While it is clear that the development of a unique American political culture was instrumental in the coming of the American Revolution, it seems clear that the major influence on the development of that culture lay in the fundamental changes to British imperial policy at the time. The writings of men such as John Dickinson, which called for reconciliation with Britain as the mother country, indicated not only that many Americans at this time did not view their identity as incompatible with British citizenship, but also that American political ideas were heavily influenced by the enlightenment thought that originated not in America, but in Europe. Furthermore, the sense of discontent was not exclusive to America; it has been termed the “Age of Revolution”, as liberty and rights were becoming more important across the Western world, and political revolt was occurring in many other parts of the world.
These ideas in America were fuelled by the changes to British imperial policy which seemed to illustrate the subordination of the colonies and the denial of their liberty and rights: ideals which were fundamental to enlightenment thought. The Stamp Act, for example, was seen as violating the rights of colonials, as it addressed the needs of the British crown and elite rather than of colonials living abroad, while restriction of economic activities seen as competing with British interests – for example the Wool Act of 1699 – emphasised to the colonies that their needs were seen as subordinate rather than equal to those of the mother country. Most significant of these conflicts were those relating to taxation; the Townshend Crisis which resulted from American protest against British taxes would eventually lead to the violence of the Revolution. What these examples suggest is that it was the conjunction of British imperial policy with the importation of enlightenment ideas that fuelled the development of a distinctly American political identity, and thus initiated the Revolution.
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