The American Revolution What precipitated the War for Independence in the Thirteen Colonies?
The American Revolution There are many major events along the way to war. While it would be hard to point to any one event that singularly led to the Revolution, there is no doubt that the American view that they were entitled to the full democratic rights of Englishmen. The British view that the American colonies were just colonies to be used and exploited in whatever way best suited the Great Britain, insured that war was inevitable.
French and Indian War 1754-1763 The French and Indian War was a seven-year war between England and the American colonies, against the French and some of the Indians in North America. When the war ended, France was no longer in control of Canada. The Indians that had been threatening the American colonists were defeated. This war had become a world war. Great Britain spent a great deal of money fighting the war and colonists fully participated in this war. Both these facts were to have a profound effect on the future of the colonies. The French and Indian War was a continuation of a series of wars that had taken place between the French and British in North America. The French controlled the Mississippi River and claimed the Ohio River Valley as well. They began building forts in the area. The British started to build their own forts.
British Actions After the French Indian War The British had 10,000 troops in North America at the end of the French and Indian War. The British felt they had, and were, spending a great deal of money to defend the colonies. These massive forces were needed to protect the Colonists from Indian attacks. By war's end, the British found themselves in debt to the tune of 140 million pounds, an enormous sum for those times. The British tried to address both their problems: governing and protecting the Colonists, as well as, keeping their costs down. First, they issued new proclamations to protect the Indians from further encroachment by the colonists. They hoped this effort would decrease the violence between the Colonists and the Indians, thus decreasing the need for troops. Second, the British government decided to increase the enforcement of existing taxes on the Colonists and impose additional taxes , with the hopes of at least covering the cost of the British troops stationed in North America.
The Quartering Act 1765 In 1765 the British further angered the colonist by passing the Quartering Act. The act forced American colonist to house and feed British forces who were serving in North America. The act further inflamed tensions between the colonist and the British. The colonist were angered at having their homes forced open. The subsequent close contact with British soldiers did not engender good feelings between the sides.
Stamp Tax Imposed The Revenue Act of 1764 did not bring in enough money to help pay the cost of defending the colonies. The British looked for additional sources of taxation. Prime Minister Grenville supported the imposition of the a stamp tax. Colonial representatives tried to convince Grenville that the tax was a bad idea. Grenville insisted in having the new taxes imposed and presented them for approval to the parliament. The parliament approved the tax in February 1765. The stamp tax was imposed on every document or newspaper printed or used in the colonies. The taxes ranged from one shilling a newspaper to ten pounds for a lawyers license. There was little the colonist could do in which they would not be forced to pay the tax. All the income was to go to the help pay to protect the colonies. One of the most objectionable aspects of the taxes to the colonist was the fact that violation of the taxes would be prosecuted by in Admiralty Courts and not by jury trials.
British Troops Land in Boston to Maintain Order-1768 In response to colonial protest and increasing attacks on colonial officials by the Sons of Liberty", Lord Hillsborough, Secretary of State for the Colonies, dispatched two regiments-(4,000 troops), to restore order in Boston. The daily contact between British soldiers and colonists served to worsen relations.
Boston Massacre- 1770 An armed clash between the British and the colonists was almost inevitable from the moment British troops were introduced in Boston. Brawls were constant between the British and the colonists, who were constantly insulting the troops. On March 5, 1770, a crowd of sixty towns people surrounded British sentries guarding the customs house. They began pelting snowballs at the guards. Suddenly, a shot rang out, followed by several others. Ultimately, 11 colonists were hit. Five were dead, including Crispus Attucks, a former slave.
Boston Tea Party 1773 Protests in the colonies against the Stamp Acts had died down when Parliament passed the Tea Act. The new act granted a monopoly on tea trade in the Americas to the East India Tea Company. The Governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Hutchinson, insisted that tea be unloaded in Boston, despite a boycott organized by the Sons of Liberty. On the evening of December 16th, thousands of Bostonians and farmers from the surrounding countryside packed into the Old South Meeting house to hear Samuel Adams. Adams denounced the Governor for denying clearance for vessels wishing to leave with tea still on board. After his speech the crowd headed for the waterfront. From the crowd, 50 individuals emerged dressed as Indians. They boarded three vessels docked in the harbor and threw 90,000 pounds of tea overboard.
First Continental Congress Meets 1774 The first Continental Congress met in Philadelphia, from September 5th to October 26th 1774. The task of the first Continental Congress was to define the relationship between the Colonists and the British government, in light of the "Coercive Acts" passed by the British Parliament. Colonists were united in their belief that the British had no right to tax them. They felt the only power the British should be entitled to was some form of regulation of trade. The Continental Congress debated various ideas for a new union with Great Britain, but ultimately concentrated on fighting British actions. They reached an agreement to stop all trade with Britain, until the Coercive Acts were repealed. The Congress voted that all Americans would stop drinking tea from the East India Company. The Congress did not, however, agree to demands of some of the more radical members who insisted upon the immediate formation of a Continental army.
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