Why did it take America so long to declare independence?

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During the lead up to the American Revolution, and even during its first year or so, most colonists had no intention of declaring independence from Great Britain. As far as they were concerned, they were still loyal subjects of the Crown. They had their grievances for sure, but they still saw themselves as Englishmen and Englishwomen.

What they wanted was to restore their rights that they had come to enjoy over the last several generations as English subjects in North America. The colonists had come to expect both individual freedoms and the protection of England. However, English policies towards the colonies had been steadily changing since the end of the French and Indian War in 1763. The government in London was using a firmer hand in managing its colonies, and many colonists chaffed at this.

By the mid-1770s, resentment in the colonies had built to such a level that many colonists felt that they had to restore their rights by force. Once this happened, it became clear to many that...

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