What were some causes of the American Revolution that aren't mentioned in the Bill of Rights?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The issue of taxation which drove the Colonists to the ends that were so compelling for them are not readily mentioned in the Bill of Rights.  Whether or not this was deliberate is a matter for debate, but the primary focus of the Bill of Rights is the expression of political freedom, and not of economic freedom.  The notion of controlling wealth and the means of production of income was of critical importance to the Colonists.  This desire is not overtly stated in the Bill of Rights.  Certainly, the case for political freedom is more evident in the first 10 Amendments.  In doing so, the framers ensured that the legacy of the Constitution and the American Revolution was fought on the grounds of political expression, concealing the all too real emphasis for economic rights.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

For the most part, the real reasons behind the rebellion are not mentioned in the Bill of Rights (or in the Declaration of Independence, for that matter).

The major reason for the start of the rebellion was that a group of elite colonists wanted to have more control over the colonies that they lived in.  They thought that they themselves, rather than some people from England, should rule the colonies.

Another major reason was that the British, after a long period of letting the colonies do what they wanted, had started to try to actually enforce laws that were on the books.  These were laws having to do with trade, not with free speech or anything like that.

So really, the rebellion was about economic and political control of the colonies, not over freedom of religion, or over the right to not have troops quartered in your home.

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epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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afoster03,

For decades after the first colonies were established, the king and the Church of England were largely content to neglect them. The neglect of the colonies was a major cause as it exacerbated other situations. All along, Americans thought of themselves as fully English; after all, they had fought side by side with the British in the French and Indian War. That very war, however, had brought Britain close to financial collapse, so in 1765 Parliament passed the Stamp Act to force Americans to shoulder their share of the burden of victory. The North American colonists were outraged at such taxation without representation. The Stamp Act was repealed, but Parliament taxed a variety of other commodities. Finally, Parliament repealed all offensive taxes except on tea—a move that led to the Boston Tea Party of 1773.

Through the centuries, the British monarchy had begun to lose power to the Parliament, where, in the time of the Hanoverians, the House of Commons was divided into the Tories, who were loyal to the king, and the Whigs. Although the Hanoverian kings disliked the Whigs, it was the Whigs who had invited them to the throne, so they had to endure a succession of Whig-led governments. When the Seven Years’ War ended, Hanoverian king George III, determined to impose his will on the Parliament and appointed a series of prime ministers to help him do so, ending finally in 1770 with Sir Frederick North, better known as Lord North.

Across the ocean, Americans saw Whig John Locke’s account of the creation of governments as a description of how their own societies and governments had come into being—America was for them the state of nature. King George III, Lord North, and the majority in Parliament saw things differently and chose to adopt a series of punitive measures in retaliation for the Boston Tea Party’s wanton destruction of property. "Honest Tom" Gage was appointed military governor for Massachusetts, and believed he could bring order to the state. He was mistaken.

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