No Taxation Without Repesentation
Explain the meaning of the revolutionary slogan ‘no taxation without representation’. How did that express the core values of the new American political culture? Under American Revolution we understand politic developments in British colonies in North America in 1775-1783, which ended up creating the United States. They were caused by the unwillingness of the colonies to obey to the interests of the metropolis.
The slogan that best expressed the cause of the revolution was ‘No taxation without representation’. It was widely used as a main complaint to royalty and colonial administration during the American Revolution.
The slogan originated in the 50 – 60 years of the XVIII century, when British colonists in America began to realize that in spite of their large number and business activities, which are taxed, they have no representation in the Parliament and cannot exercise their rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, adopted in 1689. Let’s look a little bit closer to the history. In the 1760s British Parliament for the first time started a massive taxation of Americans, violating the fundamental bourgeois legal precept – no taxation without representation.
Residents of the province were used to and wanted to continue to pay only the taxes that have been approved by their own elected representatives in local assemblies. Britain took, in addition, a law forbidding Americans to move to the vacant land. This law affected rich landowners, whose entrepreneurial appetites were dramatically reduced; and also small and poor farmers, who had been taken away a cherished dream of their own land. It was followed by political repression: restrictions on freedom of religion, the abolition of jury trials, the privacy of home and property, entry of the British troops in North America.
Many of these decrees and laws came from the monarch, but in contrast to earlier times the freedom and rights of Americans have been actively suppressed and limited also by the British Parliament. Since the 1760s Britain actually began to rule in North America as an absolute monarchy, trying to impose conditions inherent in feudal society. Americans cherish for more than a half century bourgeois social order, were shocked by their attempt to create a new absolutism. The 1760-1770-ies were characterized by the democratization of the political consciousness of Americans and American political culture.
An ideological revolution was developing in America, that prepared and made possible a half decade later, the political revolution. Democratization touched a political practice in North America also. Previously unknown forms of political action of the people were developing: mass gatherings, meetings, rallies. Thus was formed the immediate or direct democracy, that started to compete with representative democracy. All sorts of amateur political organizations were created; the most prominent among them was the “Sons of Liberty”.
The most prominent representative of the moderate stage and course of the anti-colonial movement was James Otis. He was most famously associated with the phrase, “taxation without representation is tyranny”. In the 1760s he became a political oracle of American patriots. In 1761 in the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, Otis condemned the English decree, empowers customs colonies search procedure without judicial authorization of any dwelling to retrieve contraband. Otis argued that the famous English Bill of Rights and Habeas Corpus Act, which guaranteed inviolability of the person, property and housing, equally apply to Americans.
No law or decree can be accepted that contradicts these basic acts which Otis after Blackstone called the Constitution. Otis turned the English Constitution and natural law in two main pillars to protect the interests of Americans. Demonstrating brilliant erudition and perseverance, he drew from the English constitution provisions that guarantee citizens the security of property, and the right to representative government and trial by jury, and freedom of religion, and many other rights, which were based on liberal bourgeois world order.
Otis has worked hard to prove the importance of the struggle for representation of North American provinces in Parliament. But his tenacity has not conceived a significant impact on his compatriots. Common sense told patriots, that a small group of colonial deputies in parliament cannot change its policy. Samuel Adams, who was established in the late 1760-1770’s at the leading position in the patriotic movement of Massachusetts, states that the colonies cannot be fully represented in Parliament and that their representation at Westminster will turn against provinces itself.
That would legitimize parliamentary tyranny for North America, and that therefore, a struggle of patriots for seats in the English legislature leads them astray. American political culture contains a number of core ideals, values and standards that define the relationship between citizens and government, and citizens to one another. Different societies view politics differently, and have different approaches to the view of society. In America, the views of society are liberty, equality, democracy, and individualism.
Liberty as right to be free; equality as equality of opportunity; democracy as elected officials from the people; and individualism as the individual’s rights are valued above those of the state (government). The American system creates in people a confidence that each and every person have to play by the same rules, and the role of the government is to protect these rules; confidence in the will of the people to support enterprise and entrepreneurship, to persistent work anywhere. And even if at some point people are unsuccessful, they will be making efforts to achieve success again and again.