Students will identify reasons why the colonists' discontent with Great Britain grew?
The American Declaration of Independence does three main things:
It advances a theoretical case for revolution, discusses human rights and the nature of national sovereignty.
It sets out a precise list of the specific complaints which the American colonists had against the actions of the British government over the last decade and a half.
It declares the 13 British colonies on the east coast of North America independent on 4 July 1776.
Each of these three has to be set in an historical context if we are to understand or make sense of the Declaration of Independence.
French and Indian War/Seven Years’ War, 1754–63
The French and Indian War was the North American conflict in a larger imperial war between Great Britain and France known as the Seven Years’ War. The French and Indian War began in 1754 and ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1763. The war provided Great Britain enormous territorial gains in North America, but disputes over subsequent frontier policy and paying the war’s expenses led to colonial discontent, and ultimately to the American Revolution
The war had been enormously expensive, and the British government’s attempts to impose taxes on colonists to help cover these expenses resulted in increasing colonial resentment of British attempts to expand imperial authority in the colonies. British attempts to limit western expansion by colonists and inadvertent provocation of a major Indian war further angered the British subjects living in the American colonies. These disputes ultimately spurred colonial rebellion, which eventually developed into a full-scale war for independence.