Roads to Revolution,
1750-1776
• After 1763, Parliament and the King
attempt to reorganize the enlarged
empire by tightening control
• Many ordinary people engaged in
direct often violent demonstrations
against this
• These actions reflected a growing
socio-economic tension with the
colonies
• The road to revolution arose from a
constitutional crisis with the Empire
A Fragile Peace
• The King George’s War failed to solve
anything in America
• Ohio Valley became a tinderbox for
conflict with competing claims from
Virginia, Penn., France, and the
Iroquois
• The French began building forts in 1753
• George Washington sent in to deal with
it, but is repelled in 1754
• Seven colonies north of Virginia meet in
Albany to lay the foundations of mutual
defense
• First they showered the Iroquois with gifts
to get them to stay neutral (30 wagon loads)
• Known as the Albany Plan of Union (Ben
Franklin)
▫ It was to set up a Grand Council that included
reps. From all colonial assemblies
▫ Devise policies regarding military defense and
Indian affairs
▫ A way to demand funds from the colonies
▫ It was a unity plan that failed due to the
taxation issue
Seven Years’ War in America,
1754-1760
• After Washington’s loss, the British send
1,000 troops under Gen. Edmund
Braddock to seize Fort Duquesne
• Braddock’s 2,200 defeated by 850
French, Canadians, and Indians (loss of
900)
• As a result, the western lands were
under constant assault, and little
expansion could take place
• But two developments change in
favor of the British
▫ 1. the Iroquois and most of the Ohio
Indians abandon support for the
French
▫ 2. William Pitt takes over control of
the British forces. He believed the key
to success was mobilizing the colonial
soldiers, but have Parliament pay most
of the cost of the war
 The colonies organized 40,000 troops
in 1758-59
 Montreal falls in 1760
The End of French North
America, 1760-63
• The Seven Years’ War officially ended
in 1763 with the Treaty of Paris
▫ France gives up all its land claims east
of the Mississippi (except New Orleans)
to Britain
▫ Spain cedes Florida to Britain (in
return for Cuba)
▫ In the Treaty of San Ildefonso (1762)
France cedes Louisiana to Spain
• French colonist become English or
Spanish subjects
• Most adversely affected were the
Acadians
▫ Living in Nova Scotia they were told
to swear loyalty to Britain at the
outbreak of the war and not bear
arms for France
▫ Most refused to take the oath and
the British drove them out and
burned their homes
▫ Many settled in Louisiana and
became the Cajuns
Imperial Revenues and
Reorganization, 1760-66
• Much of the tension after the war centered on
Britain’s attempt to finance its enlarged empire
• The new revenue measures were controversial
economically and politically
• They were direct measures and did not rely on
local authorities
• They were an extension of Parliament’s power
• Each level of society expressed their disdain in
their own way
▫ Elites – worded arguments based on constitutional
law and their colonial charters
▫ Businessmen, etc. – street demonstrations
▫ Working people and the poor – defiance of both
elites and British authorities
• Notebook Quiz 9/20
▫ 1. During the 1750s, the English and
French came to blows over which
region?
▫ 2. The English end up winning, and a
certain French fort changed its name
to Fort Pitt (Pittsburgh). What was
its original name?
▫ 3. What was the name of the loose
unity plan established to deal with
this issue?
▫ 4. Why did this plan ultimately fail?
▫ 5. What did Spain get out of the
Seven Years’ War?
Friction Among the Allies,
1760-63
• During the war the British were critical
of the colonial troops
• Quakers had refused to finance the war
effort
• NY and MA opposed quartering troops
• But Pitt’s promise to reimburse the
colonies upset the British
▫ The colonials had profited from the war
by bringing in British currency (military
troops, contracts, etc.). Their illicit
trade with the French West Indies even
continued
• The British felt that they were paying
for the war through a land tax and
increased excise taxes on beer, tea,
salt, and bread
• However, the American colonists
were trapped in a “consumer
revolution” in which they spent their
new wealth on British goods, thus
overloading themselves with debt
• The crown continually needed money to
fight the reorganized Indians in the
Ohio Valley
• Hoping to settle this issue, King George
III issued the Proclamation of 1763
▫ Direct control by the Crown of all
transactions, trade, settlement, etc. west
of the Appalachians
▫ Angers colonists
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Subordinates claims to imperial authority
Limits their opportunity for wealth
10,000 British troops remain
This is a tremendous cost the British feel
the colonist must incur
Writs of Assistance, 1760-61
• The Royal Governor of Massachusetts
authorized revenue officers to employ
these in 1760
• They are documents that allow
authorities to seize illegally imported
goods.
