Road to Revolution

SS8H3 The student will analyze the role of Georgia in the American Revolution

When compared to other colonies, such as Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, Georgia the youngest, smallest, and poorest colony played a relatively minor role during the American Revolutionary War period. For instance, Georgia was the only colony to sell stamps during the Stamp Act crisis and did not send a representative to the First Continental Congress in 1774. Once Georgia joined in the patriot cause, the city of Savannah was easily recaptured in 1778, and for all intents and purposes, Georgia’s coastal cities remained firmly in British hands for the remainder of the war. However, there was much more to the Revolutionary period in Georgia than the traditional narrative describes. The story includes the capture, escape, and return of a royal governor; a “war woman” whose heroic defense of her home earned her the honor of being one of the few women in the nation with a county named after her; an impoverished and illiterate frontiersman who became an important military leader and later tried to create his own republic; a slave whose bravery in battle led to his freedom and a land grant from an ardent slave state; a signer of the Declaration of Independence who killed in a dual with a fellow patriot less than a year later; and what can be called a “civil war” in the Georgia back country where a bloody guerilla fighting took place between patriot and loyalist forces.

a. Explain the immediate and long-term causes of the American Revolution and their impact on Georgia; include the French and Indian War (Seven Years War), Proclamation of 1763, Stamp Act, Intolerable Acts, and the Declaration of Independence.

Review Prezi with guided notes.

Use chart below as you go through the tackk page

French and Indian War

The traditional immediate and long-term causes of the Revolution did not have the same direct impact on Georgia as they did on other colonies. For example, the French and Indian War(1754-1763), a conflict between France and England for control of the rich fur area of the Ohio river valley, was fought far from Georgia’s borders and initially had a small impact on the state. However, after the British won the French and Indian War, which was part of a larger worldwide war called the Seven Years War, they obtained Canada and all land west to the Mississippi River. Though not directly involved, Georgia’s borders expanded to the St. Mary’s River to the South, the Mississippi River to the West, and land around Augusta to the North.

Due to the economic cost of this war, there were important events that led to conflict between Britain and its colonies. The first was the Proclamation of 1763, and the second was a series of taxes, including the Stamp Act (1765) and Townsend Act(1767) that led to colonial discontent.

Proclamation of 1763

The Proclamation of 1763 was issued by King George III and forbade colonists from settling lands west of the Appalachian Mountains. The Proclamation was issued in order to stabilize relations between Great Britain and the Native American tribes who lived in the area. Because the British were virtually bankrupt from the Seven Years War, they could not afford to fight another costly war with the Native Americans over territory. However, the colonists, many of whom participated in the war in hopes of gaining new land, were extremely upset by the Proclamation of 1763. In fact, many simply ignored the Proclamation and settled the new lands anyway. The people of Georgia did not share the same reactions to the Proclamation of 1763 for two reasons. First, the young Georgia colony was small and most colonists were still nestled on the Georgia coastline, a major trade route. Secondly, Georgia gained land and resources from the Spanish and their Native American allies after the French and Indian war. This new land was located south of the line drawn by the Proclamation of 1763, opening new coastal land for Georgians to settle.

Stamp Act/Townshend Act

Due to the debt that the war caused the British government, members of Parliament believed that the colonists should be responsible for taking on some of the financial burden by paying new taxes. Up to that point, the British government had traditionally left the role of tax collection to the Colonial Assemblies. Being directly taxed for the first time, without colonial “representation” in the British Parliament, led to protests throughout the colonies. One of the earliest and most controversial taxes was the Stamp Act of 1765. This act put a direct tax on items that were commonly used by almost every colonist, including newspapers, licenses, and legal documents. Reaction to this act in the colonies was swift and often violent. Colonial leaders made formal speeches against the act and joined to form the Stamp Act Congress. Average citizens reacted more violently and protested by hanging effigies of Parliamentary leaders and royal governors, attacking the homes of British officials, and tarring and feathering tax collectors. Some of these citizens, mainly from the middle and upper classes, joined a group called the “Sons of Liberty” in response to these taxes. Eventually, due to colonial pressure, the British Parliament repealed the Stamp Act, but issued others. These acts caused even more discontent and set the stage for the Revolutionary War.

Due to Georgia’s small population, strong royal governor, James Wright, and economic dependence on Great Britain, its response to the Stamp Act was not as violent as it was in other colonies. In fact, Georgia was the only colony where a small number of stamps were sold. Nonetheless, there was some resistance to the Stamp Act. Several prominent Georgians spoke out against this act and on November 6, 1765, a group affiliated with the Sons of Liberty called the “Liberty Boys” was established to oppose the Stamp Act.

Intolerable Acts/ First Continental Congress

The 1773, the Boston Tea Party took place in Massachusetts as a protest of the Tea Act, another tax created to raise revenue for the British government. In response to the destruction of the tea, the British issued what the colonist called the Intolerable Acts which included four punitive acts designed to punish the Massachusetts colonist for the Boston Tea Party. The British refused to repeal these acts until the tea was paid for. Under these acts, the British closed the port of Boston, the Massachusetts colonists could not hold town meetings unless authorized by the Royal Governor, and any British official that committed a capital crime was sent back to England to stand trial. The final act made such an impression on the colonists that its prohibition was written into the U.S. Bill of Rights. This act, called the Quartering Act, forced the citizens of Massachusetts to house and feed British soldiers at the citizens’ expense. The colonial reaction to these acts was even more intense than their reaction to the Stamp Act. These acts unified many colonial leaders in a belief that the British Parliament was violating their natural and constitutional rights. Due to their outrage, 12 colonies sent representatives to the First Continental Congress where the members agreed to support a colonial boycott of British goods and pledged military support to Massachusetts if they were attacked by the Great Britain. Once again, Georgia’s response to the Intolerable Acts was minimal due to the colony’s divided loyalties. Royal governor James Wright was instrumental in slowing down the reactions of the Georgia colonist; however, those outraged by the Intolerable Acts and loyal to the patriot cause, such as Noble W. Jones and Peter Tondee, began to gather strength in Georgia. Nevertheless, Georgia was the only colony that did not send a representative to the First Continental Congress.

Boston Tea Party

Second Continental Congress/Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence was the document officially declaring the colonies’ independence from Great Britain. It was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. The declaration was drafted by Thomas Jefferson.

By this point in Georgia, Royal Governor James Wright had been ousted from power and the colony was under patriot rule. Three Georgians, Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, and George Walton, attended the Second Continental Congress and signed the Declaration of Independence. When examining the signatures on the Declaration of Independence, one may notice that, almost symbolizing the separation Georgia had from the other colonies throughout much of the early Revolutionary Period, the signatures’ of Georgia’s three representatives are isolated on the far left hand corner of the document. Students should understand that the Declaration of Independence is a document that is divided into three parts. The first part, the Preamble, explains to the reader about the natural rights of all people (though this has been debated), states the reasons for the document, and includes the famous quote “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The second part includes a list of grievances against King George including “imposing taxes without our consent” and “quartering large bodies of troops among us.” The final part is the actual “declaration of independence” and is where the colonists officially severed ties from the mother country.  

Understand that the patriots who signed this document, including John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin, put their lives on the line. Had Britain won the war, these men would more than likely have been executed as traitors to their country.