Unit 3: Causes of American Revolution

General Timeline
General Map

Map # 1: North America

APUSH Unit 2_ Causes of American Rev Map
Course Content

French & Indian War (1754-1763):


Initial Rivalries

Colonists' Resentment of Britain & Division among Colonies

  • The colonists hated that during the reign of George I & II, Parliament had significant power over them

    • George I & II were German, unfamiliar with English life, so they gave more power to Parliament

    • Only favored the wealthy colonists as they believed having strict control over all the colonists was expensive

    • Prime Minister Robert Walpole relaxed Navigation Acts, believing it would stimulate commerce

      • This was actually good for the colonies

    • Colonial legislatures believed themselves to be better than Parliament

      • Believed they themselves could levy taxes, appoint governors, etc.

      • Privy Council in England could veto colonial laws, but colonists could alter the law and circumvent this

  • British authority over colonies was bad & decentralized

    • No government agency in London solely controlled the colonies: Some agencies controlled Britain + its colonies, but not solely the 13 colonies

    • British-appointed governors were incompetent & often resided in England themselves​

      • Appointed a substitute to live in the colony

    • English customs officials would allow bribery

  • The colonies were divided among themselves and had more loyalty to Britain than among themselves

    • Albany Plan sought to bridge this gap

      • Proposed by Benjamin Franklin, had each colonial gov subordinate to a central gov

      • Central gov was appointed by British king

      • "Grand Council" was legislature, had representatives from all colonies

      • No one approved this plan

    • More colonial settlement created a continuous line of settlement along the coast

      • Allowed for intercolonial highway & postal service, bridging the gap​


French Expansion in the Americas

  • King Louis XIV of France sought to expand his empire in the Americas

    • Louis Joliet & Father Jacques Marquette traveled down the Mississippi river to its intersection w/ the Arkansas river in 1670s​

    • Rene-Robert Cavalier went to delta of Mississippi River in 1682, named it Louisiana after Louis XIV

    • Port of New Orleans was founded in 1718 in Louisiana

    • Fort Louisbourg was located in present-day Eastern Canada to guard the St. Lawrence River

    • Capital of Quebec was fortified

  • France claimed lots of land in American interior

    • Had most land west of Mississippi river that wasn't claimed by Spain

  • France had good relations with the Indians

    • Traded fur with them & even married them

    • Allied with many of them against the English


Initial Anglo-French Rivalries

  • Iroquois Confederacy (one of the largest native groups in the area) was neutral in Anglo-French conflict

    • Came to dominate Northeast region after defeating the Hurons in 1640s

    • Had commercial relationships with both English & French

      • Avoided being too close to either European power to maintain their independence

    • Ohio valley was the main area of conflict

      • French claimed it, and some neutral Indian groups lived there

      • English were expanding there

  • Glorious Revolution (1689) put William III of Netherlands in charge, who previously opposed French expansion in the Netherlands area​

    • Main reason for Anglo-French rivalries

  • King William's War (1689-1697) was a neutral victory for both sides, but Queen Anne's War (1701-1713) was English victory

    • Queen Anne's War is also called War of Spanish Succession

    • In Treaty of Utrecht (1713), England got many French lands, including some in Canada

  • In King George's War (1744-1748), English occupied Fort Louisbourg but was forced to abandon it

  • After King George's War, Iroquois decided to side with the English

    • French were angered and thus built fortresses in the Ohio Valley in 1749

    • English thus built their own fortresses


Main War 

Start of War (1754)

George Washington led a Virginian militia to the Ohio valley. They built Fort Necessity & tried to attack French Fort Duquesne. French countered & trapped the Virginians in Fort Necessity, 1/3 of Virginians died, Washington surrendered.

First Phase (1754-1756)

This was before the war spread to Europe. Britain didn't provide much assistance to the colonies & failed to prevent French troops from arriving in Canada. English Gen. Edward Braddock failed in 1755 to retake Fort Necessity. The natives of Ohio valley were constantly attacking the English. 

Second Phase (1756-1758)

War spread to Europe as England & France took opposite sides in European Seven Years' War (1756-63). English Secretary of State William Pitt took control of war, forced military service for some colonists, forced other colonists to provide shelter to soldiers, without compensation, causing riots. 

