United States War of Independence

United States War of Independence

It is also called AMERICAN REVOLUTION or AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY WAR. It is the insurrection
by which 13 of Great Britain’s North American colonies won political independence and went on to form the
United States of America.

The 13 colonies that became the USA were originally colonies of Great Britain. By the time the American
Revolution took place, the citizens of these colonies were beginning to get tired of the British rule. The British
government decided to make its North American colonies pay more of the costs of governing and defending them,
so rebellion and discontent were rampant. In 1763 and the following 12 years Britain imposed a series of new
taxes on the colonies that aroused heated opposition.

· In 1764 the British for the first time imposed a series of taxes designed to raise revenue from the colonies.
The tax, whose official name was the American Revenue Act, became popularly known as the Sugar
Act. One of its major components was the raising of tariff on sugar. The act was combined with a greater
attempt to enforce the existing tariffs. Colonial protests forced the British to scale back the tariffs. The
Quartering Act, forcing colonists to provide housing and food for British troops, followed the sugar

· In 1765 a Stamp Tax was enacted. It imposed taxes on all legal documents (e.g. marriage licenses and
newspapers). The colonists responded with vocal protests. Not only did these taxes hurt their
pocketbooks, but also they were highly visible (e.g. they were needed for every day transactions). In
addition, to enforce the actions, the British announced that colonial offenders were to be tried in the hated
Admiralty courts.

The protests, which grew, began developing new slogans including "No taxation without
representation". One result of the protests was the meeting of the Stamp Act Congress in New York, to
which many of the colonies sent representatives. Many colonies agreed not to import any British goods until
the Stamp Tax was repealed. One of the American reactions to the stamp act was the creation of secret
organizations throughout the colonies, known as the Sons of Liberty. Led by prominent citizens, they
resorted to force stamp agents to resign their posts.

· In the summer of 1766, King George III of England replaced Prime Minister Rockingham with William Pitt.
Pitt was popular in the colonies. He opposed the Stamp Act and believed that colonists were entitled to all
the rights of English citizens.

Pitt suddenly became sick. Charles Townshend, Chancellor of the Exchequer, took over the reins of the
government. Unlike his predecessor, Townshend was not concerned with the subtleties of the rights of
American colonists. Townshend wanted to strengthen the power of the British Parliament, which would
simultaneously strengthen the power of royal officials. He convinced the Parliament to pass a series of laws
imposing new taxes on the colonists. These laws included special taxes on lead, paint, paper, glass and tea
imported by colonists. In addition, the New York legislature was suspended until it agreed to quarter
British soldiers.

The Acts also insured that colonial officials, including governors and judges, would receive their salaries directly
from the Crown.

Colonist Respond with boycott:

The most tangible colonial protest to the Townshend Act was the revival of an agreement not to import British
goods, especially luxury products. The Non - importation agreement slowly grew to include merchants in all of the
colonies, with the exception of New Hampshire. Within a year importation from Britain dropped almost in half.

1768: British troops land in Boston:

In response to colonial protest and increasing attacks on colonial officials by the Sons of Liberty, Lord
Hillsborough, Secretary of State for the Colonies, dispatched 4,000 troops, to restore order in Boston. The daily
contact between British soldiers and colonists served to worsen relations.

1770: Boston Massacre:

An armed clash between the British and the colonists was almost inevitable from the moment British troops were
introduced in Boston. Brawls were constant between the British and the colonists, who were constantly insulting the

On March 5, 1770, a crowd of sixty towns people surrounded British sentries guarding the customs house. They
began pelting snowballs at the guards. Suddenly, a shot rang out, followed by several others. Ultimately, 11
colonists were hit, five were dead

1770: Townshend act repealed:

The British parliament repealed the Townshend duties on all but tea. Falling colonial imports and raising opposition
convinced the British government that its policies were not working. The British government, led by Prime Minister
Lord North, maintained the taxes on tea, in order to underscore the supremacy of parliament.

1773: Boston Tea Party:

Protests in the colonies against the Stamp Acts had died down when Parliament passed the Tea Act. The new act
granted a monopoly on tea trade in the Americas to the East India Tea Company. The Governor of Massachusetts,
Thomas Hutchinson, insisted that tea be unloaded in Boston, despite a boycott organized by the Sons of Liberty.

On the evening of December 16th, thousands of Bostonians and farmers from the surrounding countryside packed
into the Old South Meeting house to hear Samuel Adams. Adams denounced the Governor for denying clearance
for vessels wishing to leave with tea still on board. After his speech the crowd headed for the waterfront. From the
crowd, 50 individuals emerged dressed as Indians. They boarded three vessels docked in the harbor and threw
90,000 pounds of tea overboard.

1774: Coercive Acts imposed:

The British were shocked by the destruction of the tea in Boston Harbor and other colonial protests.

The British parliament gave its speedy assent to a series of acts that became known as the "Intolerable Acts".
These acts included the closing of the port of Boston, until such time as the East India tea company received
compensation for the tea dumped into the harbor. The Royal governor took control over the Massachusetts
government and would appoint all officials. Sheriffs would become royal appointees, as would juries. In addition,
the British took the right to quarter soldiers anywhere in the colonies.

Declaration of Independence and Federal Constitution:

By early 1776, Americans were ready to denounce any allegiance to the British crown. In January of that same
year, Thomas Paine published Common Sense, a brochure that strongly served to rally Americans to
independence. Paine's writing convinced many of his countrymen to disown the monarchy and replace it with a
republic. By this time, the movement toward revolution was rapidly gaining speed. By spring of that same year, all
royal governors had been ousted and patriots replaced British authority in the colonies by makeshift governments.
The Congress itself exercised sovereign powers. In July 1776, Congress met and adopted the Declaration of
Independence from Britain. The Articles of Confederation was the first document uniting the citizens of all
thirteen colonies into one country. Under the Articles, the central government was very weak and the states held
most power, but it was a beginning.

As a result of Shay's Rebellion, the Articles were disowned and the Federal Constitution was written in 1787. It
is still the basic law of the United States of America.

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