I.The Imperial Reform Movement, 1763– 1765 A.The Legacy of War 1.The Great War for Empire fundamentally changed the relationship between Britain and its American colonies; there were major conflicts over funding, military appointment, and policy objectives. 2.The Great War exposed the weak position of British royal governors and officials, prompting immediate administrative reforms. 3.To assert their authority, the British began a strict enforcement of the Navigation Acts, and in 1762 Parliament passed a Revenue Act that curbed corruption in the customs service.
I.The Imperial Reform Movement, 1763– 1765 A.The Legacy of War 4.In 1763 the British ministry stationed a peacetime army in North America, indicating its willingness to use force in order to preserve its authority over the colonies and forbid them to move west of the Appalachian Mountains. 5.As Britain’s national debt soared, higher import duties were imposed at home on tobacco and sugar, and excise levies (a kind of sales tax) were increased; the increases were passed on to British consumers. 6.Free Americans paid only about one-fifth the amount of annual imperial taxes, as did British taxpayers.
I.The Imperial Reform Movement, 1763– 1765 A.The Legacy of War 7.To collect the taxes the government doubled the size of the British bureaucracy and granted it the power to arrest smugglers. 8.To reverse the development of debt and of a more powerful government, reformers demanded Parliament be made more representative of the property-owning classes.
I.The Imperial Reform Movement, 1763– 1765 B.The Sugar Act and Colonial Rights 1.As the war ended, British officials undertook a systematic reform of the imperial system aimed at centralizing control of the colonies in Britain and extracting larger revenues from the colonists. 2.George Grenville won approval of a Currency Act (1764) that banned the use of paper money as legal tender, thereby protecting the British merchants from colonial currency that was not worth its face value. 3.Grenville proposed the Sugar Act of 1764 to replace the widely evaded Molasses Act of Americans argued that the Sugar Act was contrary to their constitution, since it established a tax and “all taxes ought to originate with the people.”
I.The Imperial Reform Movement, 1763– 1765 B.The Sugar Act and Colonial Rights 5.The Sugar Act closed a Navigation Act loophole by extending the jurisdiction of vice-admiralty courts to all customs offenses, many of which had previously been tried before local and sympathetic juries. 6.After living under a policy of salutary neglect, Americans felt that the new British policies challenged the existing constitutional structure of the empire. 7.British officials insisted on the supremacy of Parliamentary laws and denied that colonists were entitled to even the traditional legal rights of Englishmen.
I.The Imperial Reform Movement, 1763– 1765 C.The Dynamics of Rebellion, The Stamp Act required small, embossed markings on all court documents, land titles, and various other documents and served as revenue to keep British troops in America. 2.Prime Minister Grenville vowed to impose a stamp tax in 1765 unless the colonists would tax themselves. 3.Benjamin Franklin proposed American representation in Parliament, but British officials rejected the idea, arguing that Americans were already “virtually” represented in Parliament.
I.The Imperial Reform Movement, 1763– 1765 C.The Dynamics of Rebellion, George Grenville’s goal with the Stamp Act was not only to raise revenue but also to assert the right of Parliament to lay an internal tax upon the colonies. 5.Parliament also passed a Quartering Act directing colonial governments to provide barracks and food for the British troops stationed in the colonies. 6.For the colonists, a constitutional confrontation with the British arose over taxation, jury trials, quartering of the military, and representative self- government.
II.The Dynamics of Rebellion, A.The Crowd Rebels 1.Patriots and the Sons of Liberty, who were defenders of American rights, organized protests, rioted, and articulated an ideology of resistance. 2.Loyalists, or Tories supported the English Crown and were despised by those resisting British authority. 3.The Stamp Act Congress issued a set of Resolves against the loss of American “rights and liberties.” 4.Most delegates of the Congress were moderate men who sought compromise, not confrontation. 5.Popular resentment was not easily contained as angry colonial mobs intimidated royal officials.
II.The Dynamics of Rebellion, A.The Crowd Rebels 5.The leaders of the Sons of Liberty tried to direct the raw energy of the crowd against new tax measures, but some followers had other reasons for protesting – resentment of cheap British imports that threatened their livelihoods, resentment of wealthy Britons who were not being taxed, and resentment of arrogance and decadence among British officers and officials. 6.Popular resistance throughout the colonies nullified the Stamp Act; royal officials could no longer count on the deferential political behavior that had ensured the empire’s stability for three generations.
