Politics and Government
American Revolution
Colonial America
Declaration of Independence

Why did some colonists question whether independence was a sensible policy?



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Answer 1

  • Fear
  • A desire to be taken care of by a higher authority
  • Lack of confidence in their own ability to survive
  • Lack of confidence in their fellow man
  • Had a better deal under the old system
  • Most people are followers
  • Most people just follow the status quo
  • A desire to belong to something larger.

Answer 2

It depends on the particular colony for which independence was being considered. However, there are some general trends.

Stability: Revolutions and Independence Movements are typically sources of instability and most people would prefer to live lives with some small discomforts than to invite the chaos of regime change.

Unconvinced:The rationale provided for why independence is necessary either does not apply to a given person or is not persuasive enough as a reason to justify rebelling. It could also be that the rebels do not appear to be able to either be victorious against the colonizer or achieve the high-minded goals they claim to be persuing.

Devil You Know:The leaders subsequent to independence could be much worse than those who rule currently from afar. They could be more corrupt, more violent, more prejudicial/sectarian, etc. It may be better to tolerate what you have than take a gamble on a new regime that you cannot predict.

Loss of Privileged Status: In some colonies, there are caste/class divides where certain individuals have an elevated or protected status (such as Pied Noirs in Algeria or Peninsulares in Latin America). These individuals have a vested interest in the colonial system continuing because independence will lead to a loss of their elevated or protected status.

Loss of Normal Status: In some colonies, the leaders of the indepedence movement are doing so from a standpoint that they are defending the rights and securing the independence for a certain ethnic/religious/social etc. group that does not include certain residents of the territory. These non-included persons often do not support independence because they could lose average/normal status and become the victims of discrimination and repressive laws under independence.

Advantage of Colonizer:There may be select advantages to the people under the control of the colonizer because of the colonizer's presence. It could be that the colonizer protects them from military invasion from nearby countries, invests in the development of the colony's infrastructure, provides a stable currency, prevents sectarian violence, etc. These benefits from the colonizer may sufficient enough to disincentivize independence movements (such as Gibraltar).