Colonial America

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Were the colonists justified in declaring independence from Great Britain?

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Since this is an opinion question, I will share some reasons why the colonists were justified and some reasons why they were not justified in declaring their independence from Great Britain. You can then decide for yourself.

The colonists were justified in declaring their independence from Great Britain. There are several reasons for this. First, the British began to increase their control over the colonists. The Proclamation of 1763 prevented the colonists from going to the lands Great Britain had just received from France as a result of the French and Indian War. The colonists had hoped to move to these new areas so they could claim some of the land Great Britain had received from France. Then, the British required the colonists to provide for the troops who were enforcing the unpopular Proclamation of 1763. This made the colonists even more unhappy.

The British also passed new tax laws. Since the colonists did not have representatives in Parliament that could speak about and vote on the taxes, they felt that their rights were being violated. In England, in order for taxes to be implemented, the people’s representatives had to vote on the proposal. This did not happen for the colonists when Britain passed the Stamp Act and the Townshend Acts.

Eventually, colonial blood was shed. At the Boston Massacre, five colonists were killed. After the Boston Tea Party, the Intolerable Acts were passed. When the colonists refused to obey the Intolerable Acts, the British army eventually moved into the Massachusetts countryside. Many people on both sides were killed as a result of the Battle of Lexington-Concord. The colonists believed they now had to declare their independence from Great Britain.

There were people who felt the colonists were not justified in declaring their independence from Great Britain. These people believed the British had the right to run their colonies how they saw fit to run them. They felt that the British had the right to restrict the colonists from moving to the new lands gained from France. They believed the British were trying to keep the colonists safe from Native America attacks and were not trying to control them.

The colonies were also becoming more expensive to run. Thus, it was acceptable for the British to expect the colonists to help pay for some of the costs of running the colonies. They believed, for example, that the colonists benefited from the protection provided by the British soldiers. As a result, they believed the crackdown on smuggling and passage of new tax laws to raise revenue were acceptable actions by the government.

These people also believed the colonists were wrong to destroy property in the Boston Tea Party. Therefore, they felt it was reasonable for the British to impose harsh penalties on the colonists for their actions in the Boston Tea Party.

Some people feared what would happen if independence was declared. The British had provided an orderly society and a stable government. People were concerned chaos would result if independence was declared. They believed the colonists were not yet ready for autonomy.

There are various opinions on whether the colonists should have or should not have declared independence from Great Britain.

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This is, of course, a matter of opinion.  I will provide arguments for both sides and you can decide which argument makes more sense to you.

On the one hand, we can say that the colonists were justified in declaring independence from Great Britain.  Britain had ruled the colonies without letting them have any input into the government.  It had imposed taxes on the colonists without their consent.  It had violated what they thought of as their rights as Englishmen through such things as writs of assistance.  They had imposed laws like the Navigation Acts that limited the colonists’ ability to develop economically.  Perhaps most importantly, the colonies had outgrown British rule.  The colonies had a large population and were economically advanced.  They were ready to be able to rule themselves instead of having others tell them what to do.

On the other hand, we can say that the colonists were not justified in declaring independence.  First, we can say that what the British did was really not that bad, especially in light of some of the things the colonists did.  The colonists were not directly represented in Parliament, but neither were many people in England.  The colonists were taxed, but not as heavily as people in England.  The British imposed harsh penalties on the colonies, but only after the colonists did things like attacking government officials who were trying to enforce the law and destroying private property in the “Boston Tea Party.”  Second, even if your government does things you do not like, that does not allow you to simply break away from it.  We all pledge our allegiance to the United States.  That means that we do not get to simply break away from the country if we do not like what the government is doing.  The colonists might have been justified in protesting and trying to change the laws, but they were not justified in breaking away.

Which of these arguments makes more sense to you?



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