History Paper
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History Paper

Course Number: BUSINESS 100, Spring 2011

College/University: Saint Louis

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Brunk 1 Travis Brunk Nathaniel Millett 20 November 2010 History 260-03 Road to War Few events have altered the course of human history as significantly as the American Revolution. It led to the birth to a new nation, gave shape to the first constitutional republic, and caused the rapid spread of liberalism throughout much of the western world. The origins of these different effects can be seen in the various...

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1 Travis Brunk Brunk Nathaniel Millett 20 November 2010 History 260-03 Road to War Few events have altered the course of human history as significantly as the American Revolution. It led to the birth to a new nation, gave shape to the first constitutional republic, and caused the rapid spread of liberalism throughout much of the western world. The origins of these different effects can be seen in the various events and mindsets present in the American colonies leading up to the revolutionary war. Prior to the war, there was a growing emphasis on the individual rights of man and the idea of a social contract existing between the government and the governed. Counter to the increase of ideas on personal freedom, new pieces of legislation were passed in England, most of which were seen by the colonists as flagrant violations of their rights as both men, and more importantly, as Englishmen. The American Revolution was the subsequent confrontation that occurred when these intellectual and social changes conflicted with the legislation and actions of the English government in the decades prior to the outbreak of war. While the individual events/legislation and the resulting colonial reactions were the direct cause of the war, it is essential to first understand why it was that the colonists reacted to these events in such a defiant manner. As said before, the 18th century saw a significant increase to the support of liberal ideas. To be specific, ideas on personal liberties and on equal rights flourished; Brunk 2 freedom of expression, freedom of religion, the rule of law, the social contract, the right to property. All of these ideas, created and endorsed by exceptionally influential personalities such as Rousseau, Montesquieu, Locke, and Voltaire, soon became more than just radically fantastic ideas. They became the accepted social and political structure in the American colonies. It's important to recognize that these ideas were not exclusive to the American colonies. In fact, these rights were seen as something uniquely English, both by those in England and by the English colonists. For the first half of the 18th century, these different rights and freedoms and their association with English citizenry led to strong patriotic fervor, reaching a zenith at the conclusion of the French and Indian wars a mere 12 years before the onset of the American revolution. However, in that short time it was decided that King George III and Parliament no longer acted in the best interest of nor protected the rights of the colonists. The colonists saw this to be a breach of the social contract, and with the English government no longer being conducive towards the protection of their rights, it became "...the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new Government...[one] most likely to effect their safety and happiness." This language, taken from the Declaration of Independence, draws heavily from the works of the aforementioned Enlightenment philosophers. Most early American revolutionary literary works are based on these few men's ideas, with another example being Thomas Paine's Common Sense pamphlets, or more importantly the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, where you'll find heavy influence, if not direct quotes, from Rousseau's ideas on the social contract, and Montesquieu's on separation of powers, and Locke's work on freedom of religion. These ideas were just as influential at the onset of the conflicts with England as they were both during the war and in the aftermath. With these fundamental philosophies in mind, it becomes much Brunk 3 easier to understand why the colonists reacted to the different Acts of Parliament and the other incidents that lead to the revolutionary war. The first Act of legislation to be considered is the Proclamation of 1763. The Proclamation of 1763 was put into effect shortly after the conclusion of the French and Indian or Seven Year's War. This law established four new colonies in America, Quebec, West Florida, East Florida, and Grenada. More importantly, it made English settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains illegal. The law was put into effect in an attempt to improve EnglishNative relations by preventing settlers from overrunning Native American lands. However, American settlers were upset because it not only denied them what they saw to be the grand prize for defeating the French, they also felt their own government was siding with foreign interests over their own, and the act was passed without any representation from the colonists. This lack of representation would set the tone for the next twelve years. The next acts to be considered are the Sugar Act of 1764 and the Currency Act of 1764. The Sugar Act was actually an update to a tax that had been imposed in 1733 requiring payment of six pence per gallon for import of foreign molasses. The new act actually lowered the cost of the tax, resulting in a payment of only three pence per gallon. However, the difference being that this time the English navy actually enforced its policy, preventing the merchants from smuggling as they had in the past. The Currency Act was passed in order to regulate the printing of money in the colonies. It forbade further distribution of bills by the colonies, instead requiring the colonies to use the hard currency based on the English pound sterling. This exacerbated the already substantial trade deficit that hurt the colonists, for hard money rarely stayed in the colonies; it was always being used to purchase manufactured goods from England. Both of these acts favored England and hurt the colonists, though a substantial portion of the taxes