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The Revolution and Declaration of Independence

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Why did they come?

  • Religious freedom, economic opportunity, be part of a great adventure

Why were they loyal to England?

  • Common heritage with the British--ancestors, history, traditions
  • Virtual representation--expected to be treated fairly by Parliament
  • Unsecure boundaries--France on the West and North, Spain on the South, Indians all around

How were they different from the English in Europe?

  • More optimistic and opportunity-seeking
  • More self-sufficient--more rural lifestyle, fewer rules, Calvinistic viewpoint

"Loose" Government

  • Generally lax enforcement--British mainly involved in trade issues
  • Weak British leaders
    • Many of questionable ability
    • Little local support
    • Legislatures determined salaries of British governors

Seven Year War

  • Started because French built forts in the West
  • Resulted in a British victory--French ceded Western land and Spanish ceded Southern land
  • Consequences of the war
    • Secure boundaries
    • English debt from the war
    • Bad feeling because of lack of colony financial support
    • Increased contact with British soldiers caused bad feelings
  • British Response
    • Increased standing army
    • Westward expansion by colonists prohibited
    • Revenue measures
      • Sugar Act--Tax on sugar imported from countries other than Britain--to raise revenue and channel trade
      • Stamp Act--Stamps required on printed materials.
    • Measures repealed, but Parliament asserted the right to tax anything

Other Provocations

  • Townshend Acts
    • Import taxes on paper, tea, and glass--even those imported from Britain
    • Dissolved NY Legislature--because of opposition to quartering
    • Used Vice Admiralty Courts--courts without juries
  • Tea Act
    • Gave the East India Tea Company a monopoly. Also, it reiterated the right of Parliament to tax
    • Resulted in the Tea party
  • Intolerable Acts
    • Closed Boston port
    • Altered Mass. Charter
    • More troops kept in the colonies

Towards Freedom

  • 1st Continental Congress--to plan resistance. Proposed to boycott trade with Britain
  • 2nd Continental Congress--already at war. Committee formed to write a document. Jefferson asked to write a draft.

Declaration of Independence


When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Declaration of Rights -- these ideas relied on the writing of others, including John Locke

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes;


The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.

The “Dirty Deeds”

  • Refused his Assent (consent) to laws
  • Dissolved legislatures
  • Prevented expansion
  • Standing armies
  • Cut off trade
  • Taxes w/o consent
  • No trial by jury
  • Abolished charters
  • Promoted domestic insurrection--of African Americans

Failed Appeals

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms. Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Declare Independence

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare. That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown.

The Significance of Declaration of Independance

  • Announce formal separation from Britain
  • Convince colonists--only 1/3 clearly supported independence
  • Convince other nations to support
  • State basic principles/common values
  • Represented a transition point and attack on old ideas
Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . factpetersen. (2007, October 12). The Revolution and Declaration of Independence. Retrieved January 08, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License