I have read a bit into the subject, looking at the histories of Britain, its colonies and of European history.
I have this question to ask to discuss:
Were the American Colonies justified in declaring independence from Britain?
I personally think that for the reason of freedom, was actually very poorly justified, and actually damaged Liberal movements for greater representation in governments and enfranchisement of people.
Firstly, is that Britain had one of the freest governance systems in Europe. Granted, it was a Republican Oligarchy with a few of the rising Bourgeoisie who were gradually getting in. However, in much of the rest of Europe, most countries were ran as Autocratic Kingdoms (Poland-Lithuania being an exception, and even then it was a puppet state of the Tsars.) that greatly suppressed individual freedoms and rights for most peoples. Britain also had corpus habeas in place at the time, and was less restrictive on the press than other European states at the time.
Secondly, a large majority of the population of the colonies was actually quite ambivalent towards Britain. The Boston Tea Party was treated with some shock by the colonies themselves, and Ben Franklin himself said that the destroyed tea should actually have been repaid. The Boston massacre was also a case whereby a large crowd of persons cornered a small number of British soldiers against a wall, pelting them with various objects until the soldiers responded with a few gunshots. The soldiers were tried on manslaughter, and even defended for their actions, partly on account of self defence against an angry mob. The British government however, badly managed the dealings with the radicals, and allowed them to convince residents of the colonies to support their cause for independence. The taxes themselves were also quite low, with the average British man paying a far greater deal in taxes than his American counterpart.
Fourthly, I believe that it actually damaged political movements in Europe for greater freedoms. During the War of Independence, the autocratic states of Europe saw it as a chance to destabilise Britain by providing military assistance, and the incidence of the Gordon riots of 1780 (Which were riots against laws that reduced official persecution of religious minorities) convinced a number in Europe that the freedoms established by the (Relatively) democratic British government destabilised the country. Democratic movements were suppressed as a result by the crowned heads of Europe, in turn helping them to become more radical in the process. When the French revolution broke out (Partly due to the success of the American war of independence and the massive deficit caused by helping the early USA), the rest of the countries of Europe enacted extremely harsh laws, and Britain in turn suspended habeas corpus as Europe collapsed into war and revolution. Although a massive part of this was due to ongoing social and economic changes as the Industrial revolution was starting to arrive, there is little doubt over the War of Independence contributing to this.
Finally, life in the early USA was worse in some regards than it had been under loose British rule. In order to help the American government manage the budget, a large amount of money was printed that led to rather high inflation, with soldiers wages constantly declining during this time as a result that led to a number of hardships on the American military.
The government, by 1780, was forced to requisition food in order to keep the army running. This inefficient system barely kept the American military. The American economy suffered, along with its people for several decades, and only started to improve significantly in the early 19th century, partly due to the cotton plantations that were growing around this time.
That is my argument, in that there was no great justification for the war of independence, and I would like to see what others might have to say with regards to this.