Department

History

Degree

Master of Arts (MA)

Chair

Samuel C. Smith

Primary Subject Area

History, General; History, United States; Political Science, General

Keywords

American Revolution, Continental Congress, George III, Ministers, Parliament, Planters

Disciplines

American Politics | History | Political History | Political Science | United States History

Abstract

When describing the imperial crisis of 1763-1776 between the British government and the American colonists, historians often refer to Great Britain as a united entity unto itself, a single character in the imperial conflict. While this offers rhetorical benefits, it oversimplifies the complex constitutional relationship between the American periphery and the British center. Instead, the path to independence is a story of how Americans rejected the authority of each part of the central British government in turn. Americans drew a clear distinction between protesting the authority of the British Parliament and that of King George III himself. Rather than recalling the nature of their protest against the British ministry or Parliament, a deeper understanding of why Americans rejected the authority of the British monarchy may explain why a disagreement concerning the imperial constitution became a struggle for American independence. A deep look at the experience of the delegates of the Continental Congress, Southern planters, and patriot ministers helps to explain why many Americans rejected royal authority. Ultimately, for each of these groups, the turn toward independence was the result of a sudden breakdown in their relationship with King George III.

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