Revolution on the Way
The Stamp Act- No Taxation without Representation The British Empire had lost a lot of money during the Seven Years War against the French and the Indians. England had defended her colonies in North America, and believed that… in a way… the colonists should pay off their appreciation. And because of the loss of money, they decided to tax colonists.
The first big tax was the Stamp Act of 1765. It obviously imposed taxes on stamps. The goal of the act was to, as mentioned above, gain back the money lost in the French and Indian War, and to pay for garrisons in the colonies and in Canada. Anyways, Stamps were required for all legal documents including all newspapers and journals. These stamps had to be imported from London, which was ALREADY an existing tax in America. The Colonists were infuriated by this.
They believed that the 150 years that England has left them alone, they almost created a nation of its own within the British Empire. They had independent newspapers, and even developed their own tax system. So from the Colonists’ point of view, they firmly believed that they didn’t need to pay taxes to the empire that had been absent in the colonies for so many years. The Stamp Act definitely angered Americans, but what angered them even more was that the Stamp Act had been levied without Colonial Representation. A popular 1750’s-60’s slogan developed in the colonies.
It was “No Taxation without Representation.” Almost immediately after the tax was enforced, Bostonians assaulted Thomas Hutchinson’s home. Thomas Hutchinson was the Chief Justice and Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts Colony. The rioters broke Hutchinson’s front door down and destroyed the interior of his home and wrecked paintings, furniture, silverware, and notes for a history of Massachusetts that Hutchinson was writing. Other riots followed because of the Stamp Act. Also in Boston, a secret group of Colonists formed.
They would discuss how they were to deal with the conflict of England. The group called themselves the Sons of Liberty. They gathered for meetings at local Boston taverns. King George’s Response After word got to England about all the commotion and all of the rioting going on in the colonies, King George III sent troops to America overseas. King George was planning to restore authority. This deed that the king did made the American’s have even more cause for a fight.
Boston Massacre Very shortly after the troops were sent, there was an incident in Boston. The date was March 5, 1770. Colonists started antagonizing a small group of English soldiers. The colonists grew in numbers, and it turned more intense. They were throwing large chunks of ice, and oyster shells at the British troops who were just following orders from the king. In panic of their safety, the British guards fired into the crowd of colonists.
5 civilians were left dead. Newspapers went along, and called this incident The Boston Massacre. This was, in no way, a massacre. It was a small group of British soldiers who were just looking out for their well-being. Patriot, Paul Revere, publishes a version in a Boston newspaper that makes it look like an unprovoked complete shootout. It shows British soldiers lined up and firing into a crowd of colonist.
This was definitely not the case. There were no lawyers that would support the British soldiers in court, but one man did step up to the plate and defend the troops. His name was John Adams. Adams was a Patriot who believed in the American cause, but he also believed that what the colonists did in Boston was not right either. He understood where the soldiers stood in the incident, and he stuck up for what was right. This really shows a lot about Adams’ character.
Eventually, Adams got 6 of the soldiers acquitted, while the other two were convicted on manslaughter, however, they were given reduced sentences. Over the next three years, Parliament kept trying to enforce taxes and laws to Her Colonies. Because of the Colonists’ reactions, they kept getting repealed. All except for one; and that was the tax on tea. It was only a three penny tax, which was definitely not a burden to the Colonists, but nevertheless, the Colonists still thought of it as oppression. Boston Tea Party “Destruction of the Tea” On December 16, 1773, the Sons of Liberty used feathers, paint, and carried hatchets to dress up as Mohawk Indians (a poor impression.
) They snuck on a British ship carrying 10,000 British Pounds (British currency) of tea. Because of the Boston Massacre, King George limited the soldiers occupying the city, so there was no one to stop them. They threw all of the tea overboard with satisfaction. This incident was known as the Boston Tea Party (it inherited the title Boston Tea Party years later, but during the time it was called “Destruction of the Tea” When news came back to the king about the Boston Tea Party, King George ordered 3,000 troops back to “reoccupy” Boston. The crown took over and ran the colony of Massachusetts then. This strikes even more tension between Britain, and Colonists.
First Continental Congress The brightest Colonists held a meeting at Carpenters’ Hall in Philadelphia. There were 56 delegates attending the meeting, each of which caught by the king would all be hanged. This indicates how strongly the Colonists felt about the American cause. Anyways, this meeting was identified as the First Continental Congress. Among attending the meeting was Massachusetts representatives John Adams (this shows how he is now fully committed to the American cause), and John Hancock (wealthy Boston merchant who used his significant fortune to help America.
) Also attending was Virginia representatives Patrick Henry (known for his quote at the meeting, “I am no longer a Virginian, I am an American), and George Washington (Seven Years War veteran and Patriot.) After 3 months of debating, the First Continental Congress comes to a final decision. Until colonial rights are restored, ALL thirteen colonies will hold off trade with Great Britain. Also, local militias are to arm and stand in ready. Crisis in Boston King George was once more immensely aggravated.
He closed off Boston Harbor, and forces Colonists to house British troops. He appoints Thomas Gage in charge of the British army in the colonies. His job is to destroy the rebellion once and for all. The advantage Gage had over the Colonists was guns, and weapons. However, the advantage Americans had over Gage was the people.
Gage begged the Crown for more men, but he was turned down. There were only 3,000 English soldiers, while the Americans have more than triple that number. Rebels start sneaking cannons from British-held Boston, and building an army. The Continental Army is formed, and appoints George Washington as the Commander in Chief. Lexington and Concord In April 1775, Gage received orders from King George to send a full force out to the Massachusetts countryside to seize a full store of Colonial ammunition. On April 18, the British were on the march.
Colonial troops are arming and getting prepared for battle, as well. At 10:00 PM the British are coming. Out to spread the word into the countryside is Paul Revere. He is just one part of a whole system of communications. There are literally hundreds of messengers riding throughout the countryside. He is definitely not the “lone ranger” in which he is portrayed in the far-fetched versions of him years after.
The British head to Concord to seize the store of ammunition. Around 1 in the morning, farmers, shopkeepers, and more armed to intercept the British at Lexington. After hours of waiting, at around 4:30 in the morning, the Americans hear drums indicating the British soldiers. As the two sides face each other, a single shot is fired. No one knows who fired the shot, but this was the beginning of the American Revolution. In less than 2 minutes, the Americans had killed 8 Redcoats, and wounded 2.
The British continued to Concord, their original plan, despite the deaths of their men. As soon as the British arrive at Concord, they are terribly outnumbered. The Continental Army was waiting prepared at Concord. After 20 hours of fighting, the Americans left 73 British soldiers dead, and the Americans had 49 dead. Revolution in the Air This forced the British to retreat back to Boston. By the time Gage and his men arrived in Boston, the Americans have the city surrounded.
Gage and his army are trapped. The Americans won, and the American Revolution was under way.