Thursday, October 2, 2014

HUS I and US I 10-2-14

Declaratory Act of 1766

Most missed this act passed by Parliament in conjunction with the repeal of the Stamp Act

Parliament asserted its “full power and authority to make laws to bind the colonies and people of American…in all cases whatsoever.”

The basic questions remained unanswered:

Did the British Parliament have the right to make laws for the colonists and to tax them when they had no elected representatives in Parliament?

Townshend Act, 1767

Parliament once again attempted to collect duties from the American colonies

Charles Townshend, a member of the House of Commons,  lead Parliament to pass this act which would once again collect “indirect” taxes

Parliament hoped that this route would not cause the same issues as the Stamp Act

Townshend Act levied import duties on articles of everyday use in America – wine, tea, paper, glass, lead, and painters colors

The act included Writs of Assistance

Part of the money was to be used to pay colonial governors and thus prevent the colonial assemblies from withholding a governor’s salary

Charles Townshend 


Writs of Assistance

In order to put teeth into the law  - they legalized writs of assistance

Writs of assistance were written statements giving government officials the legal right to search a man’s ship, his business, or his home

Writs allowed these officials to ransack the place with the hope of finding smuggled goods

American merchants had been arguing that the use of writs was illegal and an invasion of their rights as Englishmen

Opposition to the Townshend Act

New Yorkers refused to provide living quarters for British soldiers who enforced the law – Parliament answered by dissolving the New York Assembly – depriving New Yorkers of their rights to representative government

Angry pamphlets, resolutions, and petitions were drafted, published and sent to Parliament and the king

Massachusetts legislature drafted a letter to the other colonies, urging them to unite for resistance

Assemblies of Maryland, South Carolina, and Georgia endorsed the letter – again Parliament dissolved the legislatures of these colonies

Resolutions of the Virginia House of Burgesses

Introductory statement by George Washington in which he referred to “our lordly masters in Great Britain”

Claimed, once again, only colonial legislatures had the right to levy taxes on the colonists

These resolutions summed up the entire colonial answer to the Townshend Act and the Writs of Assistance

Direct Action and Violence

Nonimportation Agreements were signed again – they had worked with the Stamp Act

Mobs smashed up revenue cutters (armed ships used to enforce custom laws and to arrest smugglers), attacked British customs officials, tar and feathered anyone who dared to inform on smugglers

Bostonians taunted the soldiers by calling them “lobsters”, “redcoats”, and “bloody backs”

Now and then patrols were attacked with snow balls containing rocks

Tensions built, and then an incident finally occurred

The Boston Massacre – March 5, 1770

a mob started to gather and taunt a sentry at the Boston Custom House, then they started throwing rocks and sticks

Captain Thomas Preston came to the sentry’s rescue with 8 British soldiers

Now the mob had a small unit of British to yell at, the crowd grew as they called the British all kinds of names and started throwing snowballs with rocks in them, sticks, stones from the street

The crowd pushed in; the soldiers panicked and fired into the crowd


Five Americans died and seven were wounded

Sam Adams and the Sons of Liberty used this as propaganda to advance their cause of separation from England

Sam Adams called it the “Boston Massacre” and Paul Revere engraved a picture of the event so it could be reproduced numerous times and sent to all the colonies

Every individual is entitled to a fair trial

The soldiers were tried and John Adams, a patriot, took the case to represent them

Adams argued that the soldiers had only defended themselves against an angry mob

The jury found six of the soldiers not guilty; two were found guilty of manslaughter and were branded on their thumbs


1770 – Lord Frederick North became PM, he urged Parliament to repeal the Townshend Act

Lord North pointed out that the nonimportation agreements were once again ruining British merchants

Parliament repealed the Townshend Act and allowed the Quartering Act to expire; however, the tax on tea remained

Calm Before the Storm

1771 – 1773 was a period of relative peace in the colonies and between the colonies and Great Britain

Trade reached its highest peak at about L4 milli0n per year – all appeared to be going well

1772 – Massachusetts Assembly established a Committee of Correspondence to discover the early movements of Parliament and then to spread that information to all other colonies.  Also a way for the colonies to follow the same tactics in opposing British policy that was deemed as “against” the colonies and to spread propaganda

These Committees of Correspondence became the beginning of the American Union

…and then the calm was broken….

