The Birth and Government

of the

United States of America

Before the American Revolution

Ancient Times to 1775

Page 4


Colonial resentment toward England is seeded in 1686 when King James II begins consolidating the colonies of New England into a single political Dominion. Colonists are deprived of their local political rights and independence. The King dissolved all legislatures and his representatives assumed all of the legislative and judicial power. This is a reversal for the growing embrace of representative democracy by the colonists.

In March of 1688, New England Royal Governor, Sir Edmund Andros ordered all colonial militia to be placed under his control. Citizens began to protest the Governorís imposition of taxation without representation. Taxation without representation would later be a key grievance against the British King in the U.S. Declaration of Independence. In 1691 a new Governor of New England, Henry Sloughter instituted royally sanctioned representative government.

In 1688, Quakers issued a formal protest against slavery in America to no avail. In 1696, the Royal African Trade Company lost its slave trade monopoly. This allowed New England colonists to begin slave trading for profit. This led to an explosive rise in the number of slaves in America.

Also in April 1696, the Navigation Act of 1696 was passed by the English Parliament. This act required colonial trade to be done exclusively by English built ships. The act also gave colonial customs officials broad powers to post bonds on certain goods and the right of forceful entry. These further intrusions into the affairs of the colonies further eroded colonial sentiment toward England. The resentment is compounded in 1699 when the English Parliament also passed the Wool Act, forbidding the export of wool from the American colonies to protect exports from England.


In 1700 the population in the English colonies in America reached 275,000. Boston and New York City were the largest cities with populations of 5,000 and 7,000 respectively.

Around this time some colonies began to adopt an official religion and pass religious laws. In June of 1700, Massachusetts passed a law ordering all Roman Catholic priests to leave the colony within three months or face life imprisonment or execution. In 1702, Maryland established the Anglican Church as the official church. It was supported financially by a tax imposed on all free men, male servants and slaves.

In 1710, the English Parliament passed the Post Office Act. This created a postal system in the American colonies. It was controlled by the postmaster general of London and his deputy in New York City.

In May of 1712, the Carolina colony was divided into North Carolina and South Carolina. That same year the Pennsylvania assembly banned the import of slaves into that colony.

By 1720 the colonial population reaches 475,000 with an additional 75,000 black slaves.


George Washington was born February 22, 1732 in Virginia. He would later fight the French in the French and Indian War; lead the colonies to victory against British soldiers during the American Revolution; and serve as the first president of the United States.

Georgia, the 13th colony was founded in 1732.

The next year, in March of 1733, the English Parliament passed the Molasses Act. The act imposed heavy taxes on molasses, rum and sugar imported from non-British islands in the Caribbean. It is designed in part to protect the English planters there from French and Dutch competition.

In 1750, the English Parliament passed the Iron Act. It limited the growth of the iron industry in American colonies to protect the English Iron industry. The next year parliament passed the Currency Act, banning the issuing of paper money by the New England colonies.


In 1754 hostilities broke out between the English colonies and the French who made allies out of Native American tribes. The precipitating dispute arose over land claims in the Ohio River Valley. In May, George Washington led a small group of American colonists to victory over the French, then built Fort Necessity in the Ohio Territory. In July, he was forced to surrender the fort to the numerically superior French. Washington safely returned home after a being briefly detained by the French. Despite the setback, Washington attracted favorable attention from the colonists.

In 1763, the war, known to Europeans as the Seven Yearís War, ended with the Treaty of Paris. France gave England all French territory east of the Mississippi River, except New Orleans. Spain, which entered the war in 1762, gave up east and west Florida to the English in return for Cuba.

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