Much like us today, American colonists thought of themselves as a free people.

They viewed governance through a lens called Radical Whig Theory, a political ideology stating that individuals within a free society must jealously guard their liberty and be wary of any government encroachment. The theory holds that freedom is hard to keep, and much easier to lose.

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So as the abuses and usurpations of the crown grew larger, the colonists felt it was their duty to throw off such a government. If they were not willing to act, they themselves would be too morally corrupt to deserve freedom and liberty.

In order to act, to resist encroachments from the King, the colonists formed the first Continental Congress. In return, the crown declared the colonies in rebellion, setting out to quash the colonial uprising. Many experts believe it was this action by the crown that pushed the colonies to fully revolt.

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With their ideological foundation in Whig Theory, intertwined with John Locke’s classical liberal ideas, the colonists threw off the chains of British oppression to establish a new democratic order.

You can watch the full episode of America’s Founding with Professor Sarah Burns below: