The American Revolution

By the early 1760s the Americans had attained de facto independence from Britain. But the British were facing financial difficulties, having amassed an enormous debt fighting the French and Indian War. Consequently, England increased taxes on the colonists, seeking to make up the shortfall. Contrary to the conventional teaching, the colonists were not radicals seeking a revolution. They were British loyalists-they prided themselves in being English-whom the British had backed into a corner through ever-increasing taxes and infringements on their rights as Englishmen. M. Stanton Evans has pointed out that the British infringements on the colonists' rights were radical in terms of the "colonists' long-accustomed, and highly cherished, way of doing things." Evans wrote, "The new imperial program included three major tax bills, draconian restraints on trade," and the suspension of jury trials and colonial legislative powers. "The British also moved to close off the Western spaces to immigration from coastal regions and install an Anglican bishopric in New England-the very thing the Puritans had fled the homeland to avoid."

As for the increased taxes, the new British measures were a departure from their previous practice, which was to use taxes primarily as a tool to regulate trade. The new duties were for the express purpose of raising revenue. The British even admitted they were adopting a new structure of taxation. British statesman Edmund Burke, defending the American position, said,

M. Stanton Evans, The Theme is Freedom, Religion, Politics, and the American Tradition (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, Inc. 1994), 275. Constitutional scholar George Goldberg says that six of these states still had established churches at the time of the Constitutional Convention.

"Leave the Americans as they anciently stood Do not burthen them with taxes; you were not used to do so from the beginning. Let this be your reason for not taxing." It was thus the British who were implementing radical, "revolutionary" changes. They claimed absolute authority over the colonists, who rejected the notion that any earthly authority could acquire unlimited sovereignty." The colonists didn't seek to overthrow the British government but rather to attain independence for themselves in America, after having exhausted all other options with the British. They were adherents to the rule of law and strikingly more traditionalist than the British.

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