By 1775, Great Britain ruled 32 colonies in North America.
Only 13 of them revolted.
Canada and Jamaica were wealthier than the 13.
All of them were growing by leaps and bounds.
By 1775, the population numbered 2.5 million people.
The average age was 16 years.
Most of the population was densely cooped up east of the Alleghenies, though by 1775, some had slowly trickled into Tennessee and Kentucky.
About 90% of the people lived in rural areas.
A Mingling of Races
Colonial America, though mostly English, had other races as well.
Germans accounted for about 6% of the population, or about 150,000 people by 1775.
Most were Protestant (primarily Lutheran) and were called the Pennsylvania Dutch.
The Scots-Irish were about 7% of the population, with 175,000 people.
Over many decades, they had been transplanted to Northern Ireland, but they had not found a home there (the already existing Irish Catholics resented the intruders).
Many of them reached America and became squatters, quarreling with both Indians and white landowners.
They seemed to try to move as far from Britain as possible, trickling down to Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas.
In 1764, the Scots-Irish led the armed march of the Paxton Boys.
They were very hotheaded.
Many eventually became American revolutionists.
About 5% of the multicolored population consisted of other European group, like French Huguenots, Welsh, Dutch, Swedes, Jews, Irish, Swiss, and Scots Highlanders.
Americans were of all races and mixed bloods, so it was no wonder that other races from other countries had a hard time classifying them.
The Structure of the Colonial Society
In contrast to contemporary Europe, America was a land of opportunity.
Anyone who was willing to work hard could easily go from rags to riches, and poverty was scorned upon.
Class differences did emerge, as a small group of aristocrats (made up of the rich farmers, lawyers, officials, clergymen) had much of the power.
Also, armed conflicts in the 1690s and 1700s enriched a number of merchant princes in the New England and middle colonies.
War also created many widows and orphans who eventually became to charity.
In the South, the hugely rich plantation owners had lots of slaves.
Far less fortunate than the indentured servants of America were the paupers and the criminals sent to the New World.
Some of them were actually unfortunate victims of Britain’s unfair laws and did become respectable citizens.
The least fortunate were the Black slaves, who had little or no hope of freedom again.
Slavery became a divisive issue because some colonies didn’t want slaves while others needed them, and therefore vetoed any bill banning the importation of slaves.
Clerics, Physicians, and Jurists
The most honored profession in the colonial times was the clergy, which in 1775, had less power than before but still wielded a great amount of it.
Physicians were not highly esteemed and many of them were bad.
Bleeding was often a favorite, and deadly, solution to illnesses.
Plagues were a nightmare.
Smallpox (afflicting 1 of 5 persons, including George Washington) was rampant, though a crude form of inoculation for it was introduced in 1721.
Some of the clergy and doctors didn’t like it though, preferring not to tamper with the will of God.
At first lawyers weren’t liked, being regarded as noisy scumbags.
Criminals often represented themselves in court.
By 1750, lawyers were recognized as useful, and many defended high-profile cases, were great orators and played important roles in the history of America.
Agriculture was the major leading industry (by a huge margin), since farmers could seem to grow anything.
In Maryland and Virginia, tobacco was the staple crop, and by 1759 New York was exporting 80,000 barrels of flour a year.
Fishing could be rewarding, though not as much as farming, and it was pursued in all the American colonies especially in New England.
Trading was also a popular and prevalent industry, as commerce occurred all around the colonies.
The “triangular trade” was common: A ship, for example, would leave New England with rum and go to the Gold Coast of Africa and trade it for African slaves. Then, it would go to the West Indies and exchange the slaves for molasses, which it’d sell to New England once it returned there.
Manufacturing was not as important, though many small enterprises existed.
Strong-backed laborers and skilled craftspeople were scarce and highly prized.
Perhaps the single most important manufacturing activity was lumbering.
Britain sometimes marked the tallest trees for its navy, and colonists resented that, even though there were countless other good trees in the area and the marked tree was going toward a common defense (it was the principle).
In 1733, Parliament passed the Molasses Act, which, if successful, would have struck a crippling blow to American international trade by hindering its trade with the French West Indies.
The result was disagreement, and colonists got around it through smuggling.
