The Reasons that Led to the Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War was the culmination of a series of events which served to differentiate the colonists’ ideology, political aspirations and economic needs from the colonial regime imposed by Britain. Though the war was fought based on political needs of representation in the government and troops rallied based on the ideology of freedom, the basic underlying cause that united the colonies and sparked the start of protests that later led to the war was economic.
The ideology of the British Empire regarding the colonies was vastly different from that of the colonists. The mother country’s ideology was restricted to mercantilism. They assumed that the colonies existed as sources of food, raw materials and a market for goods manufactured and sold by the Empire, thus serving the mother country in all possible ways. The Empire only sought to increase their personal growth at the expense of the colonies. The colonies on the other hand perceived the mother country as a protective force against the Indians and sought to grow and expand under the Empire, as evidenced by the French and Indian War (1754-1763)1. However the Treaty of Paris was unfavorable to the colonist ideology as it prevented them from expanding into Indian territory and further ordered evacuation of the colonists from the regions assigned as Indian territory. Further discontent was created by the stationing of military forces in the colonies, which was perceived by them as a curb on their freedom. The ideology of the colonists went through changes throughout the events that led to the war before finally resulting in a view of the need for freedom and self-governance.
1 Historycentral.com, Online, http://www.historycentral.com/Revolt/French.html (March 6, 2009)
Ideologically colonialism sought to expand the empire without consideration to the mood prevailing in the colonies. To maintain the British hegemony over its colonies and subjects, the political leadership did not tolerate demands for political representation. Politically the condescending attitude of the English towards the colonies also sparked and kept the spirit of revolution alive. America was influenced by the English but that influence was not that of the England of 1760s but 1600s. Subsequently the institutions developed themselves on a purely American line and the colonies reached a point where they could govern themselves without guidance from a power beyond the sea.
The conquest of Canada played a crucial role in this shift of attitude and relationship towards England. As long as this enemy was there in the north , England and her colonies needed mutual cooperation. Colonies needed protection and England too did not want the colonies to partner with the French. Once the conquest of Canada was complete, both the parties revealed their real relationship and that was to prove how politically they stood apart. One of the main factor was how England viewed the colonies i.e. not as a part of an empire, but as a part of the English political realm. King George made a law called the Proclamation of 1763 which stated the colonists could not move westward over the Appalachian Mountains. The British passed several more laws which also angered the colonists. In 1764 a law was passed which said the colonies could not print or use their own money. All these events were to culminate in the series of economic acts, which were finally to prove that the situation has changed dramatically and result in the uprising against the colonial hegemony.