Third Phase (1758-1763)

Pitt passed control of war to colonies, increased recruitment for army. French suffered from bad harvest of 1756, so English Gen. Jeffrey Amherst & James Wolfe took Louisbourg in 1758. In 1759, Wolfe led siege of Quebec, defeating army under French Com. Marquis de Montaigne (both generals died in war). French surrendered in 1760. 

Results of War

British Territorial Gains & Proclamation of 1763

  • In Peace of Paris (1763), English gained lots of French territories

    • France ceded many West Indian islands, Indian colonies, and Canada to England

    • English also won all lands east of Mississippi river

    • France ceded Louisiana territory to Spain

  • Now, Britain viewed its colonies more for territorial purposes rather than economic purposes

    • Wanted more land instead of more colonial wealth

    • More land means more people, so Britain could tax its people

  • Many disagreed on how Britain should deal with its new territory

    • Some believed westward expansion creates conflict with Indians

    • Some believed existing 13 colonies should expand westward

    • Others believed new colonies should be made

  • Britain issued the Proclamation of 1763 after the Ottawa chieftain Pontiac attacked some English for settling in Ohio Valley

    • Was a treaty line that limited English expansion and reserved land for the natives

    • This allowed Parliament to control colonists' westward expansion & extract the benefits of the western land before the colonists could

    • It gave more land to the English, but the natives agreed to it as it'd keep them safe

    • John Stuart was in charge of relations with Indians in Southern Colonies

    • Sir William Johnson was in charge of relations with Indians in Northern Colonies

      • Married a Mohawk woman, Mary Bryant


Economic Collapse & Internal Rebellions After the War

  • Colonial economy had a slight depression after the war

    • During the war, Britain was providing lots of funds to the colonies, helping boost their economy

    • After the war, these funds stopped coming, declining the colonial economy

  • In addition to economic collapse, there were internal rebellions regarding class differences in the colonies

    • In New York, wealthy landowners rented their property to poor farmers

      • These poor farmers wanted to actually own the land they cultivated on

      • To protest, the poor farmers stopped paying taxes, but this movement failed

    • In Vermont (which was part of New York), the same problem: Poor farmers wanted to own the land owned by the wealthy landlords

      • Ethan Allen led these farmers (Green Mountain Farmers) & made Vermont an independent state in 1791​

      • Helped eliminate some of the wealthy estates

    • In 1763, a group from Western PA ("Paxton Boys") went to Philadelphia to demand relief from colonial taxes & money to defend against Indians

    • In 1771, Regulator movement in NC was where small farmers (Regulators) hated high taxes

      • They attacked tax collectors

      • NC Gov. William Tryon raised a militia to attack the 2000 Regulators

        • At Battle of Alamance (1771), Regulators lost


Causes of American Revolution:


Initial British Taxation Acts

Initial British Resentment, Sugar Act, and Mutiny Act

  • Colonists started to resent British during the war

    • British regarded the colonists as militarily inept as the colonists gave no financial contribution to the war

    • Britain thus tightened control on the colonies

    • Colonists grew closer together as they resented the British

  • Britain had lots of war debts & sought to raise taxes on the colonists

    • British landlords resisted tax changes, so Parliament decided to tax the colonists

    • Britain also placed troops on the border of the Proclamation of 1763, adding to its financial strain

  • King George III sought to promote tax-raising

    • He was immature & aging, so he was unstable​

    • He put power in a few of his trusted ministers

    • His Prime Minister, George Grenville, approved taxing the colonists to gain revenue for Britain

  • Mutiny Act (1765) put British soldiers in the colonies

    • Also, British ships would patrol the Atlantic Ocean to catch smugglers (who disobeyed the Navigation Acts)

  • British limited the colonial manufacturing industries so they don't compete with British industry

  • Sugar Act (1764) raised taxes on sugar to prevent smuggling sugar from French/Spanish West Indies

  • Currency Act (1764) banned all paper money


Stamp Act (1765) & its Effects

  • Stamp Act was passed on 1765, implementing taxes on all written documents

    • Many hated this as it affected everyone: Nearly everyone had some sort of written documents​

    • Colonists hated this as they realized the tax was meant to raise money for the British crown

  • Virginia House of Burgesses advocated for a collective voice against the Stamp Act

    • Collective voice was called "trumpet of sedition"

    • Patrick Henry was the leader of this group, passed resolutions called "Virginia Resolves"