Horsepower and Sailpower
Roads in 1700s America were very bad, and not until the 18th century did they even connect large cites.
It took a young Benjamin Franklin 9 days to get from Boston to Philadelphia.
Roads were so bad that they were dangerous.
People who would venture these roads would often sign wills and pray with family members before embarking.
As a result, towns seemed to cluster around slow, navigable water sources, like gentle rivers, or by the ocean.
Taverns and bars sprang up to serve tired travelers and were great places of gossip.
An inter-colonial mail system was set up in the mid-1700s, but mailmen often passed time by reading private letters, since there was nothing else to do.
Makers of America: The French
Louis XIV envisioned a French empire in North America, but defeats in 1713 and 1763 snuffed that out.
The first French to leave Canada were the Acadians.
The British who had won that area had demanded that all residents either swear allegiance to Britain or leave.
In 1755, they were forcefully expelled from the region.
The Acadians fled far south to the French colony of Louisiana, where they settled among sleepy bayous, planted sugar cane and sweet potatoes, and practiced Roman Catholicism.
They also spoke a French dialect that came to be called Cajun.
Cajuns married Spanish, French, and Germans.
They were largely isolated in large families until the 1930s, when a bridge-building spree engineered by Governor Huey Long, broke the isolation of these bayou communities.
In 1763, a second group of French settlers in Quebec began to leave, heading toward New England because bad harvests led to lack of food in Quebec.
Most hoped to return to Canada someday.
These people also preserved their Roman Catholicism and their language.
Yet today, almost all Cajuns and New England French-Canadians speak English.
Today, Quebec is the only sign of French existence that once ruled.
French culture is strong there in the form of road signs, classrooms, courts, and markets, eloquently testifying to the continued vitality of French culture in North America.
Makers of America: The Scots-Irish
Life for the Scots was miserable in England, as many were too poor, and Britain still taxed them, squeezing the last cent out of them.
Migrating to Ulster, the Scots still felt unwelcome, and eventually came to America.
They constantly tried to further themselves away from Britain.
Most went to Pennsylvania, where tolerance was high.
The Scots-Irish were many of America’s pioneers, clearing the trails for others to follow.
Otherwise independent, religion was the only thing that bonded these people.
Their hatred of England made them great allies and supporters of the United States during the Revolutionary War.
Mercantilism and the Navigation Acts
Mercantilists believed the world’s wealth was sharply limited
One nation’s gain was another nation’s loss
Each nation’s goal was to establish a favorable balance of trade
Mercantilists believed that economic activity should be regulated by the government
The Navigation Acts were the foundation of England’s worldwide commercial system
They were intended as weapons in England’s 17th century struggle against Holland
The Navigation Acts stipulated that:
trade with the colonies was to be carried on only in ships made in Britain or America and with at least 75 percent British or American crews
when certain “enumerated” goods (tobacco, rice, indigo, sugar) were shipped from an American port, they were to go only to Britain or another American port
almost nothing could be imported to the colonies without going through Britain first
The Navigation Acts transferred wealth from America to Britain by increasing the prices Americans had to pay for British goods and lowering the prices Americans received for the goods they produced
Mercantilist provisions benefited some at the expense of others
Two “established” (tax-supported) churches by 1775 were the Anglican and the Congregational.
A great majority of people didn’t worship in churches.
The Church of England (Anglican) was official in Georgia, both Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland, and a part of New York.
Anglican sermons were shorter, its descriptions of hell were less frightening, and amusements were less scorned.
William and Mary was founded in 1693 to train young clergy members.
The Congregational church had grown from the Puritan church, and it was established in all the New England colonies except for Rhode Island.
There was worry that people weren’t devout enough.
For Anglicans, not having a resident bishop proved to be a problem for unordained young ministers.
The Great Awakening
Due to less religious fervor than before and worry that so many people would not be saved, the stage was set for a revival, which occurred, and became the Great Awakening.
Jonathan Edwards was a preacher with fiery preaching methods, emotional moving many listeners to tears while talking of the eternal damnation that nonbelievers would face after death.
He began preaching in 1734, and his methods sparked debate among his peers.
George Whitefield was even better than Edwards when he started four years later.
