During the late seventeen hundreds, many events resulted in colonial opposition to Great Britain. The British created laws and taxes that were viewed as unjust and unfair. The colonists accepted Britain’s rules and taxes at first, but only for a certain period. They soon grew weary of Britain and chose to declare their independence. The beginning of their turmoil began during the French and Indian War. Britain had passed a series of Navigation Acts. These acts were to forbid the colonists from trading with any outside country other than England.
The colonists did not mind at first, because they needed British protection and because they did not enforce the laws strictly. After the British won the French and Indian War, all French presence was removed from America. However, Indian uprisings led to the Proclamation of 1763. This proclamation stated that nobody may enter the Ohio Valley unless they were licensed fur traders. British troops were posted on the frontier to enforce this. This angered the colonist because they felt that they did not need British protection anymore and that they were holding them back form settling into the fertile Ohio Valley.
The French and Indian War had cost England much money. To pay this off they started making taxes on the colonies. They first tax was the Sugar Act of 1764. This was an indirect tax on goods such as sugar, coffee, other imported items. The colonists started claiming this was taxation without representation. They repealed the act. The next act was the Stamp Act of 1765. This was a direct tax on printed goods such as deeds, marriage licenses, advertisements, newspapers, diplomas, custom documents, and playing cards. The colonists were again angered because they had to pay this tax when people in England did not.
They again felt this was taxation without representation. The Sons of Liberty started to organize. They were a group of radicals that thought actions were better than words. The rest of the colonists organized a boycott of British goods. This act was soon repealed. Great Britain felt that the colonists were getting insubordinate. Britain issued a Declaratory act in 1765 that was essentially a statement of British power over the colonists. The colonists were relieved to have the Stamp Act gone that they paid very little attention to this declaration. In 1767, Charles Townshend, the chancellor of the exchequer, passes another tax.
This tax, the Townshend Act, was an indirect tax on imported goods such as glass, lead, paint, paper, and tea. Townshend had a Board of Customs Commissions to collect the taxes. These officials would get a third of the goods collected. The official soon became corrupt and started paying people to testify against merchants to collect their goods. The colonists organized another boycott of British goods. Massachusetts’ legislature sent out a Circular Letter to the other colonies telling them that they needed to stand together against taxation without representation.
The Massachusetts governor ordered the Massachusetts legislature to be dissolved. He also moved British troops into Boston. This was the first time British troops were stationed in the colonies. The next event in the British-colonist conflict is looked back as one of the worst events in colonial history. Colonists were protesting outside the Customs building. They were throwing balls of ice and snow with rocks. One of these hit a soldier and he fell. On his way down he discharged a round from his musket. The other soldiers, alarmed, started to open fire on the colonist protestors.
The captain of the guards instructed them to hold their fire, but they could not hear him. After smoke cleared, three Americans lay dead on the ground and two more died later of their wounds. Paul Revere made an engraving of the incident and labeled it the Boston massacre. They widely reproduced and spread this through the colonies. In 1773, Britain came out with a Tea Act. This act gave a monopoly of the tea trade to the East India Company. The act lowered the price of tea, but they angered colonists at the idea of Britain giving a monopoly to a company.
They were worried that if Britain gave a monopoly over tea they would do it to other imports. In 1774, angered colonists dressed up as Indians and dumped tea off the ships importing it to Boston. The British passed the Coercive Acts, known as the Intolerable Acts to the colonists, to punish the colonists for the tea. The acts forbade any ship to enter or leave Boston’s port, gave permission to transfer criminal trials to a court outside Massachusetts, and gave the governor power over the town meetings. Another law ordered colonists to house British soldiers in their homes.
The colonists had their first continental congress in 1774. They condemned the intolerable acts and passed resolution demanding the lift of British laws that make money in the colonies. They denounced Britain’s practice of keeping troops in their colonies in peacetime and sent a “loyal address” to the king asking for his help to fight in their struggle. In 1775, Britain declared Massachusetts of being in a state of rebellion. They dispatched troops to Lexington and Concord to seize weapons stolen from the British. The people at Lexington were warned of their coming.
When British troop arrived, they met minute men of the region. A shot was fired and both sides opened fire. When they were finished, eight minute men were dead and ten more were injured. Only one British soldier was injured. They marched on to Concord and were pushed back by other minute men. They decided to head back to Boston. Other minute heard of the skirmishes and set out to meet the British along to path to Boston. Minute men hid in the forest and took shots at the British as they marched by. By the time they arrived at Boston, 273 British soldiers were injured.
In 1775, British soldiers attacked at Breed’s Hill. The colonists were outnumbered, but held the British attack off until they ran out of ammunition. At the end of the battle, more than a thousand British soldiers were dead and only a hundred colonists died. The colonists had their second continental congress in 1775. At their meeting they sent an “olive branch partition” to the king that asked him to help protect them from parliament. They also set up an official Continental Army. They chose George Washington to be the commander in chief. American forces surrounding Boston outnumbered British troops within.
Washington was eager to attack but waited for a more strategic decision. In January 1776, Henry Knox brought twenty-one heavy cannon from Fort Ticonderoga. They strategically placed these cannon on Dorchester Heights. From this point, the cannon could devastate all of Boston. General Howe pulled his men out of Boston and America was free of British troops for the first time. Thomas Paine published his works “Common Sense” in early 1776. In this pamphlet he attacked King George and the whole idea of monarchy. He stated that people have the right to govern themselves.
This was the first talk of independence. After colonists about talked independence more freely, it grew acceptance. On July second, 1776, Thomas Jefferson started drafting a declaration of independence. On July fourth, it was accepted and America declared their independence from Great Britain. Britain ruled it’s colonies without much care of their input. The colonists felt like their liberty had been stripped down. The British government had ordered them around for as long as they could. The colonists finally got tired of it and decided to stop it.