AMERICAN REVOLUTIONThe grandson of George II, George III (1738-1820), acceeded to the throne in 1760. His reign lasted sixty years and is one of the longest in English history. He soon made himself unpopular by trying to restore the old authority of the Crown as it had been before the Glorious Revolution of 1689. He dismissed the Prime Minister, and surrounded himself with a number of incompetent ministers known as "the King's friends" since they acted according to his will. The corrupt parliamentary system re¬mained, but instead of being dominated by the Prime Minister, it was now managed by the King himself
Meanwhile the demand for liberty was growing on the other side of the Atlantic and relations with the American colonies were deteriorating. By 1770 the population had increased and was getting impatient of economic subordination to Britain and unwill¬ing to accept the rule, imposed by the Navigation Acts of the 17th century, that all American trade should be carried in British ships. Moreover, the colonies were forced to buy all manufactured goods from the home country To make matters worse several duties were imposed on legal dealings in America; colony after colony tried to evade them on the grounds that it was wrong to pay taxes to Britain when they had no right to elect their members at Westminster. "No taxation without representation" became their battle-cry. In 1770 all the unpopular du¬ties were repealed except the duty on tea; three years later some colonists threw a shipload of tea into Boston harbour rather than pay tax on it. This event was known as the Boston Tea Party. The British Government responded by closing the port; but the colonists decided to prevent British goods from entering America until the port was opened again. This was rebellion, and the Government decided to defeat it by force. The American War of Indepen¬dence (1775-1783) had begun.
A Continental Congress of delegates from all the colonies except Georgia met, and, in 1775, raised an army of which GEORGE WASHINGTON (1732-1799) was appointed commander-in-chief On 4th Ju1y 1776 in Philadelphia the Congress signed the Declaration of Independence, written by THOMAS JEFFERSON (1743-1826), a lawyer from Virginia. It was more than a statement that the colonies were a new nation, since it claimed that all men had a natural right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". It also stated that governments can only claim the right to rule if they have the ap¬proval of those they govern "the consent of the governed".
The British army was finally defeated, and with the Treaty of Versailles in 1783 recognised the independence of its former colonies. America became the symbol of a "new start" with its virgin territory, where people from all European countries could melt together to form a new rate. The new republic of the United States of America adopted a federal constitution in 1787 and George Washington became the first President. The colonists who remained loyal to Britain crossed into Canada.