Seventeen sixty-three was a year of great celebration, it was the year of the French and Indian War’s end. The British defeated the French and their Native American allies, in North America. The colonists were pleased with the British victory, because they could now live in peace. However, as time past and the cost of the war were being charged to the colonies, the 13 began to feel enmity towards England. The Americans became unified and severed their bonds with Great Britain. This separation was inevitable, as philosopher Thomas Paine said in his most famous essay; it was only “Common Sense” for the 13 colonies of America to declare their independence from the Empire of Great Britain.
Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” published in January 1776, was quite the persuasive essay. In it, Paine asked the question of why a huge landmass like North America be ruled by such a small country like England. Paine had witnessed the battle of Lexington and Concord back in April of 1775, and although he was a peaceful man, he deserted the crown, and encouraged his fellow Americans to do so as well. (Document 6)
“We are not yet recovered from a War undertaken solely for their [the American’s] protection… they should contribute to the Preservation of the advantages they have received…” (document one). Thomas Whately wrote the above statement to explain why Britain was taxing the American colonists. The French and Indian War was fought over the land in North America. The 13 colonies were an investment to Britain. The French and Indian War was fought over capital, not to protect the local colonists. After all, the people who were sent to the Americas were outcasts, banished because of religious differences. So how could Britain be justified in taxing the Americans if they didn’t care about them?
Great Britain had the right to tax her colonies, and regulate their trade. The colonies in America though, were being taxed to gain revenue. In the book Letters From a Farmer in Pennsylvania, John Dickinson an American colonist, who was an active member of both the Stamp Act and Continental Congresses wrote about these profit gaining taxes, The Townshend Acts. He wrote “[The Townshend Acts claim the authority] to impose duties on these colonies, not for the regulation of trade…but for the single purpose of levying money on us.” (Document 2) The only point of the Townshend Acts was to make a profit for Britain off her American colonies. This money wasn’t going back across the Atlantic to help the colonists become more self-sufficient, instead it was probably going directly into the pockets of parliament and King George III. Why shouldn’t the colonies revolt if they were being taxed unreasonably, only to make the rich more wealthy?
North America’s eastern seaboard was part of the British domain in 1770, therefore the job of protecting the colonies was that of England’s red coated soldiers. Funny then, that on March 5, 1770 these soldiers opened fire on the colonists, the people they were being paid to protect. This was the Boston Massacre (Document 3). Should a colony stay aligned with a mercantilist mother nation if the soldiers who were sworn to protect it open fire on the local civilians?
After the Boston Massacre and the Townshend Acts, the people of the colonies began to act against Britain as they strived for a way to gain their independence. The Journal of Nicholas Cresswell, 1774-1777 (Document 4), the “Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking up Arms” issued by the Continental Congress July 5, 1775 (document 5), and “The Declaration of Independence” written a day shot of a year later were examples of the rebellious attitude the colonists had toward England. People boycotted British goods like tea, which was considered a necessity at the time (in the 18th Century Americans, like the British today, drank tea at least twice a day) learned to live without it so as to not have to pay the unjust taxes. The Americans took up arms against the British for independence, and declared their cause to the king in a document whose distinction has never been matched.
Paine knew that the colonists of North America had to withdraw from the Empire of Great Britain, and he urged his fellow colonists to unite and fight the crown for independence. Paine’s “Common Sense” was a convincing article, but it was definitely not the only cause of the Revolutionary War. The colonists were being taxed unreasonably to pay for the French and Indian War, which was fought for capital not for protection, and the British soldiers who were paid to protect the colonists opened fire against them, after being pelted with snowballs during the Boston Massacre. The colonists understood that a revolution would be the only way for Britain’s tyranny to finally end. Therefore, it made perfect sense to break away from Great Britain.