A Timeline of events leading up to the Revolutionary War, By Curt Smothers All wars have both long-term and

immediate causes. The long-term causes of the Revolutionary War dated back to the end of the French and Indian War (11 years before the Declaration of Independence) when the American colonies became a burdensome expense to the British crown. The immediate causes of the rebellion was the resistance of colonists, who viewed British taxation and the Acts of Parliament designed for said collection as intolerable. * Salutary Neglect Abandoned Before the French and Indian (or Seven-Years) War, Britain was not concerned much with interfering in their American colonies. Practicing what historians have termed "salutary neglect," Parliament permitted a sort of quasi-independence through the auspices of appointed royal governors, who, for the most part worked well with the variety of colonial legislatures and judges. * Britain Goes Broke Seven years of war with the French and their allies, however, had taken a heavy financial toll on the British treasury. Millions of pounds in debt, the British needed to do something. The already overtaxed British citizenry would not tolerate tax increases, so the logical next step was to ask the American colonists to ante up and pay some of the costs of dispatching and maintaining the British army, who protected colonists from the marauding French and their scary Native American allies. * The Not-So-Sweet Sugar Tax One of the first taxation measures was the so-called "Sugar Tax" of 1763. The tax was partially a protective tariff against non-British produced sugar and molasses at the rate of sixpence per gallon, a hefty tax in those days. Since sugar and molasses were the staple for New England rum producers, colonists were hit hard and chafed over such restrictive business taxation. * Stamping Out the Stamp Act Close on the heels of the Sugar Tax was the even more hated Stamp Act of 1765, which the colonists found totally unacceptable. As a way to pay the expenses for British troops in the Colonies, the Act placed a tax on just about all reading material and legal documents (including rather oddly, play cards). Newspapers, wills, summons, deeds - everything required a tax collector's stamp. To rub salt in the wounds, violators were tried in the British Navy courts. Furor over the Stamp Act resulted in riots and attacks on tax collectors. The tax was so universally unpopular that the colonies convened a "Stamp Act Congress" to coordinate resistance and formalize complaints. The British, who felt that the tax was only fair, nevertheless rescinded the Stamp Act, not so much in recognition of the colonists' complaints, but as a matter of political expediency. * Townshend Raises Money Next came the Townshend Acts of 1767, which, again were tax revenue bills. These acts were named for Charles Townshend, Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer (Treasury Secretary). Their purpose was to raise money to pay colonial governors and judges, whom the British planned to remove from any local control. The real purpose of the acts were to show that the British Parliament had the right to tax

the colonies. Like the Stamp Act, the Townshend Acts met with resistance, a resulting British crackdown and the dispatch of even more British troops to keep the peace in revolutionary trouble spots like Boston. Friction between British troops and Boston citizens was behind the so-called "Boston Massacre" in December of 1770. Shortly after the incident, though, the Townshend acts were repealed, except for the tax on tea (which the British stubbornly left in effect to prove that Parliament could still tax the colonials). * The Furor Over Tea Things remained rather quiet in the colonies until the British Tea Act of 1773 started the controversy all over again. The problem was not that the colonists had to pay any more for their tea, but that Britain granted the British East India Company the right to sell its tea direct to the colonies. Previously, the tea had to be shipped from England on British shipped, whereupon it was taxed when sold to colonial merchants. Worse yet, the British granted a tax exemption to the Company, which could in turn undercut colonial tea merchants, who still had to pay the tax. The Boston Tea Party of 1773 was the Bostonian's response to what must have appeared as an 18th century corporate bailout. When Samuel Adams and his group of 150 Boston protestors decked out as Mohawk Indians boarded tea-laden ships at the Boston harbor, they broke open the chests and tossed the tea overboard. * The Coercive Acts The British government response was swift and punitive. In what were known as the "coercive acts," the British Parliament passed a series of punitive laws that closed the port of Boston, required colonists to house British soldiers in occupied facilities (including private homes), exempted British officials from local prosecution, and reorganized the government of Massachusetts in a way that took power away from elected officials and made a British general the Royal Governor. * Then the "Shot Heard Around the World" All the foregoing took place in successive Acts from May through June 1774. Less than a year later Massachusetts would be the match that lit the tinderbox of tense and resentful relations between colonists and the British authorities. The immediate cause of the shooting war to come, then, was the refusal of the rebels to disperse when they blocked the British advance towards Concord in April 1775. Blood had been shed and the die was cast.

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