The Road to Revolution Roots of Revolution

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The Road to Revolution

Roots of Revolution

  • Sense of independence developed when colonists first arrived …. too far away

  • Without “direct supervision” – colonists felt different than England

  • Formed new sense of identity – colonists were “Americans” and no longer “British”

Mercantilism and Grievances

  • GA only colony formally founded by British government; all others started by companies, religious groups, speculators

  • Mercantilism (British justification for controlling all colonies)

    • Country’s wealth measured by gold/silver in treasury

    • To get gold/silver- country had to export more than import

    • Countries w/colonies at an advantage b/c colonies could supply motherland with raw materials (ideally not importing)

    • America = all ships, ships’ stores, sailors, trade, tobacco and sugar that Britain wanted/needed

  • Mercantilism not beneficially to American trade

    • Navigation laws – restricted commerce to only English ships; had to go through England to do business with America (tax would have to be paid)

    • Colonists restricted by what they could manufacture to export (cloth/beaver hats)

    • America had no currency so gold/silver was used; eventually that is drained and paper money is printed (not as valuable)

Merits (pros)

Menace (cons)

  • Navigation laws not enforced much (up to 1763) – salutary neglect (resulted in smuggling; Hancock “earned fortune)

  • Tobacco planters had monopoly in Britain

  • Opportunities for self-government

  • Mighty army and didn’t have to pay for it

  • Average American benefitted more than Englishmen

  • 1763 – enforcement lit fuse of AmRev (PM George Grenville)

  • Americans had no control of buying, selling, shipping, manufacturing

  • South preferred over North (VA not so lucky)

  • Britain was milking colonies for all their worth

  • England failed to recognize an emerging nation – Teddy Roosevelt

Stamp Tax Uproar

  • Britain felt Americans should pay 1/3 of cost of French Indian War and pay for current military protection

  • Sugar Act of 1764 – increased tax on sugar from West Indies; with protests, tax was decreased

  • Quartering Act of 1765 – provide food and shelter for British troops

  • Stamp Act (1765) – stamp to certify that paid tax (think receipt)

    • Offenders (sugar and stamp acts) guilty until proven innocent

    • PM thought fair b/c asking colonists to pay their share; plus English paid much heavier stamp tax

  • American felt army was unnecessary so didn’t want to pay tax (violent protests)

    • “No taxation without representation”

    • PM thought was crazy; had “virtual representation” since Parliament represented British

Forced Repeal the Stamp Act

  • 1765 – Stamp Act Congress ( 9 of 13 colonies) – Britain ignored outcome but served as a point of unity

  • Some colonists boycotted supplies (didn’t buy British goods)

  • Sons and Daughters of Liberty – tarred and feathered those violators (who agreed to boycott)

    • Stormed houses of officials and took money

    • Actions stunned, demands appeared to repeal stamp tax [why 7.5 mil Brits pay taxes to protect colonies, but 2 mil colonists won’t pay 1/3 of cost?]

    • 1766 – Stamp Act repealed BUT new act (Declaratory Act) said Parliament had right “to bind” colonies “in all cases whatsoever”

Townshend Tea Tax and Boston Massacre

  • 1767 – Townshend Acts: taxes on lead, paper, paint and tea (all repealed except tea)

  • 1767 – NY legislature suspended because didn’t follow Quartering Act (fuel to fire)

  • Start to smuggle tea and to prevent, Brits send troops to America

  • March 5, 1770 – Boston Massacre

    • 60 Bostonians (mob) harassing 10 Redcoats; one got hit in the head, another by a club

    • Troops opened fire (provoked but not ordered), killing 11 “innocent” colonists

    • Crispus Attucks (former slave) and supposed “leader” of mob killed – becomes symbol of freedom (slave  freeman martyr who stood up for liberty)

    • 2 Redcoats prosecuted

Committees of Correspondence

  • Network of letter-writers (forerunner of Continental Congress) – spread propaganda and keep rebellious moods

  • Started by Samuel Adams

Boston Tea Party

  • 1773 – British East India Company was facing bankruptcy… had 17 mil pds of unsold tea; British were going to sell to Americans but they thought something was fishy- a trick to buy cheaper tea and still pay tax

  • Dec. 16, 1773 – dumped 342 chests of tea into the ocean

Intolerable Acts

  • 1774 – Repressive Acts passed to punish colonies (esp. MA)

  • Quebec Act – guaranteed Catholicism to French-Canadians; allowed return of old customs and extended border (colonies not happy about religion, territory expansion)


  • The First Continental Congress (Sept. 5-Oct. 26, 1774)

    • Came up with list of grievances (ignored by Parliament) and Declaration of Rights

    • 12 of 13 colonies showed up (GA not there)

    • Agreed to meet in 1775 if nothing happened

  • “Shot Heard ‘Round the World’”

    • April 1775 – Brit commander sent troops to Lexington and Concord to seize supplies and Sam Adams and John Hancock

    • Minutemen fought back (after 8 killed in Lexington) at Concord, pushed Redcoats back using “Indian tactics)

Strengths and Weaknesses

Brit Strengths

Brit Weaknesses

  • Larger population (7.5 to 2 mil)

