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... pon. But before the Declaration of Independence could even be considered, many events transpired and a few lives were even lost before the colonists realized that immediate action was necessary because war was imminent. The first of these was the series of acts that preceded the first shots being fired. They were the first sign of serious conflict. As the Revolutionary movement began, the intensity multiplied with the passing of several acts.
These acts, developed by the British Parliament, were intended to tax the colonists in order to pay for the war being waged with France; they claimed however, that it was to pay for the protection of the colonists through resident soldiers in the colonies. The first significant act was called the Stamp Act. The Stamp Act required all colonists to pay heavy duties on things such as newspapers, pamphlets, legal documents, licenses, and ships papers (American Revolutionary Period, Jensen, Colliers Encyclopedia CD-ROM). Other things, such as glass windows and stained glass were also subject to the heavy tariffs.
The colonies resisted, however, angering the monarch and British Parliament. Parliament did, however, unwillingly repeal the Stamp Act in March 1766. This resistance of the colonies did not help matters, but only triggered more rigid action. Although the Stamp Act was repealed, this passiveness did not last for long. A year later in the spring of 1767 British Parliament passed the Townshend Acts. Parliament had cut the British land tax, and in order to make up the difference, Charles Townshend promised that the Americans would be taxed (American Revolutionary Period, Jensen, Colliers Encyclopedia CD-ROM).
The Townshend Acts were no more successful than the Stamp Act, and they simply stirred more trouble. Opposition and open resistance to the Townshend Acts were powerful and effective. American merchants had verbal agreements not to import anything made in Britain, thus making tariffs and import taxes virtually ineffective. Probably one of the least popular and most resisted acts passed was called the Quartering Act. This act provided British soldiers and officers the right to take any private residence as military barracks during times of peace or war. Americans hated redcoats (British troops), known as crab-backs in the Americas, and they hated providing housing to them even more.
Many soldiers took advantage of this, often raping the daughters of colonists and burning their homes after they left. This issue became so intense that an amendment preventing this was written into the Constitution. As anyone knows, the British are worldwide famous for their love of hot tea. Although Americans at heart, the colonists were English born, and they loved tea as much as anyone. Parliament realized this, and they knew that this highly-demanded American import would be accessible nowhere else. In consideration of this indisputable fact, Parliament put a tax on tea, calling it the Tea Act.
When the next boatload of taxed tea arrived in the Boston Harbor, colonial rebels dressed as Indians went and sunk the entire shipment of tea as a display of their open hostility to the English. This became known as the Boston Tea Party, and provoked the British to pass what became known as the Intolerable Acts. The suppression of the colonies by the British did not go unnoticed. Colonial leaders immediately began to recognize the need for change and opposition. Benjamin Franklin played a key role in the colonists organization against the British. He, along with other leaders such as Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, and Patrick Henry helped to lead America to rebel for freedom and independence from the British with backing from many influential people throughout the colonies.
The first organized event was the First Continental Congress, which met in September 1774 (American Revolutionary Period, Jensen, Colliers Encyclopedia CD-ROM). Members concurred: they must resist and oppose the British in an aggressive manner. However, they were unable to agree on a method of defying the British tyranny. The Congress split into two opposing groups. The first wanted to reclaim rights under the English constitution and have a redress of grievances. The other, more radical group, wanted complete and total separation from England under the laws of nature (American Revolutionary Period, Jensen, Colliers Encyclopedia CD-ROM).
The Congress adjourned, and agreed to meet once again in the following spring if there had been no redress of grievances by that time. Immediately thereafter, Americans fought the British in the battles of Lexington and Concord. Meanwhile, delegates met in Philadelphia for the Second Continental Congress. Franklin was in attendance. Once again, the group divided and there was strong opposition between both groups.
The Congress appointed a group of five men to draft a document asserting American independence from foreign, monarchical rule (An American Parable, Norrell, via the Internet). The group included Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams as well as two others. These men had been assigned an unimaginable duty with responsibility to one nation and treason to another. The committee asked Jefferson to write the document, which he completed in about two weeks. Franklin and Adams made a few literary changes before the draft was introduced to the Continental Congress (Declaration of Independence, Morris, World Book Encyclopedia). The final draft of the Declaration of Independence and the signatures affixed to this document provided the necessary means to fight for freedom and wage war against Great Britain.
The signing of the Declaration invoked immediate action by the British. They mobilized their troops and prepared to wage a full-fledged war in the Americas. The colonies, in desperate need of money, realized that an alliance with France meant greater chances of success, so they sent Benjamin Franklin to France as an American Ambassador. His success was overwhelming. The French, thoroughly impressed by Franklins overall character, were persuaded to sign an alliance treaty with the colonies. Franklin managed to secure a constant flow of loans and monetary gifts from France to the colonies.
Many believe that without Frances support, the Americans would have never won the war. In 1778, Franklin remained in France under the title of Minister to France, and he helped draft the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War (Benjamin Franklin, James A. Hutson, World Book Encyclopedia). Franklin, Jefferson, and Adams also served on another committee together.
They were asked to find a seal for the new United States. Todays national bird of the Bald Eagle was elected by only a narrow margin, as Benjamin Franklin felt that the turkey best represented the ideals of America. However, the eagle prevailed, and Congress passed the current seal on July 20, 1782. Upon failure of the Articles of Confederation (the first government framework set up after the Revolution), colonial leaders saw a need for major revision.
In 1787, they met in Independence Hall at the Constitutional Convention, and 81 -year-old Franklin represented Pennsylvania. Delegates from each state discussed how the Articles needed to be modified. Two distinct groups emerged. One group was in favor of starting new with a totally different idea, while another was in favor of simply changing the current plan. Franklins poor health prevented him from taking an active part, but he did, however, address the Convention several times, and his wisdom helped hold the group together as they fought over many things, including representation in the new two-house Congress. The new Constitution passed, but it could not have done so without the help of Franklin.
A lifelong civil servant, Franklins final act was to sign a petition to Congress asking them for the speedy abolition of slavery (Benjamin Franklin, James A. Hutson, World Book Encyclopedia). At the ripe age of 84, Franklin died in April, 1790. He was honored at his funeral by over 20, 000 people. No matter how you view it, Benjamin Franklins name should always be on any list of Americas greatest men. His gentle character and terrific wisdom make him Americas man of infinite vision.
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Research essay sample on Benjamin Franklin Townshend Acts