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Structure of Colonial Society
1760s an optimistic post-war period
– striking ethnic and racial diversity
– 60% of population under 21 years old
– high level of post-war prosperity
– wealth unevenly distributed
Americans proud to be part of Europe’s
most thriving, prosperous empire
George III (1751)
 upsets Whigs
 Instability in England
until 1770s
Breakdown of Political Trust
1760--George III ascended throne
 Suspicions on both sides of the Atlantic
that Crown wished to enlarge its powers
 Conflict over Parliamentary sovereignty
English officials assumed that Parliament
must have ultimate authority
colonists tried to reserve internal colonial
authority for their own legislatures
No Taxation Without
Representation: the American
Colonists assume their legislatures
equal in some ways to Parliament
 Americans not represented at all in
 British officials espoused “virtual
 Colonists insist only colonial assemblies
could tax Americans – believe in direct
Ideas About Power and Virtue
John Locke, "Commonwealthmen"
inform colonial political thought
 All governments believed susceptible to
corruption into “tyranny”
“tyranny” understood as any attempt to
encroach upon the people's liberty
“Virtuous” citizens, alert to rights and
determined to live free, resist tyranny
Problems Resulting from the
French and Indian War
Indian relations
– Pontiac’s Rebellion
Imperial defense and finance
– Standing army: 10,000
– 1755: £72,000,000
– 1764: £130,000,00
Writs of Assistance
 search warrant
 combat smuggling
 no grounds for suspicion
 James Otis
– “instrument of slavery”
– lost case but Massachusetts assembly
protests “Writs” to British government
Eroding the Bonds of Empire
Large, expensive army left in America at
the end of the Seven Years’ War
 Colonists doubted the army’s value
 Pontiac’s War
– exposed the British army’s weakness
– revealed the desperate situation of Native
Americans after withdrawal of French
Colonists determined to settle transAppalachian West
Proclamation of 1763
To stabilize western frontier British pass
law prohibiting colonists from settling
west of Appalachian Mountains
 Hoped to prevent conflict between
Native Americans and colonists
 Colonists reacted with defiance and
anger, they wanted to reap rewards of
French & Indian War
Paying off the National Debt
First minister George Grenville attempts
to reduce England’s war debt
 Revenue Act of 1764 (the Sugar Act)
 Merchants and gentry protest, most
colonists ignore
The Grenville Ministry
Sugar Act (1764)
Purpose: Raise Revenue
 sugar, coffee, wines, other products
 tax on imported molasses halved
 Enforcement increases
 Vice Admiralty Courts
Primary Source Documents
James Otis
 Virtual Representation
Colonial Products and Trade
Primary Source Documents
James Otis
 Virtual Representation
Quartering Act of 1765
Must provide living quarters to troops;
 Traditional hatred of standing armies in
peacetime (Whig tradition)
 American POV
– Widespread plot to rob all Englishmen of
Stamp Act (1765)
Stamp Act (1765)
Purpose: maintenance of troops,
salaries of governors/judges
 Vice-admiralty courts
 Direct taxation
 £60,000
Popular Protest
1765--Stamp Act requires that colonists
purchase stamp to validate documents
 Unites the gentry and the mass of the
population in protest
 Stamp Act Congress petitions the King
and Parliament for repeal
 Protest includes mob riots, boycotts
Patrick Henry & the VA
House of Burgesses
 5 resolutions
 Colonists have same rights as
 Taxes ok if “persons chosen by
themselves to represent them”
 Newspapers printed resolutions
including more radical ones
Stamp Act Congress (1765)
9 of 13 colonies
 “all due subordination” to Parliament
 colonists entitled to same rights as
 no taxation w/o representation
 trial by jury is an inherent and inviolable
Stamp Act Riot
After 11/1/1765
 Sons of Liberty
Who Were the Sons of Liberty?
Secret Society organized to intimidate
tax agents
– Shopkeepers and artisans
Andrew Oliver- stamp distributor in
Boston (destroyed his office)
 Thomas Hutchinson – royal governor –
his house is burned down
 Bridge between lower classes and
political leaders
Why Mobs?
Common (Guy Fawkes)
 Political goals were new
 Sons of Liberty leaders fear loss of
political liberty
– Artisans feel cheap British goods threaten
– Other rioters fear new taxes and British
governing elite
– Some joined for the excitement
Stamp Act Riot (8/75) PD
•Had the backing if not
participation of the “better
•Forced tax collectors to
•Even Moderates discredited
•Forced open harbors
•Closed civil courts
Stamp Act Protests: 1765 to 1766
Rockingham Ministry (1765-66)
Grenville out
 London merchants want Stamp Act
 William Pitt:
– “Exercise every power whatsoever, except
that of taking their money out of their
pockets without their consent.”