II.The Dynamics of Rebellion, B.Ideological Roots of Resistance 1.Initially, the American resistance movement had no acknowledged leaders and no central organization. 2.The first protests focused on particular economic and political matters, but Patriot publicists gradually focused the debate by defining “liberty” as a natural right of all people. 3.Patriot publicists and pamphlets drew on three intellectual traditions: English common law, the rationalist thought of the Enlightenment, and an ideological agenda based on the republican strand of the English Whig political tradition. 4.The writings turned a series of riots and tax protests into a coherent political coalition.
II.The Dynamics of Rebellion, C.Parliament Compromises, In Parliament, different political factions advocated radically different responses to the American challenge. 2.Hard-liners were outraged and wanted to send British soldiers to suppress the riots and force Americans to submit to the supremacy of Parliament. 3.Old Whigs felt that America was more important for its trade than its taxes and advocated repeal of the Stamp Act. 4.British merchants favored repeal because American boycotts of British goods had caused decreased sales.
II.The Dynamics of Rebellion, C.Parliament Compromises, Former prime minister William Pitt saw the act as a “failed policy” and demanded that it be repealed. 6.Lord Rockingham repealed the Stamp Act and ruled out the use of troops against rioters. 7.The Sugar Act was modified, reducing the tax on French molasses but extending the tax to British molasses. 8.Imperial reformers and hard-liners were pacified with the Declaratory Act of 1766, which reaffirmed Parliament’s authority to make laws that were binding for American colonists.
III.The Growing Confrontation, A.The Townshend Initiatives 1.Long convinced of the necessity of imperial reform and eager to reduce the English land tax, Charles Townshend promised to find a new source of revenue in America. 2.To secure revenue for the salaries of imperial officials in the colonies, the Townshend Act of 1767 imposed duties on paper, paint, glass, and tea imported to America. 3.The Revenue Act of 1767 created the Board of American Customs Commissioners and vice- admiralty courts.
III.The Growing Confrontation, A.The Townshend Initiatives 4.New York first refused to comply with the Quartering Act of The Restraining Act of 1767, which declared American governmental institutions completely dependent on Parliamentary favor, suspended the New York assembly until it submitted to the Quartering Act.
III.The Growing Confrontation, B.America Again Debates and Resists 1.Colonists saw the Townshend duties as taxes that were imposed without their consent, which reinvigorated the American resistance movement. 2.Public support for nonimportation of British goods emerged, influencing colonial women –such as the Daughters of Liberty- as well as men and triggered a surge in domestic production. 3.The boycott united Americans in a common political movement, but American resistance only increased British determination. 4.By 1768, American resistance had prompted a plan for military coercion, with 4,000 British regulars encamped in Boston, Massachusetts.
III.The Growing Confrontation, C.Lord North Compromises, As food shortages mounted in Scotland and northern England, riots spread across the English countryside. Riots in Ireland over the growing military budget there added to the ministry’s difficulties. 2.In Britain, a rising trade deficit with the Americans convinced some ministers that the Townshend duties were a mistake. 3.In 1770, Lord North persuaded Parliament to repeal the duties on manufactured items, but the tax on tea was retained as a symbol of Parliament’s supremacy.
III.The Growing Confrontation, C.Lord North Compromises, Most Americans did not contest the symbolic levy and drank smuggled tea; even violence in New York City and the Boston Massacre did not rupture the compromise. 5.By 1770 the most outspoken Patriots had repudiated Parliamentary supremacy, claiming equality for the American assemblies. 6.Some Americans were prepared to resist by force if Parliament or the king insisted on exercising Britain’s claim to sovereign power.
IV.The Road to War, A.The Compromise Ignored 1.Samuel Adams established the Committees of Correspondence and formed a communication network between colonies that stressed colonial rights. 2.The Tea Act relieved the British East India Company of paying taxes on tea it imported to Britain or exported to the colonies; only American consumers would pay the tax. 3.The Tea Act made the East India Company’s tea less expensive than Dutch tea, which encouraged Americans to pay the Townshend duty. 4.Radical Patriots accused the ministry of bribing Americans to give up their principled opposition to British taxation.
IV.The Road to War, A.The Compromise Ignored 5.The Patriots nullified the Tea Act by forcing the East India Company’s ships to return tea to Britain or to store it. 6.A scheme to land a shipment of tea and collect the tax led to a group of Americans throwing the tea into Boston Harbor. 7.In 1774, Parliament rejected a proposal to repeal the Tea Act and instead enacted four Coercive Acts to force Massachusetts into submission.
