Monday, October 24, 2011

Revolutionary War - Britain's reasons

by Marie Higgins

I was born and raised in America, and it occurred to me that I have only known America’s side about why the Revolutionary War started.  I have written a few stories about the Colonial era that of course centers around this great war, and my stories are more about the Loyalists.  For this blog, I decided to put my feet in the shoes of those on the other side of the ocean to see what may have been going through their minds during this time.

The original thirteen colonies were under Britain's rule and in 1763 right after the French and Indian Wars, Britain adopted a policy that the colonies should pay an increased portion of the costs for keeping them in the Empire. Apparently, Britain spend a huge amount of money on the French and Indian wars and inevitably, taxes needed to be raised to cover their debt.  The thirteen colonies were so far away and lacked elected representation in the governing British Parliament.  For a while, the colonies had accepted America's way of doing things.  In America, both men and women were considered equal, we owned land, and we were able to govern it without the government getting involved.

Colonists galvanized around the position that the Stamp Act of 1765, imposed by Parliament of Great Britain, was unconstitutional.  The British Parliament insisted it had the right to tax colonists.  The colonists claimed, that as they were Englishmen, that taxation without representation was unfair. The American colonists formed a unifying Continental Congress and a shadow government in each colony. The American boycott of British tea led to the Boston Tea Party in 1773. London responded by ending self-government in Massachusetts and putting it under the control of the army with General Thomas Gage as governor.

So now the real question is…why did King George III do this?  Why would he want to rule so harshly over the thirteen colonies?  I started thinking of this as a mother—since it’s hard for me not to.  I’ve got rules in my house, and if my children don’t follow my rules, they are punished.  I have two daughters; one is my obedient daughter, and the other is…well, let’s just say she’s my rebel.  When I put myself into King George’s shoes, I can see that he must have thought of us as his children.  The thirteen colonies were so far away and so did not live within the king’s rules.  Because we were so far away, we wanted to do things ourselves.  We wanted to be independent and thought we could create better rules.  And…since we were across the ocean and were not watched carefully like unruly children, we were able to become rebellious.  My youngest daughter fought me every time she turned around.  She won, of course, because she was so tired of my rules that she moved out of the house and started her own life.

Therefore, if I compare what happened in my own family to what was going on before the Revolutionary War, everything makes sense.  Was King George III right—or were the thirteen colonies in the right?  I suppose it depends on which child you were.  Right?

For those of you who enjoy reading about this era, and don’t mind that the story is on the Patriot’s side, I would invite you to check out my Colonial, Take My Heart

Mercedes Maxwell’s sister’s last wish was for Mercedes to find evidence against Kat’s husband, William Braxton, and have him hung as a traitor to the crown. Mercedes isn’t naïve when it comes to capturing traitors, because her own deceased husband had once been an agent for the King when they lived in England.

When she meets William Braxton for the first time, all is not as it seems. Portraying her twin, Mercedes knows this is the only way to get close enough to William to discover his secrets. What she finds along the way are little surprises she hadn’t counted on, especially when she begins to give her heart to a man who may be a spy against the crown.

I'd love to know your thoughts!



  1. Thank you Marie Higgins, author of the Colonial American romance novel, Pretending You Are Mine, for sharing your thoughts on Britain's motivations in the Revolutionary War. Like Paul Harvey, you gave us Americans a glimpse of the rest of the story.

  2. Another angle on the British tax problem came up in an earlier post here, Smuggling in Devon, possibly imply it was not just the colonists who were rebelling against excessive taxes.

  3. I know we never heard anything about the British point of view in history classes. The victor's get the most out of history.

    Though visiting some of the historical sites in Boston like the massacre site, Adams houses, you do hear a little of the British side but more about those evil red coats, most of whom were colonists themselves and stayed there after the war.

  4. I can't blame the colonies for rebelling. Why not? Why you want to be ruled by a country so far away? As for Georges reasons, it has to come down to arrogance and greed. We British did a great job of conquering and taking all over the world, where we really didn't have any right. All great empires fall eventually - Ottoman, Roman etc. It was only a matter of time before the British Empire fell too.

  5. The history of mankind is a series of conquest after conquest to have access to the goods of other lands, whether spices, gold, tobacco or other. A man in power loves the feel of it and it is hard to relinquish. That, of course, does not make it right, and oppressed peoples naturally fight back.

  6. I enjoyed reading this article (and the ensuing comments) and its points about why things took place the way they did.
    When I read the slogan 'no taxation without representation', I wonder 'what if'. What if King George would have allowed the colonists representation in parliament. Would it have changed the course of history?
    Glad he didn't as I am an American and I love my country and its founding principles. (-;

    Your book about Colonial Spies sounds intriguing and I will be checking it out.

    Thanks for posting.

  7. "No taxation without representation" good point, but it wouldn't have happened. 99% of english men (let alone women) weren't represented in Parliament at that time, so there was no reason to let the colonies have a say. There is a whole blog post just on this issue - "rotten boroughs" where members of parliament would have seats even though they only represented one or two people. It was a big issue in the Victorian time where massive cities like Manchester had no member of parliament yet had thousands of people living there.

  8. As an American descended from the UK, it's an interesting discussion. I think it would have happened later if it didn't happen then. Seems this country was full of those who had big ideas of liberty and they did a pretty good job with figuring out democracy. It's not perfect but it works.
    What's also interesting to me is how British soldiers fought in two wars against the "colonies" and yet so many families left and came to American shores anyway.

    Marie, your book sounds intriguing!

  9. I want to thank everyone who posted a comment. This was a very intriguing topic, I think. It was great to read everyone's comments!


  10. Thanks for posting this here - it was certainly interesting to think about.

    Growing up in Canada, most of what I heard on the American Revolution would have simply dismissed the colonists as rebellious children. So, in fact, as an adult, I had to go out of my way to learn the perspective of the American Patriots, as I was already familiar with the British and Loyalist standpoints.


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