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Algora Publishing - What motivated the American revolt
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Tuesday,
What motivated the American revolt
The US rebellion against British rule was motivated, at least in part, by the colonists’ concern about the possibility that the “central” (ie, British) government might obstruct their dispossession of the native population and their practice of slavery.
Financial Times


From Mr David Paul.
Sir, The real flaws of the US founding fathers (Letters, July 21) were inherent in their motivation for the revolt against British rule.
They objected to a government that sought to protect peaceful Indians from the theft of their land and feared a court system that had started to have grave doubts about enforcing slavery.
They therefore had to create a devolved structure that would stop central government interfering with local courts’ endorsement of land grabs or enforcement of slavery.
David Paul,
Bromley, Kent, UK


From Dr Hugh Goodacre.
Sir, David Paul (Letters, July 22) rightly draws attention to the fact that the US rebellion against British rule was motivated, at least in part, by the colonists’ concern about the possibility that the “central” (ie, British) government might obstruct their dispossession of the native population and their practice of slavery.
Writing at around the same time, Adam Smith raised much the same point. He considered that the institution of slavery was inevitable in a “free country”, for the majority of free citizens would undoubtedly exercise their democratic rights in favour of it due to “the love of domination and authority, and the pleasure that men take in having everything done by their express orders”.
As corroboration of this view, he claimed that slavery was taking a less brutal form in the colonies of countries less “free” than Britain, that is, in colonies where the governing authority “intermeddles in the management of the private property of the master”, ie, the slave.
“The law,” he considered, “so far as it gives some weak protection to the slave against the violence of his master, is likely to be better executed in a colony where the government is in a great measure arbitrary than in one where it is altogether free.” Fortunately, the concept of a “free country” has changed over the years.
Mr Paul is wrong to suggest that it was the US founding fathers who revolted against Britain. Moreover, they – or at any rate the communistic communities established by the very first settlers – mostly attempted to live peacefully alongside the people they found there.
Hugh Goodacre,
Teaching Fellow,
University College London
London WC1, UK


From Mr Charles Hazell.
Sir, The recent correspondence regarding motives for the American revolution (Letters, July 22 and 26) did not mention the Royal Proclamation of 1763.
Following the Seven Years’ War, Britain held all land from the east of the Mississippi River to the Atlantic, but the proclamation expressly forbade land ownership and settlement beyond the line of the Appalachian mountains. The intervening land was to be reserved as Indian country. For some colonials who had seen the vast expanse of territory, this was hard to stomach, especially George Washington who had been granted 20,000 acres of Ohio by a grateful government for services rendered during the war.
The following decade the rules were changed and many Indians, especially those of the Six Nations, had little option but to migrate to Canada.
Charles Hazell,
Fethard, County Tipperary, Ireland