American Revolution Essay

(Part 2)


English leaders also saw the colonies as a way to solve the problem of the growing number of displaced and poor people, relegious freedom, and a way of fulfilling its desire to sell more goods and resources. The first successful colony was Jamestown, VA established in 1607. King James I of England granted the Virginia Company a corporate charter that gave authority over the colony to the company stakeholders and directors. In 1618 the Virginia Company also created a representative assembly, the House of Burgesses. It was the first assembly in colonial America. This was designed to encourage people who sought more freedom to migrate to the new colony. Although this was a step toward self government, it included a provision that limited the burgess’s power. The provision required the company to approve any laws that they enacted. When trading failed the crown accused the Virginia Company of mismanagement. The king and his ministers then assumed the authority to appoint the governor and his advisory council, but keep the House of Burgesses. They also made the Church of England the official church in Virginia, so that all property owners in the colony had to pay taxes to support its ministers. This institution became the first model for England’s royal colonies throughout America. The second model was New England; it was composed of Pilgrims, which came over on the Mayflower. They founded the Plymouth colony. They drew up the Mayflower Compact which gave themselves broad powers of self governance. A radical group of Protestants known as Puritans established the Massachusetts Bay Colony; they wanted to purify the established church of England. They had hoped that the new land would serve as a redeemer nation. In America they attempted to create a” nation of saints” or the “City on a hill”. They wanted to be an example of the epitome of righteousness to all of Europe. As settlers set up their American colonies, a major political and religious conflict, the Puritan or English Revolution, began about 1940 in England and lasted for 20 years. During this time there were no new settlements. The seven colonies largely governed themselves and firmly established the representative institutions allowed by their charters. During these years Virginia, Plymouth, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts Bay elected their own governor. The American colonies developed their own ideas about political authority and government institutions. The English government reestablished its monarchy and placed King Charles II (1660-1685) on the throne. Although some of the old policies continued, royal bureaucrats now tried to assert central control over the American colonies by implementing navigation acts. This was designed to enhance English prosperity by increasing regulation of colonial trade. The new acts required that goods going into and out of the colonies be shipped in English or colonial ships, and that certain articles, such as tobacco, sugar, and other tropical products, could go only to England. Other measures specified that non-English manufactured goods should first land in England where shippers had to pay duties and merchant commissions before the goods were sent to the colonies. Manufacturing in the colonies was discouraged if it competed with English products. From 1700 to 1750 political power gradually shifted from the English-appointed governors and councils to the American-elected assemblies. British officials resisted, arguing that colonial assemblies were overstepping their bounds. First in Massachusetts and then in New Jersey, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, the assemblies showed their strength by refusing to pay their governors any salary for several years. In the late 1740s, Anglo-American settlers and land speculators began to move into the Ohio River valley, which France had long claimed. The French responded with military force and sparked the last of four North American wars with the British, the French and Indian War (1754-1763). The Treaty of Paris-1763 made England the dominate European power in eastern North America. There were 13 colonies that were established. England began trying to extract reparation funds from America after the French and Indian war; it made many mistakes that would eventually lead to the American Revolution. The first thing they did was to instate taxes on man common things such as Sugar, with the Sugar Tax Act, and lead, paint, paper, glass, and tea with the Townshend Act. This would be within reason, but the English put forth the Currency Act, which demanded that the taxes be paid in specie, which was basically gold or silver. This was a problem because the colonists now used fiat or paper money to trade within their own colonies. England also took away some of the colonists rights with the Quartering Act in 1765, which forced colonial families to take in and board English soldiers in their own homes. This caused problem between the come of the citizens of Boston and the British soldiers. During a brawl the British troops kill five civilians; this became known as the Boston Massacre. England also established the Writs of Assistance, which allowed English troops to search anywhere for anything with a blanket warrant.

Anyone found with illegal goods was to be tried in an English admiralty court by a royal judge, with no jury. In 1773 the English passed the Tea Act, which allowed the East India Company’s to sell tea without any duties being placed on it. This brought about the Boston Tea Party, in which Bostonians threw 342 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor. In 1774, the English government passed The Quebec Act, also known as the Intolerable Acts, which closed the port of Boston, imposed a British Governor elected by the Crown in Massachusetts, and gave the French land concessions in the west. As the English became harsher towards the colonies, the colonies felt the need to protect themselves. They set up the First Continental Congress in Pennsylvania with the goal of getting Parliament to return to its old, relaxed form of government using any method necessary short of war. England did not yield to their requests. After the first battles at Lexington and Concord, and Bunker Hill, the Second Continental Congress issued a Declaration of their cause to take up arms. In it, they informed the government of their unjust practices, and told of how they planned to throw down their weapons if England acknowledged their rights.



American Revolution