Tuesday, September 20, 2016

How to Make Colonists Revolt, 101

Coming to America as a colonist offered a lot of economic opportunity for people of every class. Land was so plentiful that there was more opportunity to own land, which in turn would give them the right to vote. This automatically elevated their status.

If people couldn’t afford to make the voyage to America, they could obtain passage as an indentured servant. Even though indentured servitude limited their opportunities in the beginning, once their debt had been paid, the opportunities were still there. Hard work and industry were rewarded.

Although there were many freedoms of ownership and business, there were also restrictions placed upon the colonists meant to insure that wealth would funnel back to Britain. Exclusive trading rights were awarded to just a few companies, creating a monopoly on things such as tobacco and lumber. Because of the limitations, come people found ways to get around those restrictions. As a result, smuggling became prevalent.

Before 1763, the British colonists were proud to be subjects of the crown. They had, as Benjamin Franklin said, “an affection for Great Britain; for its laws, its customs, and manners, and even … its fashions.”

Because the war left Great Britain with so much debt, they took two measures to recoup some of the loss.  First was the Proclamation of 1763 which prohibited migration past the Appalachian Mountains into Ohio, to save administrative costs. The Colonists thought this would eventually loosen up and weren’t so concerned with this.

Second, a direct tax was levied on the colonies. In 1764 the Sugar Act was enacted. This was to be a tighter enforcement of the Navigation Acts, which funneled money through to Britain by taxing certain goods. The colonists weren’t very happy about this, boycotted certain goods, and the act ended up costing Britain more than it brought in. Parliament repealed the act.

In another attempt to raise money through taxes, Parliament enacted the Stamp Act of 1765. The colonists were not consulted on this tax and were less than thrilled. Violence erupted, property was destroyed, and “Stamp Men” were forced to resign due to intimidation and property damage.

Not only were they not consulted about this, but their attempts to petition Parliament went ignored. They felt their rights as British citizens, and the government’s commitment to the rule of law, were being taken away, not only economically, but also their right to trials by jury. The colonists felt they had to do something before things got worse and more of their economic freedoms and basic rights were taken away.

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