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Revolutionary War

  • Paper Money Prohibited

    Parliament prohibits New England from issuing paper currency as legal tender. This imposes a hardship on the colonists of the region, many of whom are engaged in the trading economy and who find hard currency increasingly scarce (because they keep sending it to England in order to pay debts).
  • Albany Plan on Union

    Benjamin Franklin drafts the Albany Plan of Union at the outbreak of the Seven Years' War (a.k.a. the French and Indian War). The Plan seeks to create a Grand Council of delegates from each colony to levy taxes and provide for the common defense. The colonial assemblies reject Franklin's idea, since the Grand Council would clearly curtail their own powers.
  • Lexington Militia Gathers

  • French and Indian War Ends

    England signs a peace treaty—the Peace of Paris—with France, ending the Seven Years' War (known in North America as the French and Indian War). France cedes Canada to England. In exchange, England gives France the sugar-producing Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. Spain cedes Florida to Britain, in return for Cuba. Spain also acquires the Louisiana territory from France. All of North America, except Mexico, Louisiana, and two small islands off the coast of Newfoundland, now belongs
  • Pontiac’s Rebellion

    Ottawa war leader Pontiac and Delaware religious prophet Neolin foment Pontiac's Rebellion, an alliance of tribes (the Ottawa, Huron, and others) in rebellion against European culture, influence, and technology. In the Ohio country, these united tribes attack Detroit (a British military outpost), then seize nine more forts. In the process, hundreds of white settlers are killed. A powerful British counterattack ultimately forces each tribe to make a separate peace over the next several years. Pon
  • George Grenville as Lord of the Treasury

    George Grenville takes office in London as First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer.
  • The Paxton Boys

    During Pontiac's Rebellion, some fifty white men (mostly Scotch-Irish farmers) from the area around Paxton, Pennsylvania, destroy the Indian village of Conestoga and massacre its population. They kill approximately twenty men, women, and children. The white raiders, who become known as "the Paxton Boys," blame the Pennsylvania government for being too lenient towards Indians. Control of Pennsylvania's government is in the process of passing from the traditional Quaker elite to leadership that is
  • Currency Act

    Almost immediately after passing the Sugar Act, Parliament extends its prohibition on paper currency to all American colonies with the Currency Act. Up until now, the heavily commercial New England has been the only colony banned from issuing paper currency (Parliament issued New England's ban in 1751). Since gold and silver are in short supply in America, the ban on paper money will create another hardship for the colonists. Parliament extends the ban because British creditors do not want to be
  • Sugar Act

    Upon George Grenville's recommendation, Parliament passes the Sugar Act. It quickly becomes notorious among colonists for its three-penny tax on molasses (a sugar byproduct and a commonly smuggled item in the colonial marketplace). The purpose of this Act is to defray English expenses incurred fighting the French and Indian War and to ensure that colonial commerce benefits England. The act is a revision of the Sugar and Molasses Act of 1733, which actually levied a duty twice as high on molasses
  • Merchants Disobey Molasses Act

    The colonies get word of the new three-penny tax on molasses, as proposed by George Grenville. Colonial Americans have been expecting some duty, but are taken aback by the amount; they thought it would be one or two pence. At three pence per gallon, the tax is prohibitive; New England merchants have to disobey it in order to stay in business.5 The new duties are to take effect in September 1764.
  • Massachusetts Petitions King

    The Massachusetts House of Representatives draws up and approves a petition to King George III, protesting the Sugar Act duties "as a tax, and which we humbly apprehend ought not to be laid without the Representatives of the People affected by them."6
  • Rhode Island and New York Petition

    The Assembly of New York echoes Rhode Island and Massachusetts's objections to the Sugar Act and submits petitions to the King, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons, arguing that the Act violates colonial rights. New York, the Assembly argues, should be exempt from taxes not levied by its own representatives.
  • North Carolina Debates Tax Rights

    North Carolina joins the chorus of colonial objectors to the Sugar Act, sending a message to its Governor defending "what we esteem our Inherent right, and Exclusive privilege of Imposing our own Taxes."7
  • Stamp Act

    Parliament passes the Stamp Act, a 25-page document that levies new taxes on court and customs documents, financial papers, playing cards, dice, pamphlets, newspapers, newspaper advertisements, almanacs, and more. It is the first internal tax that Parliament has levied on the colonies; that is, it does not involve trade but activities within the colonies.
  • First Quartering Act

    Parliament passes the first Quartering Act, which empowers local officials in the colonies to house British troops "in inns, livery stables, ale-houses, victualling-houses," and other locations where alcohol are sold, in the event that the barracks for soldiers and officers do not provide sufficient space. The provinces are to pay innkeepers and tavern owners for the use of their property.8 "Uninhabited houses, outhouses, barns, or other buildings" are also specified for housing soldiers and off
  • Virginia Stamp Act Resolutions

    The Virginia House of Burgesses passes five Stamp Act Resolutions. Orchestrated by representatives Patrick Henry and George Johnston, these "resolves" (as formal resolutions are called during this period) represent a radical challenge to Parliamentary authority. They assert the colonists' rights as Englishmen, including their right to consent to taxation. The fifth resolve is rescinded the next day by the more conservative members of the House, because it declares any attempt to assume the power
  • Boston Mob Attacks Stamp Act

    In the evening, a violent mob of Bostonians protesting the Stamp Act attacks the home of Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor and Chief Justice Thomas Hutchinson. The Hutchinsons are eating dinner when the crowd descends upon them, and they barely manage to escape before the front door is broken down and the mob loots most of their possessions.
  • Stamp Act Congress

    Prominent delegates from nine colonies convene in New York as the Stamp Act Congress. The Congress endorses the Virginia resolves, and in so doing, becomes the first united coalition of the North American colonies. The Congress also reaffirms its "warmest sentiments of affection and duty to His Majesty's Person and Government," but asserts that as subjects of the King, the colonists are entitled to all the inherent rights and liberties of Englishmen, and that they must not be taxed without their
  • Colonies Protest Taxation

    By now, every colony objects to all Parliamentary taxes issued without their consent, external duties (like the Sugar Act) as well as internal taxes (like the Stamp Act).
  • Stamp Act Repealed and Declaratory Act Passed

    Under pressure from English merchants and manufacturers concerned about their American markets and business ties, and shocked by the aggressive and widespread colonial resistance, Parliament repeals the Stamp Act. But to avoid the appearance of succumbing to the colonials, it also passes the Declaratory Act, which rejects colonial assertions that only colonial representatives can levy taxes. Parliament instead asserts its right to rule by virtual representation; that is, English government deter
  • Townshend Duties

    Chancellor of the Exchequer Charles Townshend successfully ushers a new series of colonial taxes through Parliament; they will soon be known (notoriously) as the Townshend Duties. Parliament is under the impression that these new duties—on British imports to the colonies, with safeguards to empower customs commissioners and suppress smuggling—will be much more acceptable to the colonists, since they regulate trade in order to raise revenue. Colonial leaders such as Ben Franklin.
  • Boston Riots

    Bostonians riot after royal troops seize John Hancock's ship Liberty for violating trade laws. From this point, British troops will be continuously stationed in the city, aggravating city residents by competing for jobs on the waterfront.
  • Non-Importation Agreement

    The merchants and traders of Boston issue a Non-Importation Agreement that pledges not to import any merchandise from Great Britain, in a united show of protest against Parliamentary taxes (specifically the latest Townshend Duties) and the scarcity of hard currency. The southern colonies soon join up with the boycott.
  • Boston Massacre

    A group of Bostonians—armed with snowballs—harass some British troops in the city. The altercation escalates until the troops shoot five of the men dead, including Crispus Attucks, a runaway slave of mixed African, Indian, and white ancestry who had been working as a sailor. The attack generates outrage among the colonists, who come to call it the Boston Massacre.
  • Paul Revere Engraves Boston Massacre

    Within a month of the shooting known as the Boston Massacre, silversmith Paul Revere engraves and prints one of the first and most effective (and most inaccurate) propaganda pieces of what will become the American Revolution. Revere's engraving depicts a solid line of royal troops firing point-blank into a crowd of colonists, though the actual incident was more like a chaotic brawl. But a picture is worth a thousand words, and Revere's image stirs up considerable anti-British sentiment across No
  • Boston Massacre Trial

    The commanding officer and eight royal soldiers are put on trial in Massachusetts for their involvement in the so-called Boston Massacre. John Adams, the future Founding Father and president, defends the men in court. Adams disapproves of the lower-class crowd mentality that started the incident in the first place, since he thinks it is a foolhardy and perilous means of opposing England or English policies. He argues that the British soldiers are just victims of circumstance, provoked by what wa
  • Chesapeake Recession

    A serious recession hits the Chesapeake region in Virginia, and suddenly the notion of boycotting British goods takes hold beyond the gentry class of the region.15
  • Anti-smuggling Gaspee is Burned

    The British vessel Gaspee runs aground near Providence, Rhode Island. The Gaspee is patrolling for smugglers, making it very unpopular among colonists. A crowd of locals boards the ship, removes the crew, and sets it on fire. No witnesses are willing to testify against the perpetrators.
  • Hutchinson Salary Dispute

    Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson announces that his salary will hereafter come from customs revenues, not the colonial assembly. Not much later, it is announced that Superior Court judges will be paid the same way. Colonial officials are no longer reliant on the assembly, whose power is reduced because of these changes; and this will place all the more pressure on colonial smugglers, since it is in the self-interest of colonial officials to raise revenues and stamp out the black market.
  • Benjamin Rush Attacks Slavery

    Dr. Benjamin Rush authors one of the strongest attacks on slavery ever written in the colonies to date. In 1776, Rush himself will purchase a slave named William Grubber and keep him for over a decade, even as he continues to rail against the institution and joins the Pennsylvania Abolition Society.16
  • First Slave Petition

    "Felix of Boston" becomes the first slave in America to petition a legislature for the abolition of slavery, writing that "Let slave behaviour [sic] be what it will, neither they [slaves], nor their Children to all Generations, shall ever be able to do, or possess and enjoy any Thing, no, not even Life itself, but in a Manner as the Beasts that perish."
  • Tea Act

    Parliament passes the Tea Act, which will later spark a rebellion in Boston. This Act does not actually impose any new taxes, but seeks to save the East India Company by shipping its tea surplus to the colonies, where it will be sold at discounted prices. But the colonists think that it is a strategy to bolster support for the detested Townshend Duties, and they recognize that direct sale of tea by British agents will only hurt local merchants' business.
  • Boston Tea Party

    In a dramatic demonstration that the colonists will not submit to Parliament or British monopolies for the sake of cheap tea, a group of Patriots dressed as Mohawk Indians stage the Boston Tea Party after dark. To protest the Tea Act, which enables the East India monopoly to bypass colonial merchants entirely, the Patriots raid a British ship in Boston Harbor and throw 342 chests of tea overboard (to the encouraging cheers of delighted crowds). The Boston Tea Party is the most dramatic act of co
  • Boston Port Act

    In response to the Boston Tea Party, Parliament adopts the Boston Port Act, which closes Boston Harbor (this is the first of the four measures known as the Coercive Acts, and which the colonists call the "Intolerable" Acts). The Coercive Acts provide the impetus for leaders in Maryland and Virginia to initiate a boycott on exports and imports from Britain. The patriotic gesture is also one of self-interest for Chesapeake tobacco farmers, since tobacco prices have been in serious decline since la
  • British Governor Threatens Emancipation

    In the wake of the first shots fired in Massachusetts, Lord Dunmore, Royal Governor of Virginia, threatens to free the slaves of his colony if white Virginians harm one senior British official. He will go through with the threat a little more than a year later, in November 1775.
  • Act for the Impartial Administration of Justice

    Parliament passes an Act for the Impartial Administration of Justice, which empowers the governor to transfer all trials of officials to England if their alleged offense has occurred in the line of duty. It is another of the so-called Intolerable Acts.
  • Massachusetts Government Act

    Parliament passes the Massachusetts Government Act, one of the so-called Intolerable Acts. It radically alters the structure of colonial government there by requiring towns to gain the governor's approval before they can hold meetings, makes the law-enforcement officers and the colony council appointed rather than elected positions, and empowers sheriffs to select jurors. The colonists call these, together with the Quebec Act, the "Intolerable Acts." Rather than being intimidated by Parliament's
  • Quartering Act

    The Quartering Act—the fourth and final of the so-called Intolerable Acts—enables colonial governors to commandeer housing for British officers and soldiers if there is insufficient room in the barracks. The Quartering Act never actually stipulates private homes but instead specifies "uninhabited houses, out-houses, barns, or other buildings."18 This 1774 Quartering Act is actually a clarification of previous legislation that Parliament passed in 1765 and has renewed and amended annually. Coloni
  • Gunpowder Consolidated

    Over the summer of 1774, residents of Massachusetts towns around Boston begin to remove their gunpowder stores from the Provincial Powder House, atop a hill in northwest Boston. They leave only the Massachusetts provincial reserve (an emergency supply for the whole colony), which most colonists believe is rightly theirs.
  • Provincial Powder House

    Early in the morning, General Thomas Gage orders a secret mission to seize the remaining gunpowder stored at the Provincial Powder House, atop a hill in northwest Boston, before it is taken into the countryside by colonials. At 250 half-barrels, the Powder House holds the largest stash of gunpowder in New England. As Governor of Massachusetts, Gage is authorized to remove the gunpowder. His men have the stash safely transferred to Castle William by noon.
  • New England Powder Alarm

