Background to the American Revolution

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Background to the American Revolution

I. Development of the American Personality ( no longer Europeans – they were Americans)

Personality – traits (funny, sad, humorous)


Colonial life had trees, lakes, rivers, and Native Americans. The land is huge and the weather is harsh. The colonists developed personality traits that helped them survive. Traits were: toughness (both mental and physical), bravery, hard-working, adaptable, curious, intelligent, adventurous, independent, cooperative, rugged, and optimistic (positive thinkers)
Diversity (differences)

  • different religions in the colonies - Quakers, Puritans, and Separtists.

  • different races – Native Americans, Africans, whites.

  • Different ethnic background – French, Dutch, Spanish, Swedish, Irish, Scots, and Germans

Americans became accepting aggressive and less loyal to England.
Salutary Neglect (beneficial ignore)

England is ignoring the colonies (lets the colonies exist on their own) because the colonies were not making a lot of money and are too far away (3000 miles). England had other colonies (India). England ignoring the colonies was a good thing for the colonies because they developed their own way of doing things. When the Revolution succeeds, they will be able to take care of themselves.

II. The French and Indian War

England defeats the French in their war fought in America. The Treaty of Paris is signed in 1763.

  1. France gives Canada to England

  2. France gives all French land east of the Mississippi River to England.

  3. France gives all French land west of the Mississippi River to Spain.

III. Relationships between the English and the colonies

  1. The new large amount of land meant that Britain will make strict rules for the colonies.

  2. Britain begins to look for ways the colonies can help off the war debt.

  3. Americans were insulted by Britain’s low opinion of them.

  4. Americans saw the ineffective way the British fought in the war.

  5. Americans gain confidence in their military abilities.

  6. Americans did not have to worry about attacks from the French – no longer needed protection.

IV. Proclamation Act (Proclamation of 1763)

Colonists can not move west of the Appalachian Mountains because the British worried that the colonists would have conflicts with the Native Americans and expect the British army to help them. Britain sends 7018 thousand soldiers to enforce the laws. Many colonists were angered by this.

V. Stamp Act

The Stamp Act was direct tax on newspapers, legal documents, playing cards, and dice. The colonists protested because they did not have any representation in Parliament. (Britain’s law making group). Patrick Henry said, “ No taxation without representation!” This quote means the colonists felt they were being mistreated because they were not able to vote for lawmakers in England.

The colonists reacted angrily. They burned British properties and stamps, and attacked tax agents. Britain repealed (took away) the tax, but passed the Declaratory Act. This act said that the colonists were “virtually” represented even though colonists did not vote. The colonists were considered citizens of Britain and were represented in Parliament. Britain retained (kept) the right to tax the colonies.

VI. The Quartering Act (#1)

Britain sent soldiers to the colonies to “protect the colonists from the Native Americans, but were actually placed in the cities at colonial expense. The colonists felt this act was a form of taxation.

VII. Townshend Act

This was a tax on lead, glass, paper, paint, silk, and tea. To insure that the taxes were paid, the British tax agents were given “writs of assistance” These were legal papers that allowed the tax agents to search anyone, at anytime, in anyplace without a warrant. The colonists boycotted British goods.

VIII. Boston Massacre

March 5, 1770. The Quartering Act had brought British soldiers into Boston. 5 soldiers were patrolling the streets of Boston. A mob of 75 Bostonians surrounded the soldiers. The crowd made fun of the soldiers and called them names, such as “Lobsterback”. The crowd began throwing anything they could find. They threw rocks. snowballs, and iceballs. The frightened soldiers shot into the crowd and 5 colonists were killed. The first to die was Crispus Attucks, an African American.

Paul Revere, a silversmith and Patriot, made an engraving that showed the scene. He made it appear as if the soldiers were acting like a firing squad. He included a cute little dog being shot as well as having blood everywhere. He intentionally made the engraving misleading because he wanted to make the colonists angry at Britain.

