Causes of the American Revolution

In the beginning, the colonies were proud to be British. But when King George III needed to raise money to pay off his war debt, he imposed taxes on the colonies without their agreement.

The colonists did not like being taxed for things that they had been getting for free. They immediately began a boycott of British goods. King George sent soldiers across the Atlantic to make sure the colonies were behaving.

Soon, a young ship owner brought over a ship full of taxed tea from Britain. The colonists decided they would not allow the tea to be brought ashore. A group of them, dressed as American Indians, boarded the ship at night and threw the tea overboard into the harbor, ruining it. This event is known as the Boston Tea Party.

In response to the Boston Tea Party, the king imposed the “Intolerable Acts”:

  • The Boston Port Act, closing the port of Boston until the destroyed tea was paid for
  • The Massachusetts Government Act, putting the local government under direct British control
  • The Administration of Justice Act, allowing royal officials to be tried in Britain if the king felt it necessary
  • The Quartering Act, ordering the colonies to provide housing for British soldiers
  • The Quebec Act, expanding British territory in Canada and guaranteeing the free practice of Roman Catholicism

In response to the Intolerable Acts, the colonies held the First Continental Congress. 55 delegates representing 12 of the 13 colonies discussed the possibility of separating from Britain.

The colonists began collecting arms for a possible battle with the British army. It came soon enough. The first shots were at the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

The Continental Congress met again to attempt peace. They sent the Olive Branch Petition to King George declaring their loyalty. When it reached the King, he pushed it aside without reading it. Instead, he threatened that they would all hang for their defiance of the crown.

This united the colonies. They adopted the Declaration of Independence, which led to a full War of Independence with Britain.

Source: Causes of the American Revolution
© Revolutionary War 2010-2020

Back to top