What caused the American Revolution and were the colonists justified in rebelling?

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There were multiple causes of the American Revolution. Chief among these was an opposition to new taxes levied by Parliament. After the French and Indian War, Parliament took a more heavy-handed approach to governing the colonies. They wanted the colonies to help pay the expensive debts that England incurred defending them. Many colonists were upset because they had no representation in this governing body and saw these taxes as an overreach of power.

This was a change to how the colonies had been treated for a century and a half. Throughout most of their history, the colonies had been treated with a policy known as salutary neglect. In short, this meant that the colonists were mostly free to govern themselves. Beginning in the 1760s, Parliament started implementing taxes and directly governing aspects of colonial life.

When the colonists resisted, British authorities tightened their grip, stationing garrisons in the colonies and appointing their own governors. At times, violence broke out, such as during the Powder Alarm and the Boston Massacre. Resentment of these actions and the overall British policy in the colonies led many colonists to push for a revolution. They wanted to restore the rights and freedoms that they had enjoyed for generations under salutary neglect.

As to whether or not the revolutionaries were justified is a matter of opinion. Ask yourself, were the British being tyrannical? If so, is violence an appropriate response to perceived tyranny? We can wonder if the British would have eased their new policies toward the colonies over time or if the period after the French and Indian War was the beginning of a more autocratic approach to governing them. We will never know for sure, but these are the considerations you should keep in mind when answering this question.

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