capital punishment an ideology of revolution

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.


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