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Chapter 6: The British Empire and the Colonial Crisis, 1754-1775

Lecture to accompany the text The American Promise: A History of the United States Volume 1 to 1877
by

Jason Holloway

on 2 October 2014

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Transcript of Chapter 6: The British Empire and the Colonial Crisis, 1754-1775

Chapter 6: The British Empire and the Colonial Crisis, 1754-1775
Professor Holloway
4. The Destruction of the Tea and the Coercive Acts, 1770-1774.
1. The Seven Years' War
2. The Sugar and Stamp Acts, 1763-1765
In 1760 King George III at the age of 22 becomes King.
He has 6 PMs in just seven years.
The British government has big problems as a result of the war debt and want the colonists to help pay it off.
This issue leads to greater and greater actions and reactions by both parties.
3. The Townshend Acts and Economic Retaliation, 1767-1770
New PM in 1770 repeals the Townshend Duties.
Frederick North will govern for twelve years.
He has the parliament remove all duties except those on tea and leaves it as symbolic of Parliament's authority.
For two years things calm down but in 1773 and 1774 they would heat back up again.
5. Domestic Insurrections, 1774-1775
Before the 2nd Congress is to meet, many are nervous at ongoing events in Massachusetts.
General Gage calls for more troops to subdue the rural rebellion.
New Englanders accept inevitable war and begin to prepare for a fight to prevent 'enslavement'.
In the South, similar events are transpiring but planters are worrisome about the arguing too loudly for freedom.
6. Conclusion: The Long Road to Revolution
How did the Seven Years' War set the stage for the American Revolution?
How did the increasing turmoil of the 1760s and early 1770s unfold?
How was the issue of slavery treated by the two sides during this period?
Ultimately attempts to dispute parliament's authority over taxes led to disputes in general moving towards revolution.
By 1774, New Englanders are ready for war but the other colonists are less certain.
In the first year of the revolution, 1775, attempts at peaceful resolution will still be attempted alongside continued military efforts though by the end of the year it will be clear that only one solution exists to the colonists.
For most of the 18th century Britain is at war.
The colonies are increasingly effected.
In the case of the Seven Years' War the spark comes from disputes in the Ohio valley.
The French and Indian War is another name for this conflict.
What are the other theaters of the war?
What is the final outcome of the conflict?
How does the opening story about Thomas Hutchinson relate to the difficulties presented in this chapter?
The French have been effective at cultivating Native American relations for decades through the fur trade.
In the 1740s and afterward traders from PA and VA begin to expand into this region of the Ohio Valley.
The French in response begin to build a series of forts to contain the colonists' expansion.
VA sends a young George Washington to scout and warn the French who are building Fort Duquesne.
Washington is sent in 1754 with 160 men and some Native Americans to repel the force without begin the aggressor.
Small skirmishes along the way leads to scalping incidents violating his mandate.
Washington is forced to fortify in position and after his allies flee a large French force arrives.
1/3 of Washington's force is killed in a humiliating loss.
French-British Rivalry in the Ohio Country
The British seek to prevent a larger outbreak of war.
Also a desire is to prevent Native American involvement on any side other than the British one in a conflict.
The conference is held in 1754 and 7 colonies attend alongside the Iroquois confederacy.
Why do the Iroquois say they are increasingly moving towards a French alliance?
Ben Franklin and Thomas Hutchinson coauthor the Albany Plan of Union for a unified if limited government of the American colonies.
This potential government would control Indian policy, coordinate colonial forces, create a grand council of the colonies and a president-general.
All the same Parliamentary supremacy is recognized and autonomy is limited.
No colony ultimately approves the plan due to concerns over taxation and agreement on future problems.
The British do not support the plan either and appoint two Indian commissioners.
The Native Americans ultimately are unimpressed and many choice to back the French as a bulwark to colonial expansion.
The Albany Congress
Discord shortly thereafter arises between the British and the colonies.
The British army claims the win and says that the colonials were inadequate in their support.
The British government claims that French efforts lasted longer due to American smuggling.
Americans assert that they are mistreated by the British military during the war.
They also note the relative ineffectiveness of British military strength in frontier warfare.
Pitt's methods win the war but at great cost.
The British debt is twice that previously.
They also decide to permanently station a 10,000 man army in the colonies for defense.
