For what principles did colonists fight the American Revolution?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Revolutionary War (1775–1783), which resulted in American independence from Great Britain, was caused by various factors. At first, the colonists were not fighting for independence. The armed conflict escalated out of a series of disagreements over subjects including taxes, the settlement of the frontier, voting representation, and the mandatory...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The Revolutionary War (1775–1783), which resulted in American independence from Great Britain, was caused by various factors. At first, the colonists were not fighting for independence. The armed conflict escalated out of a series of disagreements over subjects including taxes, the settlement of the frontier, voting representation, and the mandatory lodging of British soldiers in colonists's homes. After war erupted, the colonists decided to to declare independence from Great Britain.

In 1763, Great Britain defeated France. Due to that shift, the relationship between London and the colonists changed forever. The colonists had previously enjoyed high levels of autonomy, but their freedom began to be restricted as British policies were implemented and London strengthened its grip on the colonies. First, the Proclamation of 1763 banned the colonists from settling any territory West of the Appalachian Mountains. Second, onerous taxes were passed. These included taxes on molasses, stamps, and tea. Third, the Quartering Act required the colonists to lodge British troops.

Because Massachusetts was center of anti-British sentiment, and it was the scene of the Boston Tea Party and Boston Massacre, it is not surprising that fighting erupted there in 1775 at Lexington and Concord. The colonial militia that mobilized believed they were protecting themselves and their families from British aggression. There were other battles at Bunker Hill and in surrounding areas, as well.

In 1776, the colonists finally decided to declare independence. This momentous decision was not an easy one, and quite a few colonists opposed it. Many colonists, known as Loyalists, refused to support independence. Some of them went so far as to fight for the British.

The colonists's soldiers fell into two categories. First, there were militia units—like the ones near Lexington and Concord—that usually fought only when British troops invaded their areas. These irregular troops were not always dependable. Second, George Washington commanded the Continental Army, and he held this force together. But Washington's army suffered from desertion because supplies were low and the war was long and difficult. Some of his soldiers also fought just to collect bounties. Therefore, not all of the colonists fought for the same reasons.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team