American Revolution Essay Example

What happens when a country, put through continuous mistreatment from a sovereign power and pushed to its limit, must either choose total submission or total independence through all-out war? One historical event that serves as a significant example of this dilemma is the American Revolutionary War. The American Revolution was a lengthy conflict that occurred during the second half of the eighteenth century. It involved American colonists rebelling against their ruling monarchical British government, with all the battles taking place within the thirteen, British-ruled colonies that the colonists resided in. The American Revolution was not a war that started instantly, as it was instead the result of what would become a repeated, lengthy build-up of constant mistreatment towards the colonists by the ruling British. A series of acts committed by the British that were what the colonists viewed as economic and political abuse, along with a general disdain for monarchical ideas, would all eventually make them finally declare their need for independence from the monarchy and take to the battlefield to obtain their freedom. 

Many events and actions increased the colonists’ resentment towards the British monarchy, but one major factor that helped lead to their anger officially culminating into declaration of war was the British’s implementation of unjust policies and taxation. After the Seven Year’s War ended in 1763, one of the first policies that Great Britain created to ease the burden of their high war expenses was the “forbidding of colonial settlers from moving west across the Appalachian summit.”  While this policy prevented further costly conflict with Native Americans by setting aside a portion of land for them, it stirred aggravation in Virginian land investors (including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson) that wanted to purchase this land from the Native Americans for low prices and resell it to colonial settlers. It was also an inconvenience to colonial settlers looking to establish homes on new land.  Shortly afterwards, the British looked towards reducing their war debt, leading them to pass the Stamp Act, which “required stamps … to appear on a variety of articles in America.”  These stamps were a form of taxation that the colonists had no say in due to their lack of proper representation in the British Parliament, and were found on colonial goods such as “legal contracts, land deeds, liquor licenses, indentures, newspapers, almanacs, and playing cards.” This law was simple in concept but costly for the colonists, as “Colonial lawyers and printers were to purchase these stamps from designated agents; the official stamp distributor in each colony would receive a handsome fee from all stamp sales.” Consequently, the colonists were angered by this taxation as they were already economically struggling because of the land policy regarding the forbidding of westward exploration and settlement. Thus, they expressed their grievances through intense vocal and physical revolt after becoming inspired by attorney “[Patrick] Henry [who] introduced a series of fiery resolves challenging Parliament’s right to impose taxes.”  

In addition to the forbidding of westward settlement and the Stamp Act, one other major policy that further pushed the colonists into officially declaring war with the British was the Tea Act of 1773. After taking notice of the trading entity East India Company financially struggling due to debt and low tea sales, the British passed the Tea Act, which allowed them to “bypass the expensive requirement that merchants ship Asian tea through England on its way to colonial ports.” The company, experiencing massive financial relief as a result, then “promptly chose prominent colonial merchants to receive and distribute more than 600,000 pounds of tea [to the colonies].” The colonists greatly disliked the idea of being forced to accept this tea after having just previously boycotted British goods that resulted in only fewer than 110,000 pounds of tea being imported to them compared to the previous 870,000 pounds. Due to this new act, 150 Bostonian colonial men of diverse backgrounds dressed up as Native Americans, made their way to the docks where the ships carrying the tea were located, and spent “three hours methodically breaking open chests of tea and dumping [the] contents overboard.” This revolt against the imported tea would go on to inspire very similar acts elsewhere in the colonies, further contributing to the colonists’ restless need to break free from the British’s regulations.

Even though acts of rebellion and several violent skirmishes had occurred several times between the colonists and the British over the latter’s repeated introduction of new taxes and policies, the colonists did not officially declare independence from the monarchy until Thomas Paine published his pamphlet, Common Sense. Released in 1776, the pamphlet spoke directly to the colonists’ anger towards their British rulers, as it boldly criticized the concepts of “hereditary monarchy and the divine right of kings.” Additionally, Paine spoke to the common man by stating that an ordinary, sincere individual had more value “than all the crown ruffians that ever lived.” Moreover, Paine “urged the creation of an independent constitutional republic that could become ‘an asylum for all of mankind.’” In spite of British pressure on the colonists to back down, he would go on to write that, “Reconciliation is now a fallacious dream … TIS THE TIME TO PART.”  Leaders such as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington agreed with Paine’s sentiment that their past attempts to reason with the British were futile, and they realized that if they wanted to be a separate nation, war was inevitable. This stirred Jefferson to write The Declaration of Independence the same year as Common Sense, which detailed the abuses the British had committed, as well as declared that the colonies considered themselves independent.  This was the point of no return as signing such a document was seen as treason by the British, and many of the leading colonial figures were ready for all-out war. 

The American Revolution was a war that came to be as a result of the colonists becoming frustrated with the British’s continuous introduction of unnecessary taxation and policies, causing them to officially declare war and fight for their independence. Policies and laws such as the forbidding of westward settlement, the increased taxation of various goods through the Stamp Act, and the forced importation of British tea through the Tea Act pushed colonists to their breaking point, causing acts of rebellion that ranged from peaceful (vocal protest) to more physical (the tossing of the tea into the harbor).  It was not until the publication of Thomas Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense that the colonists realized that to become an independent nation, war was necessary, as Paine challenged monarchical authority and claimed that it was time to go to battle as previous attempts to reason with the British proved to be fruitless.  In the end, the colonists won their long struggle against the British monarchy, showing that with enough courage and conviction in its ideas, a nation can overcome an abusive sovereign power and gain independence.


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