Rebecca Chen, Lauren Fountain, Rachel Feldman (Editor)

Independent Ways of Thinking

During the period preceding the French and Indian War, colonists were able to further develop their own legislatures. The ignorance from Great Britain during the period of salutary neglect gave these legislatures the opportunity to levy taxes, gather their own troops, as well as propose and pass laws. After a while, the colonists began to mistake the temporary freedom for their own personal rights. When the British intervened again following the war it led to conflict between the colonists and their ruler.

French and Indian War
The French and Indian War, was a war fought between the French with the Native Americans against the British with the colonists. During the war, the British were busy fighting the war and avoided strict enforcement of the laws that were placed on the colonies. This is known as Salutary Neglect. They believed that if they did not restrict the colonies, they would prosper. After nine long years of fighting, the British prevailed and won the war. However, the costly war caused Britain to be in huge amount of debt. In order to clear up the debt, the British enacted many acts among the colonists.

Parliament Restrictions

The Sugar Act of 1764 raised the tax revenue on sugar. The colonists bitterly protested until the duties were lowered substantially.

The Stamp Act of 1765 had a tax on stamps to raise revenues to support the new military force. As a result, the famous line, “No taxation without representation” was used. Regardless of the fact that the colonists did not really care for representation in Parliament, they were angered by the fact that they had to pay a tax. In addition, the colonists formed a Stamp Act Congress, which members wrote a statement of their rights and grievances and wanted the King and Parliament to repeal.

The Townshend Act placed a light tax on glass, white lead, paper, paint, and tea. This further infuriated the colonists and caused them to smuggle these goods. This brought the colonists to rethink their association with Britain. The Committees of Correspondence were formed and it spread the spirit of resistance by interchanging letters. A group of patriots, also known as the Sons of Liberty , were convinced that they must fight Britain for their freedom.

The Townshend Act was repealed except for the tax on tea (Tea Act). Although it was a light tax, the colonists were mad about the fact that they had to pay a tax. This led to the Boston Tea Party, which further united the colonists.

external image 375px-Boston_Tea_Party_Currier_colored.jpg
(Boston Tea Party, Courtesy of Google Images)

Consequently, the Intolerable Acts were put in place as punishment. The Boston Port was closed until all damages from the Boston Tea Party were paid for. Additionally, there was a restriction on town meetings. The enforcing officials who killed colonists could now be tried in Britain, lessening the likelihood of their conviction. The First Continental Congress (1774) was created and was considering ways in redressing colonial grievances. This brought together the colonists even more. They wrote the Declaration of Rights which Britain rejected.

Not only did the Britain place Acts taxing the colonists, but they also restricted many rights of the colonists. The Proclamation of 1763 prohibited the colonists from settling in the area beyond the Appalachians. The colonists were dismayed and angered because they thought they had every right to migrate. Britain enforced the Navigation Laws (1763), which forced the colonies to only trade with Britain. The Quartering Act of 1765 required certain colonies to provide food and shelter for British troops. The colonies thought this was an invasion of property.

As a result, the colonies were angered that Britain was controlling their lives and restricting many of their natural rights. Due to the period of Salutary Neglect, the colonies were used to no restrictions and were accustomed to self governing. With the sudden heavy enforcements of restrictions, they were mad because they believed they were able to take care of themselves.

Boston Massacre

During this period of tension between the colonies and Great Britain a number of troops were stationed throughout areas of concern, especially Boston, Massachusetts. One evening in March 1770, a group of approximately sixty townspeople were pestering and bothering ten British soldiers, one of whom was knocked onto the ground. The troops acted without order under the provocation and fired into the crowd. A total of eleven people were killed or wounded, and anger uprose throughout the colonies in response to the fact that only two redcoats were charged with manslaughter. This added to the already developing feelings of restlessness and discomfort toward the mother country, furthering the progress on the path toward independence. The event came to be known as the Boston Massacre.

Common Sense

Thomas Paine anonymously published a pamphlet titled “Common Sense” in 1776 challenging the British monarchy and plainly suggesting independence for the colonists. At the time of its’ publishing, over 500,000 copies were sold which was considered extremely large for the time period. The language was understandable even to many of the less educated colonists, and the pamphlet was vital in uniting the colonies to make independence even a possibility. One of Paine’s main points in the essay described how the size of Great Britain itself made it obvious that their rule over the colonies in North America was unrealistic. The colonies were growing, and there was nothing Great Britain could do about it.
external image 200px-Commonsense.jpg
(Pamphlet of Common Sense, Courtesy of Google Images)

The Battle of Lexington and Concord
external image 2cris2378b.jpg
(Battle of Lexington and Concord, Courtesy of Google Images)

Two battles that began on April 18, 1775 make up the Battle of Lexington and Concord. In order to capture John Hancock and Samuel Adams, British troops were sent to Concord. But, the colonists, including the two men, were informed about the upcoming attack thanks to Paul Revere who, on the night of April 18, rode through Concord yelling his famous phrase “the British are coming!”. When the British came to attack, an “army” of Americans (known as minutemen because they were “ready to fight in a minute”) were at Lexington awaiting the arrival and ready to fight. The minutemen were given strict orders from Captain John Parker, “Do not fire unless fired upon. But if they want a war let it begin heres”. Just as the Americans were withdrawing, an unknown source fired a shot and the British began to open fire. The British killed many minutemen and once they found out that Hancock and Adams had escaped, they began to march towards Concord looking for ammunition. On their way to nearby farms to look for supplies, the British came upon a group of minutemen which resulted into a huge fight but the Minutemen made the British retreat. Even though the Minutemen tried to stop the British from retreating, the British were still successful. At the end of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, 273 British soldiers were killed along with 94 colonists. A poet named Ralph Waldo Emerson called the Battle of Lexington “the shot heard ‘round the world'” because the battle began the American Revolutionary War.

