Part 3 Setting the Stage
The conflict between the crown and colonists didn't happen over night. In fact is was a decade long escalation of push and push back. By 1764, England was on the edge of a fiscal cliff. They had just finished the "7 years war" with France around the globe. In north America it was known as the French and Indian war because that's who they were fighting.
To pay for the wars the crown turned to the American colonies. Britain like most of the major powers generated wealth by exploiting the natural resources of the regions they conquered or settled and then created a market in those locations to sell finished products back to. The American colonies had the most resources and were their biggest market. They enjoyed the highest standard of living of all of Britain's colonies including that of the homeland. It is always the way to go after the rich, they can afford it. So the crown imposed new taxes on the colonies. First it was for sugar and then they devalued the money basically creating run away inflation.
The colonists had always considered themselves lucky to be "free Englishmen" protected by one of the first codified statement of human rights from centuries before, the Magna Carta. They were also somewhat autonomous from the direct government involvement. They were a long way from Parliament and as such had developed their own style of local government and justice system over a period of decades. The colonists had pushed back the frontier with their own hands. They had fought the French, Spanish, pirates, Indians and marauders of all kinds. They had fought for the land. The had bore and buried their children on it. They developed a system that worked and they highly resented the crown taking what they considered to be theirs.
The new taxes shocked and angered them. They formed groups to protest the new taxes. One group that was particularly vocal was The Sons of Liberty. Men like Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, Dr. Joseph Warren, John Hancock and others became leaders. They were able to successfully argue down new taxes only to have them replaced with others.
The more the crown pushed, the more the colonists resisted and pushed back. This caused the crown to send more troops to enforce the regulations and protect the tax collectors and government officials. Of course this escalated the tension between the two sides and increased the odds of a confrontation. With the passing of the Stamp Act (taxing every commercial piece of paper such as newspapers, contracts, letters etc) the resistance intensified.
Samuel Adams one of the major rabble rousers was in charge of the Boston Mob. Not an organized crime mob but laborers and tradesmen whom he could get on short notice to start a demonstration or antagonize the soldiers in Boston. This came to a head in March of 1770 when soldiers taunted by the mob and pelted with snowballs opened fired on the crowd, the infamous Boston Massacre. The British sent more troops into the city in a show of force and of course the Boston Massacre became galvanizing event for the resistance.
The crown backed off for a time and for several years an uneasy peace reigned with only minor conflicts. However, with the passing of the Tea Tax in 1773, colonial passions were again flamed which resulted in the Boston Tea Party. As everyone knows, Sons of Liberty dressed as Indians went aboard ship and dumped the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of tea into the harbor. While the Indian garb may have been to disguise those involved, it was actually used because Indians were considered the symbol of a free people.
The crown was outraged and sent more troops. They created more restrictions such as the Townsend Acts which implemented financial sanctions and import, export regulations. These were met with more resistance. By 1774, the American colonies were under martial law and Boston was occupied by thousands of troops sent in to enforce the mandates of the Coercive/Intolerable Acts.
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Last edited by mac66; 01-31-2013 at 10:27..