MINI LECTURE : What seems to surprise many of us is that most colonists in North

MINI LECTURE : What seems to surprise many of us is that most colonists in North

MINI LECTURE : What seems to surprise many of us is that most colonists in North America in the 1760s did not view themselves as an exploited people living under a tyrannical government. Rather they saw themselves as living under the most enlightened society in the world whose citizens enjoyed the most liberty of any European society. Very few would have seen themselves as becoming revolutionaries ten years later. What happened to create this transformation is also the story of the ideological origins of our nation.
The victory in the Seven Year War against the French removed a formidable opponent from the North American interior and seemed to secure British prosperity for generations. However the war also brought bad blood between colonists and their mother country. British government officials were appalled at the smuggling and other acts of unpatriotic behavior going on in the North American colonies during the war. Meanwhile, British colonists were disturbed by the harsh treatment suffered by British troops under their officers. There was also a tension between British soldiers and the “Yankees” they came into contact with. Perhaps more importantly, the war left the British treasury with an outstanding debt that needed to be paid. Since the war was in many respects about providing security and opportunity for colonists, Britain’s Parliament thought it was only fair to have the colonists pay for the expenses of North American troop deployment. The attempt to levy taxes in order to pay these costs is what creates the tension that leads to the American Revolution, beginning largely with the Stamp Act in 1765.
The dispute essentially goes along two lines. Parliament, the British legislative body, felt that under the British Constitution it had the right to levy taxes anywhere in the empire. Although American colonists did not have the right to elect representatives to Parliament, Parliament was still a legitimate representative since they would “virtually” represent the colonists. In other words, what was best for Britain and the empire was considered best for the colonists. For elite colonists such as George Washington and John Hancock this was a disturbing development. If Parliament had the power to tax, then what would be the role of the colonial assemblies and the men who ran them? These men developed an argument to counter Parliament’s assertions. They argued that under the English Constitution citizens must have representation to be taxed and the colonial assemblies, not Parliament, were the only representative institutions with the ability to tax in the colonies. What happened from the Stamp Act on was a tug of war between the two sides that was part constitutional debate, part class warfare and part struggle for public support and control.
While it is tempting to focus on intellectual and economic factors in the origins of the American Revolution, we should also consider ethnic and religious influences. Historians such as David Hackett Fischer and Kevin Phillips argue that the English should not be looked at as a monolithic ethnicity, but rather have varying customs and attitudes based on the region within England from which they come. The variety in ethnic groups played an important role in how various regions within North American responded to the imperial crisis. Indeed, these historians argue that we can still see traces of these English ethnic groups in our regional values today.
In the text, read about the various attempts by Parliament, such as the Tea Tax, that hoped to set a precedent for taxing the colonies without creating public opposition. Also follow how the colonial leadership, or “patriots”, contested Parliament every step of the way, such as with the Boston Tea Party. Also note how colonial elites needed to enlist popular support for their cause and did so through a “democratic” language that spoke in broad terms on the concepts of liberty and freedom. At the same time, you should notice an uneasiness, particularly on the part of colonial elites, with the concept of mass democracy which brought commoners into the political process. This tension was the essence of the American Revolution. What type of revolution would it be? One that allowed colonial elites to run affairs without the interference of British elites, or one that allowed for government by and for all?
PLEASE ONLY USE THIS AS SOURCE TO ANSWER THE QUESTIONS BELOW :
Reading: The American Yawp, Chapter 5, Sections I, II, III and IV.
and/or
“Liberty: The American Revolution” (Only watch episode 1):

ANSWER : Consider the positions of both the British government and the colonial anti-tax movement. Write a response after doing the readings using the following questions as guides.
1) Why did Britain begin to tax the colonies in 1763? What was new about this taxation?
2) Why did some colonists rebel against taxation? Consider the constitutional issues that were involved.
3) What were some of the important events that took place after the repeal of the Stamp Act? What do those events reveal about the relationship between Britain and her colonies?‚Äč

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