American Revolution

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What specific examples are there of the restriction of civil liberties of American colonists prompting them to rebel in 1776?

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Many colonists were quite upset with the King and Parliament for the perceived erosion of civil liberties that began in the latter part of the eighteenth-century. This began with the implementation of new taxes in 1764. The British government had racked up a large debt in fighting the French and Indian War, and they wanted the colonists to pay their share of the costs. The new taxes included the Sugar Act, the Stamp Act, and the Currency Act. This particularly irked the colonists because they felt they should not be forced to pay taxes to a government in which they had no representation.

What were known as the Intolerable Acts were also an assault on the colonists' civil liberties. In 1774, in response to the Boston Tea Party, Parliament passed punitive laws that were aimed at coercing the rowdy colonists into submission. They involved stripping Massachusetts of its historic privilege of self-governance. Furthermore, these acts allowed royal officials to be sent overseas to be tried for crimes and the closing of the port of Boston. This threatened the livelihood of nearly every New Englander who relied on commerce and trade.

These examples of the stripping of civil liberties fueled a growing resentment in the colonies that would lead to the declaration of an independent nation in 1776.

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There were a number of specific things that the British did.  For example, the British (in the Stamp Act of 1765) took away the right to trial by jury for people who were accused of violating that law.  The British also passed the Quartering Act, which allowed the British army to house its troops in the private homes of colonists.  After the Boston Tea Party, the British government took away the right of the colonists in Massachusetts to have their own local governments.  All of these are examples of specific actions that the colonists saw as violations of their civil liberties.

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