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1740: Parliament passes laws permitting citizenship to people who have lived in the colonies for seven years. It also lets any citizen of the colonies carry his or her citizenship from colony to colony. A sense of togetherness in the colonies is created.

1760: George III becomes England’s king after the death of his grandfather, King George II, courtesy of hereditary succession.

1754–1763: French and Indian War (or in Europe, the Seven Years’ War). A land disagreement between the French in North America and the colonists brings British Regular Troops to the colonies. Colonial militias fight alongside the troops. Although Britain and its American colonies win the war, colonists are put off by the obvious arrogance exhibited by British commanders toward them. Colonists also learn firsthand how little the “titled elite” of England think of them. Many in Britain consider Americans to be second class English citizens and of peasant class, incapable of defending themselves.

1763: The Royal Proclamation of 1763 gives the western lands (west of the Appalachians) back to the Indians and bans colonial settlement there. This is a big deal because a war was just fought to claim this land. The future growth of the colonies is again in doubt. Although this law is soon changed, colonists grow suspicious of England.

1764 (April): The “Sugar Act”: A tax on sugar and other items that has a big impact by negatively affecting several markets with which the colonies trade.

1764: The “Currency Act” prohibits the American colonies from issuing their own paper money in any form.

1765 (March): “Stamp Act.” Colonists are angry because they are not part of Parliament and have no vote or say in such things as the passage of the Sugar Act. This is also seen as an attempt to restrict the many newspapers in the colony, as well as other freedoms Americans enjoy. “No Taxation without Representation!” begins to be heard.

1765 (March): “Quartering Act.” Parliament requires colonists to allow British troops to stay in their homes, if needed. (See the text of the Quartering Act on page 71.) If this happens, the colonists must supply the troops with food (“victuals & cider”).

1765 (October): Representatives from nine colonies gather and draft a petition to King George III stating that only colonial legislatures have the power to tax the colonists.

1766 (March): “Declaratory Act.” Parliament says it can make laws for the colonies as needed, and the colonies must follow them.

1766 (August): The New York Legislature is suspended by English authorities after it refuses to enforce the Quartering Act.

1767 (June): “Townsend Acts.” The Stamp Act is a complete failure and is canceled. But paint, paper, glass, lead, and tea are now taxed as they arrive in the colonies. The decision angers the colonists.

1768 (February): “Massachusetts Circular Letter.” Samuel Adams writes a statement attacking Parliament’s determination to continue taxing the colonies, while the colonies have no voice in Parliament. Adams calls for unification of the colonies. Many colonies accept the idea and write their own letter saying much the same thing.

1768 (September): English warships sail into Boston Harbor and English Infantry move into Boston to “keep order.”

1769 (March): After defying recent parliamentary acts, the Virginia House of Burgesses is dissolved by the Royal Governor. The House of Burgesses was the first legislature in the English colonies. It first met in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619.

1770 (March 5): “The Boston Massacre.” British troops stationed in Boston are paid little and many spend their evenings looking for part-time work. Tensions have been high since they arrived in Boston, and the colonists are incensed by their attempts to take local jobs. Fights break out that eventually lead to the “massacre.”

1772 (November): Samuel Adams creates the “Committees of Correspondence” to communicate what is happening in Boston to other towns, provinces, and colonies. Similar committees are created in other colonies. Information is now shared faster than ever before.

1773 (May): The British East India Tea Company is almost bankrupt and Parliament gives it a near-monopoly to sell tea in the colonies, which undersells or bypasses American merchants altogether. This obvious favoritism astonishes—and infuriates—the colonists.

1773 (December 16): “Boston Tea Party.” British law states that tea must be off-loaded from ships and the tax on the tea paid by a certain date. If that date passes, troops will unload it—triggering the tax bill. Colonists decide to destroy the tea by dumping it overboard into the harbor. Hundreds of local citizens stand on the docks cheering them on.

1774 (March): Parliament is furious after learning about the dumped tea. It retaliates by passing what became known as the “Intolerable Acts.” England closes Boston Harbor. (See the Boston Port Act, page 75.) Many rights of self-government are taken away from Massachusetts. British soldiers who commit crimes get to go back to England for trial, and some Canadian boundaries are changed, which affects New England colonial borders. In addition to all this, the Quartering Act is expanded. (See Quartering Act on page 71.)

1774 (May): General Thomas Gage is appointed as martial law governor (civil laws, rights, and liberties are canceled and the military has direct rule) of Massachusetts. It becomes his job to enforce the closing of Boston Harbor.

1774 (May): Several colonies propose the idea of a Congress to discuss united resistance against the “Intolerable Acts.”

1774 (September 5): The First Continental Congress meets. This is considered an act of treason by England.

1774 (September): “Powder Alarms.” British General Gage hopes to avoid war by seizing gunpowder and other military supplies being gathered by colonists. Gage sends troops to raid Charlestown and seize weapons stored there. Many are alarmed that war might have started and they were caught unprepared for it. Colonists become more careful and keep a closer eye on British Regular Troops housed in Boston.

1775 (February): “New England Restraining Act.” The New England colonies are now required to trade with England only, banning trade with other countries. Fishing in the North Atlantic is banned as well. (See Mercantilism, page 65.)

1775 (April 19): Lexington & Concord. General Gage again attempts to send soldiers to seize colonial military supplies. Paul Revere, William Dawes, and many others ride off to warn the local population. The “Shot Heard Around the World” (symbolically considered the first shot fired in the American Revolution) is fired on Lexington Green. After a sharp fight at Concord, several hundred American and British troops are killed and wounded as the Crown’s soldiers retreat in disorder back to Boston. The “unthinkable” has to be reported to King George III: Americans have fired on His Majesty’s troops. American militia groups begin to gather outside Boston and surround the British camped within the city. Eventually, there will be as many as 16,000 citizen soldiers from several colonies gathered together.

1775 (May 10): The Second Continental Congress meets.

1775 (June 15): Congress creates the “Continental Army” from citizen soldiers around Boston and name George Washington as its commander.

1775 (October 18): English ships attack Falmouth, Maine (Portland waterfront) and burn it to the ground. Maine was still part of Massachusetts at this time.

1776 (January 10): Common Sense is published just as news arrives that King George III had declared the colonies to be in rebellion. This means thousands of additional British Regular troops will arrive at the end of winter to “put down” the rebels. As the weeks pass, Common Sense becomes the largest selling pamphlet in American history.

It is still 176 days until the Declaration of Independence!

 

Colonial America was a continent with multiple cultures and customs spanning vast geographic distances. Tom Paine's amazing persuasive essay Common Sense unified these seemingly conflicting characteristics into an extraordinary vision.

Read the documents that set the world in motion.

 

 


Mr. Wilensky is a fifth-grade teacher in Jefferson County Colorado, where he has been accused of teaching his Colonial America and Revolutionary War classes with enthusiastic zeal. Read More...

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