Thesis – This exhibit demonstrates how economic tensions between Great Britain and the colonies lead to the start of the American Revolution.
After the French and Indian War ended, Great Britain was in great debt. England’s parliament imposed that the colonies help pay for the debt because they needed the British’s help in winning the Seven Years War. New taxes and acts were passed to help the British crown repay their debt and England was trying to govern these new laws overseas. However, the colonies were given no representation which ultimately created tensions and thus came the road to revolution.
Part 1 – Sources 4 (numbers) and 5 (words)
What were the taxes and acts Britain was making the colonies pay for?
After the Seven Years War, England’s debt almost doubled from £75 million in 1754 to £133 million in 1763. During the mid-1700’s, Britain imposed numerous taxes and acts for the thirteen colonies. All of these different regulations started to make the colonists very agitated and become disloyal to Britain. This trend in taxing the colonies started with the Currency Act of 1764 which forbade the colonists from printing paper currency. Next came the Sugar Act of 1764 which raised taxes on imports for sugar that were coming from the West Indies. This lowered the duty to 3 pence, in an effort to make the British sugar industry competitive without completely wrecking the export trade. In the year 1765, the Quartering Act was created that made the colonists house and feed British soldiers if they needed a place to stay. Also during this year was the Stamp Act. This particular act required tax stamps to be put on several different documents including marriage licenses and newspapers to name a few. For this act, the money was to cover about £60,000 of the £200,000 that was required to station troops in the colonies. The Townshend Act imposed duties on 72 different imported goods. An estimated 90 percent of all tea consumed in the colonies was of the Dutch variety so colonists could enjoy tea at a cheaper price. In 1774, the Tea Act was created due to the British East India Company having financial struggles. This act was to reduce the massive surplus of tea the company had in their hands. With all of these acts and taxes England was created, it was inevitable that the colonists were eventually going to rebel because of the “no taxation without representation” issue. The colonies didn’t ask Britain to tax them. It was just forced upon them. However, there was a disagreement between the colonies and England of how they were treating each other. Each side had different views.
Part 2 – Source 3 (maps)
Trade between the Mother Country and the colonies
Throughout this time period, trade was a major part for England in keeping a close relationship with their thirteen colonies. In the image shown below is the trade routes between England, the colonies and Africa. This was known as the Triangular Trade. However, England imposed different regulations on the colonies trading. One included that ships could not leave colonial ports without a signed permission slip on a stamped piece of paper. Colonists grew to be very leery of sailing without the written permission. Additionally, England viewed the colonies as a source for raw materials including fur, lumber, sugar, tobacco and iron but also a market for Britain’s goods such as tea and silks. This mercantile system lead the colonies to be in great debt while England was creating a profit. For this unfortunate situation for the colonies, often times colonial merchants would resort to illegal trading with other countries so they wouldn’t have to deal with the regulations England put on their trade deals. With all of the stamps, embargoes and riots taking place, the colonists decided to halt their trade with England. This was a sudden halt but the colonies were prepared to bear the burden of not trading with the Mother Country in order to obtain their rights as human beings.
Part 3 – Sources 1 (time), 2 (images) and 6 (social media)
The colonies reaction to England’s new policies and the road to revolution
Since the end of the French and Indian War, there was many unsettling aspects of economics in the thirteen colonies. With England’s win in the war, they had a certain power over the colonies and treated the citizens as “peasants” which lead to the increase in imperial policies. Britain’s mentality of treating the colonists as peasants lead them to create strict measures of control and taxation. This essentially made the colonists not have the same rights as an English man. The central issue that caused the colonists to react like they did was no taxation without representation. From the start of the series of acts in 1764, the colonies grew in opposition and began to revolt. The new attitude from the colonies began when the Stamp Act was created. People’s reaction to this act ranged from boycotting to riots. In this letter written from a man named Archibald Hinshelwood and he explains the opposition towards the Stamp Act. He described that colonists have proceeded to violence because of their disagreement with this act. Now, this was just one reaction to one specific act. There was a form of rebellion called “tarring and feathering” shown in the image above. This was created by Bostonians and it was intended to humiliate the victim but also cause pain. Often times, the victim would be covered in hot tar, then smothered in feathers, marched around town and then hung. After the Stamp Act, it was common to target British government employees in the colonies. This type of rebellion was also used in opposition to the Townshend Act and the Tea Act. One major event that lead to the start of the American Revolution in protest to taxation was the Boston Tea Party.
On December 16th, 1773, Sam Adams and the Sons of Liberty boarded three ships in the Boston Harbor that were filled with tea. These men were disguised as Mohawk Indians and threw 342 chests of tea valued at about £10,000 into the Boston Harbor. That night, the harbor became one giant tea pot. As a result of this event, the Coercive Acts of 1774 were created to punish the colonies, Boston in particular, for their resistance to abide by the acts England forced on the colonies.
As a result of all of these reactions from the colonists, the road to revolution evolved and thus, The American Revolution began.
Works Cited –
1. Time (a dated source) – primary source
Hinshelwood, Archibald. “A report on reaction to the Stamp Act, 1765.” 22 Mar. 1765. The Gilder Lehman Institute of American History, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Reserved, http://www.gilderlehrman.org/ history-by-era/road-revolution/resources/report-reaction-stamp-act-1765. Accessed 6 May 2017. Letter.
2. Images (a picture) – primary source (physical book)
Unkown. A new method of macarony making, as practised at Boston. 1774. Library of Congress, United States Copyright Office, http://www.loc.gov/ pictures/item/2004673300/. Accessed 2 May 2017.
This picture is found in the book cited below.
Collier, Christopher, and James Lincoln Collier. The American Revolution. Tarrytown, Benchmark Books, 1998.
3. Maps (a GIS map) – secondary source
National Geographic Society. “Colonial Trade Routes and Goods.” National Geographic, National Geographic Society, http://www.nationalgeographic.org/ photo/colonial-trade/. Accessed 6 May 2017. Map.
4. Numbers (statistics about your topic) – secondary source
“The Seven Years War to the American Revolution.” Tax History Project, Tax Analysts, http://www.taxhistory.org/www/website.nsf/Web/THM1756?OpenDocument. Accessed 6 May 2017.
5. Words (a voyant analysis of a text) – secondary source
Kelly, Martin. “Causes of the American Revolution.” ThoughtCo., ThoughtCo.com, 30 Mar. 2017, http://www.thoughtco.com/causes-of-the-american-revolution-104860. Accessed 6 May 2017.
Link to analysis: http://voyant-tools.org/?corpus=a64ae05d83f957bf1d3d5e2ff19bff5f
6. Social Media (a post about your topic) – primary source
Currier, Nathaniel. The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor. 1846, Newsela.
Link to social media post: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/728246202214817000/
Link to primary source: https://newsela.com/articles/historic-news-bostonteaparty/id/17456/
Other sources used:
Werner, Kirk D., editor. The American Revolution. San Diego, Greenhaven Press, Inc., 2000. Turning Points in World History.
Faragher, John Mack, editor. The Encyclopedia of Colonial and Revolutionary America. New York, De Capo Express, 1996.