In 1755 Washington helps lead a mobilization of forces.
The British expect a quick victory in several different campaigns but encounter many problems.
General Braddocks marches towards Fort Duquesne with 2,000 men.
Despite superior numbers, 1,000 soldiers are casualties at the Battle of Monongahela.
What problems did the British army encounter at this battle?
The British have difficulty in getting colonies to provide sufficient numbers of troops.
In 1757 William Pitt becomes Prime Minister and summons massive resources to the war.
He treats the colonies as allies not subordinates and supplies materials for troop equipment.
The War and its Consequences
The war is over but no one tells the Native Americans.
The lack of notice and of gifts cause ongoing problems.
Why do the Native Americans want gifts and what was the cultural interchange behind this?
The Old French bases are turned into new stronger British ones.
Bases like Fort Duquesne, now Fort Pitt, become outposts of colonization.
At the same time indigenous religious revivals combine to provide the causes for Pontiac's Rebellion in 1763.
There is a huge number of raids and by Fall all forts west of Detroit have fallen.
Attacks come from both sides as groups like the Paxton Boys cause problems near Philadelphia.
In 1764 attacks on both sides fizzle out as the British change leadership and begin to understand the gift idea.
Pontiac's Rebellion and the Proclamation of 1763
Also to stop the violence the British issue the Proclamation of 1763.
What were the provisos of this act?
The Proclamation does distinguish between colonials and Native American subjects of the crown.
How do the colonials interpret this Proclamation and how effective is it?
In 1774 Lord Dunmore's War puts Virginia in control of Western Virginia/Kentucky region despite the Proclamation.
Many colonials as a result of this act and other actions begin to doubt Britain's protective role on the frontier.
George Grenville becomes the PM from 1763-1765 and looks to increase custom duties after finding some issues there.
The hardest duty to enforce is the Molasses Act of 1733.
The Act attempts to prevent trade in French West Indian molasses but why was it unsuccessful?
American bribery ensures that the tax is not collected.
In 1764 the Revenue Act/Sugar Act lowers the tax 50% in order to encourage compliance with the law.
Harsher judgements are also included for smugglers with the British navy enforces the law and a single judge in Nova Scotia in charge of judicial proceedings.
This act does not work either as the duty is not low enough and causes resistance by many.
Ultimately many colonists start to question the British right to pass taxes such as these in general.
Grenville's Sugar Act
New of the new tax comes before its implementation allowing many to object to it including 8 colonial assemblies.
Patrick Henry presents the Virginia Resolutions before the House of Burgesses.
How were the Virginia Resolutions increasingly radical?
Questions of taxation powers are often debated in the colonies and the distinction between external and internal taxes is a key concept.
The colonists had limited options to resist but some decide that it is necessary to simply prevent distribution of the stamps in the colonies.
Samuel Adams and friends mobilize resistance in Boston taking the name of the 'Sons of Liberty'.
In Boston the intimidation of the tax collector causes his resignation.
Resistance Strategies and Crowd Politics
Grenville later has the Stamp Act passed in 1765.
What was the Stamp Act?
It affects pretty much everyone.
Grenville farms enforcement of the unpopular act out to American colonials who can collect up to 8% of what they get.
How did the British and the colonists differ in their views of taxation and how did virtual representation play a role in this?
The Stamp Act
After the resignation people learn three lessons.
1. The tax is unpopular enough to spark popular and mass resistance.
2. The governor has limited power.
3. Street action is effective.
Shortly afterward a mob destroys Thomas Hutchinson's house and the militia is disloyal.
Though official apologies are offered, no guilty party is found.
The end result is that the Stamp Act is not enforced in Boston.
Hutchinson is forced to resign from some of his posts though he still becomes governor later.
Quickly after events in Boston, disobedience spreads elsewhere as colonists force the tax collectors to resign.
The New York assembly petitions the King in 1765 to remove the Stamp Act essentially sending him the Virginia Resolutions and dismissing the idea of virtual representation.
Liberty and Property is the rallying cry of many referring to the right not to be taxed without representation.
Ultimately the Americans perceived themselves as British subjects deserving of similar rights.
In England Parliament is seen as defending against Royal abuse of authority, in the colonies it is not seen this way.
Many Americans begin to believe in a British plot to enslave them.
British merchants start to have trade problems in the colonies and eventually get Parliament to dismiss the Stamp Act.
