Prelude to War: 1768-1774
Declaration of Independence


At the same time, Parliament passed the New York Restraining Act, which suspended the New York Assembly until it complied with the Quartering Act. When it refused to comply, the New York Assembly was dissolved in October 1767 and a new assembly was elected, which also refused to comply. A third assembly was elected in 1769 and complied with the act, but were considered traitors by Patriots.

Tensions rose in the colonies over the Townshend Acts and the resulting boycott, so that Commander in Chief of the British Army in America Lt. General Thomas Gage occupied Boston in October 1768. In 1770, Parliament finally repealed the Townshend Act. Tension continued to be high in Boston as British troops continued to occupy the city and guard official offices.

On March 5, a mob taunted British soldiers guarding the Customs House until they fired and five citizens were mortally wounded. Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty would call it the Boston Massacre. Paul Revere made a famous inaccurate drawing of the event, which was used as propaganda against the British. After several months delay to allow tempers to calm, John Adams successfully defended the soldiers in court.

In June 1772, the British merchant ship, Gaspee, ran aground in Narragansett Bay near Providence, Rhode Island and was burned by colonists. In May 1773, Parliament passed the Tea Act, which was meant to save the East India Company from bankrupcy by reducing the importation duties so severely that it could undersell smuggled Dutch tea. Delivery of the tea was prevented in New York, Philadelphia and Charleston.

When the Sons of Liberty would not allow the tea ships to dock in Boston, Massachusetts Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson would not clear the three tea ships to depart Boston Harbor with their load of tea. So on December 16, several Sons of Liberty disguised as Mohawk Indians boarded the ships and dumped the tea into the harbor. This tea party inspired tea parties in other cities.

In response to the Boston Tea Party, Parliament passed the Intolerable Acts in March 1774. They included: the Boston Port Bill which closed Boston Harbor until reparations were made for the tea, Administration of Justice Act which specified that royal officials had to be tried in English courts, Massachusetts Government Act which annulled the state's charter, enforcement of the Quartering Act and the Quebec Act which rearranged Canadian borders. The stage was now set for organized resistance.







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