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Lloyd Sealy Library
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

American History: The Revolutionary War: Before The Revolution

Guide for Library Research on The American Revolution

Mercantilism

Mercantilism

Mercantalism is an economic theory built on the idea government should build a self-sufficient economy with colonies supplying the mother country with raw materials while the mother country uses the colonies as a market to sell manufactured goods to.

The Currency Act

The Currency Act

The Currency Act of 1764 restricted the American colonies from issuing paper money, something the colonies had done to pay for debts raised during the French and Indian War.

The Sugar Act

The Sugar Act

The Sugar Act, also known as the Revenue Act of 1764, was a British tax on sugar intended to raise money to pay for the expenses of the French and Indian War. It was repealed in 1766.

The Quartering Acts

The Quartering Acts

The Quartering Act of 1774 was a law passed by the British Parliament requiring the colonies to house British soldiers and supply them with food.

The Stamp Act

The Stamp Act

The Stamp Act 1765 was a tax the British Parliament imposed on the American colonies that required that print materials such as legal documents, magazines, and newspapers to name a few had to be produced on paper produced in Britain that had a royal stamp on it. Furthermore the tax could not be paid with colonial issued paper currency but only in British pounds. The act was passed to pay for the unnecessary stationing of British troops in North America.

The Declaratory Act

The Declaratory Act

The Declaratory Act was the British repeal of the Stamp Act of 1765. It declared that Parliament had the same right to pass binding laws over the colonies as it did to pass laws over Britian.

The Townshend Acts

The Townshend Acts

The Townshend Acts were a series of laws named after the Chancellor the Exchequer Charles Townshend that were passed by Parliament  to raise as much money as possible from the American colonies and in particular to use this money to pay local governors and judges to remain loyal to the British government. Ultimately the Townshend Acts were repealed except for a tax on tea that was retained as a British gesture that they still had every right to tax as they wished in North America.

The French and Indian War

The French and Indian War

Known in Europe as the Seven Years War and in America as the French and Indian War, this conflict was a worldwide war fought between Britain and France for control of large territories all over the world, lasting from 1754-1763. The end result of the war was the expansion of the British Empire especially in North America, where almost all French territory (everything from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi river) was ceded to British control.

Proclamation of 1763

Proclamation of 1763

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 forbad colonial settlement beyond the Appalachian Mountains and created the British provinces of Quebec, West Florida, and East Florida. The proclamation was unable to prevent western settlement.

No Taxation Without Representation

No Taxation Without Representation

"No taxation without representation" was a colonial American slogan in the years running up to the American Revolution. It emphasised the position of the colonists that they were being unfairly taxed and did not have proper representation as Englishmen in the British Parliament.

The Tea Act

The Tea Act

The Tea Act of 1773 was a law passed by Parliament to help its subsidiary the British East India Company to get rid of a surplus of tea they had warehoused in Britain. The British East India Company would not have to pay tax on the export of the tea but the colonies would still have to pay a tax on the purchase of the tea despite the overall price still being cheaper in the colonies than other brands of tea being illegally sold at the time. This was a way for the British government to show the colonists that Parliament still had the right to tax the colonies. The colonial response was the Boston Tea Party.

Boston Tea Party

Boston Tea Party

 "The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor" by Nathaniel Currier 1846

The Boston Tea Party was a political protest by the Sons of Liberty against the Stamp Act. On December 16 1773 a shipment of tea was dumped into Boston Harbor. The British overreaction to this event led to the start of the American Revolution.

The Intolerable Acts

The Intolerable Acts

”The Able Doctor, or America Swallowing the Bitter Draught.” The London Magazine, May 1, 1774.
British Cartoon Collection. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. LC-USZC4-5289.

The Intolerable Acts were four laws passed by the British Parliament in 1774 in the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party. The Acts were The Massachusetts Government Act which put restrictions of the rights to hold town meetings, the Administration of Justice Act which allowed British soldiers to be tried only in Britain and not in the colonies, the Boston Port Act which shut down Boston Harbor, and the Quartering Act which required the housing of British troops in private property without the consent of the owner.

The Quebec Act

The Quebec Act

The Quebec Act of 1774 restored the use of French civil law in Quebec, granted rights to Catholics in the territory, and expanded the borders of Quebec. The act was very unpopular among the American colonists, particularly in Virginia which had staked land claims on the territory that had been given to Quebec.

The Great Awakening

The Great Awakening

Sinners Sermon by Jonathan Edwards 1741

The First Great Awakening was a religious revival that started around the 1730s. Part of the Great Awakening was a strong interest in religion and the formation of new religious denominations.

The Sons of Liberty

The Sons of Liberty

The Sons of Liberty was a secret scoiety that sought to protect colonial rights against abuses by the British in the American colonies. The most famous act of the Sons of Liberty was the Boston Tea Party in 1773.

The Boston Massacre

The Boston Massacre

The Boston Massacre engraved byPaul Revere, colored by Christian Remick, and printed by Benjamin Edes. 

 

The Boston Massacre was the killing of five men by the British Army on March 5 1770. The situation prior to the massacre was dangerous with a mob harassing British soldiers. Those soldiers fired into the crowd without orders. Eight soldiers were arrested and brought to trial where they were defended by John Adams who got six acquitted and two a reduced charge of manslaughter.

The Gaspée Affair

The Gaspée Affair

The Burning of the Gaspee
(Harper's New Monthly Magazine 1883)

In 1772 a British ship engaged in stopping smuggling was boarded, looted and torched.

British East India Company

British East India Company

The Coat of Arms of the East India Company

 

The British East India Company was a British government company formed to conduct trade in the East Indies (Today largely Indonesia and Southeast Asia) originally but that ultimately ended up doing most of its work in India and China. It was tea supplied by the East India Company that was dumped into Boston Harbor by the Sons of Liberty at the Boston Tea Party.

Loyalists

Loyalists

Canadian and British Repulse American Assault in Quebec by C. W. Jefferys

Loyalists were American colonists who remained loyal to the Britian during and after the American Revolution.

The Continental Congress

The Continental Congress

Second Congress Voting Independence by Edward Savage

The Continental Congress was a meeting of representatives of the American colonies that ultimately became the government of the United States during the American Revolution. The Congress met three times; the first Continental Congress met in 1774 and requested redress of grievences from the British government instead of thinking about Independence. The second Continental Congress met in 1775 and decided on Independence including issuing the Declaration of Independence on July 4 1776. The second Continental Congress met until 1781 when it became the Congress of the new country under the Articles of Confederation which would meet until 1789 when the U.S. Constitution would replace the Articles of Confederation.