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The American War

Chronology
  • 1754-63 French & Indian War (7 years war)
  • 1763 Proclamation Line [Oct 7]
  • 1764 Revenue Act [Sugar Act]
  • 1765 Stamp Act
  • Quartering Act
  • Grenville replaced by Rockingham
  • Stamp Act Congress, New York
  • 1766 Repeal of Stamp Act
  • Declaratory Act
  • Rockingham replaced by Pitt
  • 1767 Townshend Acts
  • 1768 Pitt replaced by Grafton
  • 1770 Grafton replaced by North
  • Boston Massacre
  • Repeal of most of Townshend Acts
  • 1773 Tea Act
  • Boston tea Parrt
  • 1774 Coercive Acts: Boston Port Act, Massachusetts Governmnet Act, Impartial Administation of Government Act.
  • Quartering Act. Quebec Act. 1st International Congress (Philadelphia). Declaration of American Rights
  • 1775 Battles of Lexington & Concord. 2nd Continental Congress. Formation of Continental Army. George Washington appointed Commander in Chief. Declaration for taking up arms. Declaration of Rebellion by George III
  • 1776 Publication of Common Sense. Declaration of Independence.

British North Atlantic Empire existed of 8 island colonies including Jamaica, Barbado & Bermuda; Newfoundland & Nova Scotia and 13 provinces on eastern seaboard of America. Economically diversified: New England = navigation, shipping, fishing; New Hampshire = forestry, ship building; Pennsylvania = iron industry; Maryland & Virginia = tobacco; South carolina = rice and indigo. Colonies prosperous, little financial control.

British administration: split between several departments, parliament did legislate regularly for colonies but mostly in field of imperial trade and navigation. Colonies had own assemblies.

Origins of Anerican revolution: 1754-63 War with France: removed competing claims from other European powers; problem of colonial currency; problem of raising money to finance defence of American colonies; colonial assemblies grew more indepndent; problems over who colonies traded with and British attempts to control trade

Grenville's attempt to deal with these problems: enforced customs duties and introduced colonial taxation via Stamp Act, 1765. Opposition in colonies was vocal and violent eg October 1765 'Stamp Act Congress'

Rockingham government conciliatory eg repealed Stamp Act but passed Declaratory Act. Events of 1765-6 assured 1) ascendancy in colonial politics of progressive champions of colonial rights 2) common identity emerged between provinces 3) discussion of constitutional rights could not be silenced.

Chatham administration: more confrontational eg Revenue Act 1767 which placed duties on wide range of commodities & establishment of American Board of Customs at Boston, met with passive and active resistance in colonies.

Boston: 1770 death of 5 people in Boston massacre, 1773 Tea Act passed to help East India Company disperse large stocks of tealed to Boston Tea Party 1773. 1774 'Coercive'Acts passed in Britainf finally led to colonial war.

Consequences of war (for British politics)

1) war expanded & encouraged case for parliamentary reform among radicals, influenced Yorkshire Association led by Wyvill in 1779

2) led to re-thinking of Empire. Anti-imperialists viewed empire as primary source of national luxury and corruption. Pro-government supporters saw war as evidence of the result of too conciliatory and permissive an imperial policy. Wave of loyalism spread through country

3) war fed into ideology of Rockingham Whigs and gave new patriotic dimension to emerging Tory party

4) war in part influenced crisis in Ireland