The king forbade settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains in an attempt to limit costly wars with Native Americans. Colonists, however, protested and demanded access to the territory for which they had fought alongside the British.
In , Parliament passed two more reforms. The Sugar Act sought to combat widespread smuggling of molasses in New England by cutting the duty in half but increasing enforcement. Also, smugglers would be tried by vice-admiralty courts and not juries. Parliament also passed the Currency Act, which restricted colonies from producing paper money.
Hard money, such as gold and silver coins, was scarce in the colonies. In March , Parliament passed the Stamp Act. The act required that many documents be printed on paper that had been stamped to show the duty had been paid, including newspapers, pamphlets, diplomas, legal documents, and even playing cards. Parliament had never before directly taxed the colonists. This led, in part, to broader, more popular resistance.
Resistance to the Stamp Act took three forms, distinguished largely by class: legislative resistance by elites, economic resistance by merchants, and popular protest by common colonists. Colonial elites responded by passing resolutions in their assemblies. Men and women politicized the domestic sphere by buying and displaying items that conspicuously revealed their position for or against parliamentary actions.
Militia (United States) - Wikipedia
Salem State University. Those rights included trial by jury, which had been abridged by the Sugar Act, and the right to be taxed only by their own elected representatives. The second type of resistance to the Stamp Act was economic. While the Stamp Act Congress deliberated, merchants in major port cities were preparing nonimportation agreements, hoping that their refusal to import British goods would lead British merchants to lobby for the repeal of the Stamp Act. The third, and perhaps, most crucial type of resistance was popular protest. Riots broke out in Boston. The following week, a crowd also set upon the home of his brother-in-law, Lieutenant Governor Thomas Hutchinson, who had publicly argued for submission to the stamp tax.
Popular violence and intimidation spread quickly throughout the colonies. In New York City, posted notices read:. We dare.
By November 16, all of the original twelve stamp distributors had resigned, and by , groups calling themselves the Sons of Liberty were formed in most colonies to direct and organize further resistance. These tactics had the dual effect of sending a message to Parliament and discouraging colonists from accepting appointments as stamp collectors. With no one to distribute the stamps, the act became unenforceable. Violent protest by groups like the Sons of Liberty created quite a stir both in the colonies and in England itself.
This print of the event was from the British perspective, picturing the Sons as brutal instigators with almost demonic smiles on their faces as they enacted this excruciating punishment on the Custom Commissioner. Pressure on Parliament grew until, in February , it repealed the Stamp Act.
It could be argued that there was no moment at which colonists felt more proud to be members of the free British Empire than But Britain still needed revenue from the colonies. The acts also created and strengthened formal mechanisms to enforce compliance, including a new American Board of Customs Commissioners and more vice-admiralty courts to try smugglers. Revenues from customs seizures would be used to pay customs officers and other royal officials, including the governors, thereby incentivizing them to convict offenders.
Unsurprisingly, colonists, once again, resisted. New forms of resistance emerged in which elite, middling, and working-class colonists participated together. Merchants reinstituted nonimportation agreements, and common colonists agreed not to consume these same products. Lists were circulated with signatories promising not to buy any British goods.
These lists were often published in newspapers, bestowing recognition on those who had signed and led to pressure on those who had not. Women, too, became involved to an unprecedented degree in resistance to the Townshend Acts. They circulated subscription lists and gathered signatures. The first political commentaries in newspapers written by women appeared. Spinning clubs were formed, in which local women would gather at one of their homes and spin cloth for homespun clothing for their families and even for the community. At the same time, British goods and luxuries previously desired now became symbols of tyranny.
Committees of Inspection monitored merchants and residents to make sure that no one broke the agreements. Offenders could expect to be shamed by having their names and offenses published in the newspaper and in broadsides. Nonimportation and nonconsumption helped forge colonial unity.
Colonies formed Committees of Correspondence to keep each other informed of the resistance efforts throughout the colonies. Newspapers reprinted exploits of resistance, giving colonists a sense that they were part of a broader political community. Britain sent regiments to Boston in to help enforce the new acts and quell the resistance.
