What led to the American Revolution?
Time and distance can best explain the root of the American Revolution. Over time, the colonies would grow apart from the mother country. This division would only be magnified by fundamental disagreements between the colonies and Britain.
Some significant conflicts between the two would fall under the categories of money, power, and trade.
The first category, money was a central issue of division that helped spark the American Revolution. One of the fundamental problems that arose came about the cost of war. After the war with France, the British found themselves with a massive debt. Thus, they needed to raise money while at the same time they felt that their prosperous colonies should contribute to help to pay this debt.
In short, King George III was trying to “renegotiate a better deal.” Nobody negotiated deals better than King George, believe me. Hence, his plan mainly focused on enforcing the laws that were already on the books. As King George III and Parliament would strangely find themselves at odds with trying to get the colonies to pay “their fair share.”
One could say that King George was only trying to renegotiate the original “NAFTA.”
The second category, power also a played a role in the first category. The British had long come to see the colonies in the context of their kingdom. So, it was only reasonable to assume that their rule of law would remain supreme over the colonies—as it always had. Over time, the generation of colonists was different than their predecessors—as they became “colonized.”
Hence, they too grew apart from the British way of thinking and had begun to make their own decisions. The colonists had developed a new level of freedom that would resent the British attempts to assert their dominance. For instance, when the British tried to implement taxes and take away the power to self-govern—this would be met with harsh resistance by the new generation of new world colonists.
In short order, the new generation would be clamoring for the original “Brexit.”
The third category, trade combines elements of the previous two categories, money and power. The colonies had developed their skills and business. They also had made connections to other nations and realized that mercantilism was harming their interests. For instance, they were making fewer profits while being stuck having to buy goods from the British as cheaper options were available. A lack of legal options led to opportunists establishing a lucrative black-market trade.
Of course, the British increased attempts to clamp down on illegal activity would result in further division. The American Revolution was a natural progression that stemmed from the lack of sustaining the long-distance relationship between Britain and the colonies.
It was only a matter of time that the neglected territories would seek their independence. After all, the developing new world had matured and naturally believed in their right to self-govern. Thus, the squabbles that arose around money, power, and trade—would be magnified into a conflict. In truth, the American Revolution was a mere natural progression of a developing new world.