Why Did the Revolutionary War Start?
In order to answer the question, “Why did the revolutionary war start?”, we have to begin even further back in time. In the summer of 1747, a French expedition into their territories in the New World found that the native Indians were very friendly and actively trading with the British merchants. The leader of the expedition told the Indians and British Merchants to end their relationships and recognize French ownerships of the land. Both the native Americans and the new British Americans pretty much told them to “buzz off”!
During 1752 and 1753, the French sent Marines into “their” territory to punish British traders for not stopping their business with local Indians. Many British citizens were killed. In October of 1753, the Governor of Virginia sent Major George Washington of the Virginia militia to tell the French to leave Virginia territory.
Anyway, this disagreement over who had a right to trade in those territories evolved into the “French and Indian War” of 1954-1763. The years 1756-1753 saw it magnify into a world-wide war known as the “Seven Years War”. The British colonist and British troups fought together in this war so how did it start the Revolutionary War?
As in most things political, the answer is money! The war was extremely expensive. The British people and government felt that the American colonies should pay the bulk of the cost since the war was to protect their lands. Of course, the vast bulk of those lands were actually owned by the Crown and rich British citizens and the French never intended to harm the colonists unless they were infringing on what the French considered to be their territory. Far, far fewer than 1% of the colonists lived in those lands.
In most cases the taxes were huge and on items that the typical person of that day felt they had no choice but to buy. The three best known examples were sugar, paper, and tea. The American colonists formed a “Stamp Act Congress” that constructed a letter of protest to the British Government and actually got the tax repealed!
The long, drawn out process of getting that tax repealed, however, only made the Americans more aware of how little control they had over their lives. A government in London made all of their decisions and no colonist sat in that government. The colonists began insisting on no taxation without representation. King George and the Parliment wondered who those upstarts thought they were! To demand anything of your King was unthinkable! But, of course, it wasn’t unthinkable to the colonists. Their destruction of shiploads of Tea in Boston harbor was the last straw.
So the rulers in England and their representatives in the colonies cracked down hard on the colonists. In 1770, unarmed colonial tax protesters were shot and killed by British troops. The Intolerable Acts of 1774 pushed the colonists to their limits. The worst one was the “Administration of Justice Act” which made it easy to move a trial against any Royal official to another venue including all the way to Great Britain! George Washington called this act the “Murder Act” because it allowed British officials to do just about anything they wanted to do and then have their trial where no colonial witness could afford to go due to long travel times. About all the Intolerable Acts did was motivate the colonists to form the “First Continental Congress” to organize a protest to the acts. Of course, eventually that same Continental Congress would declare independence from Britain!
There were many other Acts including the “Boston Port Act” that closed the port of Boston until the cost of the Tea dumped at the Boston Tea Party was repaid and the “Massachusetts Bay Regulating Act” that said all law officers had to be appointed by the royal governor. Local colonial governments could no longer choose their own cops!
By the end of 1774, relations between the colonies and the British officials were almost non-existant. Britain passed laws and the colonists said no! At some point, a majority of colonists wanted a war to drive their oppressors out of the new world! It became obvious to the British that a large military force would be necessary to bring the colonists back under their control.
On April 19, 1775, Paul Revere made his famous ride to warn the people of Concord and Lexington that the “Britist Are Coming” and the Revolutionary War started with the battle of Lexington Green!
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