Causes of the American Revolution The following events represent the 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, while 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.
Causes of the War French and Indian War Proclamation line of 1763 Sugar Act - 1764 Stamp Act - 1765 Townshend Act Imposed 1767 - Boycott Boston Massacre - 1770 Boston Tea Party - 1773
Intolerable Acts - 1774 Closing of Boston Harbor Quartering Act General Gage takes control First Continental Congress - 1774 Battle of Lexington Concord - 1775 Second Continental Congress May 1775 Common Sense by Thomas Paine Declaration of Independence - July 4, 1776
French and Indian War The French and Indian War (also known as the "Seven Years War") saw the British pitted against the French, the Austrians, and the Spanish. This war raged across the globe. By the end of 1758, the British had begun to turn the tide in the war in North America. In September 1759 the British attacked Quebec. After a five-day battle, British and American forces captured Quebec, ending French control of Canada. In February 1763, the Treaty of Paris was signed. In this treaty, title to all French territory; east of the Mississippi, was ceded to the British.
Proclamation of 1763 The Proclamation of 1763 was written after the French and Indian War. The Proclamation was a law that no more settlers were to come on the Indian's land west of the Appalachian Mountains. The British King, George lll, gave this order as an official announcement or Proclamation. The King drew a line on a map along the middle of the Appalachian Mountains, from New York to Georgia. No colonists were to settle west of that line. He proclaimed this because settlers were coming on the Indian's land which made the Indians get mad and fight back. Then the King would have to send troops to protect the settlers. This proclamation also said that the settlers who were already living there had to move east. People were very angry and they continued moving in anyway. It resulted in Colonial discontent.
Sugar Act 1764 In 1764 the British for the first time imposed a series of taxes designed specifically to raise revenue from the colonies. The tax whose official name was the American Revenue Act, became popularly known as the Sugar Act. On of its major components was the raising of tariff on sugar. The act was combined with a greater attempt to enforce the existing tariffs.
Stamp Act 1765 Prime Minister George Greenville In 1765 a Stamp Tax was enacted. It imposed taxes on all legal documents (i.e. marriage licenses, newspapers, and 47 other documents). The colonists responded with vocal protests. Not only did these taxes hurt their pocketbooks, but they were highly visible (i.e. they were needed for every day transactions). In addition, to enforce the actions, the British announced that colonial offenders were to be tried in the hated Admiralty courts. The protests, which grew, began developing new slogans including "No taxation without representation". One result of the protests was the meeting of the Stamp Act Congress in New York, to which many of the colonies sent representatives. Many colonies agreed not to import any British goods until the Stamp Tax was repealed. On the day the Stamp Tax was supposed to go into effect all of the stamp commissioners were forced to resign. With such active opposition from colonists, there was no way to enforce this tax.. In 1766, the British parliament repealed the Stamp Tax.
Townshend Act Imposed In the summer of 1766, King George III of England replaced Prime Minister Rockingham with William Pitt. Pitt was popular in the colonies. He opposed the Stamp Act and believed that colonists were entitled to all the rights of English citizens. Pitt suddenly became sick. Charles Townshend, Chancellor of the Exchequer, took over the effective reins of the government. He convinced the Parliament to pass a series of laws imposing new taxes on the colonists. These laws included special taxes on lead, paint, paper, glass and tea imported by colonists. In addition, the New York legislature was suspended until it agreed to quarter British soldiers.
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. At a subsequent trial, John Adams acted as defense attorney for the British soldiers. All but two were acquitted. The two were found guilty of manslaughter and had their hands branded. News of this attack was spread throughout the colonies. The incident became known as the "Boston Massacre".
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.
Intolerable Acts 1774 The British were shocked by the destruction of the tea in Boston Harbor and other colonial protests. The British parliament gave its speedy assent to a series of acts that became known as the "Coercive Acts"; or in the colonies as the "Intolerable Acts". These acts included the closing of the port of Boston, until such time as the East India tea company received compensation for the tea dumped into the harbor. The Royal governor took control over the Massachusetts government and would appoint all officials. Sheriffs would become royal appointees, as would juries. In addition, the British took the right to quarter soldiers anywhere in the colonies.
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. 20
Paul Revere's Ride - "The British are coming" 1775 While tension between the British forces in and around Boston and the Colonists continued to mount, no colonist had fired at British soldier that was soon to end in Lexington. The British were aware that the Colonists were stockpiling arms and munitions in Concord and General Gage was determined to seize the arms. The Colonist knew of Gages plans however, and were vigilant. Thus came about the most famous ride in American history- that of Paul Revere. Revere was among a small group of Patriots whose job it was to keep track of the movements of the British. On the evening of the 18th, the British were observed gathering. Paul Revere gave the word to light two lanterns at the North Church, thus complying with a prearranged signal, "one if by land, and two if by sea." Paul Revere then began his ride. He rode between Medford and Lexington warning almost every house along the way. During his ride he was temporarily detained by British officers, but escaped.
Lexington and Concord 1775 This battle was fought at a village near Boston,Massachusetts on the morning of April 19, 1775. The reason for this battle was the British wanted to investigate accounts that the colonists were stockpiling weapons in Concord. As the British began to investigate, firing began in Lexington and 8 colonists were killed before the British marched on to Concord. The American men fighting were regular townsmen, many owned property, but others were working men. The Battle of Lexington was important because it signaled the start of the American Revolution.