The new PM has the act repealed in 1766 with the Declaratory Act which still asserts Parliaments authority.
In the end the first British measures had achieved little revenue, failed spectacularly and provoked much resentment.
Liberty and Property
Between 1758-1760, Britain wins the war in the Americas taking Forts Duquesne, Niagara, Ticonderoga and then Quebec and Montreal.
In 1761 the war is over on this front though it continues globally for another year.
In 1762 France and Spain capitulate and sign the Treaty of Paris the next year.
This ultimate victory of the British is sweet but short-lived, why?
Britain takes over all North America east of the Mississippi.
France gives Spain the land west of the Mississippi.
Cuba is traded back by Britain for Florida too, and the French sugar islands are given back for Canada.
The Revenue Act of 1767 (Townshend Duties) was an external tax on imports into the colonies.
Most colonists have changed their perception of external taxes now too, particularly those whose purpose is solely to raise money.
One component of the duties is to provide the governors' salaries.
Why is this such a concern of the colonists?
The New York Assembly resents these actions and refuse to enforce the Quartering Act of 1765 too.
Parliament declares all legislation of the NY assembly null and void.
Many colonists began to question the survival of legislative government.
Sam Adams continues raising arguments that Parliament is unjust and that Americans are not represented by it.
One of his arguments is put into letter by the Massachusetts Assembly and circulated through the colonies.
The British demand that it be retracted and when it is not they dissolve the Mass. Assembly.
Boston is in an uproar.
The Townshend Duties
Later in 1766 Pitt is reinstated as PM, his minister Charles Townshend would attempt further tax measures.
These would cause increased disobedience and the first casualties of the growing movement.
The British actions cause nonconsumption agreements to occur in the colonies, what was their purpose?
Nonconsumption is difficult to enforce though those that break them are blacklisted.
In 1768 and 1769 merchants begin nonimportation agreements which are more successful.
Lack of consumption of imports is a hardship but women can supply many of the goods missing and gives them an opportunity to prove their patriotism.
The daughters of liberty emerge out of this situation and are the prime figures in the non-consumption movement.
Home spun cloth is one of the biggest products replaced.
Differences in the actions of the Sons and Daughters of Liberty is more than just gender but also class.
Their differences likewise highlights various major methods to challenge authority.
Ultimately the boycotts are a success as imports fall 40%.
British merchants again demand an end to the tax hurting their business.
Also by this period many colonies and their citizens are deeply anti-British leading many royal officials to conclude that only military troops can restore order.
Nonconsumption and the Daughters of Liberty
In the Fall of 1768 3,000 troops occupy Boston.
There are no troubles in 1768 and 1769 though people are annoyed by their presence.
As the non-importation agreements are coming to an end in early 1770 trouble begins to start up again.
What was Hillsborough Paint?
What are the events leading up to the Boston Massacre?
Elaborate mass funerals further inflame public opinion.
John Adams defends the soldiers helping to show that the rebels too are defenders of law and order.
Soldiers are acquitted except two who receive minor punishments.
Questions of responsibility are still debated.
Military Occupation and 'Massacre' in Boston
As the non-importation agreements end, trade booms.
The leaders of the popular movement like Sam Adams begin to lose power.
In late 1772 things start again with the burning of a British vessel chasing smugglers.
The British announce that suspects will be tried not in the colonies but in Britain greatly angering many colonists.
All colonial assemblies begin to create committees of correspondence to pass along important news and developments.
Smaller towns later follow their developments, eventually becoming town meetings and political structures that circumvent royal power structures.
Lord North decides to pay Superior Court Judges in the colonies with money from the tea tax, concerning many that this is an attempt to influence the courts.
The Tea Act of 1773 shatters the calm of the early 1770s, what were the British trying to do with this tax?
The Calm before the Storm
All New England is now essentially in an open state of insurrection.
Rural towns completely dismiss of royal military authority in Boston.
Royal courts are prevented from running and locals gradually take control of governmental institutions.
All parties sense a coming confrontation, the local militias repudiate the chain of command, begin stockpiling weaponry, training for war, and withhold taxes from the royal government for the purchase of more supplies.
General Gage realizes that he has only enough troops to fortify and hold Boston until reinforcements come.
What was the Powder Keg alarm crisis about and what did it suggest to both sides?