An orator of rare gifts, he even made Jonathan Edwards weep and persuaded Ben Franklin to empty his pockets into the collection plate.
Imitators copied his emotional shaking sermons and his heaping of blame on sinners.
These new preachers were met with skepticism by the “old lights,” or the orthodox clergymen.
However, the Great Awakening led to the founding of “new light” centers like Princeton, Brown, Rutgers, and Dartmouth.
The Great Awakening was the first religious experience shared by all Americans as a history.
Schools and Colleges
Education was most important in New England, where it was used to train young future clergymen.
In other parts of America, farm labor used up most of the time that would have been spent in school.
However, there were fairly adequate primary and secondary schools in areas other than New England.
In a gloom and grim atmosphere, colonial schools put most of the emphasis on religion and on the classical languages, as well as doctrine and orthodoxy.
Discipline was quite severe, with such punishments as a child being cut by a piece from a birch tree.
Also, at least in New England, college education was regarded more important than the ABC’s.
Eventually, some change was made in emphasis of curriculum from dead languages to live ones, and Ben Franklin helped by launching the school that would become the University of Pennsylvania.
As the 18th century progressed, Americans came to be less influenced by European ways of thought, culture, and society
The key concept was rationalism
Human reason was adequate to solve all of mankind’s problems
Much less faith was needed in the central role of God as an active force in the universe
A major English political philosopher was John Locke
Writing to justify the 1688 Glorious Revolution
Believed in natural laws – life, liberty, and property
To secure these rights people submit to governments; and that governments which abuse these rights may justly be overthrown
Benjamin Franklin was the most notable Enlightenment man in America
He focused on human reason and what it could accomplish
Culture in the Backwoods
Though there was little time for recreation (farm work, fear of Indians, etc…), the little free time that was there was used on religion, not art.
Painters were frowned upon.
John Trumbull of Connecticut was discouraged, as a youth, by his father.
Charles Willson Peale, best know for his portraits of George Washington, also ran a museum, stuffed birds, and practiced dentistry in addition to his art.
Benjamin West and John Singleton Copley had to go to England to complete their ambitious careers.
Architecture was largely imported from the Old World and modified to meet American needs.
The log cabin was borrowed form Sweden.
The red-bricked Georgian style was introduced in about 1720.
Colonial literature was also generally undistinguished.
However, a slave girl, Phillis Wheatley, who had never been formally educated, did go to Britain and publish a book of verse and subsequently wrote other polished poems that revealed the influence of Alexander Pope.
Ben Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac was very influential, containing many common sayings and phrases, and was more widely read in America and Europe than anything except for the Bible.
Ben Franklin’s experiments with science, and his sheer power of observation, also helped advance science.
Few libraries were found in early America, and few Americans were rich enough to buy books.
On the eve of the revolution, many hand-operated presses cranked out leaflets, pamphlets, and journals signed with pseudonyms.
In one famous case, John Peter Zenger, a New York newspaper printer, was taken to court and charged with seditious libel.
The judge urged the jury to consider that the mere fact of publishing was a crime, no matter whether the content was derogatory or not.
Zenger won after his lawyer, Andrew Hamilton, excellently defended his case.
Afterwards, freedom of the press was pretty much assured in America.
The Great Game of Politics
By 1775, eight of the colonies had royal governors who were appointed by the king.
Three had governors chosen by proprietors.
Practically every colony utilized a two-house legislative body.
The upper house was appointed by royal officials or proprietors.
The lower house was elected by the people.
Self-taxation with representation came to be a cherished privilege that Americans came to cherish above most other rights.
Most governors did a good job, but some were just plain corrupt.
Lord Cornbury, first cousin of Queen Anne, was made governor of New York and New Jersey in 1702 but proved to be a drunkard, a spendthrift, a gafter, and embezzler, a religious bigot, and a vain fool.
The right to vote was no available to anyone, just white landowners.
However, the ease of acquiring land to hard workers made voting a privilege easily attainable to many people.
Americans had many hardships, as many basic amenities that we have today were not available.
Churches weren’t heated at all.
Running water in houses was nonexistent.
No plumbing was available either.
Garbage disposal was primitive at best.
