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Road To Revoltion Essay

1877 words - 8 pages

On the morning of August 14, 1765 - to protest the Stamp Act, a law obligating Americans to purchase special stamped paper for newspapers and many legal forms - a Boston crowd hanged an effigy of the city's stamp collector, Andrew Oliver, from a tree. When the official failed to resign his position immediately, the mob demolished the stamp collector's warehouse at the city dock, tearing it apart board by board. The crowd then beheaded the effigy and "stamped" it to pieces. After giving the stamp collector time to flee, they ransacked Oliver's house, shattering the windows and smashing the furniture. Three days later, a second house was wrecked in Newport, Rhode Island, after the local stamp ...view middle of the document...

The age of revolution culminated with the Latin American wars of independence. In 1790, five European countries--Britain, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain, controlled all of Latin America. But in 1821, Mexico won its independence from Spain, and two years later Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua broke away from Mexico. In South America during the 1820s, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela won their freedom from Spanish rule.

So, the American Revolution was not an isolated event. Despite many significant differences, the popular protests and upheavals of the age of revolution reflected certain common ideals and aspirations that had been unleashed by the American and French revolutions. Unifying all of these revolutions was a shared political language invoking such potent terms as constitutional rights, the sovereignty of the people, and the consent of the governed.

Few in Britain or its colonies could have imagined in 1763 that a war for independence would erupt within a dozen year. The American colonists had a long history of squabbling with one another, and, before 1765, relations among the colonists were much more quarrelsome than their relations with Great Britain.

Rapid population growth within the colonies was a source of many intercolonial disputes, including conflicts over colonial boundaries. New York clashed with Connecticut and Massachusetts; Pennsylvania with Connecticut and Virginia; and New York and New Hampshire over claims to present-day Vermont.

Westerners and easterners within individual colonies also fought over issues of representation, taxation, Indian policy, and the slow establishment of governmental institutions in frontier areas. In 1764, the Paxton Boys, a group of Scotch-Irish frontier settlers from western Pennsylvania, marched on Philadelphia, and only withdrew after they were promised a greater representation in the Quaker-dominated provincial assembly and greater protection against Indians. In the late 1760s in backcountry South Carolina, where local government was largely non-existent, frontier settlers organized themselves into vigilante groups known as Regulators to maintain order. Only extension of a new court system into the backcountry kept the Regulators from attacking Charleston. In North Carolina, in the early 1770s, the eastern militia had to suppress conflict in the backcountry, where settlers complained about underrepresentation in the colonial assembly, high taxes, exorbitant legal fees, and manipulation of debt laws by lawyers, merchants, and officials backed by eastern planters.

These regional conflicts often coincided with ethnic lines. Many backwoods residents were Scotch-Irish or German in descent, and they deeply resented the Anglo-American establishment of the more settled parts of the colonies. Conflict also surged periodically in areas where wealthy proprietors owned substantial amounts of land. In eastern New...

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