From 1763, throughout the mid-1770’s an ideology of revolution began to
evolve throughout the thirteen American colonies. Many factors contributed
to the formation of this ideology including Salutary Neglect, the Boston
Massacre, and the British tax policy.
In the early 1700’s the British neglected the colonists because neglect
served the British economic interests better than strict enforcement. The
colonies prospered as did their trade with Britain, without much government
interference. But, at the end of the French and Indian war, British leaders
reevaluated their relationship with the colonies; because of conflicts between
Great Britain and the colonies during the war, ending the policy of salutary
neglect and proposing reforms and new taxes.
The war had left Great Britain deeply in debt and the British viewed
American prosperity as a resource and taxing the colonies as a means to
relieve British debt. More and more Americans were convinced that British
politicians were deliberately robbing them of their personal independence
through taxation. The Stamp Act of 1765 which required the colonists to buy
and place revenue stamps on all official legal documents, deeds, newspapers,
pamphlets, dice, and playing cards, left the colonists alarmed and the
educated colonists mounted an ideological attack on the new British policies.
The colonists believed that the Stamp Act was an attempt by Britain to seize
control of taxation from the representative colonial assemblies and to tax the
colonists without giving them representation in government; “taxation without
While confrontations over taxes and reforms were serious, the bonds
uniting the colonies and Britain were still strong. An American diplomat
declared in 1769 that the British ministry should “Repeal the laws, Renounce
the Right, Recall the troops, Refund the money, and return to the old method
of requisition.” This solution would have required parliament to renounce its
claims to sovereign power in America and was almost unthinkable given its
quest for authority. Moreover, violent acts such as the Boston Massacre, in
which soldiers fired at colonists after some boys threw ice at a sentry
guarding the Customs House; killing an African American named Crispus
Attucks and four other colonists, showed how difficult it would be to achieve
any peaceful constitutional compromise.
These main factors as well as many others, played into the hands of
those Americans who wanted independence. They saw the British as corrupt,
immoral, and power hungry and they felt they needed to take a stand against
the pattern of enslavement they saw in these actions. They did not see
themselves as radicals or revolutionaries; they were simply protecting their
way of life, their land, and their households. Thus brought about the
formation of the ideology for a revolution.