Before it all began
The road to independence was a long and hard one; but do you know the whole story? There were many attributes that led to the final straw and bad blood was about to begin. In the pre-revolutionary period, utter turmoil began to brew as the colonies matured and wished to govern themselves. What the colonists didn't know, was that freedom comes with a price, and they'd have to fight for what they believed in...
The French and Indian War
The French and Indian War was a quarrel that existed between the British and French, along with their Indian allies. It lasted seven years, and when it ended the British were in substantial debt. In 1763, the Treaty of Paris was signed by France, Great Britain, and Spain, officially finishing the war. To pay off this debt, the British directly placed taxes on their citizens and the colonists. The taxes led to further disagreement between the mother country and the colonies.
The Proclamation of 1763
The King of England had a proclamation created that stated all colonist were given a boundary from Ohio to the Mississippi river. It forbade them from living past the line which divided them from the Indians. Also, if any colonists already lived beyond the line, they were forced to move. The Proclamation established four new colonies. These colonies were Quebec, East Florida, West Florida and Grenada.
The Sugar Act
On April 5, 1764, Parliament passed an improved version of the Molasses Act. This placed a tax on molasses and charged the colonists six pence per gallon whenever it was imported. In attempt of dodging the "unfair" taxation, the colonists illegally bought it from the French. The British Navy was pushed to enforce these laws and the British Government also placed taxes on items such as sugar, wine, coffee, pimiento, and printed calico.
The Stamp Act
The Stamp Act was yet another tax that began and made citizens pay extra on goods such as paper, bills and documents. Passed in 1765, it was a second attempt at lessening the debt that Great Britain suffered from. Unfortunately, the colonists didn't fancy this either. They constantly complained and even tarred and feathered some of the tax collectors, parading them through the streets.
The Boston Massacre
On March 5th, 1770, a group of young patriots began throwing snowballs at a British soldier. The quarrel turned into a mob, many citizens gathering and yelling, even throwing objects at the soldiers who congregated to stop the crowd. It ended in a misfire which led to the deaths of several people. Paul Revere took advantage of this as a political event, publishing an article in the newspaper and calling it "The Bloody Massacre," also providing the illustration below to portray the soldiers as savages.
However, this was simply untrue, as proven in the court trial regarding this event. No one in the city would represent the soldiers, but finally someone heard their plea... John Adams. His defense eventually brought their release except two soldiers that were convicted of manslaughter. This conflict caused unrest for both sides.
The Tea Act
Parliament passed a new tax in 1773, named the Tea Act. Unlike the other taxes, which were used as a method of payment to help raise funds for England, this particular tax was started to assist the East India Company, who was having money trouble. They had nearly eighteen million pounds of tea yet to be sold, so they shipped it to the colonies, willing to sell it at a low price. The American leaders made a misconception of this by thinking that it was a method of gaining support for the other taxes and creating a monopoly in the tea industry. Several colonies rejected the offer. In Charleston, they left the tea on the docks after it was unloaded. In New York and Philadelphia, they would not even let the ships stop, and sent them off. The Royal Governor in Boston was more persistent though, and the ships sat in port, unable to get rid of their cargo. This led to one of the most infamous events in American history.
The Boston Tea Party
On December 16, 1773, Samuel Addams and the Sons of Liberty dressed themselves as Indians and boarded the ships. They dumped all of the tea into Boston Harbor, not an ounce of the thousands of pounds on board ever reaching the colonists. This sparked outrage from Parliament and the Boston Tea Party engraved itself into history as a revolutionary icon.
The Coercive Acts
Passed in 1774, the Coercive Acts, also called the "Intolerable Acts," were a list of laws designed to punish Massachusetts for the events of the Boston tea party. First, they closed Boston Harbor, a major port for trade, until the colony could repay all of the money for the tea they had dumped. Then, they placed Britain in charge of the colony. Finally, they said that if an American broke the law, they could be shipped off, and tried in Britain. The government also stated that colonists, whether they liked it or not, had to house British soldiers. Unfortunately for Britain, who wished these acts would stop Massachusetts' resistance, it only fueled the conflict. Many other colonies sided with them and news soon reached England that the First Continental Congress was to meet. (Georgia would not come to this meeting, for they had not been notified and didn't have any Representatives.)
Lexington and Concord
On April 18th, 1775, hundreds of British troops went from Boston to Concord in order to seize a hidden store of weapons. This was also another famous image in US history, because it was the time of Paul Revere's midnight ride. He and several other riders warned citizens. The militia gathered to cut them off at Lexington, which ended with British troops retreating. The American Revolution had begun.
Second Continental Congress
Many things happened at the next meeting of the Continental Congress. Georgia had Representatives there for the first time, and several difficult questions were answered. It was decided that a Continental Army was to be created, led by General George Washington. They began to print their own money, and even started a foreign relations committee. In July, a direct letter was sent to King George III, called the Olive Branch Petition. It was approved by Congress, in hopes that the two could exist peacefully. However, it was declined by the King, declaring that they were rebelling. There was no other option. The colonies had to govern themselves.
The Declaration of Independence
The time had arisen to formally part with Mother England. Many colonists were upset by the events that had transpired and nobody wanted to go back to things the way they were. They had to take action. Five men were chosen to write an official document of independence. These men were none other than Thomas Jefferson, (a very skilled writer) Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston. Dividing the declaration into three parts, it was edited and eventually signed on July 4th, 1776. Georgia signers were Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, and George Walton.
History was made and the fight for freedom had started.