In the year 1650, American colonists began to express unrest due to Britain's tight control over them. After the French and Indian War, ending in 1763, the colonies were outwardly rebelling against the crown. The restriction of civil liberties was an important factor leading to rebellion in the year 1776, however the legacy of colonial ideas and Parliamentary taxation played a more prominent role. One of the factors contributing to rebellion in 1776 was the restriction of civil liberties. The liberties of the colonies were limited beginning in 1650 with the passage of the Navigation Acts.
Britain believed in mercantilism, the idea that a country's wealth was measured in gold and silver and wealth was power, this put a damper on the economy of the colonies. The colonies were only to trade with Britain and any colonist thought to be smuggling was guilty until proven innocent. This injustice infringed on the basic liberty of innocent until proven guilty. Years later, Britain passed the Proclamation of 1763 which said that colonists could not move west of the Appalachian Mountains.
The proclamation restricted the liberty of pursuit of happiness and angered many colonists. Colonists were outraged at the fact that they were not allowed to settle in the land they had worked so hard to win. Perhaps the most restrictive of all acts was the Quartering Act. Passed in 1765 this act required colonists to pay to board British soldiers. If they could not afford to this, as was the case with many, the colonists were forced to take them into their own homes and feed them. This act infringed on the pursuit of happiness and the right to privacy.
Colonists could not be happy with strangers living in their homes and invading their personal lives. These restrictions all angered the colonists but not to the same extent as Parliamentary taxation and the legacy of colonial ideas. Colonists were angry but did not boycott or protest in reaction to the acts. The most rebellious action of the colonists in reaction to these acts was smuggling of goods to and from other countries.
From the founding of the colonies in Jamestown in 1606, the colonies had been granted many privileges. As time passed, many of these privileges were gradually taken away. Britain began taking away rights the colonies once had with the Townshend Acts in 1767. The act placed a tax on paint, lead, paper, and glass.
More importantly to the colonists, it took away their power of the purse in terms of controlling the governors salary. The revenues from the new tax would be paying his salary. The colonists had lost their control over the governor and he had no reason to please them. From the beginning, many colonial towns, especially those in New England governed themselves through town meetings. The colonists voted and made decisions at these meetings. When Britain passed the Coercive Acts in 1774, as result of the Boston Tea Party, it limited many things the colonists could do.
Most importantly, all councils, sheriffs, and judges in Massachusetts would now be appointed by the governor. The Act also banned the town meetings that once took place. Shortly after the Coercive Acts were passed, the Quebec Act was passed. This act stated that the conquered Frenchmen living in Canada could retain their customs and religion. It also granted the French territory in Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Now if colonists wanted to live in Canada, they were submitting to Catholicism and giving up their right to self government as the French did not practice this.
As a reaction to the Coercive Acts and the Quebec Act, the colonists formed the first Continental Congress. Twelve out of thirteen colonies sent fifty six delegates to Philadelphia. The delegates formed the Association and called for a complete boycott of British goods. The boycott was a typical colonial reaction to unhappiness with crown. In the future colonists would react in the same manner, even it was a reaction to Parliamentary taxation or the restriction of civil liberties rather than the legacy of colonial ideas. Parliament began placing a series of taxes on the colonies beginning in 1764.
The Sugar Act was enacted that year, it was the first law passed by Parliament to raise money for Britain through taxation in the colonies. Britain was raising money to help pay off some of its debt from the French and Indian War. The Sugar Act taxed sugar, molasses, silk, wine, coffee, and indigo. This act hurt colonial trade and forced the colonists to protest. Eventually the taxes were substantially lowered and colonial protest eventually died down. Shortly after this, in 1765 Parliament passed the Stamp Act.
It was imposed by Lord Grenville and required that a stamp be placed on all official documents such as playing cards, newspapers, and marriage licenses, to show that a tax had been paid. The Stamp Act was the first direct tax imposed on the colonists, in reaction to the act they formed the Stamp Act Congress which met in October of 1765 in New York City. Twenty-seven delegates from nine colonies met and wrote a declaration of rights and grievances begging both Parliament and the king to repeal the Stamp Act. More important than the congress was the adoption of the nonimportation agreements which once again called for a boycott of British goods. These agreements united the American people for the first time. Colonists also formed the Sons of Liberty, the men in this group would torture the stamp agents to no avail.
Finally in 1766, Parliament was forced to revoke the Stamp Act. Due to the taxes placed on the colonies by Parliament, the colonists reacted strongly in a similar manner as to how they reacted to the taking away of their past colonial ideas and the restriction of their basic human rights. Beginning in 1650 after the passage of the Navigation Acts, colonists were becoming uneasy over the harsh control Britain was maintaining over them. Three main factors contributed to rebellion in 1776. Although important the basic liberties taken away from the colonies did not weigh as heavily in the rebellion of the colonists as did the taking away of privileges they had once been allowed, and the many taxes being placed on the colonists by Parliament.