[My son wrote this in Fifth Grade earlier this year in response to an essay question. It is disturbing that the United States has again devolved to a point where there are again "nobles" - the financial and political elite - who can do no wrong and suffer no consequences. It is similiar to a First Set of Rules and a Second Set of Rules, as described by Tom Ball.]
The American Colonists were justified in declaring independence from Great Britain because they wanted equality and liberty – not tyranny. Life in England was very different from that in the New World. At first glance, most would disagree. People were going about their various jobs, yet in the Colonies you would notice (after a while) that men rose in social and financial status not because of whom their forefathers were, but because of their own abilities – both physical and mental. In England, a person’s life was ruled and decided by kings, nobles, and the church. In America, opportunities for a new life and a new start tempted many people and still does. The British were trying to impose their wacky laws upon this new world. The colonists would not, and should not, have allowed that to happen. Colonists had been raised for generations judging, promoting, or demoting people based not upon their relatives or grandfather’s status, but upon their abilities. The Declaration of Independence echoes these ideas formally, with a long description of Britain’s many wrongdoings upon them – just so the reader of the document would not fall asleep.
As a avid reader I have come across many series, several of which are from the British point of view around the time of the American Revolution. One of these is about a boy born in one of the rough backstreets of London and grows up to rise through the ranks of the British Army and finally becomes a officer, a rank that from there up is normally reserved for nobles. The series clearly illustrates the difficulties of doing well in England if you were not a noble [but then again, if you were a noble, you still had to order everyone around (sarcastic tone)]. And, if you were a noble, it was impossible to not succeed in life. In the series, one of the generals was a complete idiot and, after making millions of mistakes, was only then finally dismissed – but with honor, so being a noble made you invincible (which wouldn’t make me want to be one of his soldiers/ subjects/ anyone near him). This was a form of tyranny, where you lived your life by rigid social rules.
Life in the colonies was almost the complete opposite. Any man or woman who wasn’t afraid of work and had skill, could become wealthy very quickly. The colonies were largely wilderness, thousands of miles across an ocean from England, where new rules for generations had evolved to meet the challenge of this new land. Many would argue that the colonists shouldn’t have rebelled over such a small matter as taxes, because in all, they amounted to only a dollar a year (to the value of perhaps $1,500 today, so those critics shouldn’t be talking). They also say that it is only 1/25th of what the people in England paid. I have two things to say to that: one, it was a new wilderness, with people who have been ignored by England for generations, so it was like trying to impose taxes on a rabid, wild, caveman; and two, that was their cover – their real reason for rebelling was the absolute despotism of King George III. These colonists had grown accustomed to this new way of life, with few rules, and if there were any, they were made by the people themselves to make life a little more fair and a little easier for the common good. They found it impossible to “co-operate” with Britain and accept the tyranny of their social ladder – because in the British ladder, the poor people had no rungs to hold on to – they just fell, while the nobles took the elevator.
To make matters worse on top of these differences, the King decided to resist the petitions of the colonists over and over again and responded with military action and further injustices. Among the wrongs done to the colonies, the King forced the colonists to house soldiers in their homes, and “plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the Lives of our people”. The King’s actions were a constant reminder of the tyranny of the nobles, and served to only fuel the fire of rebellion in the colonies further. The King’s repeated refusal to even consider justice and peace showed only the arrogance of the fat king and his belief in his utter, fanatical supremacy, which was only a result of his birth. To accept the rulings of the king was to crush what had been growing in the colonies for many generations, and was best expressed by Thomas Paine in Common Sense.
The Revolution was justified, and was destiny. The differences between the colonies and England had grown over generations until it was as if they were two different countries altogether. The leaders of the Revolution knew this and provoked the people to rebel so that they would be two different countries with two different sets of laws and two different systems; one with equality, and one without. I personally would rather grow up in a country like the colonies, unless I was a noble. But that was the point, only a tiny percentage of people could be nobles, while the rest would suffer, and that is not a good system of government.