Prelude to the American Revolution

Essay by Qbanita May 2005

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A number of events led to the breakout of the American Revolutionary War. Up until the outbreak of armed hostilities in 1775, most American colonists still wanted reconciliation with England. They had hoped that their actions up to that point would convince the mother country to moderate her oppressive policies toward the American colonies. The one crucial change Britain could have made to prevent the American Revolutionary war goes back in time to the first Navigational Law issued in 1650 that was aimed at rival Dutch shippers that were making their way into American trade. The British didn't heavily enforce this Navigational Law or the subsequent laws, which purpose was to enforce the mercantilist system. From about this time to 1763 was a period of "salutary neglect". During this time the American colonials saw reduced government intervention in colonial affairs. Britain would only provide peace, protection, commerce, ensure law and order, and send more immigrants to America.

The colonists developed a sense of independence and self-reliance. Prior to the end of "salutary neglect" in 1763 British authority rested on ties of loyalty, affection and tradition, not force. This use of force marked a new era in relations between England and the colonists. Beginning in 1763 George Grenville, new Prime Minister, began to enforce Navigation Acts. Parliament along with King George III passed many acts to try to exercise increased control over the colonies. These acts include Proclamation of 1763, Stamp Act (1765), Townshend Acts (1767), Quartering Act of 1765, British troops sent to Boston (1767), and the Boston Massacre (1770), Boston Tea Party (December 16, 1773), Intolerable Acts (1774) (also called Coercive Acts). There was much colonial opposition and on many instances the British were forced to back down. Each time that this occurred the foundation for...

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