The Road to Revolution
The Deep Roots of Revolution
Two ideas in particular had taken root in the minds of the American colonists by the mid 18th century:
1. Republicanism- a just society in which all citizens willingly subordinated their private, selfish interests to the common good. Both the stability of society and the authority of government thus depended on the virtue of the citizenry-its capacity for selflessness, self-sufficiency, and courage.
2. "Radical Whigs", a group of British political commentators, made attacks on the use of patronage and bribes by the king's ministers. They warned citizens to be on guard for possible corruption.
Mercantilism and Colonial Grievances
Georgia was the only colony to be formed by Britain.
The Navigation Law of 1650 stated that all goods flowing to and from the colonies could only be transported in British vessels. It was aimed to hurt rival Dutch shippers.
The Stamp Tax Uproar
Due to the French and Indian War, Britain had a very large debt.
In 1763, Prime Minister George Grenville ordered the British navy to begin strictly enforcing the Navigation Laws. He also secured from Parliament the Sugar Act of 1764, the first law ever passed by Parliament to raise tax revenue in the colonies for England. The Sugar Act increased the duty on foreign sugar imported from the West Indies.
The Quartering Act of 1765 required certain colonies to provide food and quarters for British troops.
In 1765, George Grenville imposed a stamp tax on the colonies to raise revenues to support the new military force. This stamp tax, known as the Stamp Act, mandated the use of stamped paper or the affixing of stamps, certifying payment of tax.
Parliament Forced to Repeal the Stamp Act
The Stamp Act Congress of 1765 brought together in New York City 27 distinguished delegates from 9 colonies. The members drew up a statement of their rights and grievances and requested the king and Parliament to repeal the hated legislation. The meeting's ripples began to erode sectional suspicions (suspicions between the colonies), for it had brought together around the same table leaders from the different and rival colonies. It was one step towards intercolonial unity.
Nonimportation agreements (agreements made to not import British goods) were a stride toward unionism.
The Sons of Liberty and Daughters of Liberty took the law into their own hands by enforcing the nonimportation agreements.
The Stamp Act was repealed by Parliament in 1766.
Parliament passed the Declaratory Act, reaffirming its right to bind the colonies in all cases whatsoever.
The Townshend Tea Tax and the Boston Massacre
In 1767, Parliament passed the Townshend Acts. They put a light import tax on glass, white lead, paper, paint, and tea.
British officials, faced with a breakdown of law and order, landed 2 regiments of troops in the colonies in 1768.
On March 5, 1770, a crowd of 60 townspeople attacked 10 redcoats and the redcoats opened fired on the civilians, killing/wounding 11 of them. The massacre was known as the Boston Massacre.
The Seditious Committees of Correspondence
Lord North was forced to persuade Parliament to repeal the Townshend revenue duties.
Samuel Adams- master propagandist and engineer of rebellion; formed the first local committee of correspondence in Massachusetts in 1772 (Sons of Liberty).
Committees of Correspondance were created by the American colonies in
order to maintain communication with one another. They were organized in the decade before the
Revolution when communication between the colonies became essential.
Tea Parties at Boston and Elsewhere
In 1773, the British East India Company was overstocked with 17 million pounds of unsold tea. If the company collapsed, the London government would lose much money. Therefore, the London government gave the company a full monopoly of the tea sell in America.
Fearing that it was trick to pay more taxes on tea, the Americans rejected the tea. When the ships arrived in the Boston harbor, the governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Hutchinson, forced the citizens to allow the ships to unload their tea.
On December 16, 1773, a band of Bostonians, disguised as Indians, boarded the ships and dumped the tea into the sea. (Boston Tea Party)
Parliament Passes the "Intolerable Acts"
In 1774, Parliament punished the people of Massachusetts for their actions in the Boston Tea Party. Parliament passed laws, known as the Intolerable Acts, which restricted colonists' rights. The laws made restrictions on town meetings, and stated that enforcing officials who killed colonists in the line of duty would be sent to Britain for trial (where it was assumed they would be acquitted of their charges). One such law was the Boston Port Act. It closed the Boston harbor until damages were paid and order could be ensured.
The Quebec Act was also passed in 1774, but was not apart of the Intolerable Acts. It gave Catholic French Canadians religious freedom and restored the French form of civil law; this law nullified many of the Western claims of the coast colonies by extending the boundaries of the province of Quebec to the Ohio River on the south and to the Mississippi River on the west.
The Continental Congress and Bloodshed
In 1774, the 1st Continental Congress met in Philadelphia in order to redress colonial grievances over the Intolerable Acts. The 13 colonies, excluding Georgia, sent 55 men to the convention. (The 1st Continental Congress was not a legislative body, rather a consultative body, and convention rather than a congress.)
After 7 weeks of deliberation, the 1st Continental Congress drew up several papers. The papers included a Declaration of Rights and solemn appeals to other British-American colonies, to the king, and to the British people.
The creation of The Association was the most important outcome of the Congress. It called for a complete boycott of British goods; nonimportation, nonexportation, and nonconsumption.
In April 1775, the British commander in Boston sent a detachment of troops to Lexington. They were to seize provisions of colonial gunpowder and to capture the "rebel" ringleaders, Samuel Adams and John Hancock. At Lexington, 8 Americans were shot and killed. This incident was labeled as the "Lexington Massacre." When the British went on to Concord, they were met with American resistance and there were over 300 casualties and 70 deaths. Because of this, the British had a war, rather than a rebellion on their hands.
Imperial Strength and Weaknesses
The population of Britain was over 3 times as large as the population of America. Britain also had a much greater economic wealth and naval power.
Unfortunately for the British, though, there was rebellion brewing in Ireland, and France, bitter from its recent defeat, was waiting for an opportunity to attack Britain. Britain was therefore forced to divert much of its military power and concentration away from the Americas.
Britain's army in America had to operate under numerous difficulties; provisions were short and soldiers were treated brutally.
American Pluses and Minuses
Marquis de Lafayette- French who was made a major general in the colonial army at the age of 19; the "French Gamecock"; his services were invaluable in securing further aid from France.
The Articles of Confederation was adopted in 1781. It was the first written constitution adopted by colonists.
Due to the lack of metallic money in America, Continental Congress was forced to print "Continental" paper money. Within a short time, this money depreciated significantly and individual states were forced to print their own paper money.
A Thin Line of Heroes
At Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, American men went without food for 3 days in the winter of 1777-1778.
Baron von Steuben- German who helped to whip the America fighters into shape for fighting the British.
Lord Dunmore- royal (British) governor of Virginia. In 1775, he issued a proclamation promising freedom for any enslaved black in Virginia who joined the British army. "Lord Dunmore's Ethiopian Regiment"