Were the American colonists justified in rebelling against England?Were the American colonists justified in rebelling against England?

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larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think it is safe to say that the colonists had every right to rebel. Their rebellion was based on the simple fact that they had been denied their "rights as Englishmen," primarily the right to be taxed by their own representatives. "Taxation without representation" is often misinterpreted as the colonists wishing for representation in Parliament. This is not the case, as such representation would have been unworkable from the sheer distances involved. However, the Colonists, who always considered themselves the King's good and loyal servants wanted nothing more than that which every other English citizen had: the right to elect those who taxed them, in this case, the colonial legislatures. In fact, after the battles of Lexington and Concord, the Continental Congress forwarded an Olive Branch Petition to George III stating their desire to remain within the Empire as long as they were granted these rights. George, however, felt they had gone too far and declared them in rebellion.

The Boston Tea Party is often cited as an element in the war. The Tea Act actually lowered the cost of tea to the colonists; however it required them to purchase tea only from agents of the British East India Company, which hurt colonial merchants. Many colonists opposed the vandalism of throwing the tea into the harbor; in fact Benjamin Franklin offered to pay the cost of it out of his own pocket. However, the British response, the Coercive Acts, were so punitive in nature that they had the effect of galvanizing the colonies together, and creating a sense of unity as Americans that had previously not existed. Had cooler heads and more logical thinking prevailed, the Revolution probably would not have occurred; at least not at that time.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is, of course, a matter of opinion.

I would argue that the colonists were justified in their rebellion, but that it is not really correct to say that England's actions were particularly heinous.

The British government caused the rebellion by trying to tax the colonists in ways that had not previously been done and by trying to control the colonies more closely than it previously had.  Neither of these is outrageous -- a country has the right to tax its people and to enforce its laws.  No country would, for example, stand idly by and let protestors destroy a huge amount of valuable merchandise as the Americans did in the Boston Tea Party.

But the colonists were still justified in their desire to rebel.  They were a large and growing set of colonies that surely had enough population and experience to become their own country.  They deserved to have much more control over their own government than they had.  It was wrong of the British to deny them, for example, direct representation in Parliament.

So, even though the British did not do anything unreasonable, it was time for the Americans to break away.  They were clearly capable of ruling themselves and all people have or should have the right to do so.   The rebellion was justified not so much because of what the British did but because of the way in which they did it.  As long as they acted without giving the Americans much of a say in the government, it was justifiable for the Americans to rebel.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator
From a historical viewpoint, probably not.  Hessian mercenaries, unloading from British ships before the Battle of Long Island saw such prosperity that they couldn't believe the country was revolting, so much so that many of them remained in the US even after independence.  Only 1/4 or so of the colonists actively favored breaking from the Crown, while fully 1/4 were actively loyalist, so in pursuing a democracy, it seems difficult to justify a minority of the nation dragging the rest of the colonists into rebellion, war and independence.
litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
According to Jefferson, a people being oppressed have a moral obligation to rebel against their oppressors. The question is really whether or not the US would have been better off staying colonized. We can look at India to give us an idea of how we would have turned out.
ifonly | Student

Was the American Revolution Justified?

Most people never thought beyond what was taught in school about the Revolutionary War. But were the colonists justified in fighting a war with Britain? Most Americans today would say so. But what would everyone else say? The Americans were justified because of taxation without representation, lack of rights as British citizens, and the Americans were already going to break away regardless.

            Previous to the Boston Massacre and all of the wood for the rebellious fire, there were a few acts. These acts were called the Stamp Act, Quartering Act, the Townshend Acts, and the Tea Act. Those acts basically taxed the colonists to death. The colonists were furious with Britain. The colonists thought they were still British, and thus had a voice in British Parliament. The Loyalists, colonists who were still loyal to Britain, simply boycotted the items from Britain. The Patriots were a little more violent. They rioted until the British repealed the acts. But the British just kept coming up with ways to tax the colonists.

            The saying “No taxation without representation” is most often read as the colonists’ wanting a voice in Parliament. This is not so, as sheer distance from the Motherland would have made it impossible. What the colonists want are rights as British citizens. To vote for or against those who taxed them, in this case the colonial legislatures. But if the British denied the colonists those simple rights, who wouldn’t rebel.

            Also America was a growing country who was going to break away anyway. It was just a matter of time. The Americans should have had much more control in the British government then they already had. Because America had the population and the experience, the British would have had to give the colonists a lot more free rein to have them loyal to Britain a lot longer.

     In conclusion The Americans would have broken away anyways, and the British would have had them a lot longer if they had stopped taxing them to death. The Americans fought long and hard for independence. But every revolution needs a spark. If the Americans were given free rein, would the Americans have stayed with the British?

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