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Were the American colonists justified in rebelling against England?Were the American...

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Posted February 27, 2011 at 1:21 PM via web

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Were the American colonists justified in rebelling against England?

Were the American colonists justified in rebelling against England?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 27, 2011 at 1:43 PM (Answer #2)

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This is, of course, a matter of opinion.

I would argue that the colonists were justified in their rebellion, but that it is not really correct to say that England's actions were particularly heinous.

The British government caused the rebellion by trying to tax the colonists in ways that had not previously been done and by trying to control the colonies more closely than it previously had.  Neither of these is outrageous -- a country has the right to tax its people and to enforce its laws.  No country would, for example, stand idly by and let protestors destroy a huge amount of valuable merchandise as the Americans did in the Boston Tea Party.

But the colonists were still justified in their desire to rebel.  They were a large and growing set of colonies that surely had enough population and experience to become their own country.  They deserved to have much more control over their own government than they had.  It was wrong of the British to deny them, for example, direct representation in Parliament.

So, even though the British did not do anything unreasonable, it was time for the Americans to break away.  They were clearly capable of ruling themselves and all people have or should have the right to do so.   The rebellion was justified not so much because of what the British did but because of the way in which they did it.  As long as they acted without giving the Americans much of a say in the government, it was justifiable for the Americans to rebel.

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 27, 2011 at 2:16 PM (Answer #3)

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I think it is safe to say that the colonists had every right to rebel. Their rebellion was based on the simple fact that they had been denied their "rights as Englishmen," primarily the right to be taxed by their own representatives. "Taxation without representation" is often misinterpreted as the colonists wishing for representation in Parliament. This is not the case, as such representation would have been unworkable from the sheer distances involved. However, the Colonists, who always considered themselves the King's good and loyal servants wanted nothing more than that which every other English citizen had: the right to elect those who taxed them, in this case, the colonial legislatures. In fact, after the battles of Lexington and Concord, the Continental Congress forwarded an Olive Branch Petition to George III stating their desire to remain within the Empire as long as they were granted these rights. George, however, felt they had gone too far and declared them in rebellion.

The Boston Tea Party is often cited as an element in the war. The Tea Act actually lowered the cost of tea to the colonists; however it required them to purchase tea only from agents of the British East India Company, which hurt colonial merchants. Many colonists opposed the vandalism of throwing the tea into the harbor; in fact Benjamin Franklin offered to pay the cost of it out of his own pocket. However, the British response, the Coercive Acts, were so punitive in nature that they had the effect of galvanizing the colonies together, and creating a sense of unity as Americans that had previously not existed. Had cooler heads and more logical thinking prevailed, the Revolution probably would not have occurred; at least not at that time.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 14, 2011 at 11:52 AM (Answer #4)

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From a historical viewpoint, probably not.  Hessian mercenaries, unloading from British ships before the Battle of Long Island saw such prosperity that they couldn't believe the country was revolting, so much so that many of them remained in the US even after independence.  Only 1/4 or so of the colonists actively favored breaking from the Crown, while fully 1/4 were actively loyalist, so in pursuing a democracy, it seems difficult to justify a minority of the nation dragging the rest of the colonists into rebellion, war and independence.
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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 10, 2011 at 10:32 AM (Answer #5)

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According to Jefferson, a people being oppressed have a moral obligation to rebel against their oppressors. The question is really whether or not the US would have been better off staying colonized. We can look at India to give us an idea of how we would have turned out.

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