declaration of the Causes of Necessity of Taking Up Arms”, and approved the “Olive Branch Petition”. Before the petition arrived in England on August 13, 1775, the King issued “Proclamation for Suppressing Rebellion and Sedition” due to his belief about North America leader as dangerous and ill-designing men. He also had no doubt that independent empire carried by the resistance. Because of this, in the beginning of 1776, independence issue became popular debate. Colonies, localities, and groups of ordinary Americans adopted resolutions that encourage Continental Congress to draft the formal independence declaration by selecting five members of committee. Firstly, Thomas Jefferson drafted the document to be edited by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin as well as the Congress as a whole. During drafting the document, there was a radical idea to be the preposition made by American revolutionaries who said about equality endowed by creator. Finally, Peter Timothy of Charleston printed the Declaration of Independence document then brought it to South Carolina.

The American Yawp. (n.d.). The american revolution. Retrieved from
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. (n.d.). Declaration of independence, 1776. Retrieved from
*Halo, this is my 1st essay of US History (a course offered by Lone Star College) assignment.

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