  • Superior navy

  • $$$$

  • Soldiers = 30,000 Hessians (German mercenaries) + 50,000 army; 50,000 loyalists and Native Americans

  • Still dealing with Ireland and France

  • Lacked desire to kill “cousins”

  • In-fighting [English Whigs v. Tory Whigs]

  • Weak generals, soldiers trained brutally

  • Lacked supplies (plus fighting 3000 miles away)

  • No easy target in America

American Advantages

American Disadvantages

  • Great leaders (G.W., B. Franklin)

  • French help with guns, supplies, gunpowder, men (Gen. Lafayette)

  • Help from Germany (General von Steuben)

  • Fighting defensively and self-sustaining

  • Better aim

  • Moral advantage – fighting for a just cause

  • Lacking unity

  • Sectional jealousies over military leaders

  • Little money

  • No navy

  • Soldiers had very basic training

  • Raising troops difficult b/c many people didn’t care


  • African Americans fought and died

    • Not with colonies at first (by end 5,000 enlisted in American armed forces)

    • Nov. 1775 – Lord Dunmore (governor of VA) proclaimed freedom for enlisting in British army

America Secedes from the Empire

Second Continental Congress

  • Met May 10, 1775, in Philadelphia

  • Desired to continue fighting hoping that king would give in

      • Sent another letter

      • Adopted measures to raise $ for army and navy

      • Chose G.W. as commander of army

        • Tall figure who looked like leader (never higher than colonel and largest command = 1200 men)

        • Had patience, courage, discipline, sense of justice, worked w/o pay (expense account no more $100,000)


  • May 1775 – American force (led by Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold) captured and raided British forts gaining cannons and gunpowder

  • June 1775 – Colonists captured Bunker Hill (frontal attack)

  • Bunker Hill – breaking point, George III declared colonies in full rebellion (treason)

  • Colonies tried conquest in Canada

      • 14th colony and pre-empt Brit attack from north

      • French-Canadians would support b/c didn’t like Britain

      • Colonists able to capture Montreal; however, fell apart as leaders were wounded

  • Jan. 1776 – British set fire to VA, but my March were forced to finally evacuate Boston

  • South – rebels victorious against Loyalist in NC and British fleet at Charleston Harbor

Common Sense

And Republicanism

  • 1776 – Thomas Paine pamphlet

  • Urged colonists to stop being inconsistent (can’t fight with colonists and still be loyal to Britain)

  • Called George III “Royal Brute of G.B.”

  • Argued that there should be a “republic”

      • Senators, governors, judges who got power from consent of people

      • Used a lot of Biblical imagery

      • Americans were receptive (not new idea – seen in town meetings)

Dec. of Independence

  • T.J (already a great writer) in charge

  • “explanation” of independence also upheld the “natural rights” of humankind (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness)

  • Approved July 2nd (by 2nd Continental Congress) but needed to be edited and approved again

  • July 4, 1776

Patriots and Loyalists

  • Not all colonists were united

      • Patriots = supported war (Whigs)

      • Loyalists = supported king (Tories)

      • Moderates = middle and didn’t care either way

      • Profiteers = sold to highest bidder (selling to Brit and ignoring starving, freezing soldiers)


Loyalists (Tory)

  • Younger generation

  • Constantly harassed small Brit. Troops

  • Didn’t typically belong to Anglican Church

  • Congregational, Presbyterian, Baptist or Methodist

  • Generally conservative, well educated

  • Black Loyalists (gained freedom)

  • Where Anglican Church strong, most numbers (South)

  • Less numerous in New Eng. (Presbyterian, Congregational)

  • More numerous in aristocratic areas

General Washington

  • Brits focused on NY after evacuating Boston – needed base for ops

      • July 1776 – huge fleet (500 ships, 35,000 men)

  • Washington could only get 18,000 men and they were off to Battle of Long Island (changed route)


  • Britain’s game plan was to capture Hudson River valley which would cut-off New Eng. From rest of colonies

  • Didn’t count on getting side-tracked by a returning American troop from Montreal (lost time, and gave Americans more time to be ready)

  • Neither Brit General (Burgoyne or Howe) followed game plan and allowed for amiss

  • Battle of Saratoga – Gen. Burgoyne surrendered Oct. 17, 1777

      • Most decisive battle

      • France sensed American victory and came to help

More War

  • British new plan – take the colonies from the South (1778-1781)

      • Counterattack – retreat, lose battles but win overall … colonists able to regain south (under Gen. Nathanael Greene)

  • 1777 – “Bloody Year”

      • Indians went on “scalping spree;” most supported Brits (if won, would save Indian land)

  • Yorktown – Washington army’s defeated Cornwallis; many knew the war was over but George III was stubborn and fought for one more year (Americans won)

Treaty of Paris 1783

  • B. Franklin, John Adams and John Jay met in Paris for peace deal

      • Jay thought France would try to keep U.S small (hence, weak); made some backdoor terms with Britain (against instructions of Congress)

  • Terms of Treaty

      • U.S. recognized as independent

      • Boundaries = to Miss. River, Great Lakes and FL

      • Americans couldn’t persecute Loyalists (decided not to return or pay for confiscated land)

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