were still professing their loyalty to George III and their desire
for peaceful reconciliation as late as 1775.
Had Britain accepted the Second Continental Congress’s Olive Branch
Petition, the Revolutionary War could have been avoided.” Support
or refute this claim using historical evidence.
Even though delegates at the Second Continental
Congress sent the Olive Branch Petition to George III requesting
reconciliation, the recent skirmishes and hostile American public
opinion made peaceful resolution unlikely, if not impossible. The
delegates of the Continental Congress appeared aware of
this inevitability themselves, for at the same time that they wrote
their final petition to George III, they also made defensive provisions
for a navy and an army, the latter to be commanded by George Washington.
Moreover, even if the delegates truly believed that peaceful reconciliation
was possible, it is doubtful the American public shared
this belief. The Committees of Correspondence had by 1775 become
powerful distributors of anti-British propaganda to both city dwellers
and rural settlers alike.
In addition, the organization and rallying that enabled
the boycott on all British goods turned many colonists
into patriotic Americans. This desire for independence was confirmed
at the Battle of Lexington and Concord and the Battle of Bunker
Hill, in which simple farmers refused to retreat from
the powerful British army and instead stood their ground. Thus,
even though Continental Congress delegates were still petitioning
for peace as late as 1775,
it is highly unlikely that peace was truly possible.
What did American
colonists mean by “No taxation without representation”?
American colonists rallied behind the popular
cry “No taxation without representation” to protest the taxes and
other legislation forced upon them by a Parliament that contained
no American representatives. Colonial Americans valued
their own representative legislatures and believed it unfair that
they had to subject themselves to a legislative body thousands of
miles away. British Prime Minister George Grenville, however, justified
the lack of American representatives in Parliament by citing the
theory of “virtual representation,” which stipulated that
Parliamentarians, no matter where originally elected, acted in the
interests of all British subjects in the world.
Despite the American colonists’ desire for representation,
though, “No taxation without representation” was more a symbolic
protest than anything else. In reality, colonial American representatives
in Parliament would have been too few in number and would have had
too little political power to make much difference. Instead, the
colonists’ rallying cry was based on principle, a simple
articulation that they wanted more freedom and power to govern their
own colonial legislatures, and less interference from Parliament.
a more profound impact on American anti-British sentiment, the 1765 Stamp
Act or the 1766 Declaratory
Act? Use specific examples from history to support your argument.
Although colonists protested the 1765 passage
of the Stamp Act vehemently and even violently, the barely
noticed Declaratory Act of 1766 had
a much more profound effect on American-British relations in the
long run. When Parliament repealed the Stamp Act in 1766 after protests
in the colonies, it quietly passed the Declaratory Act, which reaffirmed
Britain’s right to pass legislation regarding the American colonies
anytime it chose. This legislative carte blanche plagued Americans
from that point on until war erupted in 1775.
Parliament used the Declaratory Act to justify the Townshend Acts,
which levied taxes on tea and other items. The tax prompted angry
objections, some as extreme as the Boston Tea Party, in which a
group of colonists destroyed thousands of dollars’ worth of British
tea by dumping it in Boston Harbor. Parliament also cited the Declaratory
Act in 1774 to
justify the Coercive Acts, or Intolerable Acts, which shut down
Boston Harbor and required Bostonians to pay damages for the tea
they had destroyed. Both the Townshend Acts and the Intolerable
Acts—backed by the Declaratory Act—brought Americans closer to outright
rebellion than the Stamp Act ever had.