Yet, amusement was permitted, and people often worked on house-raisings, apple parings quilting bees, husking bees, and other merrymaking.
In the South, card playing, horse racing, cockfighting, and fox hunting were fun.
Lotteries were universally approved, even by the clergy because they helped raise money for churches and colleges.
Stage plays were popular in the South, but not really in the North.
Holidays were celebrated everywhere in the colonies (New England didn’t like Christmas, though).
America in 1775 was like a quilt, each part different and individual in its own way, but all coming together to form one single, unified piece.
France Finds a Foothold in Canada
Like England and Holland, France was a latecomer in the colony race.
It was convulsed in the 1500s by foreign wars and domestic strife.
In 1598, the Edict of Nantes was issued, allowing limited toleration to the French Huguenots.
When King Louis XIV became king, he took an interest in overseas colonies.
In 1608, France established Quebec, overlooking the St. Lawrence River.
Samuel de Champlain, an intrepid soldier and explorer, became known as the “Father of New France.”
He entered into friendly relations with the neighboring Huron Indians and helped them defeated the Iroquois.
The Iroquois, however, did hamper French efforts into the Ohio Valley later.
Unlike English colonists, French colonists didn’t immigrate to North America by hordes.
The peasants were too poor, and the Huguenots weren’t allowed to leave.
New France Fans Out
New France’s (Canada) one valuable resource was the beaver.
Beaver hunters were known as the coureurs de bois and littered the land with place names, including Baton Rouge (red stick), Terre Haute (high land), Des Moines (some monks) and Grand Teton (big breasts). (by the way, they drank a lot)
The French voyageurs also recruited Indians to hunt for beaver as well, but Indians were decimated by White Man’s diseases, and the beaver population was heavily extinguished.
French Catholic missionaries zealously tried to convert Indians.
To thwart English settlers from pushing into the Ohio Valley, Antoine Cadillac founded Detroit (“city of straits”) in 1701.
Louisiana was founded, in 1682, by Robert de La Salle, to thwart Spanish expansion into the area near the Gulf of Mexico.
Three years later, he tried to fulfill his dreams by returning, but instead landed in Spanish Texas and was murdered by his mutinous men in 1687.
The fertile Illinois country, where the French established forts and trading posts at Kaskaskia, Cahokia, and Vincennes, became the garden of France’s North American empire.
The Clash of Empires
King William’s War and Queen Anne’s War (two different fights)
The English colonists fought the French coureurs de bois and their Indian allies.
Neither side considered America important enough to waste real troops on.
The French-inspired Indians ravaged Schenectady, New York, and Deerfield.
The British did try to capture Quebec and Montreal, failed, but did temporarily have Port Royal.
The peace deal in Utrecht in 1713 gave Acadia (renamed Nova Scotia), Newfoundland, and Hudson Bay to England, pinching the French settlements by the St. Lawrence. It also gave Britain limited trading rights with Spanish America.
The War of Jenkin’s Ear
An English Captain named Jenkin’s had his ear cut off by a Spanish commander, who had sneered at him to go home crying (essentially).
This war was confined to the Caribbean Sea and Georgia.
This war soon merged with the War of Austrian Succession and came to be called King George’s War in America.
France allied itself with Spain, but England’s troops captured the reputed impregnable fortress of Cap Breton Island.
However, peace terms of this war gave Louisbourg, which the New Englanders had captured, back to France, outraging the colonists, which feared it.
George Washington Inaugurates War with France
The Ohio Valley became a battleground among the Spanish, British, and French.
It was lush and very good land.
In 1754, the governor of Virginia sent 21 year-old George Washington to the Ohio country as a lieutenant colonel in command of about 150 Virginia minutemen.
Encountering some Frenchmen in the forest about 40 miles from Fort Duquesne, the troops opened fire, killing the French leader.
Later, the French returned and surrounded Washington’s hastily constructed Fort Necessity, and after a 10-hour siege, made him surrender.
He was permitted to march his men away with the full honors of war.
Global War and Colonial Disunity
The fourth of these wars between empires started in America, unlike the first three.
The French and Indian War (aka Seven Years’ War) began with Washington’s battle with the French.
It was England and Prussia vs. France, Spain, Austria, and Russia.
