Learning Objectives:

1. Causes and consequences of the Seven Years War (French and Indian War).

2. Through an examination of the development of the colonial resistance movement, explain the reaction of the colonists to Parliament's actions in the period 1763-1774.

3. Examine the ideological and constitutional arguments presented by the colonists against the Sugar Act, Stamp Act, and Townshend Acts.

4. Explain the role of each of the following in the development and spread of the colonial resistance movement:

  • Pamphlets
  • Legislative protest (e.g., Virginia Stamp Act Resolves)
  • Crowd action
  • Economic protest
  • Public rituals
  • Committees of correspondence.

How have recent enemies of the US used similar tactics against us?

5. How did demonstrations against imperial policy include obvious violations of the law?
How did the colonists justify their actions? Are those justifications valid?

6. Trace the development of the theory that Great Britain was conspiring to oppress the colonists, and explain how that theory became especially important in relation to the Tea Act, the Coercive Act, and the Quebec Act.

French and Indian War

Albany Plan of Union

The Seven Years War and the Great Awakening (Crash Course US History #5)

George Washington begins the Seven Years' War ( This Day in History | 5/28/1754)

George Washington's role in French and Indian War (Clements Library exhibition)

Battle of the Plains of Abraham/Battle of Quebec

Peace Treaty of Paris (1763)

Overview: French and Indian War (Seven Years' War), 1754-1763

Really a French versus British war with Indian allies on both sides.

French began to encircle the British colonies.

French—from today's Canada—claimed the Great Lakes and Mississippi Valley.
French established New Orleans to anchor the southern end of the Mississippi River.
French claimed the Pittsburgh area (originally called Fort Duquesne by the French, Fort Pitt by the British).
Three rivers come together at Pittsburgh: Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio

Static map of the battles.

Animated Map: French and Indian War

The Seven Years War and the Great Awakening (Crash Course US History #5)

See also:

Incidents leading up to the French and Indian War, 1753-54 (Historian of the State Department)

French and Indian War (Historian of the State Department)

The War That Made America (PBS)

The Real First World War (French & Indian War) And The Making Of America (American Heritage)

Clash of Empires exhibit [this is great]
Huntington Library

Albany Congress (1754)

Albany Congress

Albany Plan of Union (Historian of the State Department)

Join or Die cartoon (Teaching

Plan of union proposed by Benjamin Franklin (but not approved):
  • Supreme governor chosen by England
  • Supreme assembly represented by colonists.
  • Plan could possibly have averted Revolution.
  • Same plan later used with Canada and Australia.

See also:

Albany Plan of Union The Spirit Of ’54 (American Heritage)

The Spirit Of 1754: Albany Congress (American Heritage)

Empire and Identity in the American Colonies (EDSITEment)
Launchpad: Albany Congress

Albany Plan of Union (Avalon Project)

Mohawk Leader Hendrik Criticizes British Inaction (History Matters)

French and Indian War:

The Seven Years War: Crash Course World History #26 - YouTube

George Washington's role

George Washington's French and Indian War (Theodore Crackel) (Gilder Lehrman)

His initial victory—then defeat, capture, and release—began the war.

Fort Necessity (Today in History, Library of Congress)

Lieutenant Colonel George Washington begins the Seven Years' War ( This Day in History | 5/28/1754)

Lieutenant Colonel George Washington Builds Fort Necessity ( This Day in History | 6/4/1754)

George Washington's role in French and Indian War (Clements Library exhibition)

His combat experience will later be important to American Revolution.

At first, the war went poorly for the British.

Braddock expedition

Wilderness Ordeal: Roberts Rangers Fr & Indian War (American Heritage)

Battle of Fort William Henry ("Last of the Mohicans")

Then the new British Prime Minister, William Pitt, spent big bucks to change the tide.

Battle of Quebec (1759)
This crucial British victory won the war.
"Je me souviens" on Quebec province license plates

Battle of the Plains of Abraham/Battle of Quebec (1759)
This crucial British victory won the war.

A Soldier's Account

Commanding Generals of both British and French died in this battle

James Wolfe

Louis-Joseph de Montcalm

Peace Treaty of Paris (1763)

Treaty of Paris 1763 (Historian of the State Department)

Britain's victory in the war was a major turning point in American history.
Altered the balance of power in North America.

Check out these maps:
North America in 1750 (prior to the war)
North America in 1763 (after the war)

This map is even better!

British got all of Canada. France out of America entirely.
British got all French North American possessions east of Mississippi River==all of Canada.

Britain got all of Spanish Florida.
To compensate for Spain's loss of Florida, France gave Louisiana to Spain
France will later get Louisiana back from Spain
We will purchase it from France in 1803

France is thereby entirely ousted from the North American continent
France will want to get back at Britain for this defeat
France will therefore be willing to help us win the American Revolution.