▫ More importantly, they are a general
search warrant that permits customs
officers to enter any ship or building
where smuggled goods might be hidden
▫ No evidence of probable cause for
suspicion
The Sugar Act, 1764
• Passed in 1764 to offset Britain’s military
expenses in North America
• The Navigation Acts had not been about
revenue; they were about stimulating trade and
protecting English manufacturing; they raised
to little money for their own enforcement
• But the Sugar Act also stipulated that lumber,
iron, skins, and many other commodities
exported must go directly to Britain
▫ To have colonial shippers purchase more in
Britain
▫ Buy fewer goods from foreign competitors
▫ Provide jobs for Englishmen
• The last aspect of the Sugar Act was its
disregard for a fair trial
▫ It allowed customs a officials to transfer
the smuggling cases from colonial courts
to the vice-admiralty courts (judge alone
gave the verdict)
 Judges got 5% of confiscated cargo
▫ Defendants were tried in Nova Scotia,
not the site of the offense
▫ Required the defendant to disprove the
prosecution’s case
• The burden of the act fell
overwhelmingly on
Massachusetts, New York, and
Philadelphia
• Most colonies had no interest in
resisting something that didn’t
seem to affect them
• However, it did show and
direction the Crown was heading
The Stamp Act, 1765
• Revenue raised by the Sugar Act did
little to ease Britain’s financial crisis
• Britain had the 2nd highest tax rates in
Europe (26 shillings per person;
colonies no more than 1 ½ shillings per
person)
• The Stamp Act required colonists to
purchase and use special stamped paper
for newspapers, customs documents,
various licenses, diplomas, and legal
forms used in recovering debts, buying
land, and making wills.
• Prosecution in vice-admiralty courts
without juries
• This was an internal tax levied
directly on property, goods, and
government services
▫ External taxes had been about
regulating trade and the burden fell
on the merchants and ship captains
▫ This was established to raise
revenue for the crown
▫ Anyone who made a will, bought
cards, transferred property,
borrowed money, etc.
• Colonists objections
▫ They taxed themselves through their elected
assemblies
▫ You cannot be taxed unless you enjoy
representation
▫ Felt they were like Ireland with special
exemption of self-governance
• Briton’s counterargument
▫ The Britons had been paying a similar tax since
1695
▫ But most colonists didn’t fit the “sufficient
property” qualification to enjoy representation
▫ Colonists possessed “virtual representation”
▫ Colonial assemblies are like British and
Scottish towns that enact local legislation
Resisting the Stamp Act,
1765-66
• The Loyal Nine: Patrick Henry (29 yr. old
Virginia lawyer and planter)
• Pushed for VA to adopt resolutions
denying Parliament the power to tax
• The Assembly passed the weakest worded
• the Loyal Nine: middle-class artisans and
small business owners formed in Boston
(most hard hit by the tax)
▫ Also had lost ground to NY and Philly
▫ British impressments
▫ 1760 fire
• Bostonians were already politically
active
▫ Pope’s Day rallies
• They demolished some property of
the wealthy
• Formation of the Sons of Liberty
▫ They were concerned that the
“crowd” would just turn on elites
(which meant them as well)
• They forbade their group to carry
weapons
• Stamp Act Congress
▫ Met in 1765
▫ Included representatives
from 9 colonial assemblies
▫ Agreement on Parliament’s
lack of authority to tax
outside Britain and to deny a
person a jury
• By late 1765 most stamp
distributors had resigned or fled,
and without the proper paperwork,
most royal customs officials and
court officers refused to perform
their duties
• Oct. 1765, NY merchants boycott
all British goods
• England was in danger of a
recession
Declaratory Act, 1766
• Parliament revokes the Stamp Act,
but passes the Declaratory Act
▫ This act affirmed Parliaments power
to legislate for the colonies “in all
cases whatsoever.”
