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Clarifications: Each clarification provides an explanation of an indicator/objective to help teachers better understand the skills and/or concepts.

Standard 5.0 History

Topic C. Conflict between Ideas and Institutions

Indicator 1. Analyze the causes of the American Revolution

Objective a. Identify and sequence key events between the French and Indian War and the American Revolution


The period between the end of the French and Indian War in 1763 and the beginning of the American Revolution in 1775 was characterized by escalating tensions between Great Britain and the American colonists. The strain in the relationship between the colonies and mother country began at the close of the French and Indian War when Great Britain suddenly increased its attempts to control the colonies after decades of "benign neglect," during which the colonists were largely left to their own devices and had grown accustomed to a large measure of self-government.

Following the French and Indian War, Britain issued the Proclamation of 1763, which prohibited colonists from moving west of the Appalachian Mountains so that England could prevent further conflict with Native Americans, preserve British officials' control of the lucrative fur trade, and keep the population concentrated along the coast where it could be better controlled. To enforce the Proclamation, Britain planned to station 10,000 troops in the colonies. Colonists reacted strongly against the Proclamation as a limitation on their freedom and against the deployment of troops as a threat to their liberties. In addition, Britain intended to levy a series of taxes on the colonists in order to pay down its war debt. Again, colonists were outraged.

The first of the taxes was the Sugar Act, enacted in 1764. Interestingly, the act actually lowered the tax on foreign molasses in the hopes that colonists would stop smuggling molasses illegally and buy legal molasses and pay the tax. But the Act included very strict enforcement measures, which angered colonists.

In 1765, the British Parliament passed the Stamp Act, which taxed all printed materials in the colonies. Because this tax affected nearly every colonist, there was considerable opposition. Colonists argued that the tax was unjust because the colonies were not represented in Parliament. Representatives from nine colonies met at the so-called Stamp Act Congress. They drafted a petition to Great Britain declaring that only the colonial assemblies had the power to levy taxes on the colonies. Colonists, led by the Sons of Liberty, organized boycotts of British goods. In 1766, Parliament repealed the Stamp Act.

The power struggle was not over, however. In the Declaratory Act of 1766, Great Britain declared that it had the authority to tax and make decisions for the colonies in all cases. They then passed the Townshend Acts, a series of new taxes on basic items such as glass, tea, and paper. The colonists resumed the boycott, and the British sent troops to the colonies, primarily Boston, to control the situation. By 1770, tensions between the soldiers and colonists were very high. On March 5, 1770, Bostonians began taunting and throwing objects at a group of soldiers. As the crowd became more aggressive, the soldiers opened fire, killing 5 citizens in what became known as "the Boston Massacre." In response, the colonists began to organize their resistance, forming "committees of correspondence" that directed protests and communicated between colonies.

In response to growing unrest in the colonies, the British repealed all taxes but the one on tea. Then, in 1773, Britain passed the Tea Act, which allowed the East India Company to sell its tea at a lower price than that charged by colonial merchants, costing the colonial merchants business. In protest, members of the Sons of Liberty boarded three ships in Boston Harbor and dumped their cargos of tea overboard in what came to be known as the "Boston Tea Party."

The crisis escalated when Britain punished the colonists for the Tea Party in 1774 by passing the Coercive Acts, called the Intolerable Acts by the colonists. The Coercive Acts closed Boston Harbor until the colonists had paid for the ruined tea and required Bostonians to lodge British soldiers in their homes. The colonists decided that it was time for stronger resistance, and, in September 1774, representatives from all colonies but Georgia met in Philadelphia for the Continental Congress. The Congress drafted a petition to Parliament demanding the repeal of all acts passed since 1763 and organized the boycott of all British goods and trade. The Congress also warned the Massachusetts people to prepare to defend themselves against British attack. That attack would come in April 1775, beginning the American Revolution.

Resources for Objective 5.C.1.a: