Have you seen the movie 'The Patriot' (Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger)? If yes, then you have at least some idea of what the American Revolution had been like. The revolution started in the year 1775 and it was between the thirteen states of America and Great Britain. It went on till the year 1783 and ended with the Treaty of Paris.
People, who are studying about the revolution are in a state of dilemma as to 'what caused the American Revolution?' There are several events that caused it, and some of the most important factors have been discussed below. Before going into the details about the causes, let us first read its summary.
The American Revolution, also termed as the American War of Independence, which started in the year 1775, was a war between Great Britain and the 13 British colonies in North America. People in America started complaining about the way in which they were treated by the British, and how they (the Americans) were not given the same rights as that of the Britishers. The English of course had a different view.
They wanted to rule their colonies in a way which would help their parliament as well as the crown. Tired of being treated in this manner, the Americans raised the slogan of "No taxation without representation" and in the year 1775, the revolutionaries seized control over each of the 13 colonies and formed the Continental Army.
They also set up the Second Continental Congress and by 1776, they declared themselves independent and formed the United States of America. The other European nations who were under the rule of the British, also joined the Americans in their fight against them. The Britishers were able to fight back, as they had a very strong hold over the navy.
Some more facts are that by 1778, the countries of France, Netherlands, and Spain had also joined the war against the British and slowly, America, along with their allies, were able to defeat them. In 1783, the war finally ended by the signing of the Treaty of Paris which recognized the sovereignty of the United States. Some people also say that the American Revolution was a civil war fought on foreign soil and that the British could not have been defeated had the Americans not had French support.
There are several reasons as to why the American Revolution took place. Economic reasons, political reasons, introduction of certain Acts, etc. were some of the main reasons. Let us see those causes in detail in the timeline given below.
- The first main cause was the Seven Years war or the French and the Indian War over the Ohio valley, which started in the year 1754 and ended in the year 1763. It was a war between the British and the French, and the former emerged victorious, but suffered great financial losses and thus exerted great pressure on their colonies to pay their taxes in order to make up for the loss.
- There were several Acts that caused the revolution too. These Acts were introduced by the Britishers from the year 1764. The first Act that was the Sugar Act which increased the amount of duty that was to be paid on the imported sugar from West Indies. This was done in order to increase the revenue.
- The other Act that led to the Revolution was the Currency Act which was again introduced in the year 1764. With this Act, the British started regulating the paper money that was issued by the colonies. They said that the currency issued by the British colonies was harmful for the British trade. Hence, the very system of issuing paper bills or bills of credits was banned.
- There was also the Quartering Act which was passed in the year 1765 and according to this Act, the colonized nations were asked to shelter the British soldiers, if and when necessary. Not only shelter, but the soldiers were also supposed to be fed and looked after well. This Act was passed when Lieutenant General, Thomas Gage, the commander-in-chief of the British North American army. The army found it difficult to provide food and shelter for his men specially during the time of peace. Hence, he asked the Parliament to pass this Act which will help the British soldiers even during the time of peace.
- We cannot leave out the Stamp Act, which was passed in the year 1765. It was a direct tax that was passed by the British Parliament. According to this Act some of the printed materials like legal documents, newspapers, magazines etc, were all printed in the stamped paper which was produced in London and these papers also carried the embossed revenue stamp. This Stamp tax was to be paid in the British currency and this money was used to pay the troops who were stationed at North America. This act raised much issues among the colonies as they had no representatives in the Parliament, and thus had no control over the introduction of the various taxes that were being introduced.
- Another factor which led to the revolution was the protest march that were started by the colonies and they were called the Sons and Daughters of Liberty. This was a secret political party and they were made up of the American patriots and their main aim was to bring about changes in the way the Britishers treated the various colonies.
- The Boston massacre, was another event in the year 1770. Tension between the Americans and the British grew, and sometimes there were some minor skirmishes as well. The Tea Act was introduced in order to expand the hold of the British East India Company over the tea trade in all their colonies. A large quantity of tea was sold at a very less price. In December, the same year, the colonists in Boston refused to send the taxed tea to Britain and they destroyed the tea by throwing them into the Boston Harbor.
Some other events that will answer your question are:
- The Intolerable Act (1774)
- The First Continental Congress (1774)
- Lexington and Concord (1775)
- Second Continental Congress (1775)
- Bunker Hill (1775)
The war finally ended in the year 1783 with the signing of Treaty of Paris. True that the whole revolution started off due to political reasons, but the most important reasons were the economic factors that caused it. The various Acts that were introduced led to 'no taxation without representation' and this in turn lead to the Revolution.