The Grievances of the Colonists

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What were five grievances the colonists had against the British king in the 1760s and 1770s?

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You will actually find a long list of grievances that many of the American colonists had against the king in the Declaration of Independence itself. Thomas Jefferson wanted to make it clear that they had good reasons to rebel against Great Britain. Some of the major grievances are described below.

One significant grievance had to do with limits put on commerce. For much of the history of the colonies, the British imposed a policy known as salutary neglect. This essentially meant that they ignored laws that restricted trade within the colonies as long as the colonists were not causing any overt trouble. Beginning in the 1760s, however, the British began enforcing a policy that did not permit colonists to trade directly with markets outside of the British Empire. Many colonists—notably John Hancock, who made a fortune through trade—saw this as putting limits on their rights as free citizens.

Another grievance had to do with restrictions on where the colonists could settle. The French and Indian War was fought largely for control of the Ohio River Valley. When the British won the war, many colonists were eager to claim that land and move west of the Appalachian Mountains. However, the Royal Proclamation of 1763 forbade the colonists from settling there. Many thought this was a betrayal by the king, given the role that the colonists played in winning the war.

Even though the French and Indian War was over, the British continued to keep a large number of soldiers in the colonies. Many colonists chaffed at this. In Boston, many were very upset that British soldiers were also moonlighting at local jobs. There was not enough work to go around as it was. It was a protest over this that ignited the so-called Boston Massacre of 1770.

One thing that enraged many colonists was the revocation of the Charter of Massachusetts. In response to the Boston Tea Party, the charter of that colony was revoked, and the British military was put in charge of the colony. To make matters even worse, the Port of Boston was closed, strangling the livelihood of many New Englanders. This was all part of what was known as the Intolerable Acts. Colonists throughout North America saw this as a direct infringement of their rights as a free people.

Beginning in the early 1770s, colonists accused of certain crimes were transported to England for trial. This meant that they did not have access to a fair defense and evidence in their favor that might only be available back in the colonies. Many times they were deprived of trial by jury, something that they saw as one of their fundamental rights as Englishmen.

Another grievance had to do with the seizure of weapons. For generations, colonists had formed local militias to safeguard their defense against hostile French and Native Americans. However, beginning in 1774, the British authorities in Massachusetts saw this as a threat to their control and began seizing gunpowder stores. It was an attempt to seize the gunpowder in Concord that set off the first battle of the American Revolution.

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Relations between England and her thirteen colonies began to break down after the defeat of France in 1763. By 1775, open warfare had erupted between the British and the Americans. The colonists's five main complaints were about the following: taxes, British troops, tea, the Intolerable Acts, and King George.

The most important reason why the relationship soured was the introduction of numerous taxes by the British. These taxes were levied by the Sugar Act, the Stamp Act, and the Townshend Acts. The colonists bitterly resented these taxes because they did not have direct representation in British Parliament.

The colonists also disliked the British troop garrisons in their midst. France was defeated, so the colonists did not understand why London wanted to keep its troops in the colonies, and the colonists did not want to pay the cost of keeping British troops in America. Boiling tensions between the two sides led to the Boston Massacre in 1770.

A third area of contention was about tea. The colonists, angry about tea taxes, refused to sell or consume tea. In 1773, the Boston Tea Party took place, and that incident inflamed tensions.

In 1774, the Intolerable Acts enraged the colonists—especially those in Massachusetts. The British closed Boston harbor and gave important powers to the British governor of Massachusetts. The Intolerable Acts made war more likely.

Finally, the rebellious colonists came to despise King George: they viewed him as a tyrant. Americans's dislike of King George is one reason why the United States is governed by a president and not a monarch.

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The colonists had many complaints against the King of Great Britain in the 1760s and 1770s.  They were upset that they couldn’t move west of the Appalachian Mountains as a result of the Proclamation of 1763. They felt their freedom of movement was being restricted. The colonists were upset that the King wanted the colonists to pay for some of the cost of running the colonies. They felt the King and Parliament authorized taxes illegally since the colonists had no representatives in government to vote for the taxes.

They were concerned about the number of British officials who came to the colonies to enforce the laws that were passed. These officials acted rudely toward the colonists. They were concerned that the King tried to help a British company by creating a monopoly on the trade of tea when the Tea Act was passed in 1770. They were also concerned that British officials accused of crimes in the colonies could have their trials in Britain. They also didn’t like the presence of troops in the colonies when there was no war. The colonists had many concerns about the King that were outlined in the Declaration of Independence.

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