In Germany, Fredrick the Great won his title of “Great” by repelling French, Austrian, and Russian armies, even though he was badly outnumbered (skill…).
In previous wars, the Americans were not unified, but now they were.
In 1754, an intercolonial congress was held in Albany, New York.
A month before the congress, Ben Franklin had published his famous “Join or Die” cartoon featuring a snake in pieces, symbolizing the colonies.
Franklin helped unite the colonists in Albany, but the Albany plan failed because it compromised too much.
Braddock’s Blundering and Its Aftermath
In the beginning, the British sent haughty 60 year-old general Braddock to lead a bunch of inexperienced soldiers with slow, heavy artillery.
In a battle with the French, the British were routed.
In this battle, Washington reportedly had two horses shot from under him and four bullets go through his coat, but never him.
Afterwards, the frontier from Pennsylvania to North Carolina felt the Indian wrath, as scalping was everywhere.
As the British tried to attack a bunch of strategic wilderness posts, defeated after defeat piled up.
Pitts Palms of Victory
In this hour of British trouble, William Pitt, the “Great Commoner,” took the lead.
In 1757, he became a foremost leader in the London government.
Later earning the title of “Organizer of Victory,” he soft-pedaled assaults on the French West Indies, assaults which sapped British strength, and concentrated on Quebec-Montreal.
In 1758, Louisbourg fell after a blistering siege.
32 year-old James Wolfe, dashing and attentive to detail, commanded an army that boldly scaled the cliff walls of a part protecting Quebec, met French troops near the Plains of Abraham, and in a battle in which he and French commander Marquis de Montcalm both died, the French were defeated and the city of Quebec surrendered.
The 1759 Battle of Quebec ranks as one of the most significant engagements in British and American history, and when Montreal fell in 1760, that was the last time French flags would fly on American soil.
In the peace treaty at Paris in 1763, Britain got all of Canada, but the French were allowed to retain several small but valuable sugar islands in the West Indies and two never-to-be-fortified islets in the Gulf of St. Lawrence for fishing stations.
France’s final blow came when they gave Louisiana to Spain to compensate for Spain’s losses in the war.
Great Britain took its place as the leading naval power in the world, and a great power in North America.
The colonists, having experienced war firsthand and come out victors, were very confident.
However, the myth of British invincibility had been shattered.
Ominously, friction developed between the British officers and the colonial “boors.”
The British refused to recognize any American officers above the rank of captain.
However, the hardworking Americans believed that they were equals with the Redcoats, and trouble began to brew.
Brits were concerned about American secret trade with enemy traders during the war; in fact, in the last year of the war, the British forbade the export of all supplies from New England to the middle colonies.
Also, many American colonels refused to help fight the French until Pitt offered to reimburse them.
During the French and Indian War, though, Americans from different parts of the colonies found, surprisingly to them, that they had a lot in common (language, ideals), and barriers of disunity began to melt.
Americans: A People of Destiny
Now that the French had been beaten, the colonists could now roam freely, and were less dependent upon Great Britain.
The French consoled themselves with the thought that if they could lose such a great empire, maybe the British would one day lose theirs too.
Spain was eliminated from Florida, and the Indians could no longer play the European powers against each other, since it was only Great Britain in control now.
In 1763, Ottawa chief Pontiac led a few French-allied tribes in a brief but bloody campaign through the Ohio Valley, but the Whites quickly and cruelly retaliated after being caught off guard.
One commander ordered blankets infected with smallpox to be distributed among the Indians.
Such violence convinced Whites to station troops along the frontier.
Now, land-hungry Americans could now settle west of the Appalachians, but in 1763, Parliament issued its Proclamation of 1763, prohibiting any settlement in the area beyond the Appalachians.
Actually, this document was meant to work out the Indian problem, but colonists saw it as another form of oppression from a far away country.
In 1765, an estimated on thousand wagons rolled through the town of Salisbury, North Carolina, on their way “up west” in defiance of the Proclamation.
The British, proud and haughty, were in no way to accept this blatant disobedience by the lowly Americans, and the stage was set for the Revolutionary War.
