FROM EMPIRE TO INDEPENDENCE
1750-1776
BIG PICTURE
Seven Years’ War Britain as dominant power
 Outcome of war leads to American rebellion
 Growth of nationalism in America = American
Identity
 Wealthy leaders motivated ordinary people
through principles of equality
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FRENCH & INDIAN WAR (7 YEARS’ WAR)
1756-1763
Great global war for empire
 Britain & Prussia vs. Spain, France & Austria
 Virginians fighting French Canadians along Ohio R.
 Albany Conference 1754:
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British officials, colonists, Iroquois Confederacy
 Unachieved Goal- collective colonial response to New
France
 Lack of cooperation  many battlefronts (N. Atlantic,
border of New France & New York, Ohio country*)
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Control over Ohio R.  fort building
 Indians played British & French against each other
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OUTCOME OF WAR
George Washington becomes war hero (despite
initial failure)
 Demonstration of colonial/British differences
 New Prime Minister William Pitt buys colonial
cooperation (leads to British success & debt)
 Promise Indians territory & boundary of colonies
(Proclamation of 1763)
 Destruction of French empire in America
 Britain gains control of French lands (Canada to
Caribbean, Atlantic to Mississippi R.)
 Spain gains Louisiana, loses Florida
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INDIAN COUNTRY
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Indian/Colony conflict continues
 Indian
Confederacy simultaneously attacks all British
forts in West, year of fighting, stalemate
Proclamation Line set by British limits purchase,
settlement in Indian lands
 Colonists thought war would mean westward
expansion
 British unable/unwilling to control illegal colonist
expansion Vermont, West Virginia, Tennessee
 Weakened Indians forced to sign lands away
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AMERICAN NATIONALISM
Contrast of American & British soldiers
 American colonists feared enslavement by British
 War brought colonists together, to other colonies
 Nationalism- 19th century term
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Benedict Anderson, “Every successful revolution has
defined itself in nationalist terms….nation: it is an
imagined political community – and imagined as both
inherently limited and sovereign.”
 Based on ideas of common history, culture, language
and experiences
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BRITISH DEBT, AMERICAN RESISTANCE
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Most important things to colonists: Liberty & property
18th century English radicals (Whigs) discuss
republicanism- unchecked power threatens liberty and
institutes tyranny
Acts imposed by Britain to increase revenue from colonies
 “no taxation without representation”
Male landowners in colonies couldn’t vote in British
elections
Parliament argues “virtual representation”
Upper-class leads resistance to Acts
Motivated lower-class - hit hard during & after war
Sons of Liberty: Upper-class group attempting to control
resistance movement (economic & political pressure)
ORGANIZED RESISTANCE
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Role of reading &
publications:
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Newspapers, pamphlets,
books, postal service,
prints, letters
some used as propaganda
Colonial assemblies
dissolved due to
insubordination
Customs agents & tax
collectors targeted
BOSTON
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Massacre:
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British Army occupation of Boston 10/1/1768
3/5/1770 Boston crowed harassing guard at Customs House
attacked by British soldiers
7 dead, 4 wounded
Mob of hundreds demands vengeance
Governor orders British troops out
Paul Revere’s print circulated throughout colonies (propaganda,
untruthful representation)
Tea Party
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Response to Tea Act 1773 – reduction in price of tea, aimed at
saving East India Co.
British tea ship arrives in Boston Harbor, prevented from
unloading, captain reports to Sam Adams at church
Group of 50-60 dressed as Indians board ship & throw 45 tons of
tea into harbor
Ships in other harbors attacked as well
INTOLERABLE ACTS
Punishment to Massachusetts & strengthen
British authority
 Termination of self-rule
 Quebec Act- state religion of Catholicism 
fears of same thing in colonies
 Virginia and others openly express sympathy
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FIRST CONTINENTAL CONGRESS
Who: 56 elected delegates from 12 colonies
 What: Illegal meeting which developed trust and
common identity among colonies
 When: September-October 1774
 Where: Philadelphia
 Why: Organize common response to Intolerable
Acts
 Results:
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creation of important committees which played
important roles in communication and organization
during revolution
 British/colonial violence
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SECOND CONTINENTAL CONGRESS
Who: Eventually elected delegates from all 13
colonies, more radical, Thomas Jefferson new face
 What: Meeting to organize defense of colonies
 When: May-June 1775
 Where: Philadelphia
 Why: Needed organized military to fight British
 Results:
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George Washington made commander-in-chief of
Continental Army
 Army made up of existing militias
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REBELLION AND FIGHTING
Spain jumps at opportunity to get revenge
 1775-1776 battles in various locations:
Canada, Boston, Virginia, North Carolina
 British promise freedom to slaves who join
them
 Patriots vs. Loyalists
 Second Continental Congress reconvenes Sept.
1775- formal rebellion declared by King George
 Spring 1776 France joins Spanish at sea
 Thomas Paine’s Common Sence
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DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
June 1776 committee of 5 assigns writing to
Jefferson
 Month of editing & voting
 Justified renunciation of allegiance to Britain
 Asserted principles of equality and the right of
revolution
 Most important document in American history?
 Signed July 4, 1776
 King George’s diary entry: Nothing special
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WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT,
that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit
of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among
men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That
whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is
the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new
government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its
powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety
and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long
established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and
accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to
suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the
forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and
usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce
them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off
such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such
has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the
necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of
government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of
repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the
establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let
facts be submitted to a candid world.