After the war, British colonists no longer feared a French threat.
Indians could no longer play European powers against one another.

Before we delve further into the Road to Revolution, let's consider the following:

Ideological conflicts between Britain and the North American colonies

a) Conflict over the nature of political representation

English view:
  • Parliament collectively represented the entire nation
  • Member of Parliament voted on best interests of nation not his district.
  • Virtual representation: colonists were represented even if not there in person

Colonists' views:
  • Advocated individual representation.
  • Legislator instructions
  • Represented only the regions that had elected them.

b) Conflicts over the role of a national government.

1. Colonists saw conspiracies in England that threatened to take away their liberties.

Colonists believed that a central government should have only limited authority over people.

Colonists felt the need for perpetual vigilance to ensure that monarchs do not corrupt and oppress the people, encroach on their liberty, and seize their property

2. Colonists believed that there was an important link between liberty and property rights:

  • Excessive and unjust taxation could take away personal freedom.
  • No taxation without representation idea, but more subtle.
  • Not so much the amount of taxation, but who did the taxing.

Parliamentary Taxation of Colonies (Historian of State Department)

The Thirteen Colonies (Francis Bremer) (Gilder Lehrman)

Major themes along the Road to Revolution:

  • Development and spread of the colonial resistance movement
  • British actions
  • Colonists' responses

King George III (1760–1820)

New young king; various prime ministers.

George III (BBC)

George III (British Monarchy)

Pontiac's uprising (1763)

Indian chief led Indian uprisings in the Ohio region to kick out colonists.
British troops unable to defend the frontier against him.

Good map

See also:

Pontiac's Rebellion ( | 5/7/1763))

Pontiac’s War (American Heritage)

Proclamation Line of 1763

British tried to keep colonists out of land west of Appalachian Mountains
British wanted to protect Indians
British wanted to slow down land speculation
But many colonists had already settled west of the Proclamation Line
They refused to respect the line.

Good map

Proclamation of 1763 [good] (Milestone Documents)

Proclamation Line of 1763 (Historian of the State Department)

Proclamation of 1763 (Google Images)

George Washington's view on the Proclamation line (Library of Congress)

Teaching the Revolution (Carol Berkin) [use for other purposes]

Great Website we will use: Coming of the Revolution (Massachusetts Historical Society)

Let's see how it is organized.

1. Topic List

Each topic has accompanying documents:
Example: Stamp Act

2. Excerpts from John Rowe's Diary

Resources: Useful Links

Lesson plans for teachers

Coming of the American Revolution (Massachusetts Historical Society)
See my Website Spotlight blog post

Sugar Act (1764)

Sugar Act (Massachusetts Historical Society)

New British Prime Minister George Grenville
He felt that colonists should pay a greater share of costs of empire.
Particularly pay back costs of French and Indian War.

American protests limited largely to New England merchants
Navigation Acts OK
Collection of revenue not OK

Colonists' Responses to the Sugar and Currency Acts

Currency Act (1764)

Currency Act of 1764 (Google Images)

British merchants complained that Americans were paying their debts in inflated local currencies.
Currency Act outlawed colonial issues of paper money.
The Sugar and Currency Acts hit an economy already in the midst of depression.
Lacking any precedent for a united campaign against Parliament, Americans in 1764 took only hesitant and uncoordinated steps of protest.

Colonists' Responses to the Sugar and Currency Acts (National Humanities Center)

Stamp Act (1765)

Stamp Act (Massachusetts Historical Society)

Stamp Act (Stanford History Education Group)

Modeled on a law in effect in Britain for over a century.

Three aspects to remember:

Stamp Act required tax stamps on most printed material
Tax stamps had to be paid for in cash (scarce)
Violators would be tried in vice admiralty courts (no juries).

Protests against the Stamp Act

Colonists feeling their way.

a) James Otis:

How to combat certain acts of Parliament without questioning Parliament's authority over the colonies.
He concluded that colonists had to obey British laws.
Many Americans, therefore, reluctantly prepared to obey the Stamp Act.

James Otis: The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved (1764) (Milestone Documents)

b) Patrick Henry

Not all the colonists were resigned to paying the Stamp tax.

Patrick Henry did not agree with James Otis

He proposed the "Virginia Stamp Act Resolves"

These resolves protested Parliament's right to tax Americans without their consent.

c) Despite the uproar, most Americans wanted to remain loyal British subjects and were not yet arguing for independence.

See also:

Patrick Henry (Today in History, Library of Congress)

Patrick Henry: Resolutions in Opposition to the Stamp Act (1765) (Milestone Documents)

Patrick Henry: “Liberty or Death” Speech (1775) (Milestone Documents)

Sons of Liberty

Colonial elites wanted to control the protests against unpopular laws.

They created an inter-colonial association, the Sons of Liberty, to protest the Stamp Act.