Failed Attempts to Save the
1766--New administration in office,
favors repeal of Stamp Act
 Repeal tied to Declaratory Act of 1766
Parliament sovereign over America "in all
cases whatsoever"
Controversy estranges colonists from
English officials
Fueling the Crisis: the
Townshend Duties
Charles Townshend: chancellor of the
 1767--Townshend Duties tax American
imports of paper, lead, glass, and tea
 American Board of Customs
Commissioners created to collect duties
Fueling the Crisis: Response
to the Townshend Duties
Sons of Liberty organize boycott of
English goods
 Circular letter from Massachusetts
House of Representatives urges protest
 92 Massachusetts Representatives defy
government order to rescind letter
 “Letter from a Farmer in Pennsylvania”
(John Dickinson) - PD
Fatal Signs of Force
English government moves troops from
frontier to Boston to save money
 1768 – 4,000 troops sent to Boston
 Tensions increased
 March 5, 1770--English soldiers fired on
Boston mob, killed five Americans
– incident labeled the “Boston Massacre”
– Paul Revere engraving a best-seller
Tensions defused by Lord North
Boston Mass.
Last Days of the Old Order,
1770--New prime minister, Lord North,
leads repeal of all duties except tea
 1770-1773 marked by tranquility
 Customs collectors antagonize colonists
 Radicals protest tea tax as violation of
American rights
 Committees of correspondence built up
alternative political structure
North Ministry (1770-82)
Townshend Act repealed on day of
 Boycott a success
 Tax on tea left in place (Symbol?)
 Dutch Tea smuggled
The Final Provocation:
The Boston Tea Party
1773--Parliament passes Tea Act
designed to help the East India Company
by making its sale cheaper in America
Americans interpret as a subtle ploy to
get them to consume taxed tea
 December 1773--Boston protestors
dump the tea into the harbor
The Final Provocation:
The Coercive Acts
Port of Boston closed until tea paid for
 Massachusetts government restructured
upper house made appointive body
town meetings permitted only once per year
Accused officials to be tried in England,
not America
 Army authorized to quarter troops
wherever needed
The Final Provocation: The
Quebec Act
Quebec Act establishes authoritarian
government for Canada
 Colonists interpret Act as final proof of
Parliamentary plot to enslave America
 Mainland colonies rally to support
Boston, protest the British blockade
The Final Provocation: The
Ultimate Crisis
Parliament’s insistence on supremacy
would make rebellion unavoidable
 Ben Franklin suggests Parliament
secure colonial loyalty by renouncing
claim to supremacy
 Parliament rejects Franklin’s advice
Steps Toward Independence
September 1774--First Continental
Congress in response to Coercive Acts
 Congress commends “Suffolk Resolves”
urging forcible resistance
 Intercolonial “Association” halts commerce
with Britain until Coercive Acts repealed
Shots Heard Around the
April 19, 1775--skirmish breaks out in
Lexington, Massachusetts
 Fighting spread along road between
Lexington, Concord, Boston
 English retreat to Boston with heavy
Beginning “The World over
Again:” Early War Effort
June 1775--Congress appoints George
Washington commander of Boston force
 English government blockades colonial
ports, hires German mercenaries
 Royal governors urge slaves to take up
arms against their masters
Beginning “The World over
Again:” Decision for
January 1776--Thomas Paine’s
Common Sense urges independence
 July 2, 1776--Independence voted by
 July 4--Declaration of Independence
Fighting for Independence
The British entered the war confident of
a full and complete victory
 English task
meet the challenge of a long supply line
use better-trained army to occupy territory
crush the popular spirit of independence
They underestimated the Americans’
commitment to their political ideology
The American Revolution, 1775-1781
Building a Professional Army
Washington’s task
defend territory as well as possible
keep his army intact
The Continental Army would be a
fighting force and symbol of the
republican cause
 Militia’s role: compel support for
Testing the American Will
American army routed on Long Island
 New York City captured
 Washington forced to retreat through
New Jersey
 British obtain thousands of “Oaths of
Allegiance” in wake of retreat
"Times That Try Men's Souls"
December 25, 1776--Washington
captures Trenton
 January 3, 1777--Washington captures
 Victories rekindle wartime patriotism
 British consolidate forces, leave territory
in patriot control
Victory in a Year of Defeat
British campaign for New York under
John Burgoyne defeated at Saratoga
 British capture Philadelphia under
General William Howe
 Washington's army winters at Valley
Forge, Pennsylvania
The French Alliance
Saratoga prompts British suit for peace
to prevent Franco-American alliance
 Terms include repeal of all laws since
1763, respect for colonial taxation rights
 February 1778--Americans ally with
France to secure full independence
The Final Campaign
Spring 1780--English capture Savannah
and Charleston
 August 1780--American army routed at
Camden, South Carolina
 Nathaniel Greene’s forces deal several
defeats to English under Cornwallis
 October 19, 1781--Cornwallis surrenders
to Washington’s combined forces
The Loyalist Dilemma
Loyalists treated poorly by both sides
 English never fully trusted Loyalists
 Patriots seize property, imprison,
execute some
 More than 100,000 Loyalists leave U.S.
at war’s end
Loyalist Strongholds
Winning the Peace
Peace Treaty of 1783 negotiated by
Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay
 Terms secured by playing France
against England, include
U.S. gains all territory east of Mississippi
River, between Canada and Florida
U.S. secures fishing rights in North Atlantic
Preserving Independence
The American Revolution begins
construction of new form of government
 Question remains: a government of the
elite or a government of the people?