At which point did the American Revolution become inevitable?
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I disagree with the above post; in that there were numerous opportunities to avert full revolution, even after the Battle of Lexington and Concord. There was a failure on both sides to seek consensus or even to cooperate; otherwise the Revolution might have been averted.
The First Continental Congress, held AFTER the impostition of the Coercive Acts, attempted to resolve the crisis: The Congress approved a Declaration of American Rights:
- Stated that Parliament had the right to regulate commerce and only strictly imperial matters; Parliament’s right to regulate internal matters in the colonies was denied.
- Stated that Americans were English Citizens and entitled to all the rights thereof.
- Stated that each colony had the right to determine if British troops were needed within its borders.
This is hardly the act of a people too far down the road to revolution to turn back.
Even after the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the Second Continental Congress, on July 5 and 6, 1775 issued the Olive Branch Petition by which the colonies rejected independence if only George III would respect their rights as English citizens, and begged him to cease hostilities pending talks towards reconciliation:
The apprehension of being degraded into a state of servitude from the preeminent rank of English freemen, while our minds retain the strongest love of liberty, and clearly foresee the miseries preparing for us and our posterity, excites emotions in our breasts which, though we can not describe, we should not wish to conceal. Feeling as men, and thinking as subjects, in the manner we do, silence would be disloyalty. By giving this faithful information, we do all in our power to promote the great objects of your royal cares, the tranquility of your government and the welfare of your people.
We ask but for peace, liberty, and safety. We wish not a diminution of the prerogative, nor do we solicit the grant of any new right in our favor. Your royal authority over us, and our connection with Great Britain, we shall always carefully and zealously endeavor to support and maintain.
These are hardly the words of a people who have crossed the proverbial Rubicon. It was in fact the intransigence of George III, who refused to even read the Petition that made the ensuing conflict inevitable.
If forced to pick a point, I would argue that the Revolution became inevitable in 1766 when the British Parliament enacted the Declaratory Act.
Parliament passed this act as part of its repeal of the Stamp Act. The Stamp Act, of course, had provoked intense anger among the American colonists. When Parliament repealed it, compromise might have been reached and the rebellion averted. However, Parliament followed up the repeal with the Declaratory Act, which basically told the colonists that none of their arguments against the Stamp Act were valid.
When Parliament did this, it missed its best chance to head off the Revolution. It could have compromised at that point and given the colonies some autonomy and maybe a parliament of their own. Instead, it dismissed their arguments. This set the stage for an escalating cycle of anger that led to the Revolution.
The American Revolution became inevitable once the shots were fired at Concord. Maybe they could have gotten past the accidental shooting at Lexington, but at Concord, they deliberately shot at the Americans, and the Americans deliberately shot back.
I would say that the American Revolution became inevitable with the publication of the pamphlet Common Sense by Thomas Paine. The Revolution never would have happened without at least some popular support from the colonists living in America. In his pamphlet Thomas Paine argued for indepedence. Over 120,000 copies of Common Sense were printed which helped convince thousands of colonists that seeking independence from Britain was the correct course of action to take.
I concur with posts #4 and 5 because they are historically accurate. There is no doubt that the Continential Congress made every attempt to reconcile with the British Parliament despite the Massachusetts delegation's passionate and honest argument regarding independence at all costs. However, I think the meeting held at the Billopp House (Conference House) in Staten Island, New York on September 11,1776 must be included. Although fighting had already begun on that day Adams, Franklin, Rutledge among others tried to work out a peaceful agreement which would end the hostilities with British General Howe and several of his party. This was the last ditch effort to reach a common ground, unfortunately their diplomatic attempt at the Conference House failed and the American Revolution had reached the point of no return.
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