The American Revolution began after a long-winded period of conflict between Britain and her American colonies. The basis for this conflict began when Britain wanted the colonists to assist in fighting the French and Indian War. The taxation that Britain heavily imposed upon the colonies left them angry and fighting for the removal of the duties. Their opposition took many forms, the most successful being the political group, the Sons of Liberty. The British handled their taxation issues poorly and their response to the Boston Massacre proved unsuccessful. All the while, a growing sense of being an American was spreading through the colonies. Being a citizen of the New World was highly favoured over being an English citizen of the Old World.
Up to their knees in war debt caused by the French and Indian war, Britain decided to raise money by imposing acts on trade and navigation. The 1764 Sugar Act was the first act put into place. Revised from 1733, the act put a tax upon the arrival of sugar to the colonies. Britain lowered it to 3 pennies a gallon from the original 6, but this still wasn’t low enough. The colonists were accustomed to not paying taxes, so excuses upon excuses arose. “Such an act must be absolutely ruinous of the colonies.” - Governor Hopkins, Rhode Island. Eventually it was lowered to a pitiful 1 penny a gallon. This left Britain still in debt. Then came the 1765 Stamp Act. A stamp was placed on many paper goods such as contracts, licences and newspapers. These stamps showed that the tax on that product had been paid. The revenue from this act would go toward the troops stationed in North America. This was an internal tax, meaning that it was not an act of trade and navigation but a trade within the colony. The British were paying it in their own country, and they figured the colonists should too. The colonists made a big commotion about this tax and in 1776 the tax was repealed. The third tax was the Townshend Act in 1767. This put duties on paint, lead, paper and tea upon imports to the colonies. The British were under the impression that the colonists were opposed to the recently repealed stamp act because it was an internal tax and not an act of trade and navigation. The British were correct in assuming this, as the colonists didn’t contest the Townshend act. But this did leave the colonists unhappy.
The American colonists were opposed to Britain’s taxation and their opposition took many forms. Being a tax collector or a customs officer among the colonists proved to be a risky occupation. If caught in the streets, you would be threatened and assaulted by irritated colonists. Worst of all, some colonists would go to cruel lengths such as covering them with hot tar and proceeding to roll them in feathers. This was both humiliating and life threatening. Mobs would form in the streets, riots would break out and there were mass meetings amongst agitated colonists. A group who called themselves the Sons of Liberty were formed to boycott the British industry. Made up of businessmen and intellectuals, they weren’t just ordinary townsfolk. They would make an effort to not purchase any products made by Britain. The Sons of Liberty fought for freedom and fair treatment for the colonists. The Sons of Liberty would construct pamphlets aimed at the British. They were heavy believers in the saying, “No Taxation without Representation.” The colonists had no representatives in the British government, therefore they had not consented to any of the laws or taxes that Britain was trying to impose on them. “No Englishman can be taxed but by his own consent” was said during the stamp act by one William Goddard, a colonist. They believed that because they had not consented to the government, they had the right to rebel. Thus, this was what they did.
The Boston Massacre caused an uproar of opposition to the British being in America and this eventually led to the