Guest Author - Phyllis Doyle Burns
In the mid 1700s, the American colonists were strongly opposing all the taxation imposed upon them by the British Parliament. The fact that they had no voice in decisions of Parliament was of great concern. Many acts of the British Parliament that were passed to raise revenue from the colonies for uses other than helping the colonists, resulted in the American Revolution. Strongly opposing all the taxation and having no voice in their way of life, the colonists began uniting into one force of support for each other and what they felt was now their own country of America. Their goal was to be under their own rule and government and this led to a war for independence.
Jamestown, Virginia was established on May 14, 1607 and was the first permanent British settlement in America. By 1733 there were thirteen colonies in North America. The colonists, feeling the Stamp Act of 1765 was unconstitutional, wanted Independence from the British Empire, and the ensuing American Revolutionary War began on July 4, 1776.
The colonists highly resented the Stamp Act. Since they had no representation in Parliament there was no way for them to state their needs and desires in a timely manner and be included in the passing of any such acts. They had no voice on any taxes raised or what the money would be used for. To be taxed without the approval of their own legislatures was strongly protested. Tempers and protests of the colonists over the taxation without representation escalated into violence. With the Molasses Act of 1733 and the Sugar Act of 1764, the greatest concern of the colonists was that the British Parliament was not acting in the best interests of the colonies. Many felt the issue was an illegal action against their rights.
As early as 1754, Benjamin Franklin had made his thoughts on taxation clear when he wrote that it is the right of Englishmen to not be taxed without having representatives in Parliament. In 1764, Samuel Adams stated much the same, albeit a little stronger, saying the colonists are being reduced to the status of slavery.
The heavy taxation and arbitrary decisions of Parliament spurred the colonists to action. Unity of the colonies was of the utmost importance and a governing body was needed. The Continental Congress was formed in 1774 and each colony had heir own representatives. Attempts to plead with the British monarchy for help had failed. A royal decree declared the Congress were traitors and the reaction of the Congress was to declare independence on July 4, 1776.
The sovereign nation of the United States of America was declared and a split formed in the colonies. The Loyalists sided with the British Empire and the Patriots stood true and firm with independence for America. The Patriots were helped when weapons and ammunition was sent to them from France, Spain and the Dutch Republic. The Continental Army was formed and the American Revolutionary War began.
The war for independence came under the command of General George Washington. Known for his excellent service as a senior officer in the French and Indian War (1754 - 1763), Washington was asked in 1775 to be the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution and was appointed to the position by the Second Continental Congress. In 1778, France joined forces with the American Patriots, as Spain and the Dutch Republic, went to war against Great Britain.
Over the next several years, many battles were fought. In late November of 1782, the British Commons voted to end the war. In September of 1783, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris and the Treaties of Versailles, the war was over.
Heavy financial losses were incurred by Britain, France and the United States, as well as a heavy loss of lives on all sides. America won the right to independence and gained even more than they had expected, for the land between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River was ceded to the United States in the Treaty of Paris.
The United States of America emerged as a new nation with their own government and their new constitution.