The Growing Conflict

  1. The Townshend Acts

    1. Greenville replaced as Prime Minister by William Pitt

      1. Pitt probably understood colonists better than any British politician

      2. But he quickly became ill

      3. Real power fell to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Charles Townshend

    2. Townshend in power

      1. Much like Greenville in basic outlook

      2. Parliament is supreme, and the colonies must provide revenue for own protection, government

    3. New taxes - 1767

      1. Convinces Parliament to tax British paint, lead, paper and tea in the colonies

      2. These were external taxes, since they were imported goods

      3. Some money would go to pay for civil service in colonies

      4. Would pay for salary of governors, making them more independent of legislatures

    4. Colonists respond much as they had to Stamp Act

      1. Boston, New York and Philadelphia adopt non-importation agreements, promising not to import or consume British goods

        1. Boycott spreads, supported by vigilante mobs in many places

        2. Within a year, British imports had dropped by half

      2. Massachusetts legislature sent circular letter to other colonies advocating action against Townshend acts

        1. Treated as treason by royal government - MA legislature dissolved by governor

        2. In defiance, other legislatures took up the letter

        3. This laid groundwork for committees of correspondence and further union of colonies 

    5. The "Boston Massacre" (March 5, 1770)

      1. British sent 4000 troops to Boston in part to intimidate the unruly colony

      2. On March 5, 1770, a minor incident got out of hand, and troops fired on civilians, resulting in five deaths

      3. Sam Adams, a pamphleteer, played it up as a terrible massacre

      4. He and a small number of pro-independence radicals able to whip up anger over incident

      5. Ironically, his cousin and future U.S. President John Adams served as soldier's lawyer and got them acquitted

  2. A Period of Calm (1770-1773)

    1. Townshend replaced with Lord North

    2. All but tea tax rescinded under North's urging

    3. Many Americans backed away from radicalism - Loyalist group emerging

    4. But troubles remained

      1. Corrupt customs officials angered many

      2. Sam Adams kept radical fires going in Boston,

        1. Propaganda focused on increasing British power

        2. Established committees of correspondence in Massachusetts

          1. would keep track of grievances against British

          2. idea spread to other colonies

          3. would pave the way for formation of Continental Congress

      3. Regulators revolt

        1. While rural involvement in revolutionary activities was small, there were areas of great conflict

        2. Western North Carolina farmers, angered over continuing corruption of government officials, revolted in mid 1760s, shut down courts and govt. offices

        3. Not suppressed until 1761

    5. The Final Crisis (1773-1776)

      1. The Tea Act, 1773

        1. East India Company faced bankruptcy

        2. Was one of England's biggest companies - many important investors

        3. Parliament decided to help

          1. Would get a monopoly on tea trade in colonies

          2. Could sell directly to colonies, cutting out middlemen

          3. This would enable them to sell tea cheaper than smugglers

          4. Would pay tea tax to government

          5. A win-win: Colonists get cheaper tea, EIC doesn't go bankrupt, government gets taxes

        4. Colonial view

          1. a devious way to get people to accept tea tax

          2. opposed to monopoly - which took business away from colonials

      2. Boston Tea Party, December 16, 1773

        1. No one knew it at time, but this was real beginning of American Revolution

        2. Men disguised as Mohawks dumped 10,000 pounds worth of tea from three ships into harbor (an absolute fortune at the time)

        3. Sam Adams might have organized it - no one knows for sure

      3. British Reaction to the Tea Party - the Coercive Acts (called in colonies the Intolerable Acts) - 1774

        1. Closed Boston as post until tea paid for

        2. Massachusetts self-government abolished

          1. Colony charter voided

          2. Upper house of legislature became appointed, not elected

          3. Town meeting limited to once a year

        3. Justice Act - British officers accused of crimes would be sent to England where they were unlikely to be convicted

        4. Quartering - Army could requisition any building for troops

        5. George III appoints General Thomas Gage as new Governor of MA

        6. Meant to isolate Boston -- but failed to do so

      4. The Quebec Act - 1774

        1. Parliament finally got around to deciding what kind of government Quebec would have

        2. Left in place undemocratic French system - no colonial legislature

        3. Coupled with Intolerable acts, seen as foretaste of destruction of other legislatures

        4. Also seemed to guarantee that English colonists would not get Ohio territory

      1. The First Continental Congress (Sept 1774, Philadelphia)

        1. Committees of correspondence organize a Congress to address crisis

        2. Most representatives selected by popularly elected state conventions, not more conservative legislatures

        3. Called for autonomy, not independence - wanted their rights as Englishmen

        4. The Association

          1. Agreed to support a boycott of British goods until Intolerable Acts rescinded

          2. Created committees throughout colonies to enforce boycott

          3. This is a governmental decision, setting national policy - important first step

          4. Local committees themselves took on many governmental responsibilities

          5. Enforcement of boycott forced people to choose - loyalist or patriot?

        5. Parliament's reaction

          1. Some wanted conciliation, including Lord North

          2. But most saw Congress as an act of defiance and wanted to punish Americans

      2. Lexington and Concord - the first battle - April 19, 1775

        1. Colonists had been forming militias, Gen. Gage wanted to do something about it

        2. Set out to seize supplies held at Concord (MA)

        3. The Lexington militia met him on road, shots rang out, 8 Americans killed

        4. Word got out, British had to deal with "minutemen" as they marched back 

        5. A disaster for British - Americans killed 247 British soldiers

        6. War has begun

      3. Second Continental Congress (May, 1775 - Philadelphia)

        1. Much more radical than First

        2. Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin part of this one

        3. "Declaration of Causes" threatens breaking of ties with British

        4. George Washington appointed leader of militias

      4. Decision for Independence

        1. Most colonists opposed to it, even at this point

        2. But British passed Prohibitory Act (Dec, 1775), that cut off all colonial trade until colonists begged for mercy - final straw for many

        3. Thomas Paine's Common Sense appeared in January, 1776, swaying common people that it was time for independence

        4. July 2 - Congress votes for independence, adopts Declaration on July 4.