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Leading to the Revolution


TIMELINE

1763 – Fr/Ind. War ends, Pontiac’s Rebellion, Proclamation 1763 1764 – Sugar Act, Currency Act 1765 – Stamp Act, Sons of Liberty formed 1766 – Grenville replaced by Rockingham as PM, Stamp Act repealed, Declaratory Act 1767 – Townshend Acts 1770 – Townshend duties repealed (except tea), Boston Massacre 1772 – Parts of Townshend Acts implement, Gaspee Affair, Committees of Correspondence formed 1773 – Tea Act, Boston Tea Party 1774 – Coercive/Intolerable Acts, Quebec Act, 1st Continental Congress 1775 – Battles of Lexington and Concord, 2nd Continental Congress 1776 – Paine's Common Sense, Declaration of Independence

Albany Plan (1754)


  • Ben Franklin envisioned Albany Plan of Union to create a unified colonial government

  • Initially to convince Mohawk Indians (from Iroquois Confederation) to stay with British colonies against French in looming French and Indian War

  • First stab at a united colonial government

  • Would have been empowered to collect taxes and raise a military.

  • Delegations from Maryland, Penn., NY, Conn., RI, Mass., and New Hampshire attended Congress.

  • Plan didn't succeed

  • ​Colonists didn't want to cede power to control and tax themselves

  • British worried that united colonists would be too strong.

French and Indian War (Part of Seven Years War) (1754-1763)


  • French + Indian allies vs. Britain and colonists (and some Indians)

  • Causes

  • ​French wanted to protect fur trade and control Ohio Valley region, built fortified outposts

  • English colonists wanted to expand west into Ohio Valley

  • Britain wins war, French abandon New France

  • Canada goes to Britain,

  • Louisiana split at Mississippi between British and Spanish

  • French keep sugar islands in West Indies

  • Spanish cede Spanish Florida to British


Pontiac's Rebellion (1763)

  • English victory spelled trouble for Native Americans who had been able to use French and English disputes to their advantage

  • Negotiated their allegiances in return for land, goods and right to be left alone.

  • They particularly disliked English because English expansionism more disruptive too their way of life

  • French has sent few colonists and many of those were fur trappers who didn’t settle permanently.

  • After war, English raised price of goods sold to Native Americans (because they had monopoly) and stopped paying rent on their western forts.

  • In response, Ottawa war chief Pontiac rallied group of tribes in Ohio valley and attacked colonial outposts (Pontiac’s uprising)

  • British used smallpox-infected blankets to help defeat Ottawa

Proclamation Line (1763)

  • In response to Pontiac’s Rebellion

  • British government forbade colonial settlement west of rivers running through Appalachians

  • And forced settlers who had already moved there to return to the east

  • Colonists angry because they believed they had fought war for territory

  • British drew line to try to prevent a costly war between Indians and colonists (British in debt)

  • Proclamation marks end of period of "salutary neglect"

  • First in series of restrictions imposed on colonists by British Parliament

George Grenville

  • British had accrued a great debt because of Seven Years War

  • New King, George III, and his Prime Minister, George Grenville, felt colonists should help pay expenses of empire (at the time, colonists paid lower taxes than those living in Britain)

  • Colonists believed they had contributed to war by providing soldiers

Sugar Act (1764)

  • New duty (tax on imports) to stop molasses smugglers

  • Molasses or sugar was used to make rum which was traded for slaves

  • Before

  • Navigation Acts were part of mercantilism (colonies exist to serve mother country)

  • Molasses Act of 1733 put high tariff on molasses imported from French West Indies (sugar from French West Indies was cheaper than sugar from British West Indies)

  • Act was intended to protect British trade - not raise revenue income

  • Molasses Act was regularly violated because it was cheaper to bribe customs officials and avoid conviction in trials judged by a jury of peers.

  • Also because of "salutary neglect," Britain didn't heavily enforce trade laws.

  • John Hancock made his fortune from smuggling French molasses

  • Molasses was used to make rum which was traded for slaves

  • 1764

  • Sugar Act lowered duty on molasses (from 6 p. to 3 p. per gallon) but strictly enforced smuggling laws.

  • Merchants and their allies objected

  • Brought up issue of "no taxation without representation" (see below)

Vice-Admiralty Courts

  • Violators of Sugar Act were tried in "vice-admiralty courts"

  • Vice-admiralty courts were overseen by a single, British-appointed judge

  • Without deliberation of jury

  • Colonists complained that their rights as British citizens to have jury-trial were being violated.

Writs of Assistance

  • Warrants issued by British government permitting custom officials to enter any ship or building to search for smuggled goods

  • James Otis, a Bostonian lawyer

  • Said "writs of assistance" violated colonists' rights as British citizens

  • The Fourth Amendment in the U.S. Constitution

  • "No illegal searches and seizures"

  • Was included in reaction to the British violations.

