The Road to Revolution (Group F)

Colonial Wars

King Williams’ War (1689-1697

In the first colonial war between Britain and France, Sir William Phips of Massachusetts won Acadia in 1690 but lost to the French at Quebec. It ended with a Treaty at Ryswick.
Queen Anne’s War (1702-1713)
In 1704 the French and Indian allies destroyed Deerfield, Massachusetts and took many New Englanders prisoner. Britain regained Acadia after the French had taken it back and now called it Nova Scotia. Once again, the British failed to conquer Quebec. It ended with a Treaty at Utrecht.
King George’s War (1744-1748)
In this war, the French had joined forces with Spain against Britain. The British managed to keep Nova Scotia, but utterly failed at another attempt at taking Quebec. The war ended with the Treaty at Aix-la-Chapelle and Britain gave up Louisbourg.
French and Indian War (1754-1763)
The only one of the 4 wars to start in America, it primarily dealt with the colonial and British fear of westward French expansion through the Ohio River Valley. This war sparked the creation of the Albany of congress to unite all colonies, which ultimately failed due to tax concerns, and sparked the colonial/British dislike of one another with British soldiers and militiamen fighting side by side. The war was a territorial victory as Britain gained back Louisbourg and finally got Quebec in 1759.The war ended with the Treaty at Paris and the British also gained French Canada and Spanish Florida.

The Problem with Parliament

Colonists felt loyalty towards the King of Britain, but not towards Parliament. However, Parliament seemed to control all the acts and rules imposed onto the colonists.
No Voice in Parliament
Although colonists were supposedly British and were part of Great Britain, they had no say in Parliament. Colonists started to question this problem/idea with the establishment of mercantilism that was enacted on the colonies. Mercantilism is an economic policy adopted by European kingdoms in the 17th century which "looked upon trade, colonies, and the accumulation of wealth as the basis for a country's military and political strength." England applied this policy to its North American colonies, because they existed for one reason: to benefit the parent country (England). Parliament imposed a mercantilist policy with the Navigation Acts from 1650 to 1673, which included three rules for colonial trade. While the acts had both positive and negative impacts on the colonies, they signified the gradual start and increase of taxes and acts that infuriated the colonists.
George Grenville
George Grenville was King George III's prime minister. Putting the Sugar Act, the Currency Act, and the Stamp Act into effect, he demonstrated England's new imperial policies. Grenville's acts were part of a greater program to deal with American problems in general. Not only did he increase acts, but he instilled the Royal Navy in American ports to enforce the Navigation Acts. Grenville was also responsible for the issuing of the Proclamation of 1763, the act that forbade the colonists to settle west of the Appalachians, intended to protect America from more Native American wars.
The Sugar Act of 1764
The first of Grenville's Acts, also called the Revenue Act, it collected money for the Crown. It raised taxes on goods imported from American ports, and cut in half the Molasses Act duties. Many Americans went around this act by smuggling; however, the Revenue Act was enforced with a high punishment.
The Currency Act of 1764
The Currency Act ended the idea of Colonial printed money not changeable for gold. The requirement of species made it harder for Americans to bypass the British mercantile policies.

Quartering Act
Greenville also placed 10,000 British soldiers in the colonies to protect the colonists from Native Americans and prevent war. These soldiers often took up other responsibilities as well, such as enforcing the Navigation Acts. Colonists were then required to house and pay for standing army they did not ask for.
The Townshend Acts
The next Prime minister was Charles Townshend, who, for whatever reason, thought that he could get away with taxing the colonists without rebellion. He was wrong. Taxing all imports to the colonies, and using admiralty courts to try those who did not follow the rules, the colonists were clearly unhappy. The taxes on Tea, glass, and paper were used to pay British officials. Smuggling was almost impossible with random searches using the Writs of Assistance. And the New York colonial assembly was shut down for not housing soldiers under the Quartering Act.
Although the rebellion to the acts was not very aggressive, the colonists still banded together to help repeal the act. John Dickinson wrote Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, stating that Parliament can regulate trade, but could not levy ANY taxes, direct or indirect, without consent from the colonists. In addition, the Circular Letter, written by James Otis and Samuel Adams, was sent to each colonial legislature, asking to petition and boycott the British. Another change in leadership ended the Townshend Acts, but kept a small tax on tea. The Tea Act 1773 In 1773, the British East India Company was in debt, and close to foreclosure. To keep it alive, Parliament gave permission to the British East India colony to ship its tea straight to American ports. Not only did this lower the price of tea until it was lower than Dutch tea, but it created a tea monopoly and forced the colonists to accept the right of parliament to taxation. The Americans resisted the cheaper tea. They would tar and feather officials and often would not allow or procrastinate the landing of East India Company boats in its harbors. Possibly the most famous resistance to the Tea Act was the Boston Tea Party.

