The United States of America is often regarded as the “land of opportunity” to most, but it has not always been that way. Before the nation became the burgeoning country it is today, there were many immigrants who fled their homes in hopes of discovering something in this country not easily accessible in their own: a chance to flourish.
The colonists were justified in declaring their independence from Great Britain because they were taxed without consent, they were hindered by Britain’s restrictive trade policies, and the King rejected the Olive Branch Petition. Taxation without consent was one of several reasons why the colonists were justified in breaking away from their mother country. Colonists wanted a say in how their government was going to operate, but the British Parliament would not allow them to be represented within the government and excluded them from being involved at all.
Consequently, the thirteen colonies desired to separate themselves from Great Britain in order to establish their own country where they would have a voice in the country’s affairs. In “A Full Vindication of the Measures of Congress,” published in 1774, Alexander Hamilton argued, “The only distinction between freedom and slavery consists in this: In the former state, a man is governed by the laws to which he has given his consent, either in person, or by his representative: In the latter, he is governed by the will of another.” The colonists did not give consent to be taxed since they were not being represented in the government and felt it was unfair to them.
They compared it to slavery because they were subject to the laws created yet they were not allowed to have any input, so they were at the mercy of those who created the laws. Colonists also felt justified in declaring their independence from Great Britain due to Britain’s restrictive trade policies. In the 1776 document “Declaration of Independence,” one of the grievances the Second Continental Congress listed was “For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world.” This complaint is one of the briefest mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, but it is one of the most important. This particular grievance was caused by the passing of the Intolerable Acts. After the Boston Tea Party transpired, the British government decided to punish the colonists for rebelling against them.
They punished them by closing ports, known as the Boston Port Act, which greatly restricted the commerce of the colonies to Great Britain, essentially isolating the colonies from the rest of the world. Lastly, the King’s rejection of the Olive Branch Petition pushed the colonists to demand their independence. Despite being treated unfairly, the colonists tried to extend a peace offering to Great Britain. In 1775, the Second Continental Congress sent the Olive Branch Petition to King George lll asking for peace between the colonies and Great Britain.
The Olive Branch Petition was the last effort made by the colonists in hopes of evading war with Great Britain. In the ‘Olive Branch Petition’ written in 1775, the Second Continental Congress stated: ‘The union between our Mother Country and these Colonies, and the energy of mild and just Government, produced benefits so remarkably important, and afforded such an assurance of their permanency and increase, that the wonder and envy of other nations were excited while they beheld Great Britain rising to a power the most extraordinary the world had ever known.’
They phrased their problems and dissatisfaction respectfully while also complimenting Great Britain, assuming that King George lll would be more understanding and step in to address the issues at hand before there was a further escalation in hostility. King George lll received the petition and news of Bunker Hill around the same time, which resulted in him rejecting it and stating that the colonies were being rebellious. His dismissal of the petition served as the breaking point for the colonists and they realized their mission to achieve reconciliation would not be possible. Following the dissemination of Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense,” colonists became even more infuriated after they recognized just how significant the rejection was to their quest to remedy the conflicts.
The colonists’ attitude had changed drastically. Rather than pledging loyalty to Great Britain while still attempting to proclaim their rights like in the Olive Branch Petition, the colonists were wanting to declare their freedom and detach themselves from Great Britain’s rule. Much discourse took place in Congress and they eventually passed the Declaration of Independence in July of 1776, dissolving the link between Great Britain and the colonies.
No voice in the government, isolation due to restrictive trade policies, and being refused reconciliation are only a few reasons why the colonists desired and fought for independence from their mother country, Great Britain. After enduring poor treatment for so long even after reaching out to the King, they decided it was time for a change. The road to independence was certainly rocky and permeated with strife, but the colonies’ steadfast determination is what ultimately created the United States of America and helped to make it the great land of opportunity it is today.