Was the official break between the colonies and Great Britain in 1776 inevitable?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Historians, as a general rule, don't like to declare events, especially not events as complex as the American Revolution, inevitable. It is, however, hard to imagine that some major transformation in the imperial relationship between the colonies and Great Britain would not have taken place in the absence of independence.  At various points, though, historical contingency can be clearly seen. The North Administration chose the most provocative measures possible in the wake of the Boston Tea Party, the so-called "Intolerable Acts." Had they chosen a more measured response, it is doubtful whether events would have proceded as quickly as they did. And, of course, there was no plan to declare independence until 1775, and even then representatives of several of the colonies balked. Britain could also have accepted the famous (but probably overrated) Olive Branch Petition in the summer of 1775. It is difficult to imagine now, but the official break that took place in 1776 was likely, and probably even represented "common sense," as Thomas Paine pointed out. But it was not inevitable. People made decisions that brought it into being, and they could have made different decisions.

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