Paul Revere, Landing the the Troops, c. 1770. Courtesy American Antiquarian Society. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 international (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

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I. Introduction

In the 1760s, Benjamin Rush, a native of Philadelphia, recounted a visit to Parliament. Upon see the king’s throne in the home of Lords, Rush stated he “felt together if he walked on sacred ground” through “emotions that i cannot describe.”1 transparent the eighteenth century, colonists had developed significant emotional ties through both the brother monarchy and also the brothers constitution. The British phibìc American colonists had just assisted to success a world war and most, like Rush, had never been more proud to it is in British. And also yet, in a tiny over a decade, those same colonists would declare their independence and break far from the british Empire. Watched from 1763, naught would have actually seemed together improbable as the American Revolution.

The change built institutions and codified the language and ideas that still specify Americans’ image of themselves. Moreover, revolutionaries justified your new country with radical new ideals that changed the food of background and sparked a global “age the revolution.” but the revolution was together paradoxical as it to be unpredictable. A change fought in the surname of liberty enabled slavery come persist. Resistance to central authority tied disparate colonies ever closer together under new governments. The change created politicians eager to foster republican selflessness and also protect the public an excellent but also encouraged individual self-interest and an individual gain. The “founding fathers” instigated and fought a transformation to secure freedom from Britain, yet they did no fight that transformation to produce a “democracy.” To effectively rebel against Britain, however, required more than a couple of dozen “founding fathers.” Common colonists joined the fight, unleashing renowned forces that shaped the transformation itself, frequently in ways not welcomed by elite leaders. However once unleashed, these popular forces ongoing to form the new nation and without doubt the rest of American history.


II. The beginnings of the American Revolution

The American revolution had both permanent origins and also short-term causes. In this section, we will certainly look generally at some of the long-term political, intellectual, cultural, and economic advancements in the eighteenth century that set the context for the dilemm of the 1760s and 1770s.

Between the Glorious change of 1688 and the center of the eighteenth century, Britain had largely fail to define the colonies’ partnership to the empire and also institute a meaningful program of imperial reform. 2 factors added to this failures. First, Britain was at battle from the war of the Spanish succession at the start of the century through the 7 Years’ battle in 1763. Consistent war was politically consuming and also economically expensive. Second, competing visions the empire split British officials. Old Whigs and also their Tory pendant envisioned one authoritarian empire, based upon conquering territory and extracting resources. They sought to get rid of Britain’s farming national debt by elevating taxes and also cutting security on the colonies. The radical (or patriot) Whigs based their imperial vision ~ above trade and manufacturing rather of land and also resources. They argued that economic growth, not elevating taxes, would fix the national debt. Instead of an authoritarian empire, “patriot Whigs” argued that the nests should have actually equal status with the mother country. There were occasional do the efforts to revolutionary the administration of the colonies, however debate between the two sides prevented coherent reform.2

Colonists arisen their own expertise of how they fit into the empire. They witnessed themselves as British subjects “entitled to every the natural, essential, inherent, and inseparable rights of our other subjects in Great-Britain.” The eighteenth century brought far-ranging economic and also demographic development in the colonies. This success, castle believed, resulted partly from Britain’s hands-off technique to the colonies, strategy that has been called salutary neglect. By midcentury, colonists believed that they hosted a special location in the empire, which justified Britain’s hands-off policy. In 1764, James Otis Jr. Wrote, “The colonists are entitled to as ample rights, liberties, and privileges as the subjects of the mother nation are, and in some respects to more.”3

In this exact same period, the colonies arisen their own neighborhood political institutions. Samuel Adams, in the Boston Gazette, described the swarms as every being a “separate body politic” native Britain. Virtually immediately upon every colony’s settlement, they developed a early american assembly. This assemblies assumed many of the exact same duties together the Commons worked out in Britain, consisting of taxing residents, managing the safety of the colonies’ revenue, and also granting wages to royal officials. In the beforehand 1700s, early american leaders unsuccessfully lobbied the British federal government to specify their assemblies’ legit prerogatives, but Britain was too inhabited with europe wars. In the very first half the the eighteenth century, imperial governors tasked by the board of profession attempted to border the strength of the assemblies, however the assemblies’ power only grew. Plenty of colonists came to see their assemblies as having actually the exact same jurisdiction over them the Parliament exercised over those in England. They taken British inaction together justifying their tradition of regional governance. The Crown and also Parliament, however, disagreed.4

Political culture in the colonies also developed differently than the of the mommy country. In both Britain and also the colonies, land to be the key to political participation, but because land was more easily obtained in the colonies, a greater proportion the male colonists participated in politics. Early american political culture drew impetus from the “country” party in Britain. This ideas—generally referred to as the ideology of republicanism—stressed the corrupting nature the power and also the need for those connected in self-governing come be virtuous (i.e., placing the “public good” over their very own self-interest). Patriots would have to be ever before vigilant against the climb of conspiracies, centralized control, and also tyranny. Just a small fringe in Britain held these ideas, but in the colonies, lock were extensively accepted.5

In the 1740s, two seemingly conflicting body of thought—the Enlightenment and also the great Awakening—began to incorporate in the nests and challenge older ideas about authority. Perhaps no solitary philosopher had a greater influence on early american thinking than John Locke. In his Essay worrying Human Understanding, Locke said that the mind was originally a tabula rasa (or blank slate) and that people were formed primarily by your environment. The aristocracy climate were wealthy or successful due to the fact that they had greater access to wealth, education, and patronage and not due to the fact that they were innately superior. Locke followed this essay with Some Thoughts worrying Education, which introduced radical brand-new ideas about the importance of education. Education would develop rational human beings capable of reasoning for themselves and also questioning authority fairly than tacitly agree tradition. These ideas slowly involved have far-reaching effects in the nests and, later, the new nation.

