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The American Revolution Chapter 4
Shared outrage at the Stamp Act inspired the colonies to join in unified political action. • The Sons of Liberty, a collection of loosely organized protest groups, put pressure on stamp distributors and British authorities. • Members of the Sons of Liberty included people from all ranks of society. • The leaders however, were mostly middle and upper class men.
In 1765, Parliament enacted yet another tax on Americans called the Stamp Act. • It required that all valid legal documents, including newspapers, playing cards, and a variety of other papers, bear a government stamp for which there was a charge. • However, the Sugar Act which intended to raise revenue, fell within Britain’s accepted authority to regulate commerce; the Stamp Act seemed to be the first internal tax that Parliament had imposed on the colonies.
These new restrictions and taxes where a slap in the face to the Americans. • The Americans realized that the British were being unfair. • The British Constitution was not a single written document. • It consisted of the accumulated body of English law and customs, including acts of Parliament.
Constitution conflict surfaced early in Massachusetts over the issue of writs of assistance. • These general search warrants, which gave customs officials in America power to inspect virtually any building suspected of holding smuggled goods, had to be formally renewed at the accession of a new monarch.
Taxation and the Political Culture • The constitutional issue that most strained the bond between the colonies and the empire was taxation. • British measures annoyed and disturbed Americans, but it was an outrage over taxation, the most fundamental issue- that would be the midwife of American independence. • To deprive them of the right to be taxed only by their own elected representatives was to deny them one of the most basic rights of Englishmen.
Response to the Sugar Act was divided. • By the end of 1764, New York merchants had joined the artisans and merchants of Boston in a nonimportation movement, an organized boycott of British manufactured goods. • Unlike the Sugar Act, the Stamp Act had an equal impact throughout the colonies, and the response to it was swift and vociferous. • Newspapers and pamphlets were filled with denunciations of the supposedly unconstitutional measure, and in taverns everywhere outraged patrons roundly condemned it.
Nine colonies sent delegates to the Stamp Act Congress, which met in New York City in October 1765. • The adopted the Declaration of Rights and Grievances, which denied Parliament’s right to tax the colonies and petitioned unsuccessfully both king and Parliament to repel the Stamp and Sugar Acts. • It also declared that the Stamp Act and other taxes imposed on the colonists without their consent were unconstitutional.
In 1766 a law called the Declaratory Act was passed. • It accompanied the repeal of the Stamp Act which stated that Parliament had the authority to legislate for the colonies “in all cases whatsoever.”
Regulators were Vigilante groups who were active in the 1760’s and 1770’s in the western parts of North and South Carolina. • Regulators formed in response to corruption and lawlessness. • The South Carolina Regulators attempted to rid the area of outlaws. • North Carolina Regulators were more concerned with high taxes and court costs.
The Townshend Acts • Charles Townshend was Prime Minister of the British government in 1767. • The Townshend Duty Act was passed by Parliament in 1767… • Indirect tax: duties levied on imports • Charles Townshend assumed that the colonists were willing to accept new duties or external taxes, but no internal taxes like the Stamp Act. • Duties were added to colonial tea, lead, paint, paper, and glass.
American Boycott • The Townshend duties created more resistance by colonists. • John Dickinson, a wealthy lawyer, used the pen name “A Farmer in Pennsylvania,” to write a letter addressing that a tax was a tax, no matter what form it took.
Boston Massacre • On March 5, 1770, the same day a proposal to retract the Townshend Acts was to go before Parliament, British soldiers opened fire on American civilians in Boston. • This became known as the Boston Massacre, which resulted in months of friction between townspeople and British soldiers station in the city. • Boston townspeople complained that British soldiers insulted them, leered at women, and competed for already scarce jobs.
The British revenue schooner, called the Gaspee had been on patrol in the Narragansett Bay, seizing smugglers, and supposedly stealing livestock and cutting down farmers’ fruit trees for firewood. • The Gaspee accidentally ran aground while chasing American ships. • Local merchants (Rhode Island colonists) shot the captain and burned the ship. • Twelve colonies formed the committees of correspondence in order to keep American informed about British measures against them.
Boston Tea Party • American enjoyed smuggled (untaxed) Dutch tea, because the British East India Company, nearly went bankrupt. • The Tea Act of 1773 allowed the East India Company to sell through agents in America without paying the duty usually collected in Britain, therefore making the tea cheaper. • This cut colonial merchants out of the tea trade , because the East India Company could sell its tea directly to consumers for less.
