In order to understand current issues, we need to understand the underlying foundation that this nation was built on. Our nation started as thirteen self-governing colonies under the control of Britain. A series of developments from 1747 until 1800 led to the colonies: assuming their independence, creating their own form of government, and modifying that governmental structure over time. This article, as well as upcoming articles in this series will provide that insight.
In the 1740s, the colonists were beginning to establish trade relations in North American territory claimed by the French, who obstructed that effort consistently. In 1754 war broke out on the continent between the two nations, and escalated to a global conflict by 1756. The battle between the two nations on the North American continent was known as the French-Indian war, while the larger global conflict was called the Seven Year War. Hostilities ended around the globe in 1763.
This was to be only the beginning of Britain’s problems on the North American continent however. Britain had incurred heavy debts during the Seven Year war and wanted to levy taxes and duties on the colonists to help replenish their treasury. The colonists felt that they were not represented in the British Parliament and were therefore not subject to taxation. The dispute escalated from 1764 until 1774, with the British Parliament enacting successively harsher acts that met with growing discontent by the colonies. Finally, in 1774, the Parliament enacted a series of laws that were referred to as the Intolerable Acts. These acts caused twelve of the thirteen colonies to send delegates to Pennsylvania to formulate a united response to the acts later in that year. That collection of delegates was known as the First Continental Congress. Their meeting resulted in agreements among the twelve colonies to work together to address Britain. They also agreed to meet again in May of 1775 to consider their future course if the Intolerable Acts were not repealed.
Less than a month before that meeting of the Second Continental Congress was to occur, the revolutionary war began with the battles of Lexington and Concord. A year later, in June of 1776, the members created two different committees. One committee was tasked with drafting the document declaring the colonist’s formal separation from Britain. That document became the Declaration of Independence. The second committee was charged with drafting a document that defined a more structured role for the Continental Congress. The final version of that document became known as the Articles of Confederation. It formed a union of the colonies.
The next article in this series will provide an overview of the Articles of Confederation. Subsequent articles in this series will let us see how the Articles of Confederation evolved into the Constitution that guides the nation today.
For a more detailed explanation of these events, be sure to visit my blog and explore the articles relating to the founding of the nation and the history of the Constitution.