Archived Story

American Heritage: Protests arose in colonies

Published 10:42pm Wednesday, May 16, 2012

“The general principles, on which the Fathers achieved independence, were the only principles in which that beautiful assembly of young gentlemen could unite … And what were these general principles? I answer, the general principles of Christianity, in which these sects were united … Now I will avow, that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as the existence and attributes of God; and that those principles of liberty, are as unalterable as human nature and our terrestrial, mundane system.” (Written in a letter from John Adams, president from 1797-1801, to Thomas Jefferson on June 28, 1813)

In my last article, I began our journey through some of the things that led us to the Revolutionary War and Independence from England. The Stamp Act of March 1765 was one of those things.

As a result of this act, several protest groups began to arise throughout the Colonies. One of those groups was the “Sons of Liberty.” This group was instrumental in an attack on an admiralty court and they also looted the home of the chief justice in Boston.

In October 1765, a man from Pennsylvania, John Dickinson, led a group of delegates from nine of the colonies to the Stamp Act Congress in New York. It was at that Congress that a Declaration of Rights and Grievances was drawn up. In that Declaration, it was noted that the colonies had no representation in Parliament. As a result, the Declaration charged that the tax was unconstitutional and it was against their rights as citizens of England. A combination of this Declaration and the argument by Benjamin Franklin in London that this Act could lead to rebellion; Parliament repealed the tax.  However, the idea of the colonies being taxed by Parliament was addressed in the Declaratory Act of March 1766, when it was written that the Parliament has the right and power to tax the colonies.

On June 29, 1767, Parliament passed the Townshend Acts. These acts placed import taxes on things such as lead, paper, paint, glass and tea. As a result, colonists began to organize boycotts of these items. They began to smuggle these items into their colonies.  This continued for three years, into March 1770. On March 5, a very angry group of colonists met up with the British troops who were guarding the Customs House in Boston. The British troops were pelted with snowballs and rocks. Five colonists were killed when the troops opened fire on them. When the soldiers were brought to trial for the incident, they were defended by John Adams. They were acquitted of murder. Two of the troops were, however, convicted of manslaughter. Most of Townshend Acts were repealed by Parliament in April 1770 because of the serious tensions throughout the colonies. The people were about at the breaking point.

Even though Parliament repealed most of the Acts, the colonists were still very angry and things were ready to explode.

We will continue in our next article.

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