"What do we mean by the Revolution?" John Adams asked Thomas Jefferson in 1815. "The war? That was no part of the Revolution. It was only an effect and consequence of it." As the distinguished historian Thomas P. Slaughter shows in this landmark history, the roots of the Revolution went back even further than Adams may have realized. In Slaughter's account, colonists in British North America starting in the early seventeenth century chafed under imperial rule. Though successive British kings called them lawless, they insisted on their moral courage and political principles, and regarded their independence as a great virtue. Their struggles to define this independence took many forms: from New England and Nova Scotia to New York and Pennsylvania and south to the Carolinas, colonists resisted unsympathetic royal governors, smuggled to evade British duties, and organized for armed uprisings. In the eighteenth century-especially after victories over France-the British were eager to crush these rebellions, but American opposition only intensified. In Independence, Slaughter resets and clarifies the terms of this remarkable development, showing how and why a critical mass of colonists determined that they could not be both independent and subject to the British Crown. By 1775-76, they had become revolutionaries-willing to go to war to defend their independence, not simply to gain it.