Prologue to Revolution

"Give me liberty or give me death"
Patrick Henry before the Virginia House of Burgesses
by Peter Rothermel
(Red Hill, Patrick Henry National
Memorial Brookneal , Virginia)

I. The New Imperial Policy (1763-1770)

B. Early measures (1763-1766)

1. Grenville taxation program.

a) Reform of custom service (prosecution of smugglers)
b) Sugar Act threatened triangular trade by interfering with French molasses imports
i) Some colonists argued that Sugar Act was illegal, that all taxes needed to arise from the people
ii) Violators would be tried by Admiralty Courts, not juries (which often resulted in acquittals)

c) Bureaucracy doubled in size to collect taxes and arrest smugglersd
d) Currency Act forbade the issue of paper money

2. Western problems

a) Ottawa Indian leader Pontiac led an uprising against settlers, killing over 2000 amd destroying British forts
b) Proclamation of 1763 prevented western migration past the Appalachian Mountains
c) Need for defense of frontier

C) Stamp Act (1765) sought to raise funds for defense of America by requiring all legal documents, as well as newspapers, playing cards, etc. to bear a government stamp.

1. Colonial opposition to new program

3. Parliament repealed Stamp Act but asserted its rights (with Declaratory Act) to regulate colonies "in all ways whatsoever."

D. Townshend Acts (1767-1770)--new duties placed on a number of goods (paper, paint, glass, and tea) led to protests against the collection of customs duties.

1. Samuel Adams led radicals in urging a renewed boycott of British goods and provided an issue to unify American sentiment
2. Boston Massacre resulted in deaths of four persons (1770) when soldiers sent to protect agents were attacked by a mob.
3. By 1770 all duties except that on tea were repealed. Tea tax was seen as symbolic of Parliament's supremacy

II. The Move Toward Independence (1770-1775)

D. As British control of Massachusetts dwindled to the area around Boston, colonists moved to protect military supply depots at Concord and Worcester. When British attempted to capture Concord, Minutemen responded with gunfire at Lexington and Concord
1. 73 British soldiers killed, 176 wounded
2. Armed conflict between England and the colonists had now begun

Please cite this source when appropriate:

Feldmeth, Greg D. "Prologue to Revolution," U.S. History Resources <> (Revised 24 June 2004).

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