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The American Revolution: A Last Resort To A Liberalist Ideology

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Liberalism was a fundamental ideology of the colonists that became a principle catalyst for the American Revolution. Guided by years of financial and cultural independence and stability, the American colonists were becoming increasingly distinct from their English counterparts thousands of miles across the sea. With the English empire struggling to maintain dominance over the colonies, it was merely a matter of time before the colonists pursued a government on the basis of individual liberty.

Liberalism had a heritage that stemmed from the eighteenth century movement of the Enlightenment. With reason as a way to major reform, philosophers like John Locke took this principle and applied it to ideas of a limited government with greater rights for the common people. In Two Treatises of Government, John Locke stated, “Man in the state of Nature be so free, as has been said; if he be absolute Lord of his own Person and Possessions, equal to the greatest and subject to no Body”. Locke claimed that people should work to change their government if they are not free under a limited monarchy. Other documents, such as the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen”, defining reasons for the French Revolution, were parallel models in which American colonists found doctrine for their own natural rights. The English crown claimed to rule with Divine Right and God put kings on the thrown. Voltaire, another Enlightenment writer stated that the government should be run by Natural Law instead of Gods Law. Writers, John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon, supported the idea of these natural rights and that the people should protect their liberties.

The English empire during the mid-seventeenth century faced political strife at home and armed conflict abroad with the French and Indian War. With England’s focus not on their colonies, the people in America were able to concentrate on building their own image and precedence in trade. England then instituted the Writs of Assistance as a way of ridding the colonists’ right of free trade with foreign colonies. Consequently, there was a sudden rise of taxation due to the war, and England looked at their colonies in America as a source of revenue. England saw the colonies merely as an extension of their power and taxed them in spite of their assistance in the war that ultimately led to England’s victory. Originally targeting the illegally smuggled goods with the Revenue Act, England then created the Stamp Act in 1765 order to tax all paper products. Anything from newspapers to letters was taxed and Stamp Act affected everyone. The colonists convened the Stamp Act Congress and concluded that if they were Englishmen, the colonists did not want to taxation without representation in England’s Parliament. The colonists were beginning to realize that their individual rights were being suppressed and, as a result of this tyranny, taxed



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