Why Farmers Fought
Until 1774, farmers passively observed the agitation against parliamentary taxation rather than actively engaging in the anti-Parliament agitation. One reason was that the Stamp Act affected them far less directly than it did urban populations. The Stamp Act was an excise tax, a type which farmers had always favored over taxes on persons and property which bore more heavily on rural society. Farmers mobilized at last in 1774 after the Boston Port Bill closed the port as punishment for Bostonians dumping tea in their harbor. Rural towns and counties formed committees, passed resolutions, and organized militia companies. Farmers’ economic interests were not directly affected; they were soon to accept the Association which voluntarily closed American ports to put pressure on Britain. They seemed rather to see the Port Bill as a government attack on the people in contradiction of its primary obligation to protect. Farm areas in Pennsylvania and throughout North America formed committees to speak and act for the people. They enforced the Association which forbade exports to Britain and organized militia companies in preparation for an expected British effort to enforce the laws. Farm areas demonstrated their capacity for acting as a body and so were not dismayed when Independence was declared in 1776 and government by the people instituted.
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