At the exact same time that Locke’s ideas about knowledge and also education spread in north America, the colonies also experienced an extraordinary wave the evangelical good news revivalism. In between 1739 and 1740, the Rev. George Whitefield, one enigmatic, itinerant preacher, traveled the swarms preaching Calvinist sermons to large crowds. Uneven the rationalism the Locke, his sermons to be designed to appeal to his listeners’ emotions. Whitefield said his listeners that salvation might only be found by taking an individual responsibility because that one’s very own unmediated partnership with God, a process that became known as a “conversion” experience. He additionally argued that the present Church hierarchies inhabited by “unconverted” ministers just stood as a barrier between the individual and God. In his wake, new traveling preachers picked up his message and many congregations split. Both Locke and Whitefield had actually empowered individuals to inquiry authority and also to take your lives into their very own hands.

In various other ways, eighteenth-century homesteaders were becoming more culturally similar to Britons, a procedure often referred to as Anglicization. As early american economies grew, they quickly became an essential market because that British production exports. Colonists with disposable revenue and access to British sectors attempted come mimic brothers culture. Through the center of the eighteenth century, middling-class homesteaders could additionally afford items previously thought of together luxuries choose British fashions, dining wares, and more. The desire to purchase British products meshed through the desire to gain British liberties.6 these political, intellectual, cultural, and also economic advancements built tensions that increased to the surface ar when, ~ the 7 Years’ War, brothers finally began to perform a regimen of imperial reform that conflicted v colonists’ expertise of the empire and also their ar in it.

III. The reasons of the American Revolution

Most immediately, the American transformation resulted straight from attempts to reform the British realm after the 7 Years’ War. The 7 Years’ battle culminated virtually a half century of war in between Europe’s imperial powers. It was truly a human being war, fought between multiple realms on many continents. At its conclusion, the British empire had never ever been larger. Britain now regulated the phibìc American continent eastern of the Mississippi River, consisting of French Canada. That had likewise consolidated its control over India. But the realities and responsibilities the the postwar realm were daunting. Battle (let alone victory) on together a scale was costly. Britain doubled the national debt to 13.5 times its yearly revenue. Britain faced significant new prices required come secure and also defend that is far-flung empire, specifically the west frontiers of the phibìc American colonies. These components led brothers in the 1760s to attempt to consolidate control over its phibìc American colonies, which, in turn, led to resistance.

King George III took the crown in 1760 and brought Tories into his federal government after three decades of Whig rule. They stood for an authoritarian vision of empire in which nests would be subordinate. The royal Proclamation of 1763 was Britain’s very first major postwar imperial activity targeting north America. The king forbade negotiation west the the Appalachian hills in an effort to limit costly wars with indigenous Americans. Colonists, however, protested and also demanded access to the are for which castle had fought alongside the British.

In 1764, conference passed two an ext reforms. The street Act sought to combat extensive smuggling the molasses in brand-new England by cutting the duty in fifty percent but raising enforcement. Also, smugglers would be make the efforts by vice-admiralty courts and not juries. Parliament also passed the currency Act, which minimal colonies native producing record money. Tough money, such together gold and also silver coins, to be scarce in the colonies. The lack of money impeded the colonies’ increasingly sophisticated transatlantic economies, yet it was specifically damaging in 1764 due to the fact that a postwar recession had currently begun. In between the limitations of the Proclamation the 1763, the currency Act, and also the sugar Act’s canceling of trials-by-jury because that smugglers, some colonists began to fear a sample of enhanced taxation and limited liberties.

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In march 1765, conference passed the rubber stamp Act. The act forced that plenty of documents be printed on file that had been stamped to show the duty had actually been paid, including newspapers, pamphlets, diplomas, legal documents, and even play cards. The sugar Act of 1764 was an attempt to gain merchants to pay an currently existing duty, however the rubber stamp Act created a new, direct (or “internal”) tax. Parliament had actually never before directly taxation the colonists. Instead, colonies contributed to the realm through the payment of indirect, “external” taxes, together as custom-mades duties. In 1765, Daniel Dulany that Maryland wrote, “A right to impose an inner tax ~ above the colonies, without your consent for the solitary purpose of revenue, is denied, a best to manage their trade without your consent is, admitted.”7 Also, uneven the sugar Act, i m sorry primarily influenced merchants, the stamp Act directly influenced numerous groups throughout colonial society, consisting of printers, lawyers, college graduates, and also even seafarers who played cards. This led, in part, come broader, much more popular resistance.

Resistance come the stamp Act took 3 forms, distinguished largely through class: legislature resistance by elites, economic resistance by merchants, and popular protest by common colonists. Early american elites comment by passing resolutions in their assemblies. The most well known of the anti-Stamp action resolutions were the Virginia Resolves, happen by the house of Burgesses on might 30, 1765, which declared that the homesteaders were entitled to “all the liberties, privileges, franchises, and immunities . . . Possessed by the world of an excellent Britain.” when the Virginia Resolves were printed throughout the colonies, however, they often contained a couple of extra, far an ext radical resolutions not passed by the Virginia residence of Burgesses, the critical of which check that just “the basic assembly that this colony have any right or power to i charged or lay any kind of taxation” and also that everyone who argued differently “shall be considered an adversary to this his majesty’s colony.”8 These added items spread out throughout the colonies and helped radicalize succeeding responses in other early american assemblies. This responses eventually led come the call of the stamp Act conference in new York City in October 1765. Nine nests sent delegates, who included Benjamin Franklin, man Dickinson, thomas Hutchinson, Philip Livingston, and also James Otis.9