The birth of the oldest Democracy in the Modern World—“The Star-Spangled Banner”
Tuesday,06 July 2021 09:51 PM IST
In the last part, I spoke about the discovery of America, and about Colonial America. In this part, I am going to talk about the situation leading to the independence of America, on the 4th July 1776. The imperialists let loose a reign of terror and it escalated to such a level, that the British were forced to give Independence.
The locals suffered this reign of terror for many centuries. However, they decided to retaliate. The administrative system of England in the American Colonies was malfunctioning. Each Colony had its Assembly and the elected members. The British Parliament appointed governors in each colony, but their rule became intolerable. Many times, the conflict between the Governors and the elected representatives of different colonies was unavoidable. The Governors did not do anything without the permission of British Parliament however, the Parliament did not recognize the colonial problems. Thus, the colonists raised their voice against the defective administrative system of England.
The British Government regulated the colonial trade for her own advantage. The Navigation Act 1660 was passed by George Greenville, the Prime Minister of England. Before this Act, the Colonist’s got the manufactured goods from England after exporting the raw materials to England. However, when the Navigation Act was reintroduced, the Americans were forbidden to export their native products directly to other European countries but only through England. The British Government imposed taxes on the American Colonies.
Then the Seven Years War (1756—1763) had a deep impact on the American Colonies. By defeating France, England occupied Canada. The Americans were freed from the French threat. They did not feel the necessity of maintaining the British army at their own expense. The Writers and Philosophers also, played an important role in the American War of Independence. Thomas Paine’s book ‘Commonsense’ inspired the Americans to revolt against the British Government. Samuel Adams, another writer sowed the seed of Independence through his writings. The Americans were also influenced by the writings of Locke, Rousseau, Adam Smith and John Milton.
To meet the additional expenditure of the standing army in the American Colonies, England decided that American Colonists should bear that expense. So, George Greenville during the reign of George III passed the Stamp Act in 1765. According to the Act in the American Colonies, the government papers, legal documents, receipts should be written or printed on Stamp Paper. The tax which was collected from this stamp was to be used for the expenditure of the Standing Army in America. It created a storm in America. They destroyed the stamp papers, and stated “No Taxation without Representation” or “Taxation without representation is tyranny”.
In 1773, Lord North introduced a new Tea Act that allowed the East India Company to sell tea directly in America. It created a severe reaction among the Americans. The agitators in Boston formed the ‘Boston Tea Party’. The chief motive of this party was to resist the East India Company’s attempt to sell tea in America. On 16 December 1773, under the leadership of Samuel Adams, some agitators of the Boston Tea Party entered into the ship in the disguise of Red Indians and threw 343 chests of the tea into the Sea. This event was famous as ‘The Boston Tea Riot’. Out of anger, Lord North passed the Boston Port Act in 1774 and the Port was closed. This incident gave an impetus to the American War of Independence.
The activities of Lord North prompted the Americans to unite against British Imperialism. All the thirteen Colonies (Virginia, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia), met in Philadelphia in 1775. They sent a petition in association with an Olive Branch to the British Parliament demanding the repeal of the thirteen Acts passed by the British Parliament since 1765. This is known as the famous ‘Olive Branch Petition.
On 4th July 1776, the thirteen American Colonies met at Philadelphia for the second time. A paper was drafted by Thomas Jefferson and this Declaration of Independence was unanimously accepted in Congress by the thirteen American Colonies. The declaration was—”That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved”.
Firstly, the thirteen colonies of America were freed from the clutches of their Mother Country. They together formed the United States of America. That is the reason, why you can see thirteen stripes in the US flag called “Star-sprangled banner”. In 1787, the thirteen Colonies met at Philadelphia and passed the constitution of the United States of America and George Washington became the First President of United States of America. Did you know that the number of states expanded from the original thirteen to fifty today? Each new state has been admitted on an equal footing with the existing states. The stars in the flag got added after each state got added.
The Independence of the Americans influenced the victims of Imperialism and the oppressed people in other countries. The French people fought against aristocracy and French Revolution occurred in 1789. In 1782, Ireland declared her independence and freed herself from the clutches of England. The American War of Independence gave a serious setback to British Colonialism and destroyed her arrogance. The ‘Declaration of Rights’ of Thomas Jefferson inspired people to fight for their rights following which, America became a democratic nation.
The American independence inspired the Indian Nationalist movement, and as a result, we gained Independence from the British in 1947. Finally, the curse of Imperialism ended and the majority of the countries are free today.