Currency Act (1764)

  • Ban on paper money as legal tender from New England to the rest of the American colonies.

  • Colonists would have to use gold or silver coin (which were in short supply)

Quartering Act (1765)

  • Required colonial governments to feed and house the soldiers from Britain.

  • ​Britain needed to give veterans jobs after Seven Years War rather than absorb them too quickly into the British workplace

  • Soldiers were to be given:

  • Housing in inns, livery stables, ale houses and, if necessary, in uninhabited houses, barns and other buildings.

  • Food, alcohol, candles, vinegar, salt, bedding, cooking utensils

  • Presence of soldiers heightened tensions.

  • Sought off-hour employment competing with colonists for jobs.

  • Most colonies circumvented the Act

  • Act was was allowed to expire in 1767 (reinstated in Intolerable Act)

  • 3rd Amendment of the Constitution (Bill of Rights) (Ratified 1791):

  • "No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law."

Stamp Act (1765)


  • Required stamps to be bought and placed on documents

  • diplomas, newspapers, land titles, playing cards, liquor licences, marriage and birth certificates and other printed items.

  • Already used in England

  • Unlike tax on trade, this was a direct tax on colonists.

  • Income to be used, in part, to cover costs of British troops in America

  • Violators to be tried in vice-admiralty courts (see above)

  • Loud vocal opposition

  • In editorials and pamphlets (because newspapers taxed)

  • In bars (because of cost of liquor licenses)

“No taxation without representation”

  • Colonists did not elect members to Parliament so, they felt, they did not have a vote on taxes.

  • Colonists believed only colonist represents in local assemblies, and not Britain's Parliament, had right to tax them.

Virtual v. Actual Representation

  • Virtual representation

  • Britain's government argued that Members of Parliament (MPs) represented all British subjects and had a right to enact taxes on the colonies.

  • Actual Representation

  • Colonists argued that there were no actual representatives of the colonists in Parliament

  • Colonists at this point did NOT advocate secession

  • Didn’t want representation – just right to collect own taxes.

Stamp Act Congress (1765)

  • Representatives from 9 colonies met in New York City (before, was uncoordinated response)

  • Pamphlet by James OtisRights of British Colonies Asserted and Proved

  • Laid out colonists argument against the taxes, bestseller

  • Congress issued Stamp Act Resolves (drafted by Patrick Henry)

  • Protesting loss of British rights and liberties (like right to trial by jury)

  • Challenged constitutionality of Stamp and Sugar acts because no actual colonial representation in Parliament.

  • Patrick Henry also compared George III to tyrannical former British king, Charles I (who had been beheaded) = statement was considered treasonous.

Sons of liberty (Stamp Act riots) (1765)


  • Secret groups of well-organized Patriots

  • Mostly from Boston and New York City

  • Sometimes took law into their own hands

  • Enforced nonimportation agreements

  • Sometimes by tarring and feathering violators

  • Harassed stamp collectors and unpopular officials

  • By ransacking their homes (example, home of Gov. Thomas Hutchinson)

  • Confiscating their money

  • Hanging effigies (models/dolls) of stamp agents on "liberty poles"

  • Action of the mobs prevented tax collectors to do their jobs

  • 1766 Stamp Act was repealed.

Declaratory Act (1766)

  • George III replaced Prime Minister Grenville (colonists hated him) with Lord Rockingham who opposed Stamp Act

  • Rockingham repealed Stamp Act

  • But linked repeal to passage of Declaratory Act

  • Which asserted the British government's right to tax and legislate in all cases anywhere in colonies

Intellectual source of complaints

  • English Common Law and 1215 Magna Carta (1215)

  • Enlightenment

  • John Locke - wrote that individuals have "natural rights," among them, "life, liberty, property"

  • Montesquieu - said separation of power in government prevented arbitrary rule

  • English Bill of Rights (1689)

  • Signed by English monarchs William and Mary after Glorious Revolution

  • British Whigs - who denounced political corruption

Townshend Act (1767)

  • Rockingham replaced by William Pitt (who was ill)

  • Real power went to Charles Townshend (head of treasury) who drafted Townshend Acts.

