When the American colonists declared independence from Britain in 1776, it was the product of tensions which had steadily risen over the last decade. Britain's taxation policy was one of the reasons why the colonists wanted independence: they had introduced the Sugar Act in 1764, to levy money on molasses, and the Stamp Act in 1765, to raise taxes on printed products. When the colonists had protested these pieces of legislation, on the grounds of 'no taxation without representation,' the British responded with the Declaratory Act, which stated that Britain had supreme power over taxation.
The Great Awakening, a religious movement which swept through the colonies in the 1730s, also encouraged the colonists to pursue independence. This religious revival emphasised equality: ministers did not have to be ordained, no single denomination was more important than another and this was one of the first 'national' movements of the era. It united all the colonists and helped to break down the differences between them. More importantly, it highlighted the differences between the colonists and Britain, therefore helping to create the revolutionary spirit.