from http://lewrockwell.com/nock/nock22.1.html It was said at the time, I believe, that the actual causes of the colonial revolution of 1776 would never be known. The causes assigned by our schoolbooks may be dismissed as trivial; the various partisan and propagandist views of that struggle and its origins may be put down as incompetent. Great evidential value may be attached to the long line of adverse commercial legislation laid down by the British State from 1651 onward, especially to that portion of it which was enacted after the merchant-State established itself firmly in England in consequence of the events of 1688. This legislation included the Navigation Acts, the Trade Acts, acts regulating the colonial currency, the act of 1752 regulating the process of levy and distress, and the procedures leading up to the establishment of the Board of Trade in 1696. These directly affected the industrial and commercial interests in the colonies, though just how seriously is perhaps an open question – enough at any rate, beyond doubt, to provoke deep resentment. Over and above these, however, if the reader will put himself back into the ruling passion of the time, he will at once appreciate the import of two matters which have for some reason escaped the attention of historians. The first of these is the attempt of the British State to limit the exercise of the political means in respect of rental values. In 1763 it forbade the colonists to take up lands lying westward of the source of any river flowing through the Atlantic seaboard. The deadline thus established ran so as to cut off from preemption about half of Pennsylvania and half of Virginia and everything to the west thereof. This was serious. With the mania for speculation running as high as it did, with the consciousness of opportunity, real or fancied, having become so acute and so general, this ruling affected everybody. One can get some idea of its effect by imagining the state of mind of our people at large if stock gambling had suddenly been outlawed at the beginning of the last great boom in Wall Street a few years ago. For by this time the colonists had begun to be faintly aware of the illimitable resources of the country lying westward; they had learned just enough about them to fire their imagination and their avarice to a white heat. The seaboard had been pretty well taken up, the freeholding farmer had been pushed back farther and farther, population was coming in steadily, the maritime towns were growing. Under these conditions, "western lands" had become a center of attraction. Rental- values depended on population, the population was bound to expand, and the one general direction in which it could expand was westward, where lay an immense and incalculably rich domain waiting for preemption. What could be more natural than that the colonists should itch to get their hands on this territory, and exploit it for themselves alone, and on their own terms, without risk of arbitrary interference by the British State? – and this of necessity meant political independence. It takes no great stress of imagination to see that anyone in those circumstances would have felt that way, and that colonial resentment against the arbitrary limitation which the edict of 1763 put upon the political means must therefore have been great. The actual state of land speculation during the colonial period will give a fair idea of the probabilities in the case. Most of it was done on the company system; a number of adventurers would unite, secure a grant of land, survey it, and then sell it off as speedily as they could. Their aim was a quick turnover; they did not, as a rule, contemplate holding the land, much less settling it – in short, their ventures were a pure gamble in rental values. Among these prerevolutionary enterprises was the Ohio company, formed in 1748 with a grant of half a million acres; the Loyal Company, which like the Ohio Company was composed of Virginians; the Transylvania, the Vandalia, Scioto, Indiana, Wabash, Illinois, Susquehanna, and others whose holdings were smaller.