The Stamp Tax Uproar
After the Seven Years’ War, Britain had a HUGE debt, and though it fairly had no intention of making the Americans pay off all of it for Britain, it did feel that they should pay off one-third of the cost, since Redcoats had been used for the protection of the Americans.
Prime Minister George Grenville, an honest and able financier not noted for tact, ordered that the Navigation Laws be enforced, arousing resentment of settlers.
He also secured the “Sugar Act” of 1764, which increased duty on foreign sugar imported from the West Indies; after numerous protests from spoiled Americans, the duties were reduced.
The Quartering Act of 1765 required certain colonies to provide food and quarters for British troops.
In 1765, he also imposed a stamp tax to raise money for the new military force.
The Stamp Act mandated the use of stamped paper of the affixing of stamps, certifying payment of tax.
Stamps were required on bills of sale for about 50 trade items as well as on certain types of commercial and legal documents.
Both the Stamp Act and the Sugar Act provided for offenders to be tried in the admiralty courts, where defenders were guilty until proven innocent.
Grenville felt that these taxes were fair, as he was simply asking the colonists to pay their share of the deal; plus, Englishmen paid a much heavier stamp tax.
Americans felt that they were unfairly taxed for an unnecessary army (hadn’t the French army and Pontiac’s warriors been defeated?), and lashed back violently, especially against the stamp tax.
“No taxation without representation!”
Americans took it upon themselves to enforce principle, reminding Brits of the principles that England’s own Puritan Revolution had brought forth.
Americans denied the right of Parliament to tax Americans, since no Americans were seated in Parliament.
Grenville replied that these statements were absurd, and pushed the idea of “virtual representation,” in which every Parliament member represented ALL British subjects.
Americans rejected “virtual representation,” and in truth didn’t really want representation because that wouldn’t have done them good, and if they had really had representation, there wouldn’t be a principle for which to rebel.
Parliament Forced to Repeal the Stamp Act
In 1765, representatives from nine colonies met in NYC to discuss the Stamp Tax.
The Stamp Act Congress was largely ignored in Britain, but was a step toward intercolonial unity.
Some colonists agreed to boycott supplies, instead, making their own and refusing to buy British goods.
Sons and Daughters of Liberty took law into their own hands, tarring and feathering violators among people who had agreed to boycott the goods.
They also stormed the houses of important officials and took their money.
Stunned, demands appeared in Parliament for repeal of the stamp tax, though many wanted to know why 7.5 million Brits had to pay heavy taxes to protect the colonies, but 2 million colonials refused to pay only one-third of the cost of their own defense.
In 1766, Parliament repealed the Stamp Act but passed the Declaratory Act, proclaiming that Parliament had the right “to bind” the colonies “in all cases whatsoever.”
The Townshend Tea Tax and the “Boston Massacre”
Charles Townshend (a man who could deliver brilliant speeches in Parliament even while drunk) persuaded Parliament to pass the Townshend Acts in 1767.
They put light taxes on white lead, paper, paint, and tea.
In 1767, New York’s legislature was suspended for failure to comply with the Quartering Act.
Tea became smuggled, though, and to enforce the law, Brits had to send troops to America.
On the evening of March 5, 1770, a crowd of about 60 townspeople in Boston were harassing some ten Redcoats.
One got hit in the head, another got hit by a club.
Without orders but heavily provoked, they opened fire, wounding or killing eleven “innocent” citizens, including Crispus Attucks, the “leader” of the mob.
Only two Redcoats got prosecuted.
The Seditious Committees of Correspondence
King George III was 32 years old, a good person, but a bad ruler who surrounded himself with sycophants like Lord North.
The Townshend Taxes didn’t really do much, so they were repealed, except for the tea tax.
The colonies, in order to spread propaganda and keep the rebellious moods, set up committees of correspondence; the first was started by Samuel Adams
Tea Parties at Boston and Elsewhere
In 1773, the powerful British East India Company, overburdened with 17 million pounds of unsold tea, was facing bankruptcy.
The British decided to sell it to the Americans, who were suspicious and felt that it was a shabby attempt to trick the Americans with the bait of cheaper tea and pay tax.
On December 16, 1773, some Whites disguised as Indians opened 342 chests and dumped the tea into the ocean.
People in Annapolis did the same and burned the ships to the ground.