Civil Liberties

The reasoning for the Declaration of Independence, signed July 4, 1776, was the British oppression on the North American colonist. There are ten specific British policies that the Declaration of Independence was a response to. There are ten major civil liberties violations that helped cause the American Revolution. They include taxation without representation, no free trade, unlimited search and seizure, destruction of colonial government, oppression of political protesters, immunity for corrupt and abusive British Officers, direct control of the criminal justice system, guilty by parliament, forced quartering of soldiers, and closure of the boston port. These restrictions from Parliament outraged colonists and it was agreed that they should not be acceptable.
external image july4framed.jpg
(Signing of the Declaration of Independence, Courtesy of Google Images)

Vocabulary Words
French and Indian War: (1754-1763) war fought between the British and the colonists against the French and Native Americans
Salutary Neglect: an undocumented period when the British did not intervene with the colonists
Sugar Act: Parliament passed a tax on sugar,
Stamp Act: Tax on newspaper, legal documents, playing cards, and dice
Stamp Act Congress: First gathering of elected representatives from numerous colonies where they wrote a statement of their rights and grievances to the King and Parliament
Townshend Act: Tax on lead, glass, paper, paint, silk, and tea
Committee of Correspondence: people who wrote letters to groups in different colonies informing them of British abuses.
Sons of Liberty: a group of patriots who believed that they must fight against Britain for their freedom.
Tea Act: Britain repeals the taxes from the Townshend Act except for the tax on tea
Boston Tea Party: Sons of Liberty decided to board the ships of the British East Indian Tea Company and throw tea, worth $55,000, overboard.
Intolerable Acts: Also known as the Coercive Acts; port of Boston Harbor is closed until the tea is paid for, Massachusetts is allowed only one town meeting a year and, the governor of Massachusetts is appointed by the King
First Continental Congress: Twelve colonies (Georgia does not attend) meet and discuss ways on redressing colonial grievances. Wrote the Declaration of Rights
Proclamation Act of 1763: Prohibited colonists of settling west of the Appalachian Mountains
Quartering Act: Colonists must open up their homes and provide food and shelter to British soldiers
American Revolutionary War: the revolution of the American Colonies against Great Britain (1775-1783)
Battles of Lexington and Concord: two battles fought at Lexington and Concord because of the British attempts of capturing John Hancock and Samuel Adams. The colonists caused the British to retreat and this marked the beginning of the American Revolution.
Boston Massacre: British soldiers fire into crowd of rowdy colonists on March 5, 1770.
Colonists: A settler in or inhabitant of a colony
Declaration of Independence: A document declaring the US to be independent of the British Crown, signed on July 4, 1776, by the congressional representatives of the Thirteen Colonies
John Hancock: American revolutionary patriot who was president of the Continental Congress; was the first signer of the Declaration of Independence (1737-1793)
Minutemen: colonists who were rebels that were “ready to fight in a minute” if need be
Parliament: The highest legislature, consisting of the sovereign, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons.
Samuel Adams: American Revolutionary leader and patriot; an organizer of the Boston Tea Party and signer of the Declaration of Independence (1722-1803)
“The shot heard ‘round the world'”: the one shot from an unknown source that is decided to be the trigger to the American Revolution.
Thomas Paine: born in England in 1737, came to the colonies in 1774 and took an interest in independence. He anonymously published “Common Sense” in 1776 calling for independence.
Common Sense: pamphlet distributed to colonists suggesting independence written by Thomas Paine.


1. Who were the British trying to capture during the Battles of Lexington and Concord?
a) John Hancock
b) Paul Revere
c) Samuel Adams
d) a and c

2. Who spoke the famous lines “the British are coming”?
a) John Hancock
b) Paul Revere
c)Samuel Adams
d) none of the above

3. How many total deaths came from the Battles of Lexington and Concord?
a) 273
b) 94
c) 367
d) 500+

4. All of the following are restrictions made by Parliament EXCEPT:
a) taxation without representation
b) army of minutemen
c) oppression of political protesters
d) unlimited search and seizure

5. What year was the Declaration of Independence signed?
a) 1776
b) 1778
c) 1777
d) 1779

6. What enabled the colonists to establish their own legislatures?
a) Navigation Laws
b) “Common Sense”
c) Salutary Neglect
d) Parliament

7. What did the Proclamation Line of 1763 do?
a) Established borders between the colonies
b) Proclaimed the colonies as a free country
c) Ended the French and Indian War
d) Prohibited colonists from settling past the Appalachian Mountains

8. Which of the following was NOT an act of the British government?
a) Townshend Acts
b) Committees of Correspondence
c) Intolerable Acts
d) Navigation Law

Related Articles:


"A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1873History." Library of Congress. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Sept. 2012.

"Battles of Lexington and Concord." A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 20 Sept. 2012. <>. N.p., n.d. Web. <>.

Kennedy, David M., Lizabeth Cohen, and Thomas A. Bailey. The American Pageant: A History of the Republic. 12th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001.

Martin, Kelly. "Causes of the American Revolution." American History., 2012. Web. 20 Sept. 2012

"Thomas Paine Publishes Common Sense." A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 20 Sept. 2012. <