  • Who drafted Townshend Acts

  • Townshend thought colonists wouldn't object if Britain taxed imports (like Molasses Act) but he was wrong

  • Townshend laws

  • Taxed goods imported directly from Britain (no mercantile justification)

  • Glass, lead, paper, paint and tea imported into colonies

  • Some of tax collected set aside for payment of tax collectors

  • Meant Colonial assemblies could no longer withhold government officials' wages to get their way

  • Created more vice-admiralty courts and new government offices to enforce Crown’s will

  • Also gave customs officers new powers to arrest smugglers

  • Suspended NY legislature

  • Because it had refused to comply with law requiring colonist to supply British troops

  • Re-instituted writs of assistance

  • License giving British power to search any place suspected of hiding smuggled goods

  • Resistance

  • Colonial resistance more effective with each tax

Reaction to Townshend Acts

  • Massachusetts Assembly sent letter

  • Massachusetts Circular Letter

  • Written by Sam Adams 1768

  • Sent to all other assemblies asking them to protest new measures in unison

  • Crown ordered assemblies not to discuss Massachusetts letter (all would talk)

  • Rallies, boycotts and support of “commoners”

  • Merchants in Boston, NY and Philly boycotted British goods

  • Women replaced British imports with “American” products (homespun)

  • Non-importation and non-consumption of British imports (to hurt Britain's export market)

  • Result of resistance

  • 1769 colonial imports declined sharply.

  • Who

  • Sam Adams and James Otis led resistance in VA

  • Washington, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson

  • Parliament dissolved colonial assemblies

Boston massacre (Mar. 1770)


  • Anger over soldiers presence in Boston turned violent

  • Mob pelted group of soldiers with rock-filled snowballs

  • Boston Massacre = 5 colonist killed (including African Crispus Attucks)

  • John Adams defended the soldiers in court

  • To uphold the tradition of fair trial to all accused.

Gaspee Affair (Jun. 1772)

  • HMS Gaspee was a British customs schooner

  • Enforced the Navigation Acts near Rhode Island

  • Jun. 9, the Gaspee began chasing Rhode Island smugglers and ran aground.

  • Colonists rejoiced and 8 men boarded the ship and burned it to the water line.

  • The arson was seen as an act of rebellion.

  • British led an investigation (Gaspee Commission)

  • But no one turned over the culprits

Committee of Correspondence (1772)

  • To communicate with other colonies about British activities

  • To convince more citizens to take interest in the conflict.

Tea Act (1773)

  • The British East India Company

  • The Company managed India for the British until the Indians rebelled in 1857 (Sepoy Rebellion resulting in British Raj)

  • Rich Britons also had stock in the company - including a number of members of parliament.

  • In order to save the company from bankruptcy, the British government tried to unload East India Company tea on the colonists.

  • British PM Lord North granted British East India Tea Company a monopoly on tea trade in colonies + share of duties collected on tea sales

  • Tea was cheaper tea for the colonists (even cheaper than untaxed illegal Dutch tea)

  • But Parliament had also included another small tax on tea imports.


Boston Tea Party (1773)

  • In Boston, colonists refused to allow ships to unload cargo

  • The Royal Governor refused to allowed the ships to leave harbor

  • Dec. 16, 1773 group of Sons of Liberty members disguised as Mohawk Indians (so not identified and fun) boarded ship and dumped cargo into Boston Harbor (10,000 pounds).

Coercive Act/Intolerable Acts (1774)

  • Response to Boston Tea Party

  • Acts

  • Boston Port Act

  • British government closed Boston port to all but essential trade (food, firewood) until tea paid for

  • New Quartering Act​

  • The old Quartering Act expired

  • Soldiers were to be housed in unoccupied buildings

  • The governor had the authority to enforce the arrangements.

  • Justice Act

  • ​All British officials charged with crimes (including murder) would be tried in England or another colony for trial

  • Massachusetts Government Act

  • Tightened English control over Massachusetts government and its courts.

  • Ended the colony's 1691 charter making it a crown colony

  • Substituted a military government under Gen. Thomas Gage (British commander of the North American forces)

  • No town meetings without approval

  • Reaction

  • British had hoped the Acts would scare other colonists - instead it galvanized them to act as a group ("the cause of Massachusetts is the cause of all of us")

  • Convinced many that semi-autonomy over

  • Prompted colonists to join together in the First Continental Congress


Quebec Act (1774)

  • Granted greater liberties to Catholics in Canada

  • Majority of citizens in Canada were Catholic

  • Because it was a French colony until French and Indian War.

  • Colonists didn't trust Catholics

  • Extended boundaries of Quebec Territory

  • Impeding westward expansion of colonists

  • Quebec Act restored French civil law

  • Appointed governor

  • No local legislature

  • Colonists feared British would impose a similar system in the rest of the colonies.

First Continental Congress (Sept. 5 - Oct. 26, 1774)

  • Who?

  • Joseph Galloway (conservative, PA)

  • Richard Henry Lee and Patrick Henry (radicals from VA)

  • Goals

  • To list American grievances

  • Develop strategy for addressing those grievances

  • Formulate colonial position on proper relationship between royal govt. and colonial govt.

