Causes of the American Revolution

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In 1775, an open conflict between the thirteen colonies and the colonizing Great Britain caused the American Revolution to began. It ended in 1783 with the colonies winning their independence from Great Britain. There is no single impetus of the American Revolution, but rather a collection of causes that led to the war.

The mindset of colonists has to be considered in regard to the American Revolution. Those who settled in the colonies did so because they had a strong desire for freedom and independence and were seeking out opportunity for a new kind of life. Many of the leaders of the revolution were students of the Enlightenment. They studied writers like Thomas Hobbes and John Locke and learned concepts such as the social contract and separation of powers.

There were several major events leading up to the American Revolution. These events go as far back as to 1763 when the French and Indian War ended leaving Great Britain in debt and squeezing the colonies for revenue. A series of successive orders increased taxes on the colonies such as the 1764 Sugar Act, 1765 Stamp Act, and the 1767 Townshend Acts. In addition to increasing taxes, Great Britain sought to limit the colonist’s geographical expansion with the Proclamation of 1763 offending settlers’ sense of independence in the new land. The 1770 clash between colonists and British soldiers, the Boston Massacre, was a propaganda fuel for portraying the British as cruel and unmerciful. In 1774, in response to the Boston Tea Party, Great Britain placed restrictions on the colonists that made it illegal to hold town meetings. Finally, in 1775, at Lexington and Concord, open warfare broke out when British troops attempted to seize colonial gunpowder and to capture John Hancock and Samuel Adams.

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