American Revolution: Blog Assignment 3
Beginning with the founding of Virginia in 1607, Great Britain established thirteen colonies in North America. For over one hundred years, the colonies and Britain shared a mutually beneficial relationship, with the colonies supplying raw materials for the mainland to ship back in the form of manufactured goods. Because the colonies were so profitable, they were allowed to operate with minimal intervention from the British government. However, after the French and Indian War, Great Britain needed to make up for their monetary losses. In order to do so, Parliament levied new taxes on common goods sold in the colonies such as sugar and tea, and required all official documents to be stamped for a small fee among other taxes. The colonists grew bitter toward the new taxes crying “no taxation without representation”, as the colonies did not have a single representative in the British Parliament to defend them. Resentment boiled over in the Boston Massacre in 1770 as British soldiers killed five unarmed civilians part of an angry mob, and also in the Boston Tea Party three years later. Two years later, the first official shots of the Revolution were fired at the Battle of Lexington, leading to seven years of fierce fighting ending in 1783 with a Colonial victory.
The roots of the American Revolutionary War can be traced to the philosophical teachings of John Locke, as the Founding Fathers were greatly influenced by his work. His writings influenced the concept of a limited government and a social contract, in which government only has power that the citizens grant it. This constituted a major ideological shift away from accepting monarchs as rulers appointed by god, an idea that had been conventional wisdom up to this point in history. Not only were the people free to choose their rulers but they also had unalienable rights, which no ruler could revoke. These ideas encouraged disapproval of authority and government intervention that became hallmarks of Americans, especially in the South. After years of oppression at the hands of greedy and corrupt monarchs, the citizens of the newly founded United States of America believed they should hold the prevailing power in a Republican style of government.
In response to the injustices perpetrated by the monarchy and elite class of Britain, the political structure of the new country was also fundamentally changed. The Founding Fathers were determined to keep monarchy and corruption found in Great Britain out of their young nation, and therefore established a new government composed of three branches, legislative, executive, and judicial. In doing so, they created checks and balances so no single person or group could monopolize power. The Constitution and Bill of Rights were adopted as the governing documents, after the failed Articles of Confederation, in order to maintain democracy and liberty in the new nation. In this way, much of the new political structure was based on the new country distancing itself from the British Crown.
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