When peaceful communication is unable to stop an act of tyranny and when the government no longer pursues the best interest of all of the citizens regardless of their socioeconomic class, ethnic background, or geographical location, then these citizens must take any action necessary to make a change in their own condition. Irrational taxation and policies intended to prevent growth for the colonists created such a need for protest. Without such actions, the individuals would leave the future generations in a scenario of exploitation and harsh, unbearable conditions. Following the Seven Years’ War, the colonists were well aware of these future implications and, without fear for their own safety, took a stand against the British Empire for the betterment of the future generations in the American colonies.
The British Empire, at the time of the following the Seven Years’ War, was considerable one of the most powerful forces across the globe. The threat of a British invasion was felt in all corners of the world. However, the colonists, being a part of the Empire, did not have to worry about such an invasion. According to scholar, Baack, the minimal taxes that were expected prior to the Seven Years’ War, were justified as a cost for this protection and inclusion to the empire. However, the power of the empire greatly increased upon the ending of the war and its assertion of that power followed suit with this increase. Imports and exports were controlled, land acquired during the war was not accessible to the colonists, trade with the Native American Indians was forbidden, paper money was not allowed, and policies that were removed were quickly replaced (Ash). In essence, for all of the peaceful measures taken by the colonists, “policies not principles had been overturned” (Baack). The powerful British Empire proved that it would not peacefully back down.
Instead, exploitation increased and the hard work of the colonists only served to increase the power of the British Empire. Researchers explain that this form of exploitation has had lasting implications for the original colonies as the economic trends have continued to remain lower with the acceptance of forced labor (Bruhn and Gallego). This means that people pass these trends down through the generations. If one generation accepts that they are too be exploited, then their children will likely follow under these same patterns and give in to the policies and principles that control their lives and prohibit their own economic growth. However, the generation of the Seven Years’ War had previously had peaceful ties with the British Empire and the dramatic increase of control was not well received. Instead, the colonists decided to take a stand against the British Empire.
Taking a stand as a small group of colonists without any legal representation in the world politics against one of the largest empires on the globe was not considered feasible by many. In fact, even today, it is questionable as to how the American colonies defeated the British Empire. Researcher, Ash, states that the full contempt for the increased control drove the colonists to make extreme decisions and to react aggressively to the taxation. Blood was shed across the colonies in response to their protests and the escalation rose until, “on March 5th, 1770, the Boston Massacre, the culmination of a series of clashes, saw eight British soldiers, pelted with ice and stones, open fire and kill five Bostonians” (Ash). Such extreme measures of protest were not necessarily the answer, but, then again, the peaceful tactics had already failed the American colonists.
Notably, these actions placed the colonists at a great risk and cost the lives of many Americans and British alike. Although it was clear that something had to be done in order to prevent a complete change from free human beings to captivated sources of free labor and revenue, much of the protests were in retaliation more so than an effort to be proactive. This is too often viewed as the case in modern protesting efforts. Rather than emphasizing the root of the issue, the protestors react violently in retaliation. This can be accounted for as the violent revolts are more romanticized in the history books than were the initial peaceful attempts at resolution. People often refer to what worked in the end and view the American colonists as the trend setters for violent protests, but this was not the message that was intended to be passed down to the modern generation. Force in protest to a policy should always come as a last resort and, if at all possible, not at all.
In closing, the protests that came as a response to the increase of British control in the American colonies was necessary in order to prevent the future generations from falling prey to a tyranny. The process began peacefully at first and then violent as the conditions of the peaceful communication were not met. While the freedoms that were gained through these actions were passed down to the future generations, sadly, the notions of peaceful communication as a form of protest did not seem to be passed down as well. Romantic visuals of the Boston Tea Party leave people with the impression that these actions were the fundamental basis for the eventual formation of the United States of America. While these freedoms allow for such extreme protests, to some extent, they were not gained with that principle in mind. Yet, the fact still remains, the colonists passed down the principle that, in order to move forward, one must first stand up.
- Ash, Thomas. “Why Did the American Colonists Revolt?” Big Issue Ground. N.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2016.
- Baack, Ben. “The Economics of the American Revolutionary War.” Economic History Association. N.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2016.
- Bruhn, Miriam, and Francisco A. Gallego. “Good, Bad, And Ugly Colonial Activities: Do They Matter For Economic Development?.” Review Of Economics & Statistics94.2 (2012): 433-461. Business Source Elite. Web. 12 Feb. 2016.