In U.S. history, groups who want to protest government action often will call themselves Sons of Liberty.


Sons of Liberty (Massachusetts Historical Society)

Sons of Liberty

The Radicals who made a Revolution (Sons of Liberty)

Sons of Liberty (Colonial Williamsburg)

Samuel Adams (Finding Dulcinea)

Liberty Tree

Liberty Tree (Google Images)

Tarring and Feathering (History Matters)

Non-importation association

The first attempts to use an economic boycott to pressure British exporters to demand repeal of the Stamp Act.

Non-Importation (Massachusetts Historical Society)

Boston Non-Importation Agreement

Stamp Act Repeal (March 1766)

New British Prime Minister, Lord Rockingham

He repealed the Stamp Act not because he believed Parliament lacked the power to tax the colonies, but because he thought the law unwise and divisive.

Declaratory Act (March 1766)

Linked to the repeal of the Stamp Act.

Dangerous implications for the colonists.

Asserted Parliament's ability to tax & legislate for the colonies "in all cases whatsoever."

Townshend Acts (1767)

Townshend Acts (Massachusetts Historical Society)

1. British officials searched for new ways to generate revenue to help pay war debts from French and Indian War.

2. The passage of the Townshend Acts drew a swift response from the colonists, who were now less hesitant and better organized.

3. Townshend Acts provided as follows:
  • Duties on goods (paper, glass, tea) imported from Britain to the colonies
  • Proceeds would pay salaries for some royal officials in the colonies
  • American Board of Customs Commissioners (based in Boston)
  • Added vice–admiralty courts in Boston, Philadelphia, and Charleston

Townshend Duties Repealed (12 April 1770)

Townshend Duties Repealed/Non-Importation (Massachusetts Historical Society)

Repeal (

Parliament revoked all the duties except that on tea. (This will be a cause of the Boston Tea Party)

The other Townshend provisions remained in force.

Boston "Massacre" (5 March 1770)

British troops assigned to Boston to protect Customs Commissioners.

Tensions in a military garrison town: soldiers took local jobs

Was this a "massacre"?


Paul Revere Heritage Project: Boston Massacre image

Boston Massacre (Today in History, Library of Congress)

Boston Massacre Trial (Famous Trials)
See my Website Spotlight blog post

Massachusetts Historical Society

Committees of Correspondence

Committees of Correspondence (Massachusetts Historical Society)

Widen geographic scope of resistance movement.

Committees of Correspondence (Paul Revere Heritage Project)

Committees of Correspondence

Boston Tea Party (1773)

Boston Tea Party (Massachusetts Historical Society)

Tea, Taxes, and The American Revolution: Crash Course World History #28 - YouTube

Boston Tea Party museum

Tea Act

Tea Act (May 1773)

1. Monopoly: British East India Company sell off surplus tea to America
2. Patriots were making money smuggling tea from Holland.
3. Patriots feared precedent of paying even a small tax on tea.

Tea Party itself:

Tea destroyed worth almost $1 million.
Colonists refused to pay for the tea.


Eyewitness account by George Hewes (History Place)

Use of "tea party" in political symbolism

American Patriots Carry Out Boston Tea Party (On This Day, Finding Dulcinea)

Boston Tea Party museum

Tea Act

Loyal Nine

The Secret Plan (good paragraph on the symbolism of Indian dress)

Participants in the Boston Tea Party

Was brick tea tossed into Boston Harbor?

The Aftermath

Coercive Acts (1774)

Coercive Acts (Massachusetts Historical Society)

Intolerable Acts

Called Intolerable Acts by the colonists

British Parliament Adopts the Coercive Acts (

Americans convinced British planned to take away their liberty.

Port of Boston closed to shipping until tea was paid for: "Lord North is closing the port of Boston."

a. Massachusetts Government Act

Altered the Massachusetts charter
Substituted an appointed council for an elected one
Increased the powers of the Governor
Halted most town meetings.

b. Justice Act

British officials would be sent to England for trial.

c. Quartering Act

British military commanders could house their troops in private dwellings.


Frederick North, Lord North (Victorian Web)

Intolerable Acts (1774) (Milestone Documents)

Quebec Act (1774)

Intended to ease strains of British conquest of the former French colony.

Quebec Act map

Catholics granted greater religious freedom.
Representative assembly abolished.
Canada boundary extended to Ohio River.
Many American colonists coveted this land.

Results thus far in the arguments between the British government and the colonies:

Colonists worried over precedents of Coercive Acts and Quebec Act.
Both Acts made colonists fear that Britain had a deliberate plan to oppress the American colonies.

BUT: few people wanted to take hasty action.
Most patriots remained loyal to Britain and hoped for reconciliation
Colonists agreed to send delegates to Philadelphia to attend a Continental Congress to consider an appropriate response.