5. The American Revolution
On the evening of March 5, , a crowd gathered outside the Custom House and began hurling insults, snowballs, and perhaps more at the young sentry. After the smoke cleared, five Bostonians were dead, including one of the ringleaders, Crispus Attucks, a former slave turned free dockworker. The soldiers were tried in Boston and won acquittal, thanks, in part, to their defense attorney, John Adams. News of the Boston Massacre spread quickly through the new resistance communication networks, aided by a famous engraving initially circulated by Paul Revere, which depicted bloodthirsty British soldiers with grins on their faces firing into a peaceful crowd.
The engraving was quickly circulated and reprinted throughout the colonies, generating sympathy for Boston and anger with Britain. This iconic image of the Boston Massacre by Paul Revere sparked fury in both Americans and the British by portraying the redcoats as brutal slaughterers and the onlookers as helpless victims.
The events of March 5, did not actually play out as Revere pictured them, yet his intention was not simply to recount the affair. Revere created an effective propaganda piece that lent credence to those demanding that the British authoritarian rule be stopped.
Top 10 Battles of the Revolutionary War
Library of Congress. Resistance again led to repeal. In March , Parliament repealed all of the new duties except the one on tea, which, like the Declaratory Act, was left, in part, to save face and assert that Parliament still retained the right to tax the colonies. The character of colonial resistance had changed between and During the Stamp Act resistance, elites wrote resolves and held congresses while violent, popular mobs burned effigies and tore down houses, with minimal coordination between colonies. But methods of resistance against the Townshend Acts became more inclusive and more coordinated.
Colonists previously excluded from meaningful political participation now gathered signatures, and colonists of all ranks participated in the resistance by not buying British goods and monitoring and enforcing the boycotts. A new sense of shared grievances began to join the colonists in a shared American political identity.
Tensions between the colonies and England eased for a time after the Boston Massacre. The colonial economy improved as the postwar recession receded. The Sons of Liberty in some colonies sought to continue nonimportation even after the repeal of the Townshend Acts. But in New York, a door-to-door poll of the population revealed that the majority wanted to end nonimportation. In April , Parliament passed two acts to aid the failing East India Company, which had fallen behind in the annual payments it owed Britain. But the company was not only drowning in debt; it was also drowning in tea, with almost fifteen million pounds of it in stored in warehouses from India to England.
In , Parliament passed the Regulating Act, which effectively put the troubled company under government control. It then passed the Tea Act, which would allow the company to sell its tea in the colonies directly and without the usual import duties.
This would greatly lower the cost of tea for colonists, but, again, they resisted. But like the Sugar Act, the Tea Act affected only a small, specific group of people. The widespread support for resisting the Tea Act had more to do with principles. The Tea Act stipulated that the duty had to be paid when the ship unloaded. This worked and the tea did not reach the shore, but by December 16, the ships were still there. Hence, another town meeting was held at the Old South Meeting House, at the end of which dozens of men disguised as Mohawk Indians made their way to the wharf.
The Boston Gazette reported what happened next:. But, behold what followed! As word spread throughout the colonies, patriots were emboldened to do the same to the tea sitting in their harbors. Popular protest spread across the continent and down through all levels of colonial society. Women across the thirteen colonies could most readily express their political sentiments as consumers and producers.
Because women often made decisions regarding household purchases, their participation in consumer boycotts held particular weight. The agitation of so many helped elicit responses from both Britain and the colonial elites. The following spring, Parliament passed four acts known collectively, by the British, as the Coercive Acts.
Colonists, however, referred to them as the Intolerable Acts. First, the Boston Port Act shut down the harbor and cut off all trade to and from the city. The Massachusetts Government Act put the colonial government entirely under British control, dissolving the assembly and restricting town meetings. The Administration of Justice Act allowed any royal official accused of a crime to be tried in Britain rather than by Massachusetts courts and juries.
Boston had been deemed in open rebellion, and the king, his advisors, and Parliament acted decisively to end the rebellion. The Crown, however, did not anticipate the other colonies coming to the aid of Massachusetts.
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Colonists collected food to send to Boston. Rather than isolating Massachusetts, the Coercive Acts fostered the sense of shared identity created over the previous decade. In Massachusetts, patriots created the Provincial Congress, and, throughout , they seized control of local and county governments and courts. Committees of Correspondence agreed to send delegates to a Continental Congress to coordinate an intercolonial response.
The First Continental Congress convened on September 5, It sought to unite and direct twelve revolutionary governments, establish economic and moral policies, and empower common colonists by giving them an important and unprecedented degree of on-the-ground political power. But not all colonists were patriots.
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