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What Caused the American Revolution? Explaining Key Events. Interpreting the Stamp Act:. British war debt: 137 million pounds, w/ annual budget of 8 million George Grenville’s solution. Interpreting the Stamp Act:. Through the lens of colonial ideology

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interpreting the stamp act
Interpreting the Stamp Act:
  • British war debt: 137 million pounds, w/ annual budget of 8 million
  • George Grenville’s solution
interpreting the stamp act1
Interpreting the Stamp Act:
  • Through the lens of colonial ideology
  • Joseph Warren: “If the only real motive of the minister was to raise money from the colonies, that method should undoubtedly have been adopted which was least grievous to the people.”
  • John Adams : it stripped the colonists “in a great measure of the means of knowledge, by loading the press, the colleges, and even the almanac and newspaper with restraints and duties.”
interpreting reaction to the stamp act ideology
Interpreting Reaction to the Stamp Act: Ideology
  • Resolutions by local Assemblies
  • Sons of liberty harass stamp collectors; nullify act
  • Stamp Act Congress:
  • Resolutions reiterate idea of “no taxation without representation”
  • Non-importation agreement coordinated
interpreting reaction to the stamp act ideology1
Interpreting Reaction to the Stamp Act: Ideology
  • Interpretive thrust:
  • A constitutional crisis
  • Chain of influence from top down
interpreting reaction to the stamp act an alternative
Interpreting Reaction to the Stamp Act: An Alternative
  • The Loyal Nine in Boston
  • Approach Ebenezer McIntosh and Henry Smith to lead north and South End gangs
interpreting reaction to the stamp act an alternative2
Interpreting Reaction to the Stamp Act: An Alternative
  • Riots; attacks on homes of Andrew Oliver and Thomas Hutchinson
  • “It was now a war of plunder; of general leveling and taking away the distinction of rich and poor.”
  • Boston Town Meeting: “utter detestation” of the riots
reaction to the boston massacre
Reaction to the Boston Massacre
  • John Adams and Josiah Quincy defend Capt. Thomas Preston acting in self defense
  • John Adams’ defense:“a motley rabble of saucy boys, negroes and mulattos, Irish teagues and outlandish jack tarrs[sailors]. “
crisis reemerges 1767
Crisis reemerges, 1767
  • Import duties on key goods colonists import:

House paint leads, glass, tea

(Regulating trade an accepted Crown function over colonies – yet this designed to generate revenue)


colonial reaction to duties
Colonial reaction to Duties
  • Sam Adams’ Circular Letter –
    • United colonial front, and non-importation
    • Crown: repudiate, or have assemblies dissolved
    • Massachusetts refuses, and Assembly dissolved
    • Standing army sent to maintain order in Boston

“The Bostonians Paying the EXCISE MAN, or “Tarring and Feathering,” British cartoon, 1774(content: tarring and feathering of Customs Commissioner John Malcolm, with Boston Tea Party in background)

d tente ends 1773
Détente Ends, 1773
  • Tea Act:
  • 1772 British East India company on verge of bankruptcy, threatening imperial economy
  • Allows one time sale directly to consumers
  • Does NOT exempt from paying tea tax
coincides with publication of hutchinson whateley correspondence
Coincides with publication of Hutchinson-Whateley correspondence:
  • I never think of the measures necessary for the peace and good order of the colonies without pain. There must be an abridgement of what are called English liberties. . . I doubt whether it is possible to project a system of government in which a colony 3000 miles distant from the parent state should enjoy all of the liberty of the parent state. I wish the good of the colony when I wish to see some further restraint of liberty rather than that the connection with the parent state should be broken; for I am sure that such a breach must prove to the ruin of the colony.
final crisis
Final Crisis . . .
  • Destruction of Tea, Boston, December 1773
  • Coercive Acts, 1774

Boston Port Act

MA regulatory Act

Justice Act

Quartering Act

(Quebec Act)

final crisis1
Final Crisis . . .
  • Colonial reaction:
  • Hamilton: “the system of slavery fabricated against America . . . is the offspring of mature deliberation. “ There was “a settled, fixed plan for enslaving the colonies, or bringing them under arbitrary government, and indeed the nation too.”
  • Jefferson: “though single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day . . . a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate and systematical plan of reducing us to slavery.”
final crisis2
Final Crisis . . .

Committees of Correspondence propose boycott agreement

Coordination via First Continental Congress, September, 1774

Compact to enforce boycott, called “Continental Association,” via local committees (middle-class)

Pledge to support Boston in case of attack

conspiracy theories
Conspiracy theories . .

Was there a conspiracy to destroy American liberties?

British perception:

1768, “House of Lords resolved “wicked and designing men” were “evidently manifesting a design to set up a new and unconstitutional authority independent of the Crown of England.”

Recalled under Grenville, ““every expression of discontent was imputed to a desire in those colonies to dissolve all connection with Britain; every tumult was inflamed[in their minds] to rebellion.”

conspiracy theories1
Conspiracy theories . . .
  • Explains punitive response to destruction of tea
    • Even radical whigs offer little opposition

King’s Response to Continental Congress:

“the New England governments are in a state of rebellion, blows must decide whether they are to be subject to this country or independent.”