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Building the American Nation - Why did American colonists regard British Policy as ‘Tyrannical’?

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Building the American Nation Why did American colonists regard British Policy as 'Tyrannical'? As the question suggests this essay will be looking at the reasons why American colonists saw British policy as being tyrannical. The word tyrannical is defined as meaning "obtaining obedience by force or threats" [1]. In other words the question is stating that American colonists felt oppressed by the policies of their British rulers. This piece will be examining what these policies were and why they appeared to be tyrannical to the colonists in terms of how they felt oppressed both economically and politically as well as the threats they felt to their freedom. However it will also evaluate just how widely this notion of tyranny was perceived by the colonists as a whole. The main focus of this will be on the post seven-year war period up until the time America declared independence. Although many colonists did see the British as being tyrannical in their policy it must be stated that not all colonists shared this view as the question suggests. But for those that did, the roots of the problem between the American colonists and the British Empire developed over a long time. Since 1688, although still under rule of the empire, the colonies had to an extent been pushing toward a larger measure of self-government. This was still the case at the time when the seven years war closed in America, almost a century later. ...read more.


As a result widespread protests including "Liberty Tree" meetings, burning effigies, riots and other violent means of protest regularly occurred throughout the colonies. In a clear act of defiance on the part of the colonists a policy of shutting off imports from Britain was put into place. They realised they had become a major market for British products and could therefore hurt them economically by abandoning their products. Fortunately for the colonists Grenville died in July 1765 and for a little while there was a period of calm, the violent protests stopped and there was hope that the conflict could now be resolved. Grenville's replacement, Rockingham, added to this feeling when he repealed the Stamp Acts under the belief that a direct or internal tax such as this was intolerable for the Americans but an indirect or external tax such as the Sugar Act was not so bad. However at the same time parliament passed a new act known as the Declaratory Act in 1766 which meant that parliament could make laws binding under any circumstances. Colonists viewed this suspiciously as now parliament were saying they would make laws for America regardless of what the colonists or their assemblies thought. As a result of this act a new set of resolutions would be set up the following year when Charles Townshend became Chancellor of the Exchequer. This was due to the English parliament cutting the British land tax, and therefore, to balance the budget, Townshend promised that he would tax the Americans to make up the difference. ...read more.


But for the colonists who did feel the British were oppressive towards them the main reason lie not in the short term immediate factors such as the Stamp Act or coercive Acts, but more in long term problems. For over a generation the Americans were pretty much left to their own devices by the empire and had become used to ruling over themselves through their assemblies and colonial leaders. It can actually be argued that British policy was not tyrannical, surely it cant be unfair of Britain to expect America to pay some of the debt left by the war in which the British military were defending them from French and Indian rule. And why shouldn't the colonists contribute towards an empire that had allowed them to prosper for over 150 years? The reason most colonists did not see it in these terms was because they were 3,000 miles away from Britain and had been governing themselves for so long that they now felt more American than British, so when parliament all of a sudden started imposing acts on them it felt like they were acting tyrannically. It comes down to the power struggle which occurred due to Parliament suddenly using it's sovereignty to introduce new acts upon America and the colonists belief that their rights were being infringed as a result of these acts. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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