Timeline, American Crises, 1763-1774

“Crises Points, Leading to Revolution, 1763-1774”-by Brad Birzer.  The following comes from a number of sources over twenty five years of reading and teaching founding.  Please let me know if you see any errors.  Much appreciated!

 patriotsOpening to Crisis, 1763-1765

  • Bureaucracy tried to enforce the Sugar taxes. Taxed molasses and sugar at half the rate of the Navigation Acts. But, in reality, that tax had never been enforced!  So, this tax was huge to the settlers.  Hit New England hardest.
  • In 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act. Every single legal transaction had to have a stamp on it(meaning it had been taxed).  Pervasive and intensely bureaucratic.
  • In 1765, Parliament also passed the Quartering Act (another tax), forcing average citizens to give up their homes to soldiers who needed housing. Especially hit New York, the headquarters of British forces in America.


American Responses, 1765

  • Pamphlets
  • Protests. mass meetings, parades, bonfires. Groups began to call themselves the Sons of Liberty.  Would meet under “Liberty Trees” and erect liberty poles, often with effigies hanging from them.  Sons of Liberty led a mob against the Massachusetts home of Lt. Governor Thomas Hutchinson.  Literally tore the house down and drank his wine.
  • Under the leadership of Patrick Henry, the Virginia House of Burgesses passed a series of Resolves against the Stamp Act. Henry even spoke of regicide, the assassination of King George III.  When told that was treason, he replied “If this be treason, make the most of it.”
  • John Adams is the first American to call for Independence.


British response to American Protests

July 1765, Rockingham, a pro-American Prime Minister, elected Prime Minister.  Rockingham Whigs chose Edmund Burke as their main advisor.

  • Repealed the Stamp Act in 1766 and reduced the Sugar Tax to one penny (less than the cost of a bribe)
  • But to pacify the opposition, Parliament passed the Declaratory Act–stated that Parliament had control of the colonies in all matters.


New Parliament, 1767

In the spring and early summer of 1767, the Parliament passed the Townsend Acts which

  • Suspended the New York Assembly for refusing to supply homes and assistance to British Troops
  • Placed a tax on colonial imports—glass, lead, paints, paper, and tea
  • Set up an office in Boston to monitor smuggling


Boston Massacre, 1770

On March 5, 1770, a crowd gathered and began throwing snowballs at the soldiers, protesting the standing army as tyranny.  Soldiers opened fire on the crowd.  Americans began calling the army the “corrupt arm of British despotism.”  The soldier were tried, defended by John Adams.  All were acquitted but two who received light punishments.



  • Off of Rhode Island, a British ship looking for smugglers (the Gaspee) ran aground. Colonists stormed the ship, kicked the sailors off, and burned it.  Parliament established an independent commission to investigate–had power to try out of normal courts.  Colonists viewed this as a violation of rights.
  • In November 1772, Sam Adams formed the first of the Committees of Correspondence. They soon developed throughout the colonies—information distribution; relay stations



In Spring of 1773, the East India Company was experiencing a real drop in business.  Had 17 million pounds of tea rotting in British warehouses.  Parliament granted the company a monopoly on tea—even allowed to sell it cheaper than the colonists could get it from the Dutch.  Thought the colonists were motivated by material considerations.  All the colonists could see was the monopoly granted to the East Indian Co.

  • Under the leadership of Sam Adams, a group of men dressed as Mohawk Indians boarded a British ship and dumped its tea into the harbor. Meanwhile, large crowds on the docks cheered.


Coercive Acts, March 1774

  • Closed the Boston Port
  • Set up martial law under the Governor
  • Close the courts in trials of British
  • Soldiers could lodge anywhere


Quebec Act, Summer 1774

  • First Continental Congress called, September 1774
  • Independence from Parliament declared, September 1774




3 Comments on “Timeline, American Crises, 1763-1774

  1. Hi Brad:

    Great timeline on the imperial crisis.

    Most people today have forgotten the second half of the Americans’ opposition to the Sugar and Stamp Acts. Yes, there was the development of the “no taxation without representation” principle that resulted from the Stamp Act. John Adams, however, considered the “most grievous innovation” of the Sugar and Stamp acts to be the extension of the power of the vice-admiralty courts in America, which he thought violated the basic tenets of Magna Charta. In his “Instructions of the Town of Braintree to their Representative” he wrote: “We cannot help asserting, therefore, that this part of the act will make an essential change in the constitution of juries, and it is directly repugnant to the Great Charter itself; for, by that charter, ‘no amerciament shall be assessed, but by the oath of honest and lawful men of the vicinage;’ and, ‘no freeman shall be taken, or imprisoned, or disseized of his freehold, or liberties of free customs, nor passed upon, nor condemned, but by lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land.’”

  2. Let me also suggest that American Patriots considered the Massachusetts Government Act to be the worst of the Intolerable Acts.

    The Massachusetts Government Act altered the Massachusetts charter in several respects: (a) it changed the Mass. Council to a body appointed by the Crown rather than by the colonial legislature, with each councillor continuing in office at the King’s pleasure; (b) The Mass. Governor was now given complete power to appoint and dismiss all executive and inferior judicial officers, including justices of the peace and sheriffs; (c) Superior court judges were to be nominated by the Governor for appointment by the King; (d) Juries would now be chosen by the sheriff instead of democratically by the people of the towns; (e) Finally, town meetings were barred without the consent of the Governor, except for annual election meetings.

    It was the last blow for self-government in Massachusetts.

  3. Pingback: C. Bradley Thompson on the American Revolution | Stormfields

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