Revolutionary war flag

Road to Revolution

  • Molasses Act

    This was one of the taxes the British government attempted to levy on the colonists. It was a massively unpopular act, was rarely enforced, and encouraged colonial smuggling and a rebellious spirit. It was repealed in 1764, but other taxes soon replaced it that caused just as much complaining.
  • Navigation Laws Enforced

    Navigation Laws Enforced
    The Navigation Laws were designed to restrict American trade with British rivals. Despite technically being passed in 1651, these actually weren't enforced in North America until the 1750s- both as part of Britain's policy of salutary neglect toward the colonies and because of the difficulty of implementing measures so large. Once they were enforced, the laws angered the colonists greatly, who had become rich from smuggling goods and did not appreciate the tax increases.
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    French & Indian War ended by Treaty of Paris 1763

    An initially small skirmish snowballed into the French-Indian War between Great Britain and France. It had several notable impacts on the colonists that would later help them to rebel:
    - small step toward inter-colonial unity (Albany Congress)
    - blunders of British officers showed they weren't indestructible
    ⁃ increased friction over Proclamation (more on that soon) and personality clashes between colonists and British officers
  • Proclamation of 1763

    After the French-Indian War concluded, the colonists had hoped to expand westward to previously French-held territories. Unfortunately, the British government decided to placate Native American fears over land loss by issuing this proclamation, which forbade settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains. This brewed resentment among colonists and many defied the order.
  • Sugar Act

    Sugar Act
    As part of the effort to lower British debt and because Parliament had already overtaxed mainland British citizens, this tax increased the duty on foreign sugar imports in the colonies. After the colonists protested loudly, Parliament lowered the amount due, but soon implemented other additional taxes.
  • Stamp Act

    Stamp Act
    Because of the massive debts owed due to the French and Indian War, Parliament needed a way to generate revenue. When the Sugar Act failed to do so, Parliament implemented the Stamp Act, which required many pamphlets, licenses, and official documents to be printed on specially taxed paper.
  • Quartering Act

    Quartering Act
    This act required colonists to house, feed and care for any British soldiers who came to their door in an effort to cut costs. The British considered it fair, since the soldiers were theoretically there to protect the colonists, but this only served to anger colonists who chafed at the intrusion.
  • Sons of Liberty Formed

    Sons of Liberty Formed
    The Sons (and Daughters) of Liberty were groups formed to organize protests against British measures. They weren't always the best people (they would tar and feather officials, a painful and humiliating experience) and would cause many more problems when they pulled off the Boston Tea Party. They were another example of increasing colonial organization and resistance.
  • Stamp Act Congress

    27 delegates from 9 colonies gathered in New York City to protest the Stamp Act. The Stamp Act Congress drew up a statement of rights and grievances with Parliament and called for the legislation's repeal. This was another baby step towards colonial unity, but at this point all of the delegates still acknowledged the King and Parliament's authority.
  • Townshend Acts Begin

    These were yet more taxes on goods in the Americas. They inspired yet more boycotts among the colonists and would eventually lead to the formation of groups like the Committees of Correspondence and yet more protests.
  • Massachusetts Circular Letter

    Massachusetts Circular Letter
    Written by Samuel Adams, this was a letter circulated widely that protested against the Townshend Acts and tried to declare them unconstitutional and a violation of the "natural rights" of man. When the Massachusetts General Court refused to back away from the letter's arguments, the British government dissolved it. Colonists responded with mobs and it became impossible to collect taxes, so Britain sent troops to control rebellious areas. This would only lead to more problems and unrest.
  • Boston Massacre

    Boston Massacre
    The Boston Massacre was one of the unfortunate consequences of increased tensions between British troops and colonial civilians. After being severely provoked, some soldiers fired on unarmed colonists and killed five. This further increased tensions, especially because a well-liked man, Crispus Attucks, was killed in the skirmish and the soldiers responsible seemed to get off lightly.
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    Committees of Correspondence Formed

    These were groups of colonists (initially organized by Samuel Adams) who wrote letters to one another and spread news of British abuses. They were a major factor in keeping resistance alive and bringing colonists closer together, and would later evolve into congresses.
  • Tea Act

    Tea Act
    This act didn't raise new taxes, but instead granted the British East India Company a monopoly on the colonial tea trade to rescue the company from bankruptcy (the royal government was invested in it and would suffer if it failed). Americans saw the cheap tea as a trick to make them swallow the taxes and protested, turning shipments away. In Boston, the shipment landed, leading to the Boston Tea Party.
  • Boston Tea Party

    Boston Tea Party
    To protest the Tea Act and the British East India Company's newly granted monopoly on tea in the Americas, colonists badly disguised as Native Americans dumped over 300 crates of tea into Boston Harbor. This incident resulted in Parliament passing the "Intolerable" or "Coercive" acts to make colonists repent.
  • Massachusetts Government Act

    In an attempt to control the Massachusetts Council and punish Boston for its Tea Party, Parliament passed this act that effectively suspended Massachusetts' government. This was later cited as a reason for revolution in the Declaration of Independence as losing the traditionally high levels of control over their own government angered colonists greatly.
  • Lexington and Concord

    These were the first battles of what would become the American Revolution. Fought between militiamen (“minute men”) and British troops, the colonists lost at Lexington but triumphed at Concord.
  • Second Continental Congress

    This was the Congress that finally buckled down and passed the Declaration of Independence, making the final break from Britain and buying into all-out revolution. Very important session.
  • Olive Branch Petition

    This was a petition approved by the Second Continental Congress in a last-ditch attempt to reconcile Great Britain and the colonies. It failed and the conflict intensified.
  • Declaration of Independence

    Declaration of Independence
    Written by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence expanded upon the resolution by Richard Henry Lee (passed July 2, 1776) and presented the "misdeeds" of King George III. It was the first government-approved document to say that peace was unattainable while America was under British control and therefore an enormous step for the Continental Congress since it allowed them to solicit foreign aid.