French and Indian War aka Seven Years War (1754-1763)
One of only four wars to start in America, it primarily dealt with the colonial and British fear of westward French expansion through the Ohio River Valley. This war sparked the creation of the Albany of congress to unite all colonies, which ultimately failed due to tax concerns, and sparked the colonial/British dislike of one another with British soldiers and militiamen fighting side by side. The war was a territorial victory as Britain gained back Louisbourg and finally got Quebec in 1759. The war ended with the Treaty at Paris and the British also gained French Canada and Spanish Florida.

Coersive Act
The Coercive acts were Britain’s response to the Boston Tea party. The five part Act lead directly to the American Revolution.

1.Port act
The Boston Port act was the act that directly dealt with the Boston Tea party. Closing the ports and all trade, Boston was basically under siege until they could (and would) pay for the tea thrown into the harbor. Boston never did pay for the lost tea.

2. Massachusetts Government act
The Massachusetts Government act, part two to the punishment, gave more power to the royal governor and less to the Massachusetts legislature. This would, in theory, stop more rebellion among the citizens, being controlled by a single loyal official.

3.Quarting Act
The Quarting Act was not a new act, but more of a strengthening of the old one. It gave permission to the new governor to place the troops anywhere anytime.

4.Justice Act
The last of the acts, the Justice Act, was most likely a response to the Boston Massacre. It allowed for royal officials to be tried, not in colonial courts, but in British courts, making it more likely for them to be found innocent.

Intolerable Acts:

The Intolerable Acts included all of the Coercive Acts and the Quebec Act. The combination of the five acts outraged the Colonists and making them fear the possibility of Britain taking away all their freedoms.

5.Quebec Act

Although the Quebec act was not part of the Coercive Acts, it seemed to always be lumped together along with them, making them the Intolerable acts. The Quebec act increased the colony of Quebec to the Ohio River valley, took away a representative assembly, and forced the Roman Catholicism as its religion. This act caused fear among the colonists because this is what they saw in their future as a British colony. They feared that the British would take away all colonial legislatures and enforce the Church of England. The act also took away all hopes of westward expansion.

Change of Heart

The colonists’ hearts did not change overnight from loyalty to the king to rebellion against Britain, but rather over a period of decades. Questions on liberty and freedom propelled the rebellion against Great Britain. Also, the Seven Years' War had a significant impact on the colonists' changes of hearts, since after the war, Britain vexed the colonists. First, the British established the Proclamation of 1773, which prohibited colonists from going onto Indian land. Soon after, new revenues and regulations were established to pay for war debts.

The Proclamation Line
Proclamation Line between red and pink.
Proclamation Line between red and pink.

In order to stabilize western frontier, the British government prohibited colonists from settling west of the Applachian Mountains. Parliament hoped the measure would stabilize the hostile relationship between colonists and Native Americans. However, colonists were angry. After winning the French and Indian War, Americans hoped to gain access to western lands. Colonists defied the proclamation and settled westward beyond the imaginary boundary line.

Taxation Without Representation

The Stamp Act aroused the first rebellion in the colonies. The first direct tax upon the colonists, it required them to pay a tax on every document. The colonists started protesting, saying “no taxation without representation is tyranny.” Protests soon became violent, the Sons of Liberty, including Samuel Adams and James Otis, started tarring and feathering officials. A Stamp Act Congress was called in New York, deciding that taxation could only occur through representation, which was obviously impractical and impossible. Colonial merchants boycotted British goods, through working together, this proved powerful. In March 1766, with the new prime minister, Lord Rockingham, in charge, the Stamp Act was repealed, and the Declaratory Act was instilled. The Declaratory Act stated that Britain DID have the power to tax and make laws for the Americans without representation. Although the Colonists proved that working together could get them what they wanted, and the British Parliament was ignoring the colonist, they all remained loyal to Britain.

Natural Rights / The Enlightenment
The Enlightenment was a European movement in literature and philosophy that attracted educated Americans. Leaders of this movement believed mistakes from the past could be corrected by human reasoning to find a solution for most problems.
John Locke, a 17th century English philosopher and political theorist, had a large influence on the Enlightenment and colonists’ views. For example, in his Two Treatises of Government, Locke concluded that while the government should have supreme control and leadership over its land, it should impose “natural laws” on its people. Because of Locke's natural laws, colonists thought they should also have personal freedom, rather than being controlled and utilized by Britain.