Boston Tea Party occurred on December 16, 1773. in which Bostonians rebels, dressed as Indians, destroyed15,000 pounds worth of tea that belonged to the British East India Company in order to not pay taxes on it
Intolerable Acts (1774) • Angered by the organized destruction of British property, King George III demanded Parliament pass a series of acts against the colonists. • Boston Port Act • Massachusetts Government Act • Administration of Justice Act • Quartering Act • General Thomas Gage appointed as new governor of Massachusetts. • Marital law: rule imposed by military forces.
The Boston Port Actclosed the port to all incoming and outgoing traffic until the East India Company and the king had received payment for all the dumped tea and its duties. • The Massachusetts Government Act, modified the colonies charter providing the king would appoint members to the governor's council and limited the number of town meetings that could be held without the governors prior approval. • The Administration of Justice Act, declared that an official that killed a colonist while performing his duties could be tried in England, rather than in Massachusetts. • The Quebec Actenlarged the boundaries of Quebec south to the Ohio River, provided for trial of civil cases without a jury and recognize the Catholic Church.
Between 1774 and 1775 British and American hatred grew sparking public debated and divisions. • Just before the American Revolution the colonist split into two groups; the Whigs and the Tories. • The Whigs were advocates of colonial rights. • The Tories were loyalists in America who supported the king and Parliament.
Views of the “Revolution” • War of Independence • Civil War (England) • Continuation of the English-French Wars • 1st in a series of Democratic Revolutions
Advantages - British • Population – 11 million to 3 million • 48,000 well trained troops when war started
Advantages - British • Largest and Best Navy in the world
Advantages - British • Extensive Financial Resources • Loyalist and Indian Support • Stable government experienced in wars
Advantages - American • Superior Generals George Washington Nathanael Greene Benedict Arnold
Advantages - American • Shorter Supply Lines • Fighting on their own soil • Know terrain • Fighting for homes
Advantages - American • Greater chance for foreign aid • Did not have to win, only had to avoid losing
Combatants - British • British Army • Regulars enlisted for life • Loyalists were used • Mercenaries (17,000 Hessians) • Poorly led by commanders who purchased promotions
Combatants - American • Militia • Served when and where they wanted to
Combatants - American • Continental Army
In May of 1774, General Gage, commander of all British military forces in the colonies, arrived in Boston, followed by the arrival of four regiments of British troops. • Patriot leaders heard about the plan and sent Paul Revere and William Dawes to warn all the Americans. • Congress declared Parliament, is "not to be obeyed," and also formed local militia units.
First Continental Congress was a meeting of 54 delegates from most of the colonies held in September 1774 in response to the Intolerable Acts. • The First Continental Congress also adopted the Declaration of Rights and Grievances, and agreed to establish the Continental Association. • The Continental Association cut off trade with Britain until the objectionable measures had been repealed.
In February of 1775, Massachusetts began preparations for a state of war. • The English Parliament then declared Massachusetts to be in a state of rebellion.
No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The questing before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.
Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.
I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne! In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free-- if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending--if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained--we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!
They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable--and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.
give me liberty or give me death! • It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me,
Battles – Northern Theater1775-1778 • Lexington & Concord (Revere, Dawes & Prescott)
Revere reached Lexington by midnight and warned the people that the “British were coming.” • He and Dawes and third man, Dr. Samuel Prescott, then set out to Concord. A British patrol stopped Revere and Dawes, but Prescott got through in time to warn Concord. • On April 19, British troops arrived in Lexington and spotted some 70 minutemen lined up on the village green. Then…the “shot heard around the world” happened. • The Battle of Lexington lasted only 15 minutes!
The British then headed to Concord, but when they arrived, they found that most of the military supplies had been removed. When they tried to cross the North Bridge on the far side of town, they ran into some 3,000-4,000 colonial militia. A fight broke out, forcing the British to retreat.
Second Continental Congress • Three weeks after the battles of Lexington and Concord, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia. • Voted to adopt the militia army surrounding Boston, and called it the Continental Army. • Congress appointed George Washington as general and commander in chief of the new army.
Battles – Northern Theater1775-1778 • Fort Ticonderoga
Battles – Northern Theater • Fort Ticonderoga
Battles – Northern Theater • Fort Ticonderoga • Strategic for its large # of artillery pieces • Benedict Arnold, Ethan Allen • Henry Knox
At the outset of the American Revolution a small company of British soldiers still manned the Fort. On May 10, 1775, Ethan Allen, Benedict Arnold, and the Green Mountain Boys crossed Lake Champlain from Vermont and at dawn surprised and captured the sleeping garrison. This was the first American victory of the Revolutionary War. From then until July 1777, Fort Ticonderoga served as an important staging area for the American Army while invading Canada and holding the territory against the British forces.