The soldiers who fired were brought to court and defended by John Adams. He felt the soldiers should receive a fair trial even if he thought they were wrong to shoot. Adams felt “justice” was important.

IX. Boston Tea Party

December. 1773. Three years have passed since the Boston Massacre. Taxes are still in place because of the Townshend Act. The British government repealed all of the Townshend Act, except for the tax on tea. The colonists were not happy because the taxes were off the other items, but there was still a tax on the tea.

The colonists refused to buy the taxed tea. They smuggled Dutch tea into the colonies or made their own tea. The Tea Act allowed the British East India Tea Company to be the only business that could sell tea to the American stores. They could sell tea cheaper even though the tea was still taxed. Sam Adams started a patriotic group called the Sons of Liberty. Adams was worried colonists would buy the tea because it was now cheaper. He wanted to get rid of the tea so the colonists could not buy it. The Sons of Liberty, disguised as Native Americans, boarded the tea ships that were in Boston Harbor. They threw the tea overboard. There were 90,000 pounds of tea on the three ships. The tea was worth $55,000. Even though it took three hours to throw the tea overboard, no one tried to stop the Sons of Liberty. No one was hurt in the Boston Tea Party.

The British were very angry.

X. Intolerable Acts –1774

The British were furious with the colonists because of the Boston Tea Party. Britain passed a law called the Coercive Acts, which was called the Intolerable Acts in America. There were four parts to the law.

  1. The port of Boston is closed until someone pays for the tea.

  2. Town meetings are limited to one time a year and the governor will now be chosen by the King.

  3. Any British soldier accused of murdering a colonist will be tried in Britain.(tried = a court trial)

  4. More soldiers will be sent to Boston. They will be housed (given a place to live) in private homes.

XI. First Continental Congress

Twelve colonies meet (Georgia does not attend). They decided to continue the boycott. Each colony formed its own militia. A militia is a volunteer fighting force.
XII. Lexington and Concord

Colonists were storing weapons in Lexington. The British wanted to find and take the weapons. (confiscate) Paul Revere warns the colonists that the British soldiers are on their way toward the north. There are 700 British soldiers headed northward. The British soldiers enter the town of Lexington, where they see 70 militia waiting on the town green. The militia, known as minutemen because they were ready to fight at a minute’s notice, began to run when they see the British soldiers. A shot is fired, known as the shot heard round the world. It was called this because it marked the beginning of a revolution against a very strong country. There is a lot of shooting. When the shooting stops, there are 8 dead 10 wounded Americans, compared to only 1 British soldier wounded. The Americans scatter- the British unsuccessfully search for weapons. It is considered a British victory and the British move on toward Concord.

The British troops are met by 400 Americans. The British retreat back to Boston. On the way to Boston, they are attacked by the Americans. 74 British soldiers are killed and 200 are wounded.

XIII. Bunker Hill – June 1775

The battle actually takes place on Breed’s Hill in Boston. American troops are dug into the side of the hill. 2000 British soldiers attack the colonists, but are turned back in the first assault. The Americans are given the order, “ don’t fire till you see the whites of their eyes”. The Americans were low on ammunition, so their commander wanted them to wait until the British troops were very close.

XIV. The Olive Branch Petition

Americans ask King George III to remove the Intolerable Acts so “ that peace would prosper”. The colonists hoped the fighting could be avoided.

XV. The Second Continental Congress

The Second Continental Congress established an army. George Washington was appointed as the leader of the army.
XVI. “Common Sense” was a pamphlet written by Thomas Paine. He was an Englishman who had recently moved to America. He tried to convince the colonists to rebel because: 1. There was a great distance between the colonies and England.

2. A small mother country (England) should not rule a large colony (America).

3.The colonies have been left on their own and have developed their own way of

governing themselves.

4.If the colonies do not fight now, their children will have to fight in the future.

5. The colonies have enemies as part of Britain that they do not have on their own. In other words, the British have enemies that are only enemies to the colonists when the colonists are part of England.

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