Colonial Defiance

Colonial Defiance was the result of several things: the abandonment of salutary neglect, the need to adopt more forceful policies with colonies, “test” of new British imperial policy (i.e. Pontiac’s War of 1763), the Proclamation of 1763, and new acts and revenues. New acts and revenues that were passed included the following:
- Sugar Act of 1764
- Quartering Act
- Stamp Act 1765
- Declaratory Act 1766
Townshend Acts 1767

In protesting the Stamp Act, the Virginian lawyer Patrick Henry demanded that the king’s government recognize rights of all citizens. The slogan that was used was “no taxation without representation.” A secret society was organized with the purpose of intimidating tax agents, the group calling themselves the Sons and Daughters of Liberty. This society set out to tar and feather any revenue officials and to destroy revenue stamps as well. Boycotts against British imports also took place, and proved to be the most effective form of protest.

Colonial reaction to the Townshend Acts was not as strong as the reaction to other acts, since the Townshend Acts were indirect taxes paid by merchants. In ‘Letters From a Farmer In Pennsylvania’, the letters argued that Parliament could regulate commerce, but argued because duties were a form of taxation, they could not be levied on colonies without consent of representative assemblies. The principle of no taxation without representation was an essential principle of English law, and the colonists conducted boycotts of British goods. Because of the failed attempt of the Townshend Acts, Lord Frederick North (new prime minister) urged Parliament to repeal the Acts, which they were but a small tax on tea remained.

A Committees of Correspondence was founded during the period of colonial defiance. Samuel Adams and other Americans kept alive the view that British officials were deliberately conspiring against colonial liberties. They also began a practice of organizing committees that regularly exchanged letters about suspicious or potentially threatening British activities.

The Boston Tea Party is perhaps the most well known colonial rebellion of them all. It began when colonists refused to buy British tea even when the Parliament passed the Tea Act in 1773, which made the price of the company’s tea cheaper than smuggled Dutch tea. Americans refused to buy it mainly because it would recognize the Parliament’s right to tax colonies. A group of Bostonians disguised themselves as Native Americans, boarded a British ship and dumped 342 chests of tea into the harbor. This response generated a mixed reaction from the colonists. Some felt that it was a justifiable defense of liberty, and others felt it was too radical. The British decided to enact a series of punitive acts, known as the ‘Intolerable Acts’ (made up of the Coercive Acts and the Quebec Act) to punish the colonists for their ‘tea party’. Under the Coercive Acts, the Port Act closed the port of Boston until the destroyed tea was paid for, and the Massachusetts Government Act reduced the power of the Massachusetts legislature. The Administration of Justice Act stated that royal officials who were accused of crimes could be tried in England instead of in the colonies. The Quartering Act then enabled the British troops to be quartered in private homes and this applied to all colonies. The Quebec Act applied more to the Canadians, as it organized Canadian lands gained from France and was accepted by all Canadians, but resented by all colonists. The Americans saw the Quebec Act as a direct attack on American colonies, and they feared that the British would attempt to enact similar laws in America and take away their representative government.

Colonial Rebellion:

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Boston Tea Party (1773)

Lord North, then the Prime Minister of England, attempted to rescue the East India Company from bankruptcy by enacting the Tea Act of 1773, which kept the Townshend tax on tea in the colonies but repealed the import taxes in England. This legal tea was made cheaper than any illegal tea smuggled into the colonies. However, at the same time the East India Company was given a monopoly on tea. The colonists also saw this as giving Parliament the satisfaction of again taxing them without representing them. The radicals responded to this injustice by threatening chartered tea ships, which left port in every city but Boston, where Governor Hutchinson attempted to force three tea ships to land their tea. Seeing no other way to stop the tea from being landed, some radicals disguised as Native Americans retaliated by sneaking onboard the three ships and dumping 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor.

Boston Massacre

By 1769, some of the more radical patriots, such as the Sons of Liberty, took to conflict with British soldiers stationed in the colonies. Angry mobs threw stones, brawls were fought, and the soldiers were powerless against it all, because they could not fight back unless their lives were endangered or they had orders from a civil magistrate, according to English common law. The most famous of these civilian-soldier fights was the highly propagandized Boston Massacre in 1770. A crowd, throwing stones, closed in on a British guard, who called for help and received it in the form of several other soldiers. The soldiers began to drive the mob back with the bayonets on their muskets, and one soldier, for whatever reason, accidentally fired, causing the other soldiers to fire. Five colonists came out of the fray dead (Crispus Attucks, Samuel Gray, and James Caldwell died instantly; Samuel Maverick and Patrick Carr died some time afterwards), and another six injured.

Tar and Feathers

The act of tarring and feathering was not an unusual patriot punishment for British customs workers. For example, John Malcolm, a customs worker, was tarred and feathered in 1773 and again in 1774, in the most famous incident of this kind.

works sited: LEP, AMSCO, REA, <>