THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

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THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION:
FROM ELITE PROTEST TO
POPULAR REVOLT, 1763-1783
America: Past and Present
Chapter 5
Structure of Colonial Society

1760s an optimistic post-war period
– striking ethnic and racial diversity
– 60% of population under 21 years old
– high level of post-war prosperity
– wealth unevenly distributed

Americans proud to be part of Europe’s
most thriving, prosperous empire
Breakdown of Political Trust
1760--George III ascended throne
 Suspicions on both sides of the Atlantic
that Crown wished to enlarge its powers
 Conflict over Parliamentary sovereignty

–
–
English officials assumed that Parliament
must have ultimate authority
colonists tried to reserve internal colonial
authority for their own legislatures
No Taxation Without
Representation: the American
Perspective
Colonists assume their legislatures
equal in some ways to Parliament
 Americans not represented at all in
Parliament
 British officials espoused “virtual
representation”
 Colonists insist only colonial assemblies
could tax Americans

Ideas About Power and Virtue
John Locke, "Commonwealthmen"
inform colonial political thought
 All governments believed susceptible to
corruption into “tyranny”

–

“tyranny” understood as any attempt to
encroach upon the people's liberty
“Virtuous” citizens, alert to rights and
determined to live free, resist tyranny
Eroding the Bonds of Empire
Large, expensive army left in America at
the end of the Seven Years’ War
 Colonists doubted the army’s value
 Pontiac’s War

– exposed the British army’s weakness
– revealed the desperate situation of Native
Americans after withdrawal of French

Colonists determined to settle transAppalachian West
Paying off the National Debt
First minister George Grenville attempts
to reduce England’s war debt
 Revenue Act of 1764 (the Sugar Act)
 Merchants and gentry protest, most
colonists ignore

Colonial Products and Trade
Popular Protest
1765--Stamp Act requires that colonists
purchase stamp to validate documents
 Unites the gentry and the mass of the
population in protest
 Stamp Act Congress petitions the King
and Parliament for repeal
 Protest includes mob riots, boycotts

Failed Attempts to Save the
Empire
1766--New administration in office,
favors repeal of Stamp Act
 Repeal tied to Declaratory Act of 1766

–

Parliament sovereign over America "in all
cases whatsoever"
Controversy estranges colonists from
English officials
Fueling the Crisis: the
Townshend Duties
Charles Townshend: chancellor of the
exchequer
 1767--Townshend Duties tax American
imports of paper, lead, glass, and tea
 American Board of Customs
Commissioners created to collect duties

Fueling the Crisis: Response
to the Townshend Duties
Sons of Liberty organize boycott of
English goods
 Circular letter from Massachusetts
House of Representatives urges protest
 92 Massachusetts Representatives defy
government order to rescind letter

Fatal Signs of Force
English government moves troops from
frontier to Boston to save money
 Tensions increased
 March 5, 1770--English soldiers fired on
Boston mob, killed five Americans

– incident labeled the “Boston Massacre”
– Paul Revere engraving a best-seller

Tensions defused by Lord North
Last Days of the Old Order,
1770-1773
1770--New prime minister, Lord North,
leads repeal of all duties except tea
 1770-1773 marked by tranquility
 Customs collectors antagonize colonists
 Radicals protest tea tax as violation of
American rights
 Committees of correspondence built up
alternative political structure

The Final Provocation:
The Boston Tea Party

1773--Parliament passes Tea Act
–
designed to help the East India Company
by making its sale cheaper in America
Americans interpret as a subtle ploy to
get them to consume taxed tea
 December 1773--Boston protestors
dump the tea into the harbor

The Final Provocation:
The Coercive Acts
Port of Boston closed until tea paid for
 Massachusetts government restructured

–
–
upper house made appointive body
town meetings permitted only once per year
Accused officials to be tried in England,
not America
 Army authorized to quarter troops
wherever needed

The Final Provocation: The
Quebec Act
Quebec Act establishes authoritarian
government for Canada
 Colonists interpret Act as final proof of
Parliamentary plot to enslave America
 Mainland colonies rally to support
Boston, protest the British blockade

The Final Provocation: The
Ultimate Crisis
Parliament’s insistence on supremacy
would make rebellion unavoidable
 Ben Franklin suggests Parliament
secure colonial loyalty by renouncing
claim to supremacy
 Parliament rejects Franklin’s advice

Steps Toward Independence
September 1774--First Continental
Congress in response to Coercive Acts
 Congress commends “Suffolk Resolves”
urging forcible resistance
 Intercolonial “Association” halts commerce
with Britain until Coercive Acts repealed

Shots Heard Around the World
April 19, 1775--skirmish breaks out in
Lexington, Massachusetts
 Fighting spread along road between
Lexington, Concord, Boston
 English retreat to Boston with heavy
losses

Beginning “The World over
Again:” Early War Effort
June 1775--Congress appoints George
Washington commander of Boston force
 English government blockades colonial
ports, hires German mercenaries
 Royal governors urge slaves to take up
arms against their masters

Beginning “The World over
Again:” Decision for
Independence
January 1776--Thomas Paine’s
Common Sense urges independence
 July 2, 1776--Independence voted by
Congress
 July 4--Declaration of Independence
issued

Fighting for Independence
The British entered the war confident of
a full and complete victory
 English task

–
–
–

meet the challenge of a long supply line
use better-trained army to occupy territory
crush the popular spirit of independence
They underestimated the Americans’
commitment to their political ideology
The American Revolution, 1775-1781
Building a Professional Army

Washington’s task
–
–
defend territory as well as possible
keep his army intact
The Continental Army would be a
fighting force and symbol of the
republican cause
 Militia’s role: compel support for
Revolution

Testing the American Will
American army routed on Long Island
 New York City captured
 Washington forced to retreat through
New Jersey
 British obtain thousands of “Oaths of
Allegiance” in wake of retreat

"Times That Try Men's Souls"
December 25, 1776--Washington
captures Trenton
 January 3, 1777--Washington captures
Princeton
 Victories rekindle wartime patriotism
 British consolidate forces, leave territory
in patriot control

Victory in a Year of Defeat
British campaign for New York under
John Burgoyne defeated at Saratoga
 British capture Philadelphia under
General William Howe
 Washington's army winters at Valley
Forge, Pennsylvania

The French Alliance
Saratoga prompts British suit for peace
to prevent Franco-American alliance
 Terms include repeal of all laws since
1763, respect for colonial taxation rights
 February 1778--Americans ally with
France to secure full independence

The Final Campaign
Spring 1780--English capture Savannah
and Charleston
 August 1780--American army routed at
Camden, South Carolina
 Nathaniel Greene’s forces deal several
defeats to English under Cornwallis
 October 19, 1781--Cornwallis surrenders
to Washington’s combined forces

The Loyalist Dilemma
Loyalists treated poorly by both sides
 English never fully trusted Loyalists
 Patriots seize property, imprison,
execute some
 More than 100,000 Loyalists leave U.S.
at war’s end

Loyalist Strongholds
Winning the Peace
Peace Treaty of 1783 negotiated by
Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay
 Terms secured by playing France
against England, include

–
–
–
independence
U.S. gains all territory east of Mississippi
River, between Canada and Florida
U.S. secures fishing rights in North Atlantic
Preserving Independence
The American Revolution begins
construction of new form of government
 Question remains: a government of the
elite or a government of the people?


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