did go Brunk 4 towards the upkeep of the armies stationed in the Americas. Also, these acts were again passed without any representation from the colonies. Furthermore, the Currency Act had a clause establishing the admiralty courts, in which juries were not allowed. This point should not be underestimated, for trial by jury is one of most time honored traditions in English society. This suspension of a jury allowed for biased trials favoring the English interests over the colonial. While these acts certainly didn't help the relations between England and the colonies, the first act to generate significant colonial backlash was the Stamp Act of 1765. This act required that all paper documents, from diplomas to playing cards, must be stamped by the English seal. This tax had already been in practice in England for over twenty years at thrice the rate Americans would pay, and it was thought they should share some of the burden. The money raised was supposed to help pay for the large army England was fielding in the Appalachians for the colonies protection. However, the tax was strongly opposed, as it was the first tax imposed by parliament that wasn't passed solely to regulate trade, but instead to turn a profit from the colonists. In addition, with the French beaten out of America, many colonists thought the only purpose of the large English army was to enforce colonial cooperation with future English tax laws. To counter these new acts, the Stamp Act Congress formed in New York City, comprised of twenty seven delegates from nine different states. At this conference, the delegates wrote a letter to King George requesting the removal of the Stamp Act, the restoration of their right to trial by jury, and the respect and treatment of that of an English citizen living in England. The effect of the letter on the King and parliament is believed to have been rather insignificant. Conversely, the widespread nonimportation agreements were believed to have been most effective, as many parts of the Stamp Act were later repealed. While the Stamp Act Congress may not have played a significant role in rescinding the Stamp Acts, it was critical for other Brunk 5 reasons. First, it unified many colonies that until recently were either rivals or relatively strangers. Secondly, it drafted the first of many civil and obedient requests for the king to recognize the rights of the colonists. The King's disregard for this and the many letters that follow would prove to be essential in the development of the founding father's mindsets towards the English crown. ride In response to the colonist's stubborn opposition and to lost profits from the American boycotts, Parliament repealed the Stamp Acts. However, in order to assert its authority over the colonies, Parliament simultaneously passed the Declaratory Act of 1766. This act blatantly reaffirmed Parliament's power to legislate any law it chooses with regard to the colonies. It was again drafted without any colonial representation. This act was meant to send a message that Parliament was not going to be pushed around by one of its colonies. A year after the repeal of the Stamp Act, control of Parliament was gained by Charles Townshend. A skilled speaker, Townshend quickly convinced Parliament to pass an act taxing imports of glass, white lead, paper, paint, and tea. These taxes were again enforced upon the colonies without their representation. The Townshend Acts were an indirect tax, being added into customs duties if shipping specified the goods, rather than taxing at point of sale. The colonists, riding on their emotional momentum for successfully repealing the Stamp Act, used boycotts to coerce Parliament to lift the new act. Although this time round, the Americans were not as successful, for the tax was rather insignificant, and was casually enforced in comparison to the Sugar/Stamp Acts. Consequently smuggling, especially in Massachusetts, became the standard practice for shipping goods. Brunk 6 In an attempt to restore order, English officials landed two regiments to occupy Boston. Boston allowed the soldiers to occupy the city with no resistance. However, after a year or so of occupation, tensions intensified, and had escalated to the event known as The Boston Massacre. On March 5, 1770, a street brawl broke out between English soldiers and Boston citizens, resulting in the death of five citizens, and leaving six others wounded. The soldiers' lawyer was the revolutionary John Adams, who in this case successfully had all charges dismissed against the soldiers. Not long after the Boston Massacre, the Townshend Acts were again repealed under pressure from England's merchant elite. The boycotting had again worked. However, in order to maintain the impression of control, Parliament continued to tax tea, the most antagonizing aspect of the Townshend Acts. This continued tax on tea instigated many more complaints about the English government, for it was still being enforced without representation in Parliament. This unrest led to the eventual creation of the committees of correspondence. These committees were originally a local invention, created by Samuel Adams in order to continue spreading the spirit of resistance in and around Boston. However, the committees were popular and soon spread to other cities, with state governments eventually creating their own committees as well. These committees were the precursors to the first continental congresses. Until 1773, the rebellion in America had been primarily peaceful. There were a few incidents of violence, such as the Gaspee affair in 1772, where the English revenue schooner ran aground, and was subsequently looted and burned by members of the Sons of Liberty; or the aforementioned Boston Massacre in 1770. However, the most effective strategy at the colonies disposal was the continued boycotting of English goods, and to hope that the economic repercussions would convince England to lift the unjust acts and other legislations. At this point, Brunk 7 war was in no way inevitable. However, this started to change very quickly in late 1773. The East India Company, a commercial juggernaut and large English tax contributor, was nearing bankruptcy because they had nowhere to sell their tea. To help bail out the company, England no longer required the company to bring the tea through English