Mobs, colonial society, American revolution, Edward Countryman, democracy, Sugar Act, Townshend taxes, Tea Act, Stamp Act
When thinking of the American Revolution, most people today think of George Washington's solidarity with the troops at Valley Forge, Thomas Paine's call for liberty and independence and Paul Revere's ride to warn the townspeople of Boston of the incoming British invasion. While these pivotal figures are ingrained in the minds of Americans as being the key players in the colonial cause for independence from Britain, they are not the ones that drove the revolution: they were merely the leadership. The colonial peoples who organized themselves into mobs were the driving force behind the revolution.
[...] If there was a famine or a food shortage, mobs would dissuade merchants from exporting food and would set prices of certain goods to help people could survive the hard times: “poor people's right to a supply of bread at a fair price was more important than a merchant's right to seek his profit where he might” (71). Such solidarity during difficult times enabled the colonists to effectively respond to the unfair British demands in an organized, riotous manner. There were many things for the people in the colonies to riot about. [...]
[...] Of course the colonists tried to resolve things in the way they had always done: they rioted. To protest the Stamp Act, colonists blocked customs and stamp houses, and even went so far as to burn and vandalize the buildings; to respond to the Tea Act, colonists dressed up in Native American costume and threw East India Company tea overboard any ships that did not heed the warning not to dock at certain port cities. Boston was famous for its party” but New York and other cities rioted in this manner as well. [...]
[...] When colonists tried to riot against unfair measures and the British government failed to compromise as custom dictated, the seeds of discontent were sown which would inevitably lead to the Revolutionary war. It was the custom of rioting and the British response to it that started the independence movement which would lead to the development of the American republic. As far as history is concerned, had it not been for the rioting of mobs, America may not have existed, and many social, economic, and political changes would not have been implemented. Bibliography Taylor, Alan. American Colonies: The Settling of North America. New York: Penguin Books Print. [...]
[...] The urban mobs were even progressive for their time as they represented basic democratic principles which were uncommon in governmental institutions prior to the American Revolution. Indeed, it can be said that our nation was founded on some of the values which were present in urban mobs as “crowd action was a fact of life in the whole eighteenth century world, and the American movement built on all the traditions and customs that made it (97). Mobs were an unconscious test at democracy as they not only included one group of people, but represented a cross-section of the population, thereby representing the opinions and values of the whole community. [...]
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