The Grievances of the Colonists

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Why did the colonies want to break away from Great Britain?    

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First, we should realize that not all the colonists wanted to break away from Great Britain. There were many who wanted to remain loyal to what they viewed as the mother country, and even many ardent patriots did not think of the Revolution as a movement for independence until the...

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First, we should realize that not all the colonists wanted to break away from Great Britain. There were many who wanted to remain loyal to what they viewed as the mother country, and even many ardent patriots did not think of the Revolution as a movement for independence until the war itself. But to look for the reasons the colonists wanted independence, we can look at the Declaration of Independence itself. It asserted the colonists' claims that the British had violated their natural rights which in some cases coincided with their rights as British subjects. This included the policy of taxing the colonists without their consent, quartering troops among them, dissolving colonial legislatures, establishing courts outside the colonies to try violators of certain laws, and other offenses. There were also other, more pragmatic reasons for declaring independence not mentioned in this document. The colonists were, after all, at war with Great Britain, and they needed the support of France and other European powers. They could not get this help without declaring independence. They also needed to establish state governments since the royal governors had fled the colonies with the outbreak of the revolution, another issue that couldn't be addressed without declaring independence. Finally, more than a year of war had alienated the colonists and the British to the point where reconciliation seemed impossible. So in the words of Thomas Paine, it was "common sense" that the colonists should become independent.

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