Explain why the colonists wanted to break away from England.

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By 1776, many colonists had come to believe that breaking away from England was, in Thomas Paine's memorable phrase, "common sense." The colonies and the mother country had been at war for almost a year, and the king had rejected efforts at reconciliation under conditions they were willing to accept. The fact of the matter is that by the time independence was declared, most of the colonies were governed by revolutionary committees in any case. But they needed to make it official in order to begin writing state constitutions. This was a major factor in wanting to break away from England, as was the urgent need to seek recognition (and receive loans) from European nations like France, Spain and the Netherlands. By 1776, in short, the ties that bound the colonies to England had become severed in any case, and independence made sense to many (but by no means all) the colonists.

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