Originally the colonists came to American to get away from religious oppression. Seeking a life of their own they believed they could live more freely here, with a representative in the government in Britain. Essentially it would be like having Britain watch over them without experiencing the suffocation of Britain’s rule. While Americans still saw themselves as English, England saw the American colonies as a mere economic opportunity and refused them many of their requests. To the English, the American colonists were not as good as they were. This arrangement did not work and eventually a dispute broke out between Britain and the colonies, sparking the Revolutionary War. This began America’s fight for freedom against Britain, and their effort to achieve a new form of government, religious independence, freedom from taxes, and ultimately, liberty from Britain.
The Revolutionary War meant that the colonies were fighting for a new set of goals than originally sought after. No longer willing to live under any rules pushed on them by Britain, the Americans won the Revolutionary War and set out to build a country of their own. America’s first step toward becoming a country was creating its own form of government. The citizens had grown weary of living under the tyrannical rule of the king and the church. Because of this, in 1778, Americans drew up the world’s first blueprint for what would be known as democracy. The following year, as outlined by Sean Wilentz in “The Rise of American Democracy” colonists elected George Washington, American’s first president. They elected him again for a second term, four years later (46). American’s believed that being led by a man who would answer to the population would be wiser than being led by a king who was protected by the church. Democracy became as living, breathing, and evolving as any creature. Today its principles are very different but its foundation remains the same.
The American colonies had also grown tired of the church’s tyranny. It was the primary reason there were participants willing to uproot their lives and begin colonies in a new land. The church’s grasp on politics as well as the everyday lives of citizens had grown to be too much for the people of Britain. The Revolutionaries of America were so adamant about being able to practice religion how they wanted that they had the freedom of religion written into the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. It prohibits lawmaking obstructing the freedom to exercise religion, as well as a number of other things such as the freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the right to petition the government. The Revolutionaries also desired a clear separation of church and state, which was outlined by Thomas Jefferson under the Free Exercise Clause, based on intent (94). Though courtrooms across the country repeat it today, many people in politics do not seem to understand the distinction.
American Revolutionaries also wanted to be free from taxation. Previously, when Britain saw the American colonies only as potential economic advantage, the country was happy about this new venture. However, when America saw itself as more than just a manufacturer of English goods, and instead the people began to manufacture their own good The English began to discourage industrialization in America. Britain did not want America competing in the trade market. Meanwhile Britain was also imposing heavy taxes on the American colonies in order to help fund the expensive French and Indian War. Britain was allowing members of the American colonies to fight in the war, as well as die in the war, but refused to let the colonists vote in matters of the war or the taxes. Many members of the colony felt it was unfair to pay taxes they were not able to cast a vote upon. The American Revolutionaries desired to be free from these unfair taxations
Ultimately, the war did not begin to seek immediate liberty from Britain. The American colonists still considered themselves English for a long time, and even helped fight in the ongoing war efforts in Britain. They merely wanted government representation without such a strong British presence in their new land. Britain, however, saw the American colonies only as a chance to earn extra money and this dispute led to the Revolutionary War. As the battles began, the Declaration of Independence was declared and at that point, the colonists desired complete liberation from Britain but their other goals were still the same. The wished to have a new form of government; being ruled by a king had not worked for them. So they began what is now known as Democracy. They also wished to practice religion freely and have a greater separation of church and state, as they managed to outline in the First Amendment of the United States. Finally they wished to manufacture goods without being stifled and discontinue being taxed without the chance to vote on serious issues. Because they won the Revolutionary War, the American colonists, officially known as Americans at that point, were able slowly begin achieving all of their goals.
Bailyn, Bernard. The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992. Print.
Curry, Thomas J. The First Freedoms: Church and State in America to the Passage of the First Amendment. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. Print.
Wilentz, Sean. The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln. New York City: W.W. Norton & Company, 2006. Print.