The Beginning Of Our United States

Justin T
Professor Omar J. Cuan
U.S. History Up Till 1865
18 November 1999
The Beginning of Our United States
The British government had enormous problems after the enduring victory over France in the Seven Years War. The Seven Years War had virtually doubled the national public debt, and the attainment of half the territory in North America had vastly compounded the problems of controlling the empire. These circumstances required new revenues for the empire, and the ruling circles in Great Britain believed that the colonists were best able to provide the necessary funds to re-pay the national public debt (American History [Vol. 1] p.123). Accordingly, measures to secure enforcement of the Navigation Acts, which excluded all non-British ships from the colonial carrying trade, were adopted by the British Parliament in 1764. In order to obtain additional revenue, Parliament in 1765 replaced the Molasses Act with a Stamp Act, requiring Americans to validate various documents, transactions, and purchases by buying and applying stamps issued by the royal government (Encarta: Sugar & Molasses Act, 1999).
There was a widespread anger among the American colonists with the passage of the Stamp Act, especially in states such as Virginia, New York, and Massachusetts. Protest meetings, riotous demonstrations, and other manifestations of popular hostility occurred in practically every urban center from Massachusetts to Georgia (Encarta: Stamp Act, 1999). Nearly all officials responsible for execution of the Stamp Act were forced to resign, and many of the stamps were seized and destroyed. Secret societies of patriots calling themselves the Sons of Liberty were formed in numerous communities (Electric Library, 1994). The inter-colonial upsurge against taxation without representation exploded in October of 1765 in the Stamp Act Congress, which was the first important demonstration of American political unity (American History [Vol. 1] pg. 132-33). Although Parliament refused to recognize the adoption by the Congress of a petition of rights, privileges, and grievances, the Stamp Act was repealed in 1766 (Encarta: Stamp Act, 1999).
After a change in leadership in the British government, the policy of imposing direct taxes on the American colonies was revised in 1767. Parliament approved a series of measures, that were known as the Townshend Acts, which among other things, levied modest customs duties on tea, paper, lead, paint, and glass (Encarta: Boston Massacre, 1999). Colonial resistance to the Townshend Acts included, boycotts of British goods, intercolonial expressions of disapproval, and in Massachusetts, open defiance of the British government by the town of Boston and the General Court ( Boston Massacre, 1994). In 1768 Great Britain transferred two regiments of troops to Boston in response to the seditious sentiments prevalent in Massachusetts. However, this action merely served to intensify the anti-British feelings there (Encarta: Boston Massacre, 1999). Finally, on March 5, 1770, a group of British soldiers who were protecting the King’s tax collectors from being tarred and feathered, fired on a hostile crowd, producing the first bloodshed of the struggle ( Boston Massacre, 1994).
Primarily due to changed political circumstances in Great Britain, Parliament in 1770 repealed all the Townshend Act duties except the tax on tea, which was retained to uphold Great Britain’s right to levy taxes on its subjects. The Americans then dropped all non-import measures except for a tea boycott, kept up to maintain their objections to taxation without representation (Knowledge Adventure: Boston Tea Party, 1998). Relations returned to normal until 1773, when Parliament tried to save the English East India Company from bankruptcy by granting it a monopoly on the tea sold to America. Known as the Tea Act, this measure precipitated a new crisis for the colonies. The colonists, regarding the Tea Act as a measure to induce them to submit to parliamentary taxation, not only intensified the boycott but, in Boston, they destroyed cargoes of tea (Grolier: Boston Tea Party, 1993).
Parliamentary reactions to the events in Boston were swift and harsh. By enactment’s adopted in March of 1774, Parliament closed the port of Boston, prohibited town meetings everywhere in Massachusetts, and imposed many other penalties. Inter-colonial resentment greatly increased over this legislation, popularly known as the Intolerable Acts, which paved the way for the First Continental Congress in September 1774 (American Revolution: First Phase, 1998). The Congress sent a petition to the British sovereign, George III, which called for intensification of the