customs, therefore reducing tax loss for the company; it also considerably shortens the distance the ships had to travel. It was expected that these two factors combined would significantly lower the price of tea to the point where it gave the company a monopoly on the trade in America; and would also be cheap enough where the low price would more than compensate for the three pence tax England was currently charging, thereby convincing the colonies to lift their boycotts. Sadly, this expectations never came to fruition. On December 16th 1773, one hundred Boston colonists, dressed as Native Americans, stormed the East India trade ships in the harbor, and proceeded to dump all 342 chests of tea into the bay. Hundreds of onlookers observed the Boston Tea Party, many cheering along the Son of Liberty as they went about their business. All along the coast, similar events transpired. In New York and Philadelphia, several thousand people forced the ships to leave port and return to England with full cargo. In Annapolis, the ships and their cargo were burned and sunk into the harbor. Charleston officials seized the shipment because of nonpayment for duties. Not one chest of the 17 million pounds of tea would be sold in the Americas. England's response to the Boston Tea Party was swift and harsh. In 1774, from March 31st through June 2nd, Parliament passed a series of four acts that would come to be known as the Coercive, or Intolerable Acts. The first being the Boston Port Act. This act forbade the use of the Boston seaport to any ship, for any reason at all, until the King was repaid for the tea, and the East India Company was compensated for damages. The second was the Administration of Brunk 8 Justice Act of 1774, also known as the Murder Act. This law gave English officials the right to request a trial either in a different colony or in Great Britain itself. This helped them receive a more pro-English verdict, essentially letting them "get away with murder". The third act is the Massachusetts Government Act, which took away all elected positions in Massachusetts, whose offices were summarily appointed by either the King or the royal governor. Also, this act forbade all forms of public gathering except for one annual public address. In this one act they English government took away two of an Englishmen's most fundamental rights, the right to public assembly, and the right to representation. These transgressions would not be soon forgotten. The fourth act is the Quartering Act of 1774. This act added to the Quartering Act of 1765, which stated that colonies were required to give living accommodations of some sort to English soldiers stationed in their colony. The Act of 1774 is unique in that it applied to all colonies, not just Massachusetts; and it demands that the soldiers be housed in private homes, if available, rather than barns or taverns as in the 1765 Act. This is another invasive act that unwisely hindered the freedoms of Americans in all colonies, rather than just Massachusetts. The public reaction to the Intolerable Acts was explosive. Around the colonies, flags were flown at half-mast the day the Boston Port Act was passed. All colonies pitched in to help Boston, with rice shipments being sent from as far as Carolina. The most significant result of the Intolerable Acts was the meeting of the First Continental Congress. Fifty Five representatives from twelve colonies, all except Georgia, gathered at Philadelphia from September 5 to October 26, 1774. While there, a proposition was considered in which involved American home rule under English direction. The proposition was voted on, but didn't pass on a five to six vote ratio. Instead, the Congress opted to form The Association. This entity wished to completely boycott English goods. However, they still wished to rejoin England, but they demanded that all the Brunk 9 offending acts of legislation be repealed, or the boycotts would continue. They petitioned the King and Parliament, and peacefully encouraged no importation, no exportation, and no consumption of English goods throughout the colonies. In the end, King George would reject the proposals of the First Continental Congress, just as he had ignored all other letters of grievance from the colonists. Shortly thereafter the famous shot heard around the world would be fired at Concord, and the English/colonial relations would descend past the point of no return. In the twelve years leading to this break in political association, there are a few trends that appear in terms of the ideologies that both the English and the colonies tend to follow. The colonies cling to the English right of representation. From the Proclamation of 1763 until the drafting of the Declaration of Independence, the colonists consistently demand representation, and England consistently denies them. On England's part, they see the colonists as irrational, for they seem to be refusing to pay even a fraction of the taxes other English citizens endure. Perhaps both are at fault, had England recognized American colonies in some manner in Parliament, or had the colonies been more generous, things might have gone differently. As it stands, the colonies resisted the English efforts to infringe on their rights, and as such proceeded to then create a nation based on the protection and cultivation of the same freedoms the fought to preserve. Brunk 10 Works Cited The American Revolution - (Home). Web. 16 Nov. 2010. <http://www.theamericanrevolution.org/>. America's Homepage and the Virtual Tour of Washington, D.C. Web. 16 Nov. 2010. <http://ahp.gatech.edu/quartering_act_1774.html>. Kennedy, David M., Lizabeth Cohen, and Thomas Andrew Bailey. The American Pageant: a History of the American People. Boston. MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2010. Print. "The Massachusetts Government Act - The U.S. Constitution Online - USConstitution.net." Index Page - The U.S. Constitution Online - USConstitution.net. Web. 17 Nov. 2010. <http://www.usconstitution.net/massgovact.html>. Middlekauff, Robert. The Glorious Cause: the American Revolution, 1763-1789. New York: Oxford UP, 2005. Print. "Revolutionary War Timeline." Ushistory.org. Web. 16 Nov. 2010. <http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/revwartimeline.htm>.

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