  • List of laws colonists wanted repealed

  • Agreed to impose boycott on British goods until grievances redressed.

  • Agreed to form a Continental Association

  • Towns set up committees of observation to enforce boycott

  • Major step toward independence

  • Supplanted British-sanctioned assemblies in many colonies

Suffolk Resolves (Sept. 9, 1774) text

  • Declaration by leaders of Suffolk County Massachusetts

  • Reaffirmed allegiance to George III

  • Said Coercive Acts were

  • A "gross infraction on our rights," unconstitutional and an "attempt by a wicked administration to enslave America."

  • Therefore Massachusetts does not have to obey any part of the acts.

  • Suggested that counties of Massachusetts boycott all importation and consumption of British goods (incl. other British colonies) until Intolerable Acts repealed

  • Endorsed by Continental Congress.

Concord and Lexington

  • British underestimated strength of movement

  • They believed if they arrested ringleaders and confiscated arsenals, violence averted

  • Troops sent to Concord, Mass. Apr. 1775

  • Had to pass through Lexington where confronted small colonial militia (minutemen)

  • Lexington

  • Someone fired shot

  • Battle of Lexington – minutemen 18 casualties (inc. 8 dead)

  • Concord

  • More minute waiting for British at Concord

  • "Shot heard around world" (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

  • Militia inflicted many casualties on British “redcoats” forcing them to retreat back to Boston.

Breed and Bunker Hill, June 17, 1775

  • British defeated colonists in Breed's Hill (sometimes called "Bunker Hill")

  • But suffered losses at hands of Americans

Loyalists and Patriots

  • Loyalists

  • Loyal to Crown,

  • Government officials, Anglican priests, merchant’s dependent on trade with England, many religious and ethnic minorities who feared persecution

  • Many slaves believed chances for liberty were better with British (See Lord Dunmore's Emancipation Proclamation offering freedom to slaves who joined British in War of Independence)

  • Patriots

  • White Protestant property holders and gentry

  • Urban artisans

  • Rest of population

  • Hoped conflict between Britain and colonists would blow over.

  • Quakers of Pennsylvania were pacifists.

Second Continental Congress 1775

  • Weeks after Lexington and Concord

  • Headed by John Hancock

  • Established Continental Army led by George Washington (a well-liked Southerner - chosen to strengthen support in areas in South with loyalists)

  • Printed money

  • Create government offices to supervise policy

John Dickinson and the Olive Branch Petition

  • John Dickinson believed colonists should reconcile with Britain

  • Used Olive Branch Petition

  • Adopted by Continental Congress July 5, 1775 as last ditch effort to avoid armed conflict

  • As siege of Boston continued

  • Colonies still loyal to king

  • Asked George III to call off hostilities until situation could be worked out peacefully.

  • Radical delegates convinced Congress to order attack on British troops in Quebec hoping the attack would convince French in Quebec to rebel.

  • Americans captured Montreal but French didn’t rebel

  • Convinced British officials that no hope for reconciliation

  • King George III refused to look at Olive Branch Petition

  • He was not interested in the proposal since he considered colonists in open rebellion (boycotts, attacks on royal officials, resistance at Lexington and Concord)

  • George issued Proclamation for suppressing Rebellion and Sedition, stating that the colonies were now “open and avowed enemies”

  • With no compromise likely, the Continental Congress increasingly began to act like an independent government.

Thomas Paine's "Common Sense," Jan. 1776

  • Outlined arguments in favor of colonial independence and republicanism over monarchy (he called King George III "Royal Brute of Britain")

  • Some arguments

  • Hereditary monarchy is outdated institution ("any child or idiot" could fill the post)

  • Island shouldn't rule a continent

  • Americans should be committed to fighting battles in Europe

  • Bigger success than James Otis’s Rights of British Colonies Asserted and Provided.

  • Paine’s pamphlet (written in plain language) sold more than 100,000 copies in first 3 months, despite the fact that most of the colonies 2 million people couldn't read (higher literacy in New England because of Puritan legacy of teaching children to read the Bible)

  • Said "'Tis time to part."

  • Convinced colonists to fight for independence, not reconciliation

Richard Henry Lee

  • Lee was Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress

  • Presented Virginia's resolution to the Continental Congress;

  • "Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states...absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved."

  • Loyalists and moderates left Congress, Patriots took over

Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

  • Commissioned to Thomas Jefferson

  • Based on the philosophy of John Locke of government

  • Enumerates colonies’ grievances against the King of England (George III)

  • Also includes principles that the government has the responsibility to protect individual freedoms and rights ("life, liberty and pursuit of happiness")

  • Signed July 4, 1776 by John Hancock, who was the president of the Second Continental Congress, and others


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