The Road to Revolution 1763-1775 The American Pageant

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The Road to Revolution

The American Pageant

Chapter 7

Deep Roots of Revolution

  • Revolution was actually developing in minds of colonists from first settlements.

  • To emigrate is to rebel.

  • Distance weakens authority

Deep Roots of Revolution (2)

  • Colonists came to common belief: British authorities fundamentally different – unfit to tell them what to do.

  • Set up their own parliaments, thought themselves “American” not transplanted Britons.

The Mercantile Theory

  • Mercantilism: wealth is power, key to wealth is export more than import. Colonies’ role: provide raw materials (so do not have to import from other nations) and markets for exports.

The Mercantile Theory (2)

  • European nations relied on strong central govt’s to enforce mercantile doctrines.

  • Americans: ensure British naval supremacy through ships, ships’ stores, sailors, trade.

The Mercantile Theory (3)

The Mercantile Theory (4)

  • Americans (3): Keep gold/silver within empire by growing products (tobacco/ sugar) that England would otherwise have to buy elsewhere.

Merc. Trammels on Trade

  • Most famous of laws to enforce mercantilism were Navigation Laws (1650). Restricted trade to English vessels (no Dutch).

  • Additional laws: Goods bound for colonies had to go to England first for duties.

Merc. Trammels on Trade (2)

  • Colonists also not allowed to manufacture certain products to not compete with British.

  • B/c so much importing, colonials lacked currency, barter economy developed.

Merc. Trammels on Trade (3)

  • Many colonies forced to issue paper money, then forbidden by Parliament, angered Americans.

  • Privy Council could veto (“royal veto”) col. assembly laws. Used sparingly, but fiercely resented.

Merits of Mercantilism

  • Until 1763, Navigation Laws were not burden b/c laxly enforced (salutary neglect).

  • Merchants disregarded or evaded restrictions, some got rich by smuggling (e.g. John Hancock).

Merits of Mercantilism (2)

  • Some Americans were helped by mercantilism: Ship parts & stores producers got price supports, VA tobacco farmers guaranteed monopoly on English market.

Merits of Mercantilism (3)

Other benefits to Americans:

Merits of Mercantilism (4)

Other benefits to Americans:

Menace of Mercantilism

  • Mercantilism stifled economic initiative due to lack of freedom.

  • South favored due to Tobacco, sugar, rice – revolution came primarily from New England (unwanted relatives).

Menace of Mercantilism (2)

  • VA tobacco growers hurt b/c British merchants gouged them, price fall forced them into generational debt. Joined New England in desire for revolt (“Liberty or Death” or “Liberty or Debt”?).

Menace of Mercantilism (3)

  • Most important, mercantilism was insulting: colonies felt they were being milked like cows, kept in economic adolescence.

  • British failed to see an emerging nation.

Stamp Tax Uproar

  • After Seven Years’ War Britain had huge empire, but also huge debt. Half of debt from defending American colonies.

  • London: Col. should now pay 1/3 of cost of troops in America.

Stamp Tax Uproar (2)

  • 1763: PM Grenville ordered enforcement of Nav. Laws

  • 1764: Sugar Act – 1st law to raise tax revenue in colonies for crown.

  • 1765: Quartering Act – must house British troops.

Stamp Tax Uproar (3)

  • 1765: Stamp Act – req. stamps on bills of sale, commercial & legal documents like playing cards, newspapers, diplomas, marriage licenses.

  • Grenville simply asking col. to pay fair share.

Stamp Tax Uproar (4)

  • Americans concerned about losing money, rights: some col. assemblies refused to comply with Quartering Acts.

  • Also, laws jeopardized rights as Englishmen due to trial in admiralty courts.

Stamp Tax Uproar (5)

  • Americans: why troops needed now that French gone & Pontiac defeated? Could purpose be to keep us in line?

  • “No taxation without representation!”

Stamp Tax Uproar (6)

  • Grenville: Power of Parliament is supreme, plus you are rep. – “virtual representation.”

  • Americans did not really want rep., but stuck to principle.

  • Led eventually to rejection of all of authority of Parliament.

Repeal of Stamp Act

  • Response to Stamp Act: Stamp Act Congress of 1765. Stated rights, grievances, asked for repeal. England ignored.

