Honors US History C Period
October 12, 2012
The thirteen British colonies where established by British citizens searching for new economic and social opportunities. Economically, the British were searching for new land, due to the scarcity of land in England from the recent population growth. Colonists were also searching for new economic opportunities that they could not find in Great Britain due to the recent European wars. Socially, many colonists did not agree with the recently established Anglican Church, and went to the colonies to practice their own religion freely. For whatever reasons the colonist departed, when in the new world, they established their own colonies and order without the assistance of the British government. The British government went against their very constitution by ruling the colonist when they could better rule themselves, taking away the colonist property, housing troops in the colonist homes, and taxing the colonist without their direct representation in parliament. The British created a British monopoly on tea harming the colonist economy, and arbitrarily ruling the British colonist. It is no wonder the colonist rebelled against Great Britain for their independence.
In the beginning, America was conquered and settled by British citizens “at the expense of individuals, and not of the British public.” (Jefferson 119) Individual citizens of Britain risked their lives to settle in the new world to be “free inhabitants of the British dominions in Europe,” (Jefferson, 119) searching for new opportunities for themselves in which they could separate themselves from British practices and create their own laws to “promote public happiness.” They did not go to the new world for the benefit of the British government or public. For instance, the puritans came to the new world to separate themselves from the Anglican Church. Also, No money was ever given by the king of England for the improvement of colonial life until recently,” (Jefferson, 119) after the colonies had become established on a firm and permanent footing,” giving income to the British Empire. The English colonies were truly appreciative of the aid given to them by the British during the French and Indian war however; this aid does not grant parliament the “title to authority” that they have taken over the colonies. Parliament has imposed their own taxes and laws among the British colonies when in the past they have been neglected. To establish these laws, they have “160,000 tyrants” make colonial decisions overseas. The British colonist should rightfully be granted the freedom from the British Empire that they sought in creating the thirteen British colonies.
According to the British constitution, the “supreme national legislative cannot be altered justly nor… a subordinate legislative taken away without forfeiture of other good Causes.” (James Otis, 96) In other words, National law, or the subordinate government that runs the colonies, cannot be taken away from the colonies without a good reason. The British broke their constitution during and after the French and Indian war. During the French and Indian war, along with supporting the colonial army, the British took away the subordinate rule of the colonist by forcing them to enlist in the army, forcing local farmers and tradesmen to supply the army with supplies, and forcing the colonist to offer shelter to the British troops. The parliament then went on to more powerfully ensure jurisdiction on the colonies by placing taxes, a subordinate power, among the colonies, and controlling colonial trade by placing upon them the British currency. Parliament broke the constitution because they overtook the subordinate power of the colonies when the colonies had “become so large and numerous” and have been able to “maintain provincial government, civil and military, among themselves.” (James Otis, 96) As British citizens, colonist should have “equitable rights” by being considered under the British constitution and therefore being able to make lawful decisions for their lives under subordinate ruling.
The British constitution continues to state, “The supreme power can not take away from any man any part of his property.” (James Otis, 96) By placing taxes upon the colonist without their consent, and by forcing them to house the “obnoxious” (Dulany, 103) British soldiers in their homes during the quartering act even after the war with France was over and the soldiers where no longer needed, parliament takes away a man’s “property” without his consent, taking away his constitutional right. “To give property, not belonging to the giver (parliament), and without the consent of the owner (colonist) is such evident and flagrant injustice.” (Dulany, 103). It is unreasonable and against the British constitution for “the people of Great Britain, to grant his majesty the property (money) of the colonies.” (James Otis, 96) Many colonists including James Otis feel strongly about this. James Otis goes on to say that taking property without my consent “deprives me of my liberties and makes me a slave.” (James Otis, 97).
Along with the confiscation of the citizen’s property, parliament also taxed the colonist without giving them a voice in parliament. According to the constitution of Britian, “No legislative supreme or subordinate has a right to make itself arbitrary.” The British government should have nonarbitrary laws by allowing those with “known settled rules” (James Otis, 96) of the colonies and “authorized independent judges” (James Otis, 96) represent the colonies in parliament. Rather than having qualified representation in parliament, the colonies are represented by random English members that have never set foot in the colonies nor understand the needs of the colonists, causing them to make arbitrary and invalid decisions for the colonies. By taking away the colonial citizens “privilege common to all British subjects” of being taxed with their own consent, given by their own representatives” (Congress, 105), parliament has made their ruling arbitrary. By having these invalid representatives place taxes on the colonist, such as in the case of the tea act of 1773, and several other acts, the courts have “extended their jurisdiction” well beyond it’s “ancient (constitutional) limits.”
One of the most apposed taxes created by the British parliament was the Tea act of 1773. At the time, the East Indian monopoly had gotten itself into a huge debt. This became a problem for the British government because this company provided thousands of British workers with jobs and boosted the British economy. If this company closed due to bankruptcy, the British economy would plummet and thousands would become unemployed. To prevent this from happening, the British brought the East Indian Company tea to the colonies and sold the tea at a price well under the customary price. This eliminated the colonial merchants, the local business; from the tea market because the merchants small businesses could not compete with the largely reduced rates of the East Indian Company. It brought injustice because the colonial economy and merchants should not have to suffer in order to make up for the mistakes of a British company that did not concern them. The colonist showed their displeasure towards this act through rebellion by boycotting, and in violence, such as during the Boston Tea party. Hewest R.T. George, who participated in this event, describes that the colonist dressed themselves in “the costume of an Indian.” They boarded three ships and “in about three hours from the time we went on board, we had this broken and thrown overboard every tea chest to be found in the ship.” “Not an attempt was made to resist” (Hewes R.T. George, 115) them.
The British government poses their “absolute” rule among the British colonies, such as when imposing the British Tea act of 1773, but how absolute is the British rule? According to James Otis, “To say parliament is absolute and arbitrary is a contradiction.” (James Otis, 97) In order for a government to be absolute, it must first follow God’s “natural rights,” then create it’s own set of rights that are still coherent to those of God’s. The “Supreme power in a state belongs to God alone.” Parliament does not have the power to rise above God’s “natural laws” and create their own set of rights. They have the right to enforce god’s “natural laws” but cannot make “2 and 2, 5.” (James Otis, 97) By deciding that the basic rights of two citizens are different, and giving one citizen representation in the government and the other none, is arbitrary, and “contrary to eternal truth, equity, and justice,” some of God’s “natural laws,” making them not absolute.
The British government repeatedly breaks their constitution in the manner in which they choose to rule the British colonies throughout history by ruling colonist when they could better rule themselves, taking away the colonist property, housing troops in the colonist homes, and taxing the colonist without their direct representation in parliament. They oppress the colonial citizens rights in ruling themselves, and rule them as an oversee empire. The parliament ruling the colonist had never visited the colonies and therefore did not recognize the decisions that where most profitable to the colonies. Rather than profiting the colonies in their rule, the British ruled the colonies in a selfish manner that only benefited themselves, such as in the case of the many taxes including the Tea act of 1763. If the British government was more careful in the way they ruled the colonist and did not ignore their pleads for more governmental representation or freedom, it is unlikely that the American revolution would have ever occurred.