The Grievances of the Colonists

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In what ways did the American colonies need Britain, and in what ways did they not?

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It's an interesting question, though I should add that the American colonists viewed themselves as British for most of their history. The colonies were an extension of Britain. With this in mind, viewing this relationship solely in terms of dependency underestimates the strength of those ties.

Beyond this, the colonies...

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It's an interesting question, though I should add that the American colonists viewed themselves as British for most of their history. The colonies were an extension of Britain. With this in mind, viewing this relationship solely in terms of dependency underestimates the strength of those ties.

Beyond this, the colonies did rely on Britain in certain respects. In terms of economics, Britain was their primary trading partner, and after independence, a critical task for the new country was creating an economic apparatus which could replace the loss of those ties to Britain. In addition, so long as they were under British rule, they could count on at least some measure of British protection, particularly when it came to other European nations and their American colonies.

On the other hand, we should note the sheer distance between Britain and its colonies, which left the colonies with a long tradition of self-governance. Even when we note that Britain did provide protection and security, we should also be aware that there were real limitations to those protections, and that, in many cases, the Colonists had to provide for their own defense. By the end of the colonial era, during the years leading up to the American Revolution—as relations between Britain and its colonies grew increasingly strained, as many colonists began to view the British with more and more hostility—they began to take the opinion that they'd be better off independent altogether.

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There were people who believed the American colonies needed Britain.  They believed that Britain offered them things that the colonies would have trouble providing on their own.  For example, the British offered the colonies military protection.  The British military was very strong.  The colonies really didn't have much of a military.  The British offered the colonies an established form of government.  This government had a structure and a system of governing.  Some people felt the colonies would have trouble establishing their own system of government.  Finally, the British offered the colonies a strong economic system.  The British economy was well established and advanced, and this system was beneficial to the colonies.

Other people believed the colonies didn't need the British.  They felt the British economic system was stacked in favor of Britain.  These people believed the colonies would be far better off economically if they had their own economic system.  These people also believed the colonies were ready for self-government.  They had learned a great deal from the many years of British rule, and they believed they were now ready to be on their own.  Finally, many people believed the British were violating their rights.  They believed Britain wouldn't stop doing this until the colonies were free from British rule.

People in the colonies had different viewpoints about the need for the British government.

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