American Revolution

Start Free Trial

How did Americans perceive the laws and policies of the British and respond to them?

Expert Answers

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

The answer to this question is different at different times in colonial history.  It is also, we must realize, different for different people.  We cannot generalize and say that all colonists perceived and reacted to British laws in the same way.  If they had, there would not have been the Loyalists during the Revolutionary War and there would not have been people who wanted to stay out of the conflict as much as possible.

That said, we can generally say that Americans originally perceived British laws as benign but came to see them as onerous after the French and Indian War.  Before the French and Indian War, the British generally (but not always) practiced a policy of salutary neglect in which they more or less let the colonists do what they wished.  After the French and Indian War, the British tried to be more controlling.  They enacted taxes and they tried harder to enforce previously existing laws.  This led more Americans to perceive the British laws as onerous and potentially tyrannical.  They responded by opposing the laws and finally by fighting for independence.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team