The American Revolution Mirrored Many of John Locke Theories

The American Revolution Mirrored Many of John Locke Theories

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The American Revolution, which began in 1775, ended two centuries of British rule for most of the North American colonies and created the United States of America. The American Revolution occurred when the American colonies got tired of being treated unfairly under the control of King George III and his parliment. Britain expected obedience from the American colonies regardless of the obscene laws they opposed on them. The American colonies, however, believed that they had certain rights that Britain should respect which included being treated fairly and justly. This raised ideas such as the ‘natural rights’ of individuals and the responsibility of the government to protect these rights (Goldfield page 159 par 1). Philosopher John Locke argued that governments could only rule if consent were given by the people it governed (Locke page 2 par 4). The colonists increasingly felt that they were not being ruled in a representative way by Britain, and began to demand ‘equality’ and since the British refused to give in, the American patriots rebelled violently against the British authority. A war erupted and the outcome the American colonies were seeking was freedom and independence. This began the American Revolutionary war, which lasted for 8 years and end in 1783(Goldfield page 160 par 4).
The events that led to the American Revolution/freedom and independence of the American colonies are The Stamp Act, The Boston Massacre, and The Boston Tea Party. The Stamp Act was an act introduced by the British Prime Minister George Grenville and passed by the British Parliament in 1764 as a means of raising revenue in the American colonies. This act was also known as the American Revenue Act. The main purpose of this act, as stated in its preamble, was “for improving the revenue of this kingdom (Goldfield page 137 par 6).” It required all legal documents, licenses, commercial contracts, newspapers, pamphlets, playing cards and other papers to bear a tax stamp (Goldfield page 138 par 3). This Act was created to help cover the cost of maintaining troops in the colonies. What outraged The Americans colonists was not so much the tax but the fact that it was being imposed from England and paid to England. This act falls under Civic Virtue v. Corruption. Locke states “…the Legislative cannot assume to itself a power to rule by extemporary arbitrary decrees…For the law of nature being unwritten, and so nowhere to be found but in the minds of men, they who through passion or interest shall miscite or misapply it, can not easily be convinced of their mistake where there is no established judge.

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” Also taxes cannot be raised without the consent of the people (page 66 paragraphs 142). The American colonists opposed the Act because it violated the new principle of "No taxation without representation."
The Stamp Act goes against Locke’s Philosophy in believing that all individuals possessed certain "natural rights"- such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of property-and that it was the responsibility of government to protect those rights (Locke page 57par 123). The American colonies also experienced Freedom v. Tyranny. Locke defines tyranny as “the exercise of power beyond right, which nobody can have a right to.” A good leader abides strictly by the law and works for the people but a tyrant breaks the laws and decides for himself and any government that is not looking out for the best interest of the people is tyranny (page 91 paragraphs 199). “ When the governor, however entitled, makes not the law but his will the rule, and his commands and actions are not directed to the preservation of the properties of his people, but the satisfaction of his own ambition, revenge, covetousness, or any other irregular passion.” The Stamp Act was the one that pushed the colonies over the edge and paved the way for the American Revolution.
The other event that led to the American Revolution was The Boston Massacre. The Boston Massacre (the killing of five men by British soldiers on March 5, 1770) was the result of tension that had been growing between the colonist and the English troops since the troops first appeared in Massachusetts in October 1768 (Goldstein page 145 par 2). A squad of British soldiers had been struck by objects thrown at them during a demonstration which resulted in the British firing into the crowd, killing five men including Crispus Attucks. The eight soldiers and their commanding officer were tried for murder and were defended by John Adams and Josiah Quincy (Goldstein page 145 par 3-4). The incident made the patriots of Massachusetts Bay more agitated by the soldiers.
The connection of the Boston massacre is considered an act of Individual v. Choice where Locke stares that all aggressive behavior is performed by an unjust party against an innocent party, and thus justifies the destruction of the aggressor. Therefore an aggressive act is feasible only it’s in violation of natural or civil rights (Locke page 81 par 176). In Chapter 18, Locke also states "force is to be opposed to nothing, but to unjust and unlawful force (Locke page 95 par 208-9)." Locke's believes in self defense only in the event that a society is being victimized or attacked first, which occurred in the Boston massacre. The Boston Massacre also shares the Civic Virtue v. Corruption and the “Natural Laws” as The Stamp Act. The Boston Tea Party also played a role in the American Revolution. The event took place in 1773, where Parliament enacted another tax on the American Colonist also known as the Tea Act of 1773 (Goldfield page 146 par 2). The Boston Tea Party was a protest of British tax policies. This Act allowed the English Tea company to bypass middlemen and sell directly to American retailers. The Americans had completely had it and decided that they would not permit the unloading of three British ships that arrived in Boston in November 1773 with 342 chests of tea. The British closed the ports when the Americans refused to pay the taxes on the tea. The tea was dumped into the Boston Harbor on the evening of December 16 by a group of Bostonians.
The Boston Tea Party shares the same belief as Locke in terms of natural rights and Rule of laws.
John Locke argues that all of us have natural rights which we are entitled to which proceeds society. In Locke's state of nature, no person has control over another, natural law governs and renders all people equal, and every individual holds the executive power of natural law. Therefore, the British had no right to invade over the American territory and impose unjust laws. Rule of Laws states principle that law is supreme and that all citizens are equally subject to it and equally entitled to its protection. The American Revolution mirrored many Locke theories that aided in the resolution of the unfair treatment of the British on the American colonies.
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