The Colonists Rise in Arms

The discovery of America resulted from the break-up of the feudal system, the rise of the nation, the revival of commerce, and the search for the trade routes to the riches of the East. Later, the long process of the English colonization of the New World was motivated by the desire for economic opportunity.

Colonies existed to produce essential raw materials cheaply, to provide an unlimited market for manufacturing goods, and to offer a minimum of economic competition. Competition by the colonists was nearly eliminated through laws such as the Woolens Act (1699), the Hat Act (1732), and the Iron Act (1750), which prohibited or limited local efforts at manufacturing.

For long decades before the conclusion of the French and British were too immersed in bitter rivalry with France to enforce their restrictive legislation. With the defeat of France, however, the British were able to turn their full attention to strict enforcement of colonial policy. The Sugar Act (1764), the Stamp Act (1765), the Tea Act (1773), and others imposed the severest restrictions upon colonial self-government.

The colonists were quick to reply. Americans more and more frequently joined together to oppose imperial measures, and after British soldiers had fired into Boston people popular resentment increased tremendously. The first Continental Congress that met in Philadelphia in September, 1774 marked the growing sentiment for independence. The War for Independence began in 1775.

Tom Paine`s enormously popular and influential pamphlet ‘’Common Sense’’, published in January, 1776, helped solidify Americans` rebellious spirits.

In July, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted Thomas Jefferson`s draft of the Declaration of Independence.

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