Tea Act of 1773

Tea Act of 1773 – gave a monopoly in the tea trade to the East India Company – thus making them the only company eligible to sell tea in the Colonies

The East India Company only had 17 million pounds of unsold tea

The tea could only be sold to British merchants – who would sale the tea cheaper than it had been before

Protests broke out, especially in the Boston area as the Sons of Liberty, a small, liberal group of men aggravated the situation

December, 1773 – The Boston Tea Party staged by the Sons of Liberty destroyed 342 chests of tea, which brought condemnation from Parliament and King

Boston Tea Party courtesy of the Sons of Liberty

Why Protest????

By now many colonists were opposed any taxes imposed by Parliament

Granted a monopoly to the East India Company

If a monopoly was granted to one British Company, was it not reasonable to expect that other monopolies would soon be granted to other British companies????????

Intolerable Acts of 1774

Parliament, by overwhelming majority, passed four measures designed to discourage further violence and to strengthen the power of British officials over the colonists

Boston Port Bill or Coercive Acts 1774 – stated that Boston Port, the busiest in the colonies, would be closed from all traffic entering or leaving the Port until the tea that was destroyed was paid for

Revoked the Massachusetts Charter of 1691 and forbade the Massachusetts colonist from holding town meetings

New Quartering Act – required colonist to provide food and housing for British soldiers sent to American to enforce the laws

British officials in Massachusetts charged with crimes committed while enforcing British laws could have their cased tried, not in that colony, but in England

Quebec Act of 1774

Enlarged the province of Quebec – southern boundary of Canada would be the Ohio River and the western boundary would be the Mississippi River

French laws would continue and French Canadians who ere Roman Catholics were ranted religious freedom

Colonists were angered and viewed the Quebec Act as an attempt to punish them by destroying the claims of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Virginia to the western lands

Map after the Quebec Act

Reaction to the Intolerable Acts

It became clear that Great Britain intended to enforce the Intolerable Acts

General Gage, commander of British forces in North America, was named governor of Massachusetts and sent reinforcements to uphold laws with physical force

George III declared that, “The New England governments are in a state of rebellion.  Blows must  decide whether they are to be subject to this country or independent.”

“Give me Liberty or give me Death”

The Virginia Convention met in Richmond at St. John’s Church to discuss the blockading of Boston Harbor

Patrick Henry presented a resolution to arm the Virginia Militia – this could be seen as treason

Members spoke against such a move

Henry decided he would have to defend his resolution with a speech – his most famous one that ended with the historical phrase

Virginia Convention voted 60 to 61

Give me Liberty, or Give me Death!

First Continental Congress

Peyton Randolph of Williamsburg, VA chosen president

Convened in Philadelphia – September – October 1774

Wanted to make a clear statement of colonial rights

Wanted to place economic pressure on Parliament

Wanted to develop a stronger colonial union with the term “United Colonies”

Drew up a Declaration of Rights and Grievances

Petitioned the King for his support

Adopted the Continental Association which was a complete non-importation, non-exportation, non-consumption agreement; trade between England and her colonies dropped 97% within a year

Agrees to give a year for the Crown to make changes before they were scheduled to meet again in the spring of 1775

Peyton Randolph of Williamsburg

Some believe that had Peyton Randolph lived, he would have been the first president of the United States instead of George Washington

Response from both sides

Parliament refused to repeal the Intolerable Acts until the colonists paid for the tea that had been destroyed

Colonial leaders refused to pay for anything until Great Britain repealed the Intolerable Acts

Few were ready for independence, but they viewed their actions as preserving their rights as Englishmen

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