Road to American Revolution


Sugar Act- Parliament, desiring revenue from its North American colonies, passed the first law specifically aimed at raising colonial money for the crown. The act increased duties on non-British goods shipped to the colonists.

Currency Act- This act prohibited American colonies from issuing their own currency, angering many American colonists.


1765: To increase revenues to pay the cost of militarily defending the colonies, Parliament passed the Stamp Act, which required a tax stamp on legal documents, almanacs, newspapers, pamphlets, and playing cards. This was the first direct tax Parliament had ever levied on the colonies and a violation of the principle that only the colonies' legislative assemblies could impose taxes. Suspected violators were tried in admiralty courts without juries.

The Stamp Act made many Americans realize for the first time that the British government could act contrary to the colonies' interests.  



Repeal of the Stamp Act- Some in Parliament thought the army should be used to enforce the Stamp Act, others commended the colonists for resisting a tax passed by a legislative body in which they were represented. The act was repealed, and the colonies abandoned their ban on imported British goods.  

1767: Chancellor of the Exchequer, Charles Townshend, imposed new duties on imports of glass, lead, paint, paper, and tea to the colonies. The Townshend Acts also expanded the customs service. Revenue from the acts paid the salaries of colonial governors and judges and prevented colonial legislatures from exercising the power of the purse over these officials.


Virginia's Revolutions- The Virginia House of Burgesses passed resolutions condemning Britains actions against Massachusetts, and stating that only Virginia's governor and legislature could tax its citizens.   

1770: British soldiers under Captain Thomas Preston fired on a Boston crowd, killing five and wounding six. In a subsequent trial, in which John Adams defended the soldiers, all but two of the soldiers were acquitted of murder.

After discovering that the Townshend duties have raised only 21,000 pound sterling (while sales of British goods in the colonies have fallen more than 700,000 pounds), the British government repealed all the Townshend duties, except the duty on tea, to remind the colonists of Parliament's power to tax.


1773: Parliament passed the Tea Act that authorized the East India Company to bypass American wholesalers and sell tea directly to American distributors. Cutting out the wholesalers' profit would make English tea cheaper than tea smuggled in from Holland.

Colonists in Boston, disguised as Indians, boarded three vessels and dumped 342 canisters of British tea into Boston harbor.

The British government responded harshly; it closed Boston harbor to trade; modified the Massachusetts colonial charter; forbid town meetings more than once a year; called for the billeting of British troops in unoccupied private homes; provided for trials outside the colonies when royal officials are accused of serious crimes; and named a general to serve as Massachusetts' royal governor.

1774: Virginia took the lead in opposing British policies. Local committees called for the support of Boston and the elimination of all trade with Britain.

1774: In September, the first Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to orchestrate resistance to British policies. It declared that all trade with Britain should be suspended.


1775: British General Thomas Gage was ordered to use military force to put down challenges to royal authority in the colonies. To curtail colonial military preparations, he dispatched royal troops to destroy rebel supplies at Concord, Massachusetts.

On the night of April 18, Paul Revere and William Dawes alerted patriots of the approach of British forces. Revere was seized and Dawes was turned back at Lexington, Mass., but the Concord militia moved or destroyed the supplies and prepared to defend their town.

On April 19, British redcoats arrived at Lexington and ordered 70 armed "Minutemen" to disperse. A shot rang out and drew fire from the British soldiers. Eight Americans were killed. The British moved on to Concord, destroyed the supplies they found, then returned to Boston, as American patriots fired from behind hedges and walls. British losses were 65 dead, 173 wounded, and 26 missing. American casualties were 49 dead and 46 wounded or missing.