The British are deeply shocked that all these events are occurring without the urban leadership of colonials in Boston.
Beyond Boston: Rural New England
News of the tax reminds the colonists of parliament's claims and is seen as a plot to advance British interests.
Non-importation in the case of tea is not an option though tea agents are forced to resign.
Many colonial governors allow tea to continue landing without the tax though this does not happen in Massachusetts.
What is the political crisis that evolves as Governor Hutchinson decides to enforce the tea tax in Boston?
On the last day possible, 100 to 150 people dressed as Indians storm the ships and dump the tea overboard with a crowd of 2,000 watching them.
This event becomes known as the Boston Tea Party.
All parties understand that there will be severe consequences for these actions.
Tea in Boston Harbor
Four coercive acts are passed by the British to punish Massachusetts.
With one non-related act, the Quebec Act, these were collectively known as the Intolerable Acts to the colonists.
1. Boston port is completely closed until all damages are paid for.
2. The Colonial Charter is amended giving the governor most of the power and recognizing parliamentary supremacy.
3. Soldiers/Royal officials can be tried only in Britain, what does this represent to the colonists?
4. The British military can be housed anywhere in the colonies, even private residences, and General Thomas Gage is appointed military governor of Mass.
5. The Quebec Act confirms French-Canadian liberties in Quebec and gives possession of the Ohio country to them.
Due to these acts alarm spreads through the colonies, the thought is that if the British government can do this what liberties are secure?
In response, over 1/2 of the colonial assemblies are dismissed by newly emboldened royal governors.
The colonists decide to mean in 1774 for a new conference to discuss these latest developments.
The Coercive Acts
The First Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia in late 1774.
Most of the famous founding fathers thought of today are here though colonial assemblies also send individuals still willing to compromise with the British government.
Debates are held as to how the Americans should respond to ongoing British actions.
Initially a desire to end all trade is resisted particularly by the Southern colonists.
Likewise a plan for a second parliament in America is defeated.
In turn the colonists produce a radical declaration of rights in conservative terms which is to be sent to the king.
In it they refuse to recognize parliamentary supremacy and taxation of all kinds other than that solely for the greater good of the empire.
Eventually a staggered trade boycott is announced with penalties for non-compliance to be enforced by colonial authorities.
This organization along with others in the colonies are essentially illegitimate political bodies, why then do they gain near universal acceptance, including authority and stability, so quickly?
The British reactions to the Boston Tea Party had ultimately provoked a chain of events rapidly leading to a potential war.
The First Continental Congress
Most in New England and elsewhere hope for a repeal of the coercive acts and many are still unready for an all-out war.
The militia groups forming throughout New England adopt the name Minutemen, why?
General Gage realizes his difficult position, advises the repeal of the acts and wants a further 20,000 men as a show of force.
Parliament nonetheless cannot admit failure of their actions and orders Gage to arrest the leading troublemakers before the growing rebellion becomes better organized.
Lexington and Concord
Very quickly the other colonies find about the start of open conflict.
The governor of VA removes weapon stores from the capital and threatens to arm slaves to blackmail the colonists.
The offer of freedom by the British is more bluff than reality.
Only men are allowed to defect and are organized into the 'Ethiopian Regiment'
When Dunmore leaves in 1776 only 300 of the original 1500 have survived.
Phillis Wheatley, an African-American poet, points out the irony of the fight for freedom in the colonies from a slave perspective.
Disorder in the southern colonies leads to increasing slave agitation.
Ultimately the revolutionaries are seen as pro-slavery and the British are seen as anti-slavery.
By 1783, 20,000 slaves desert to the British though they go through quite a time getting to freedom.
After the war eight to ten thousand survivors are settled in Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone by the British.
Rebelling against Slavery
Gage masses for a surprise attack on an ammo depot in Concord, MA.
What is the story of Paul Revere and William Dawes and how does it relate to this history?
At Lexington small groups of minutemen arrive and confront the British, shots are exchanged and several die.
Further firing occurs belatedly in Concord though many on both sides are initially reluctant to initiate hostilities.
On the way back to Boston the British force is ambushed leading to the greatest casualties of the mission.
Both sides are ultimately troubled, the British find no arms and the Americans are unable to block their movements.
As a result on April 19, 1775 due to these hostilities the war had begun.
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