IV.The Road to War, A.The Compromise Ignored 8.The four Coercive Acts included a Port Bill, a Government Act, a new Quartering Act, and a Justice Act. Patriot leaders branded these acts as the “Intolerable Acts” 9.The Activities of the Committees of Correspondence created a sense of unity among those with Patriotic sympathies. 10.Many colonial leaders saw the Quebec Act (1774) as another demonstration of Parliament’s power to intervene in American domestic affairs, since it extended Quebec into territory claimed by American colonies and recognized Roman Catholicism.
IV.The Road to War, B.The Continental Congress Responds 1.Delegates of the Continental Congress, a new colonial assembly, met in Philadelphia in September The First Continental Congress passed a Declaration of Rights and Grievances that condemned and demanded the repeal of the Coercive Acts and repudiated the Declaratory Act.
IV.The Road to War, B.The Continental Congress Responds 5.The Congress began a program of economic retaliation, beginning with nonimportation and nonconsumption agreements that went into effect in December The British ministry branded the Continental Congress an illegal assembly and refused to send commissioners to America to negotiate. 7.The ministry declared that Americans had to pay for their own defense and administration and acknowledge Parliament’s authority to tax them; they also imposed a blockade on American trade with foreign nations.
IV.The Road to War, C.The Rising of the Countryside 1.Ultimately, the success of the urban-led Patriot movement would depend on the actions of the large rural population. 2.At first, most farmers had little interest in imperial issues, but the French and Indian War, along with nonimportation movements, changed their attitudes. 3.The urban-led nonimportation movements of 1765 and 1769 raised the political consciousness of many rural Americans. 4.Patriots appealed to the yeomen tradition of agricultural independence, as many northern yeomen felt personally threatened by British imperial policy.
IV.The Road to War, C.The Rising of the Countryside 5.Despite their higher standard of living, southern slave owners had fears similar to those of the yeomen. 6.Many prominent Americans worried that resistance to Britain would destroy respect for all political institutions, ending in mob rule. 7.Other social groups, such as tenant farmers, the Regulators, and some enslaved blacks, refused to support the resistance movement. 8.Beginning in 1774, some prominent Americans of “loyal principles” denounced the Patriot movement and formed a small, ineffective pro-British “Loyalist” party.
IV.The Road to War, C.The Failure of Compromise 1.When the Continental Congress met in 1774, New England was already in open defense of British authority. 2.In September, General Gage ordered British troops to seize Patriot armories and storehouses at Charleston and Cambridge. 3.In response, 20,000 colonial militiamen mobilized to safeguard supply depots in Concord and Worcester. 4.On April 18, 1775, Gage dispatched soldiers to capture colonial leaders and supplies at Concord.
IV.The Road to War, C.The Failure of Compromise 5.Forewarned by Paul Revere and others, the local militiamen met the British first at Lexington and then at Concord. 6.As the British retreated, militiamen ambushed them from neighboring towns with both sides suffering losses. 7.Twelve years of economic conflict and constitutional debate ended in civil war.
Discussion Questions 1.What factors triggered the deterioration in relations between Great Britain and its American colonies? 2.How did the actions of each side contribute to military confrontation at Lexington and Concord? 3.Which side was more responsible for pushing events toward a military confrontation?
Writing Assignments 1.Social and political violence occurs when people feel they need to protect their own interests regardless of the consequences. Among the various disagreements that developed between the American colonists and the British, which were the most significant and why? How had the colonial experience of the Americans differentiated them over time from the British? 2.Was a compromise possible at some point between 1765 and 1775? At what stages in the dispute did the chances for compromise significantly narrow? Why? 3.What motivated various groups to support or oppose the developing rebellion between 1765 and 1775? What were the risks involved?
Writing Assignments 4.Among the various causes of the Revolution, which do you think was the most significant? Which group or individuals do you think played the most important role in causing the crisis? 5.What aspects of the developing revolutionary movement indicate that from the beginning the movement was not just a political debate but also a debate on the nature of social order, the relationship among groups and individuals, and the rights of individuals?
Map 5.2 Britain’s American Empire in 1763 (p. 138)
Map 5.4 British Western Policy, 1763–1774 (p. 151)
Figure 5.1 The Growing Power of the British State (p. 137)
British Troops Occupy Concord (p. 132) Courtesy, Concord Museum.