There are many Revolutionary War Causes, including a series of British acts of Parliament such as the Sugar Act, the Stamp Act and the Townsend Acts. The American colonists had become increasingly angered at their homeland over a period of many decades. The colonists became especially alarmed at British taxation programs, not only because they greatly hampered colonial economies, but also because they believed the acts of Parliament were consistently violating their rights as British citizens. This page gives a brief synopsis of each of the main events and causes of the Revolutionary War, with links to more in depth articles about each one. The articles are in chronological order so you can follow along and understand the whole timeline of events. The Revolutionary War Causes listed here go through the time of the Stamp Act, with further causes to come.
Revolutionary War Causes
Molasses Act of 1733
The Molasses Act of 1733 was one of a series of acts passed by the British Parliament meant to control colonial trade and keep all trade profits within the British Empire. The trade of molasses was central to the colonial economy and the act heavily taxed the import of French molasses in order to force the colonists to buy British molasses instead. This created a huge smuggling industry in the colonies, causing the colonists to create ingenious ways of avoiding British tax collectors and agents. The smuggling industry became so large that an entire economy, separate from British law was developing. This caused the colonists to develop a spirit of independence and self-reliance. They began to realize that they were not dependent on England to meet their needs. The first shots would not be fired for another 40 years, but the attitude that developed as a result of the Molasses Act helped pave the way to the Revolutionary War.
Proclamation of 1763
The Proclamation of 1763 was an effort of the British government to reduce conflict between the Indian population and colonial settlers in the vast new lands acquired by Great Britain at the end of the French and Indian War. It established a line down the crest of the Appalachian Mountains. British settlers were allowed to live to the east of the line, while the western side was reserved for the local Indian tribes. The Act also had other ulterior purposes, such as to confine the colonists to the coastal areas, which were easier to govern and tax and to provide a place for the sons of the wealthy and connected to serve as officers in the military. The Act only served to enflame the colonists who wanted to settle the rich new territory for themselves. Anger at this act, along with many other acts of Parliament, contributed to the colonists’ eventual rebellion which culminated in the American Revolution.
Sugar Act of 1764
The Sugar Act of 1764 was passed by the British Parliament in order to raise revenue and reduce the national debt, which had grown substantially during the French and Indian War. The Sugar Act caused great damage to the colonial economy by increasing taxes on key goods and reducing foreign markets for colonial exports. In addition, the Act ordered the British navy to strictly enforce the Act by collecting taxes on all goods, including sugar and molasses. The Sugar Act actually lowered the tax on sugar and molasses, but the colonists were used to not paying any taxes for them because of years of smuggling and lax enforcement of trade laws by local British authorities. The Sugar Act also created new admiralty courts where violators were to be tried without the benefit of having a trial by jury. Colonists saw this as a violation of their rights as British citizens. As a result of all this, alarm began to spread through the colonies and the first signs of rioting and rebellion began to appear.
Currency Act of 1764
The Currency Act of 1764 was passed by Parliament to help them gain control over the colonial banking system which was in disarray because of an economic slump after the French and Indian War and many different printings of colonial currency. Any given bill might be worth something in Pennsylvania and nothing in Massachusetts. British merchants were reluctant to trade with the colonists because of the fluctuating values of these currencies. The worst result of the Act was the psychological impact it had on the colonists who realized control of their financial system was being completely removed from their own control and placed in the hands of Parliament. More and more colonists believed that they were being forced to lay down their own needs and rights for the interests of merchants and bankers back in England. The Act created great anger toward Parliament in the colonies and, along with a series of acts of Parliament, eventually led to the American Revolution.
Stamp Act of 1765
The Stamp Act of 1765 was the flashpoint that caused the growing anger of the colonists to finally cross over into full grown violence and rebellion against Great Britain. Parliament had been enacting a series of regulations and taxes and this one finally pushed them over the top. The Stamp Act placed a small tax on all kinds of paper goods such as contracts, diplomas, newspapers, almanacs, deeds, warrants, shipping bills, calendars, etc. Nearly everyone was affected by the tax. The reason for the anger was that this was Parliament's first attempt to tax the colonists for daily transactions apart from international trade. Colonists saw this as squarely illegal because it violated their right as British citizens to only be taxed by their elected officials... and they had no elected officials in Parliament! They saw this as an atrocity and as stealing their right to govern themselves. The outbreak of violence and intimidation led all the stamp distributors to resign their positions and Parliament to eventually repeal the Act. Many more articles about various Revolutionary War Causes, such as the Declaratory Act, the Townshend Acts and the Coercive Acts, as well as various important groups and individuals associated with these events, are being prepared. Check back from time to time and more articles will be posted.