Why did the colonists fight the British?


Quick Answer

The American colonists rebelled against the British primarily because they felt they were being unfairly taxed and had no voice in their governance. Although they were British subjects, they were controlled by Crown-appointed governors who spoke for them in Britain, not elected representatives.

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Full Answer

In reality, the colonists were relatively lightly taxed, and those taxes to which they were subject were often circumvented by rampant smuggling. Most British government profits were made by trade controls in which the colonies were required to trade only with British merchants. However, the British government had made the mistake of allowing the North American colonies free to rule themselves on a local level. When Britain, after the costly French and Indian Wars, needed to raise funds, they turned to the wealthy colonies.

With no chance to speak in Parliament against this law, the colonies were infuriated. Future founding fathers Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson wrote scathing tracts and essays about the arrogance and injustice of the British government, and grassroots movements such as the Sons of Liberty rioted and demonstrated in the streets, burning tax collectors in effigy when they were not breaking into and looting their homes. The British, again showing their lack of understanding of the colonists, responded by sending troops to keep the peace, inflaming and cementing colonial resentment.

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