American Revolution: Major Events 1763-1774

Listed are major events leading up to the rebellion of the American colonist against the British Crown. Giving cause for their declaring independence.                                                                                                                                           1763

10 February: Treaty of Paris, ending Seven Years’ War signed, in which France ceded mainland North American possessions east of Mississippi River, and Spain ceded Florida, to Great Britain. France and Spain, smarting in defeat, were to find their opportunity for revenge in American Revolution. Coincidentally with signing of treaty, the British Government proposed to maintain 15 regiments in America and to collect at least part of cost of maintaining them from the colonies, thus laying the basis for the agitation and debate over constitutional issues that was eventually to lead the 13 coastal colonies from New England to Georgia to armed rebellion. 

16 November: General Thomas Gage arrived in New York City to assume his new assignment as Commander-in-Chief of British Army in America. 

                                                                               1764

 5 April: In Revenue Act, British Parliament asserted its authority to levy duties on colonial trade to raise revenue in order to defray expenses of defending and securing British Empire.

                                                                            1765

 22 March: Parliament passed Stamp Act to be effective 1 November 1765, placing tax on printed matter and legal documents with objective of raising part of costs of maintaining British troops in American colonies.

 7-25 October: Stamp Act Congress, meeting in New York City, to which nine colonies sent delegates, formulated Declaration of Rights and Grievances which denied Parliament’s right to tax colonies. It also gave impetus to informal agreements not to import British goods until act was repealed, beginnings of nonimportation as measure of economic coercion.

                                                                                 1766

 18 March: Stamp Act repealed, but on same day Parliament passed Declaratory Act asserting its authority to make laws binding on American colonies “in all cases whatsoever.” 

                                                                                 1767

 29 June: King George III approved Townshend Revenue Act imposing duties on selected colonial imports to obtain revenue to help defray costs of military defense and provide independent source of income for paying royal officials. Americans again countered with nonimportation. 

                                                                            1768

 1 October: British troops arrived in Boston, Massachusetts, to enforce customs laws. 

                                                                       1769

 16 May: Virginia Resolves drafted by George Mason and introduced in House of Burgesses by George Washington asserted that only governor and colony’s own legislature had right to levy taxes in Virginia, and condemned Parliamentary proposal to send Americans to England for trial. 

                                                                      1770

 19 January: “Battle” of Golden Hill in New York City followed several days of excitement after cutting down of Liberty Pole by British troops, and was outgrowth of long conflict over British attempts to enforce quartering provisions of Mutiny Act of 5 May 1765. In this scuffle British troops attacking Sons of Liberty party with bayonets wounded several seriously.

 5 March: Boston “Massacre” climaxed rioting in front of customs house, with British guards firing into mob killing five and wounding six others. Whatever the provocation, and misrepresentation of this incident in patriot propaganda, it was significant action in stirring anti-British feeling and leading toward armed rebellion and independence.

 12 April: Parliament repealed all Townshend Revenue Act duties except tax on tea.

 9 June: British armed revenue schooner Gaspee) having run aground in Narragansett Bay seven miles below Providence, Rhode Island, was attacked and burned by a party of local patriots.

 2 November: First Committee of Correspondence was established in Boston, Massachusetts; other colonies followed this example, and these committees served as vehicles to link patriot anti-British agitation and to organize public opinion against British actions.

                                                                  1773

 10 May: Parliament passed Tea Act which, although it retained tea duty from Townshend Act, made it possible for British East India Company to undersell smuggled tea in American colonies if it could be sold. Tea was subsequently turned back or impounded in New York City, Philadelphia, and Charleston, burned in Annapolis, and dumped in Boston.

 16 December: Boston Tea Party occurred when a group organized by Samuel Adams boarded tea ships in Boston harbor and threw overboard 342 tea chests valued at $90,000. This action led to British Coercive Acts of 1774, termed by Americans the Intolerable Acts.

                                                   1774

 31 March: Parliament passed Boston Port Bill, first of Coercive Acts, ordering closing of port on 1 June 1774 until tea destroyed in “Tea Party” was paid for. 

17 May: General Gage landed in Boston to assume duties as Massachusetts Governor in addition to those as British Army Commander-in-Chief. 

20 May: Massachusetts Government Act, another of Coercive Acts, virtually annulled colonial charter and gave governor control of local town meetings. 

1 June: Boston harbor was closed to trade. 

2 June: Parliament passed Quartering Act at request of General Gage, specifically requiring colonists to furnish barracks and supplies to British troops when needed. Colonists viewed this law as another of Intolerable Acts.

 22 June: George III approved Quebec Act, granting religious toleration to French Canadians and extending Canada’s boundaries in west to Ohio River. Most inhabitants of 13 coastal colonies found both provisions highly objectionable, and thus construed this rather enlightened action to be one of Intolerable Acts.

 1 September: General Gage seized Massachusetts stock of powder at Charlestown, across Charles River from Boston, Massachusetts. 

5 September: First Continental Congress, with representatives from 12 colonies, met in Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

14 September: First Continental Congress approved Suffolk Resolve, drafted by convention meeting in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, which declared so-called Intolerable Acts to be unconstitutional, urged Massachusetts to set up a government independent of Crown until these acts were repealed, advised people to arm, and recommended economic sanctions against Great Britain. 

5 October: Massachusetts Assembly met in Salem and two days later adjourned to Concord where its members organized as Provincial Congress. This extralegal body with John Hancock as president thereafter governed Massachusetts outside of Boston. In due course other colonies established similar provincial congresses.

 14 October: First Continental Congress adopted Declaration of Rights and Grievances summarizing colonial arguments of protest and denying Parliament’s jurisdiction over American colonies except for regulation of colonial commerce and strictly imperial affairs.

 19 October: At Annapolis, Maryland, owner of ship Peggy Stewart, arriving with tea aboard on which tax had been paid, was forced to burn his own vessel to avert mob action toward same end.

 20 October: First Continental Congress approved Continental Association, economic boycott of Great Britain to stop in due course import, export, and consumption of British goods, an action that led to 90 percent decline in British imports by spring 1775. By that time, committees organized for enforcement had become de facto local governments.

 26 October: First Continental Congress adjourned.

 26 October: Massachusetts Provincial Congress directed that militia-men of colony be reorganized so tl).at the most able-bodied third would be in separate companies of Minute men.

 9-10 December: Patriots seized ordinance at Newport, Rhode Island, and carried it to Providence.

 14 December: Patriots in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, seized 100 barrels of powder and some ordinance from Castle William and Mary. (Similar actions followed in other colonies.)

THE COMMENTARY GAZETTE®

SOURCE: The war of the American Revolution: BY: Robert W. Coakley & Stetson Conn (United States Army Center of Military History)

CONTRIBUTOR: Frances Thompson

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