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The Birth and Government

of the

United States of America

Before the American Revolution

Ancient Times to 1775

Page 5

PATH TO REVOLUTION

Also in 1763, King George III of England signed the Proclamation of 1763. It prohibited any English settlement west of the Appalachian mountains. It also required those already settled in those regions to return east. The proclamation was designed to ease tensions with Native Americans. The act further inflamed colonial resentment toward England. Many colonists increasingly discussed the possibility of seceding from England and establishing a new nation.

Another event fanned the flames of revolution in 1764 when the English Parliament passed the Sugar Act. The act increased the duties on imported sugar and other items such as coffee, textiles, wines and the dye, indigo. It also doubled the duties on foreign goods re-shipped from England to the colonies. It also forbade the import of foreign rum and French wines.

The Currency Act in 1764 prohibited the colonists from issuing any legal tender paper money. This angered the industrial North and the agricultural South who feared a destabilizing economy. Colonial resentment toward England was at an all time high.

In May of 1764, James Otis published “The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved.” In it Otis decried taxation without representation. In August of that year, Boston merchants began a boycott of British luxury goods.

THE STAMP ACT SPARKS FURY

Another milestone on the path to revolution was reached in March of 1765 when the English Parliament passed the Stamp Act. Enacted to raise taxes to offset the great expense of maintaining the British military presence in America, it was the first direct tax imposed on the American colonies. For the first time in the 150 year old history of the British colonies in America, the Americans would pay a tax directly to England instead of to their own local legislatures.

The Stamp Act imposed taxes on all printed materials including newspapers, pamphlets, bills, legal documents, licenses, almanacs, dice and playing cards.

The American colonists were united in their fury toward England and openly vented their anger with speeches, editorials, and boycotts of British goods.

Also in March of 1765, the English Parliament passed the Quartering Act which required colonists to house British troops and supply them with food. This act further inflamed sentiment against England.

SONS OF LIBERTY

In Boston, in the summer of 1765, a group of shopkeepers and artisans began preparing for agitation against the Stamp Act. It was initially called The Loyal Nine, but after that group grew, it came to be known as the Sons of Liberty. Eventually ordinary workers and tradesmen joined the ranks which grew to have representative groups in every colony. The Sons of Liberty engaged in acts designed to intimidate Stamp Distributors in the colonies into resigning. Pro-British officials were burned in effigy and emboldened citizens ignored the requirement of an official Stamp. In the early months of 1766 many of the royal governors went into hiding.

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