  • Nonimportation agreements: boycotts of British goods.

Repeal of Stamp Act (2)

  • Boycotts united Americans for 1st time in common action.

  • Sons/Daughters of Liberty “enforced” the boycotts with violence against violators/ officials.

Repeal of Stamp Act (3)

  • Protests resulted in breakdown of collection machinery. By the day the tax went into effect, stamp agents had been forced to resign. No one to sell stamps.

  • English economy hard hit by boycotts.

Repeal of Stamp Act (4)

Tea Tax/Boston Massacre

  • 1767: New PM Townshend encouraged passing of Townshend Acts – import duty on glass, white lead, paper, paint, tea, paid at col. ports.

  • Argument: difference between internal & external taxes.

Tea Tax/Boston Massacre (2)

  • Americans rejected distinction, felt tax on tea esp. bad.

  • Tax revenues used to pay royal governors, removing power of purse from col. assemblies.

  • 1767: Brit. suspended NY leg. for Quartering Act violations.

Tea Tax/Boston Massacre (3)

  • Nonimportation agreements revived, but less effective because tax was light, indirect, could find cheap smuggled tea.

  • 1768: Breakdown of law – British land troops in Boston, taunted by colonials.

Tea Tax/Boston Massacre (4)

  • March 5, 1770: crowd of about 60 colonials attack 10 redcoats, who fire w/out orders, 11 killed or wounded.

  • Trial: 2 redcoats found guilty, defended by John Adams.

Comm. of Correspondence

  • 1772: Samuel Adams, “Penman of Revolution,” organizes local committees of correspondence in Boston, spread to rest of MA.

  • Purpose: spread propaganda/ information to keep opposition to British policies alive.

Comm. of Correspondence (2)

  • 1773: VA sets up CofC within House of Burgesses. Soon every colony had central committee to exchange info w/ other colonies.

  • Evolved into 1st American congresses.

Boston Tea Party

  • 1773: boycotts weakening, tea tax paid b/c legal tea cheaper than smuggled tea.

  • 1773: British East India Co. had too much unsold tea, awarded monopoly on American tea supply, made tea even cheaper.

Boston Tea Party (2)

  • Americans felt British trying to get Americans to accept tea tax by bribing them with cheap tea.

  • MD: colonists burned tea ships.

  • Boston: col. disguised as Indians dumped chests from 3 ships into harbor (Dec., 1773).

Intolerable Acts

  • British outraged, even those friendly to America.

  • 1774: Parliament passes series of laws to punish Boston, specifically closing harbor until damages paid, restrictions on town meetings.

Intolerable Acts (2)

  • 1774: Quebec Act while good for French subjects, angered colonists, esp. anti-Catholics/ land speculators. Was not only aimed at Massachusetts, but all colonies.

Continental Congress

  • 1774: Response to Intolerable Acts – Continental Congress summoned in Philadelphia to redress grievances.

  • 55 delegates from 12 colonies (no GA), incl. S. Adams, J. Adams, Washington, Henry

Continental Congress (2)

  • Under influence of J. Adams, drew up Declaration of Rights, created The Association (called for complete boycott, 1st step to constitution for colonies).

  • Reconvene in May, 1775 if grievances not addressed.

Continental Congress (3)

  • American petitions rejected by Parliament.

  • Muskets collected, men drilling

  • April, 1775: British troops sent from Boston to Lexington & Concord to seize gunpowder, arrest S. Adams & Hancock.

Continental Congress (4)

  • “Minute Men” refused to disperse at Lex., 8 col. killed.

  • Concord: Redcoats forced to retreat by Americans after 70 killed, 300 injured (“shot heard round the world”).

Brit. Strength/Weakness


Brit. Strength/Weakness (2)


Brit. Strength/Weakness (3)

Weaknesses (2):

Col. Strength/Weakness


Col. Strength/Weakness (2)

Strengths (2):

Col. Strength/Weakness (3)


Thin Line of Heroes

  • Military supplies (incl. food & clothes) very low.

  • American militiamen highly unreliable, little training (7 or 8 thousand well-trained by end).

  • Blacks served on both sides, Brits offered freedom to slaves.

Thin Line of Heroes (2)

  • Morale undermined by American merchants profiting from trade with British.

  • Actually, only a minority of colonials identified with cause of independence.

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