The Revolutionary War didn’t begin at Lexington. It began in 1759, 16 years earlier, with the French defeat at Quebec. No one knew what the end of the French and Indian war would do to America. It wouldn’t be a fight between countries but between brothers.
It all began when the French signed a peace treaty with the British, ending the French and Indian war. The French defeat at Quebec was the cause, but for the British their task wasn’t over. The British had paid over 50 million pounds to defend the colonies, and they were nearly broke. The British thought that the colonies should pay the money because almost 10,000 British soldiers died to protect them. In 1765, the British issued a tax on the colonies, called the Stamp Act. The colonists were furious. They had run their own government and issued their own taxes for 150 years. They weren’t about to give up these rights. The Stamp tax made it so any legal document had to be paid for, including playing cards. To the Americans it was eroding their liberty. To the British it was all about money.
The Americans started to boycott British trade. They also tarred and feathered British officials. This hurt British trade. and Parliament repealed it later in 1765.
But the British didn’t stop. in 1769, they passed the Townshend Acts. Again, there were boycott and tar and feathering. Also, two regiments of British light troops (500 men each) landed in Boston. But something worse than boycott started.
One winter night, a large mob gathered around a British guard. They taunted the guard, telling him to fire. His superior, Captain Thomas Preston, came with seven other soldiers. The mob started to throw snowballs at the soldiers. One soldier was hit by a club. Suddenly, a shot was fired. The soldiers randomly fired their guns. Five men died, and another six were wounded. This event would be called the Boston Massacre.
The man who named the event was Boston’s Paul Revere. He made the small incident a ‘massacre’. This was powerful propaganda for the Rebels. The soldiers were to be sentenced to death at their trail. They thought that no one was defending the soldiers. But John Adams, a radical for the Rebels, decided to defend the soldiers. He thought that everyone had the chance to a fair trial. He won, which ment that the soldiers would stay alive.
The British removed the Townshend Acts. But only months later they passed the Tea Act, which made it not only so there was a tax on tea, but also all the tea the Americans bought had to be from the British. This time it resulted in the colonists banning trade with England. But the British still sent tea from England, and in 1773, the British sent tea ships to Boston and other large harbors. Three went to Boston, but the ships couldn’t unload their tea. The rebels decided to get rid of the tea.
One night fifty men, including Paul Revere, sneaked onto the tea ships dressed as Indians. The British units were all asleep. They quickly and silently threw the tea overboard. Then they ran off the ship. None of the British noticed until morning.
King George was furious when he found out what had happened to the tea. The colonists had destroyed millions of pounds of tea. The king decided to block off Boston’s harbor. Also, the king sent 4,000 troops commanded by his best general, Major General Governor Thomas Gage, now the new governor of Massachusetts. Gage’s orders were to crush the rebellion. If he failed, he would be replaced.