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The British And The American Colonists: Tension Prior To Revolutionary War

1183 words - 5 pages

When the colonies were being formed, many colonists came from England to escape the restrictions placed upon them by the crown. Britain had laws for regulating trade and collecting taxes, but they were generally not enforced. The colonists had gotten used to being able to govern themselves. However, Britain sooned changed it’s colonial policy because of the piling debt due to four wars the British got into with the French and the Spanish. The most notable of these, the French and Indian War (or the Seven Years’ War), had immediate effects on the relationship between the colonies and Great Britain, leading to the concept of no taxation without representation becoming the motivating force ...view middle of the document...

Thomas Jefferson states “...our ancestors...possessed a right...of going in quest of new inhabitations, and of there establishing new societies, under such laws and regulations as in them shall seem most likely to promote public happiness. (Document E)” The colonists wanted to be able to have their own regulations from their representative government, they did not want to follow orders from Britain. Thomas Paine said “...there is something very absurd in supposing a continent to be perpetually governed by an island. (Document G)” This expresses the ideas many colonists held, that Great Britain should allow the colonies to govern themselves.
Parliament did not agree with this view, and created the Sugar Act of 1764, the Stamp Act of 1765, and the Quartering Act of 1765. The Sugar Act placed taxes on foreign sugar and luxuries and enforced the Navigation Acts, the Quartering Act ordered the colonists to provide food and shelter to the soldiers from Britain, and the Stamp Act made it that revenue stamps be placed on printed paper in the colonies. This included legal documents and newspapers, among other things. All of these acts were met with strict opposition. In the case of the Stamp Act, the concept of no taxation without representation became extremely prevalent. A Stamp Act Congress was formed from representatives from nine colonies, and they decided that “...no taxes...can be constitutionally imposed on them, but by their respective legislatures. (Document B)” Another protest was when Patrick Henry stood up in the Virginia House of Burgesses to call for “no taxation for representation.” A resolution from the House of Burgesses stated “...a most humble and dutiful Address be presented to his Majesty, imploring his Royal Protection...in the Enjoyment of all their natural and civil rights...which rights must be violated, if Laws respecting the internal Government, and Taxation of themselves, are imposed upon them by any other Power than that derived from their own Consent…(Document A)” The colonists were demanding no taxation without representation. In a violent response to the tax came in the form of the Sons and Daughters of Liberty, who intimidated tax agents and sometimes tarred and feathered the officials and destroyed the stamps. After there was a new Prime Minister the Stamp Act was repealed, but the Declaratory Act was enacted, which allowed Parliament make laws for the colonies and tax them “in all cases whatsoever.” The British wanted to control the colonies, whereas the colonists believed in democracy and having a representative government to make the laws. ...

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