Historical Interpretations of the Causes Leading to the American Revolution


The traditional interpretation of the events leading America to revolution in 1776 has been pro-Patriot--that is, supporting the struggle of the colonists to free themselves from an oppressive mother country. According to this interpretation, the colonists were distressed over the new type of taxation imposed by England which they considered to be unfair, especially since they did not have elected representatives in the British parliament. (Most citizens in England did not vote either!)The "patriots" as these colonists were called, had ideological differences with the government in England.

There were other grievances as well. For example, they did not appreciate the policy of "quartering" the "regulars" (army of England) in private homes; nor did the colonists appreciate the policy known of "Writs of Assistance" which were general search warrents. These Writs were used after 1760 to enforce the "Navigation" Acts--taxation related to trade.

A newer interpretation sees the conflict as being economic as well as politically ideological...that the colonists did not want to participate in paying off the debts incurred as a result of the French and Indian War which ended in 1763. According to this interpretation, the colonists wanted to enjoy the benefits of being part of the British Empire while maintaining political independence. In other words, the colonists were selfish.

Although there is merit to both points of view, it should be remembered that Britain had fought, not just in North America between 1754 to 1763 but in Europe as well.(The Seven Years War). The debts were huge. The government of the crown felt the colonists should participate in settling some of these financial obligations.

Not every colonist sided with the "Patriots." There were many colonial loyalists, ( those supportive of the government in England) thousands of whom were severely persecuted and had to flee to Canada. There were many colonists who were basically neutral.

There is argument on both sides of the issue.

This song reflects both points of view, but tends toward the newer, revisionist interpretation.


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