• This was general language, but the
Americans viewed it as Parliament’s
way of saving face amidst its defeat
with the Stamp Act issue
Ideology, Religion, and
Resistance
• Educated colonists turned to the new
political theories as guidance
▫ Locke and natural rights, the social
contract, right of revolution
▫ Concepts of civic duty and public virtue
• Many others, particularly the
unschooled, looked towards religion
▫ Concept of a Christian Sparta, linking
Christian piety with republican ideals
▫ Colonial traditions confirmed
legitimacy of their cause
▫ The Great Awakening
Great Awakening
• Beginning the late 1730s the GA
cut across class, gender, and
racial lines
• Appealed to the audiences
emotions rather than intellects
• Focused on emptiness of material
comfort, the utter corruption of
human nature, the fury of divine
wrath, and the need for
immediate repentance
• Most converts were young males
• Claimed established clergymen
were dead Drones
• Exposed colonial society’s
divisions
• Split churches into New and Old
• Received serious backlash from
churches
• Impact
▫ Marked a decline in Quakers,
Anglicans, and Congregationalists
▫ Rise of Presbyterians, Baptists
▫ Stimulated the founding of new
colleges: Brown, Columbia,
Princeton, Rutgers
▫ African Americans and Indians were
included
▫ Women’s roles increased
▫ Blurred denominational differences
among Protestants
Opposing the Quartering Act,
1766-67
• The act required the colonies to supply
troops with inexpensive barracks, candles,
windowpanes, straw, polish, liquor
• It was a small indirect tax, but it did require
the colonies to raise a stated amount of
revenue
• Hit all the colonies differently, but
specifically New York
• Parliament was bitter about withdrawing
the Stamp Act, so they draft the Suspending
Act – which threatened to nullify all laws
passed by the colony if they refused to vote
the supplies
Townshend Duties, 1767
• The landed gentry in Britain cut their
own taxes by 25%
• Since colonists had opposed internal
taxes Townshend decided to tax imports
entering from Britain (an external tax)
• This Townshend Revenue Act of 1767
taxed glass, paint, lead, paper, and tea
imported from England (tea was the big
revenue producer)
• Catch: Townshend wanted the revenue
raised so it would pay the salaries of
governors and royal officials who were
paid by the assemblies
The Colonists’ Reaction,
1767-1769
• John Dickinson’s essays entitled Letters
from a Farmer in Pennsylvania
• James Otis and Samuel Adams write letters
in opposition that circulate the colonies
• This bothered the British
• Royal governors responded by dismissing
legislatures
• In 1768 Bostonian merchants adopt a
nonimportation agreement which
eventually kept out 40% of all imports from
Britain
Women and Colonial Resistance
• The cause rested on republican
foundations of moderation, morality,
and self-sacrifice
• Women far outnumbered men in
church membership
• Established the Daughters of Liberty
• Denouncing the consumption of tea
• Made their own clothes
▫ more than 1600 women engage in
spinning bees
Customs Racketeering,
1767-68
• Stricter enforcement of the Navigation
Acts began as an attempt to increase
revenue
• The American Board of Customs
Commissioners was established
▫ Increased the number of port officials
▫ Funded the creation of a colonial coast
guard
▫ $ for secret informers
 The informer got 1/3 of the value of all
goods and ships appropriated through
conviction
 Vice-admiralty courts were used
• The “reason” was to bring honesty
and efficiency to a system
susceptible to bribes, etc.
• All cargo loaded without a custom’s
officers written authorization was
considered illegal
• The maritime custom of the sailor’s
chest was ignored
• It was legalized piracy
• John Hancock’s ship, Liberty, was a
chief target
The Boston Massacre, 1770
• Due to the violence and protests from
incidences like Hancock’s ship, the
British sent 4000 troops to Boston in
1768
• Mainly Protestants townspeople did
not like this
• Feb. 1770, a customs informer shot
into a picketing crowd and killed an
11-yr.-old boy
• The army was not responsible, but it
became a target of the people’s anger
• Mar. 5, soldier’s fire into a crowd
that was taunting them and hit 11,
killing 5
• John Adams was the attorney for
the officers
▫ He didn’t like crowd action
• The governor removed the soldiers
to a nearby island
• All but two of the soldiers are
acquitted, and those just had their
thumbs branded
• A new Prime Minister, Lord North,
seemed to be in favor of retreating
from previous actions by eliminating
most of the Townshend duties to
prevent a widening boycott
• However, he kept the tax on tea
• In 1770, colonists make voluntary
agreements not to drink British tea
▫ Revenue from tea drops to 1/6 the
expected amount
Committees of
Correspondence, 1772-73
• At the persuasion of Samuel Adams,
every community in Massachusetts is
to appoint persons responsible for
exchanging information and
coordinating measures to defend
colonial rights
• First attempt to maintain close and
continuing political cooperation and
popular sentiment
• In 1773 this begins in Virginia
Backcountry Tensions
• British government was helpless
in enforcing the Proclamation of
1763
• Green Mountain Boys in Vermont
• Regulators in North Carolina
The Tea Act, 1773
• To save the East India Company
from financial ruin
• This act eliminated all remaining
import duties on tea entering
England and thus lowered the
selling price to consumers
• The company could also sell its tea
directly to the people
• Both of these actions lowered tea
below the cost of smuggled tea
• This law would corrupt Americans
into accepting the principle of
parliamentary taxation by taking
advantage of their weakness for a
frivolous luxury
• Dec. 1773, the Boston Tea Party
▫ 50 disguised men (plus others)
dump forty-five tons of tea
overboard
The Coercive Acts
• Also called the Intolerable Acts
▫ Boston Port Bill ordered the closing of the
harbor until the tea was paid for
▫ Mass. Govt. Act revoked their charter,
makes upper house appointed for life by the
crown, the gov. names all judges and
sheriffs, and only one town meeting a year
▫ Administration of Justice Act said any one
charged with murder while enforcing royal
authority was to be tried elsewhere (Murder
Act)
▫ Quartering Act said the Gov. could use
empty private buildings for housing troops
• The added on the Quebec Act
which establish Roman
Catholicism as Quebec’s official
religion
▫ Why? To cement loyalty to
Britain among conquered
French-Canadian Catholics

Roads to Revolution, 1750-1776