Reaction was varied, from approval to outrage to disapproval.
Edmund Burke declared, “To tax and to please, no more than to love and be wise, is not given to men.”
Parliament Passes the “Intolerable Acts”
In 1774, by huge majorities, Parliament passed a series of “repressive acts” to punish the colonies, namely Massachusetts.
The Boston Port Act
Boston Harbor was closed until retribution was paid.
Also, enforcing officials who killed colonials could now be tried in England.
Massachusetts Government Act
The charter of Massachusetts was revoked.
The Quebec Act
A good law in bad company, it guaranteed Catholicism to the French-Canadians, permitted them to retain their old customs, and extended the old boundaries of Quebec all the way to the Ohio River.
Americans saw their territory threatened and aroused anti-Catholics were shocked at the enlargement that would make a Catholic area as large as the original 13 colonies.
The Continental Congress and Bloodshed
The First Continental Congress
In Philadelphia, from September 5th to October 26th, 1774, the First Continental Congress met to discuss problems.
While not wanting independence then, it did come up with a list of grievances, which were ignored in Parliament.
Only Georgia didn’t have a representative there.
Also, they came up with a Declaration of Rights.
They agreed to meet again in 1775 (the next year) if nothing happened.
The “Shot Heard ‘Round the World”
In April 1775, the British commander in Boston sent a detachment of troops to nearby Lexington and Concord to seize supplies and to capture Sam Adams and John Hancock.
Minutemen, after having eight of their own killed at Lexington, fought back at Concord, pushing the Redcoats back, sniping them from behind rocks and trees.
Imperial Strengths and Weaknesses
WAR!!! Britain had the heavy advantage: 7.5 million people to America’s 2 million, superior naval power, great wealth.
Some 30,000 Hessians (German mercenaries) were also hired by George III, in addition to a professional army of about 50,000 men, plus about 50,000 American loyalists and many Native Americans.
However, Britain still had Ireland (used up troops) and France was just waiting to stab Britain in the back; plus, there was no William Pitt.
Many Brits had no desire to kill their American cousins, as shown by William Pitt’s withdrawal of his son from the army.
English Whigs at first supported America, as opposed to Lord North’s Tory Whigs, and they felt that if George III won, then his rule of England might become tyrannical.
Britain’s generals were second-rate, and its men were brutally treated.
Provisions were often scarce, plus Britain was fighting a war some 3000 miles away from home.
America was also expansive, and there was no single capital to capture and therefore cripple the country.
American Pluses and Minuses
Americans had great leaders like George Washington (giant general), and Ben Franklin (smooth diplomat).
They also had French aid (indirect), as the French provided the Americans with guns, supplies, gunpowder, etc…
Marquis de Lafayette, at age 19, was made a major general in the colonial army.
The colonials were fighting in a defensive way, and they were self-sustaining.
They were better marksmen.
A competent American rifleman could hit a man’s head at 200 yards.
The Americans enjoyed the moral advantage in fighting for a just cause, and the historical odds weren’t unfavorable either.
Americans were terribly lacking in unity, though.
Jealousy was prevalent, as colonies resented the Continental Congress’ attempt at exercising power.
Sectional jealousy boiled up over the appointment of military leaders; some New Englanders almost preferred British officers to Americans from other colonies.
Inflation also hit families of soldiers hard, and made many people poor.
A Thin Line of Heroes
The American army was desperately in need of clothing, wool, wagons to ship food, and other supplies.
Many soldiers had also only received rudimentary training.
German Baron von Steuben, who spoke no English, whipped the soldiers into shape.
Blacks also fought and died in service, though in the beginning, many colonies barred them from service.
By war’s end, more than 5000 blacks had enlisted in the American armed forces.
African-Americans also served on the British side.
In November 1775, Lord Dunmore, royal governor of Virginia, issued a proclamation declaring freedom for any enslaved black in Virginia who joined the British Army.
By war’s end, at least 1400 Blacks were evacuated to Nova Scotia, Jamaica, and England.
Many people also sold to the British because they paid in gold.
Many people just didn’t care, and therefore, raising a large number of troops was difficult, if not impossible.
Only because a select few threw themselves into the cause with passion, did the Americans win.