How the American Government Was Different

More of This Feature

The Declaration of Independence: Cry for Freedom
The Revolutionary War: Keeping Independence
The Articles of Confederation
The Making of the Constitution

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Part 1: Having Their Say

The one idea that fired the imaginations of the American people the most during the Revolutionary War was the idea that they should have a say in how their government treated them. "No Taxation Without Representation" was an example of this: The American people didn't appreciate the fact that the British government, an entire ocean away, was making taxes that applied to them. They couldn't tell the King or Parliament that the taxes were too high or just plan unfair because the English government was too far away. And when the people tried to complain to their local English leaders, they got referred to the King. They couldn't win.

They also thought that they should have a right to approve or disapprove of the people in the government. Along with that idea of "No Taxation Without Representation" went the idea that they didn't have any representation at all. In the United States today, people vote for who they want to represent them. This holds true for all levels of government: federal, state, and local. But in the American Colonies of the 18th Century, Great Britain called the shots and the people that the King or Parliament wanted to be government leaders were in charge. If the American people didn't like it, they could always leave.

So what was the answer? They decided to fight for the right to have their say. This was the basis of the Revolutionary War.

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