    After General Thomas Gage's successful operation to relocate the remaining gunpowder stores at the Provincial Powder House, word spreads across Boston and the surrounding countryside that the Province has been "robbed of its powder." The rumor runs rampant among a surprised and already agitated populace, who exaggerate the story until people think that the Regulars are marching, six people are already dead, and the war has begun. None of that is true, but this period of panic comes to be known a
  • Cambridge Common Assembly

    Some 4,000 men assemble on Cambridge Common, most of them farmers from the Massachusetts countryside. This is just one day after they first heard about General Thomas Gage's removal of the provincial gunpowder supply (and many, more exaggerated, rumors of conflict). The New England Powder Alarm remains in full effect: the mob is armed only with wooden cudgels but it uses them to great effect as it surrounds several prominent Tory houses and forces two prominent Loyalists to flee and one to resig
  • First Continental Congress

    Fifty-five members representing every colony but Georgia assemble in Philadelphia for the First Continental Congress. Peyton Randolph, a Virginian, is elected president. The Congress agrees to vote by colony, although Patrick Henry objects because he argues that members should vote not as New Yorkers or Virginians but as Americans. The Congress is not formed in order to revolt or to govern, but to act as a convention of ambassadors who will adopt resolutions and protests.
  • Quebec Act

  • Congress Bans British Goods

  • Thomas Paine Publishes Common Sense

  • Paul Revere’s Early Ride

  • Paul Revere’s Ride

  • Revere Beats Dawes

  • Second Continental Congress

  • Fort Ticonderoga Falls

  • Green Mountain Boys

  • Slave Uprising Rumors

  • Washington Takes Command

  • Bunker Hill

  • British Incite Slaves

  • Quakers Form Anti-Slavery Society

  • Olive Branch Petition

  • Proclamation for Suppression Rebellion and Sedition

  • Revolutionary Economy Suffers

  • Dunmore Frees Slaves

  • Paul Revere’s Ride

  • House of Lords Support King

  • House of Commons Support King

  • House of Commons Support King

  • African-Americans Enlist

  • Tenants Strike in Virginia

  • Salt Riots

  • Thomas Paine Publishes Common Sense

  • Quakers Abolish Slavery

  • Women of New Jersey Vote

  • Quakers Abolish Slavery

  • Americans Surprise British

  • Drive to Dorchester

  • British Retreat from Boston

  • Congress Recommends State Governments

  • Articles of Confederation Draft Committee

  • Virginia Declaration of Rights

  • Congress Recommends State Governments

  • Betsy Ross Begins Flag

  • Jefferson Completes Declaration

  • Virginia Adopts State Constitution

  • Virginia Drafts New Constitution

  • Congress Votes for Independence

  • Congress Adopts Declaration of Independence

  • Delegates Sign Declaration of Independence

  • Americans Defeated, Retreat

  • Pennsylvania Adopts Constitution

  • Margaret Corbin

  • Morristown Winter

  • The American Crisis

  • Washington Crosses the Delaware

  • Americans Repel British

  • Paine Deplores Tar and Feathering

  • Signers Names No Longer Secret

  • Vermont Abolishes Slavery

  • Victory at Oriskany

  • British Occupy Philadelphia

  • Battle of Saratoga

  • Congress Approves Articles

  • Valley Forge

  • French Aid

  • George White Eyes Murdered

  • Iroquois Raids

  • Molly Pitcher

  • George Rogers Clark

  • John Sullivan Attack Iroquois Federation

  • War in the South

  • Massachusetts Constitutional Convention

  • Jefferson Governor of Virginia

  • John Paul Jones “I Have Not Yet Begun To Fight”

  • Pennsylvania Gradual Emancipation

  • Artisans and Farmers Protest Massachusetts Constitution

  • Americans Surrender Charleston

  • Massachusetts Adopts Constitution

  • Ladies Association Fundraises

  • Benedict Arnold Defects

  • Victory at King’s Mountain

  • Nathanael Greene

  • Benedict Arnold Fights Americans

  • Slaves Escape

  • Maryland Ratifies Articles

  • Cornwallis Marches North

  • Cornwallis Fortifies at Yorktown

  • Siege of Yorktown

  • Cornwallis Surrenders

  • Viriginia Repeals Manumission Prohibition

  • House of Commons Votes Against War

  • Commons Offers Peace

  • Sympathetic British Government

  • Letitia Cunningham Advocates for Whigs

  • Treaty of Paris

  • British Leave New York City

  • George Washington Leaves Military

  • Washington Resigns Commission

    George Washington appears before the Continental Congress to resign his commission. He makes it home to his estate in Mount Vernon, Virginia, in time for Christmas.
  • Washington Resigns Commission

    George Washington appears before the Continental Congress to resign his commission. He makes it home to his estate in Mount Vernon, Virginia, in time for Christmas.