Business Politics

Business in the 18th Century

The events that led to the declaration of independence by the Founding Fathers of the United States of America were all largely based on business. It was the heavy taxation decreed by the British Empire and the purported abuses perceived by the thirteen colonies that were to become the United States that would catalyze open war between the Britain and the colonies.

The American Revolution collectively refers to the uprising of the Patriots and their supporters and the series of battles and skirmishes that effectively divested the would-be United States of British rule. This interim transpired during the 18th century’s last half wherein the Thirteen Colonies committed themselves to armed conflict against the British in what is now known as the Revolutionary War between 1775 and 1783. This concluded with the American Declaration of Independence in 1776, and the Colonies’ triumph on the battlefield in October 1781.

The British Empire deemed that the Colonies should pay the costs of keeping them in its fold a the conclusion of the French and Indian War and so imposed a flurry of taxes and laws that was received with, initially, dissension and then ultimately, open revolt. The major complaint the colonists had about the series of laws were their apparent and appalling lack of elected representation in the Parliament of the Empire. Consequently they viewed the laws as a violation of their rights as citizens of the Empire and as being illegitimate.

In 1772, Patriot factions commenced the creation of Committees of Correspondence, which were the progenitors of the colonies’ Provincial Congresses. The Congresses would replace the British ruling system in the ex-colonies and would take the form of the Continental Congress, which was the first, albeit de facto, government of the United States.

The following were the decrees of the British Empire that regulated and governed the businesses of the colonists:

• Navigation Acts – Great Britain oversaw the economies of its colonies through these. The Navigation Acts are based on the precepts of mercantilism, which maintained that anything that is beneficial to the Empire was good practice. The Empire began to enforce this heavily with its Writs of Assistance, which were open-ended search warrants. In 1761, James Otis, a Massachusetts lawyer, voiced out in court that the writs went against the constitutional rights of those living in the colonies but lost the case. This defeat was one of the impetuses of war.
• The Proclamation of 1763 – This restricted American habitation over the Appalachian Mountains. The way it was promulgated without consulting the colonists angered them. Furthermore, the Quebec Act of 1774 expanded the said colony’s borders across the Ohio River, stifling the American colonist’s expansion. By then, Americans were already training militia and were gearing themselves for war.
• Taxation without representation – The Empire obligated the Americans to pay for colonial defenses but the colonists complained that the taxes were too much and that they had no representation in the British Parliament, which decreed and promulgated the taxes.
• New taxes in 1764 – In 1764, the Parliament imposed the Currency and Sugar Acts, which further angered the Americans and led them to boycott British merchandise.
• Stamp Act – The following year, another taxation was levied on the British colonies.
• Townshend Act – In 1767, the Parliament once again imposed another taxation, this time on a number of goods of necessity that included paper, tea, and glass.
• Intolerable Acts – The Empire imposed several acts as a response to the sinking of the Gaspee, a British warship that had been overseeing the trade regulations. These were:

1. The Massachusetts Government Act – This restricted town gatherings and changed the Massachusetts charter
2. The Administration of Justice Act – This decreed that all British soldiers who had violated laws in America were to be tried in Britain.
3. The Boson Port Act – This effectively shut down the port of Boston until the colonists paid recompense for the tea they dumped on the river on December 16, 1773.
4. Quartering Act – Allowed governors to let British troops stay in uninhabited structures.

All these perceived stifling of the way they handle their lives and businesses in the eyes of the colonists sparked in them to rise up against their former mother empire and this impetus soon conflagrated into full-blown open revolt.

The rest is history but the way the British Empire handled business with the American colonists has certainly catalyzed the reforms that would form the very precepts that the United States has been formed upon. The idea of liberalism has no doubt, been spurred to greater heights in the minds of the Americans due to the oppressive situation they were thrust in. Republicanism has also been deeply ingrained into the colonists when they won the Revolution and founded their country. Their extreme dislike for oligarchy, dictatorship, corruption, and aristocracy can be traced back to the scenario they fought so hard to divest themselves from.