Things soon changed though. This was a period in which the British Empire saw an extraordinary level of success and growth. In 1759
The new frontier in
This unrest between England and the American colonies was raised to a storm of protest in 1765 when Chancellor Grenville introduced a series of crippling taxation initiatives designed to defray the costs of defending the American frontier against the Indian tribes. The already familiar cry of “no taxation without representation” was again raised, as settlers objected to taxations enforced by a standing army, and from a government in which its own people had no representation. Much of the anger was directed at Grenville's controversial Stamp Act, which enforced all printed materials (publications, legal documents, certificates, etc.) to have an official revenue stamp - which had to be paid for in English money, that went directly to the English treasury.
Opposition came to a head in 1770, when British troops fired into a crowd of protestors outside the customs house in
This picture of the Boston Massacre was made by Paul Revere, later a hero of the revolution - immortalised in Longfellow's tribute 'Paul Revere's Ride'
In 1773, Lord North introduced the Tea Act - a measure designed to bail out the East India Company from a financial crisis by lowering duty payable on tea in colonial ports, and creating a demand for tea among the Americans by its subsequent cheapness. This act was seen by American reactionaries as an act of economic manipulation. Consignments of tea arriving in
Many Americans as well as British were aghast at the reckless destruction of the Boston Tea Party. For them it was, quite simply, an act of terrorism rather than a call for liberty - and had the British government actively sought to describe the event as such, perhaps they could have undermined the support it drew towards the radical’s cause. Instead though, and in the face of dire warnings from philosopher Edmund Burke, the British government decided to respond with an iron hand, closing down the port of Boston and effectively isolating the town and further alienating the American people with its heavy-handedness. On September 5th 1774, the first Continental Congress was held to discuss the union of the colonies. By 1775, King George was proclaiming
War began on19th April 1775, when shots were exchanged between British troops and American reactionaries on the road from
The battle of Lexington and Concord established the military character of the American civil war - and exposed the antiquated methods of the British army.
On May 10th 1775, the second Continental Congress elected George Washington the General and Commander-in-Chief of a united Continental army. In January 1776, Englishman Thomas Paine published his political pamphlet Common Sense. It had an astonishing effect. Writing with great clarity and power, Paine urged the American people to abandon any thoughts of allegiance to George III and declare independence:
“The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, ‘TIS TIME TO PART.”
“Common Sense is working a powerful change in the minds of men,” wrote George Washington, as within three months more than 150,000 copied of the pamphlet - an enormous number for that time - were sold as soon as printed. One by one, the provincial governments which had been stalling of the question of unification, agreed to compromise in the name of ideology. The resolution of both unification and independence was passed on 2nd July 1776, and ratified in the adoption of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence on 4th July.
Citation: Tulloch (2013). The American Revolution: A Brief History [Internet]. Available from: <http://nuctutor.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/the-american-revolution-brief-history.html> [Accessed 16 January 2013].
Freeman, J. B. (2010). The American Revolution [online]. Available at: http://www.youtube.com/user/YaleCourses#grid/user/DA2BC5E785D495AB. Last accessed: 15/02/2012