The American Revolution marked the establishment of the United States as a country independent from the British Empire. However, there were both opponents and proponents of the revolution. For this paper, the author analyzed several primary sources, including the three images—“Boston Massacre,” “Bostonians Paying the Excise-Man,” and a stamp. Additionally, the author uses the essays by Soame Jenyns, Samuel Johnson, and James Ottis. This paper will present a discussion of the origins of the American Revolution and the views of the opposing sides.
The main arguments of the supporters of the American Revolution were the need to be independent from the empire since, formally, the colonies did not have representatives in the empire’s parliament. However, the empire wanted to tax the American colonies, which the British parliament declared with the Stamp Act of 1765. This act was later terminated due to the unrest and disagreement. Later on, the Emire passed several other legislations, including the Townshend Acts in 1767. These targeted the freedoms of the American colonies and aimed to ensure that the empire has loyal government representatives in America by raising their salaries.
The essays written during the 1760s offer an outlook on the issues that the opposers of the British taxation and rule voiced. For example, in The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved, James Otis states that “a state has no right to make slaves of the conquered.” Otis notes that even a representative in the parliament is not enough to make fair judgments about the taxes that should be imposed on the colonies. Moreover, the legislative power should be held by people who live in the colonies among the people since they can make correct judgments about the required issues and legislation. Hence, in his essay, Ottis declares the main arguments that led to the revolution. The British Empire wanted to pass laws that would restrict freedoms in America without having a cohesive understanding of what was happening in their colony.
The primary argumentation of the opposers of this revolution was that the empire had a legal right to impose legislations and collect taxes from their lands. For example, in his pamphlet, Soame Jenyns argues that the parliament has the authority and power to impose tariffs without consulting the representatives from America in The Objections to the Taxation Consider’d. Jenyns believes that no taxation can be equal and fair, and since the parliament can decide on the taxes in Britain, there is no question about their power to impose taxes on their American colonies as well.
Next, in “Taxation no Tyranny,” Samuel Johnson states that every community has the right to request contributions from its members. These were necessary to support the prosperity of the public and their safety and, therefore, should not be disputed. Notably, each side perceived their position as correct. For instance, the supporters of the revolution believed that they had the right to take part in the discussion of legislation, which would impact their lands. The Loyalists, however, perceived the legislative power of the empire as ultimate and did not see a justification for why America should be treated differently from other colonies or the empire itself.
The stamp refers to the Stamp Act of 1765 passed by the British Empire. This stamp features a scull, which often symbolizes death. In essence, before 1765, the colonies in America had the freedom to manage their internal affairs without being intervened by the British legislators. This act required the colonies to pay taxes to the empire, and many colonies disagreed. After this, the protests against colonial rule and taxation began. The representatives of the American Colonies gathered for the Stamp Congress in New York to discuss this legislation.
The Boston Massacre poster is a direct representation of the events that happened in 1770. The poster shows the British soldiers attacking the citizens with rifles. This event was preceded by the British Empire passing several legal acts in 1767. Among the legislations, the empire established the president that it could impose taxes on the colonies. Additionally, there were some legislations specifically targeting the state of New York due to its non-compliance with the legislation that required providing housing and food for the British soldiers. These legal acts met resistance from the colonies, which caused unrest. As a result, the mob attacked the empire’s soldiers, and the latter responded with fire. The Thirteen Colonies used this image as propaganda against the British Empire since this image shows the British soldiers attacking American citizens. This event, followed by the Boston Tea Party, contributed significantly to the American Revolution.
The Bostonians Paying the Excise-Man poster shows a man in feathers being held by others and tea poured down his throat. Tarring and feathering was a common form of public punishment at the time of the revolution. The Boston Tea Party was the event that preceded this image. During this gathering, the ships carrying the tea, which belonged to the Britsh, were destroyed. This protest was an opposition to the Tea Act, which allowed the empire to sell tea in America with no taxes. This difference in treatment for the tea sold by the British and Americans would create unfair competition and discredit the American merchants. However, the British Parliament did not want to retreat and passed the Port Act. According to it, all shipments to Boston should have been discontinued. Hence, the image shows the British representatives punishing the Americans for their protests, and the tea is the symbol that represents the cause of this punitive action. The following year, the empire passed several acts referred to as the Intolerable Acts, significantly restricting the freedoms of their colony, which twelve colonies asked to repeal with their Petition to the King.
These events support the growth of America’s independence since the representatives of the colonies and public figures openly opposed the rule of the British Empire. While at first, the issue was the taxation and representation in the parliament, the conflict developed in a war. The empire’s officials continued to pass acts that would be unfavorable for the people living in the American colonies, and these efforts met opposition. This began with the stamp that was a peaceful response to the Stamp Act. Next, the Boston Massacre, a clash between the mob and the soldiers, followed by the Boston Tea Party were less peaceful. The final event showed that the American opposition was ready to take serious action against the empire.
In summary, the leading cause of the revolution was the increasing pressure from the British Empire. The empire wanted to tax its colony, while the opposers of the revolution disagreed and wanted the colonies to have representatives in the parliament. Moreover, the conflicts continue to emerge as the British passed an act that allowed them to sell tea in America without additional taxation. The unrest led to the Boston Massacre, Boston Tea Party and eventually resulted in a war between the colony and the empire.