      • Said that only colonial assemblies can levy taxes

  • MA Assembly member James Otis led the "Stamp Act Congress" (Oct 1765) in NY

    • Delegates from 9 colonies came, petitioned the King to repeal the act​

    • Parliament responded, said that the colonists owed all subordination to Parliament

  • Many anti-Stamp act riots broke out, led by group called Sons of Liberty

    • Attacked stamp agents & those who supported British, including MA lieutenant gov. Thomas Hutchinson

  • Colonists boycotted British goods to protest the Stamp Act, so Britain repealed it

    • New Prime Minister, Marquis of Rockingham​, repealed it in 1766

    • Parliament protested that the colonists would similarly protest all the other acts, so Rockingham passed Declaratory Act (1766), saying Parliament has authority over colonies


Townshend Acts (1767)

  • English believed repealing taxes on colonists would increase taxes on the English people, so King dismissed Rockingham

    • William Pitt (general during the war) became prime minister, but he was really weak & old, that his chancellor, Charles Townshend, did the work

  • Townshend passed the Quartering Act (1765), an amendment to the Mutiny Act of 1765

    • Colonists were required to provide shelter to British soldiers

    • Colonists believed this to be like another tax

    • MA & NY assemblies refused to agree to the act, so Townshend disbanded NY assembly until they'd agree

  • Townshend passed Townshend Acts in 1767, putting a tax on all goods imported from England

    • Included lead, paint, paper, tea, and others

    • Townshend believed this was fair as it was a tax on non-colonial goods unlike the stamp act

  • MA Assembly circulated a letter (known as the circular) to each colony to protest Stamp Act

    • British Secretary of State Lord Hillsborough circulated his own letter, threatening to dissolve the MA Assembly

    • All the colonies, however, supported MA

  • In 1768, many merchants organized a boycott of English goods to protest the Townshend Acts

  • In 1767, Townshend died, so Lord North took over

    • Sought to limit taxation to prevent unity among the colonists

    • Repealed all taxes except for tax on tea in 1770


Later Resentment & More Acts

Boston Massacre (1770)

  • Britain put 4 army regiments inside Boston as the Bostonians were harassing customs officials

    • Colonists believed this to be oppression

    • During their off hours, the soldiers were competing with colonists for jobs at local stores, further angering the colonists

    • Once, some British soldiers came to a shipyard to ask for a job, but colonists who worked there got mad & had a skirmish with them

  • In March 1770, a group of people called "liberty boys" threw rocks & snowballs at the customs house

    • This event happened a few days after the shipyard incident

    • British Capt. Thomas Preston lined up soldiers in front of the building to protect it

    • One colonist knocked out a British soldier, so another soldier fired, killing 5 colonists


Tea Act & Boston Tea Party (1773)

  • Many colonists hated the British & spread resentment pamphlets throughout the colonies

  • In 1772, Rhode Island colonists boarded a British ship called Gaspee & set it to fire (Gaspee Incident)

  • The British East India Company was going bankrupt due to all the boycotts, so it passed Tea Act (1773)

    • This act exempted the company from taxes on tea that the colonists had to pay

    • Angered the colonists, believed it to be another unjust tax on them

    • Prime Minister Lord North believed the colonists would be happy as it would lower the price of tea

      • Colonists didn't care about this

  • People thus boycotted tea

    • Women played an important role in boycott as they were the main consumers of tea​

      • Mercy Otis Warren wrote literature about resentment of the British

    • People sought to prevent British ships from bringing tea into the port

  • In the Boston Tea Party (1773), several colonists dressed as Mohawk Indians boarded 3 British ships and dumped all their cargo of tea into Boston Harbor


Intolerable Acts & Quebec Act (1774)

  • After Boston Tea Party, King George III & Lord North passed Coercive Acts (1774)

    • Also known as intolerable acts, tightened control over the colonies

    • Closed Port of Boston, reduced colonial self-governance

    • Forced quartering of British soldiers in empty houses or even barns

  • Later passed Quebec Act (1774), making French-speaking lands in Canada & Ohio valley part of a region called Quebec

    • This was a Roman Catholic land

    • Colonists hated this as they believed England was about to impose Anglicanism on them

      • This was because Britain imposed Catholicism in Quebec​


Start of American Revolution

American Philosophies of Governance

  • Colonists believed their government should not be corrupt

    • Believed the government should be powerful enough to respond to the needs of the people

    • Believed the government should have "checks and balances" so it doesn't abuse its power

      • Multiple branches of the government should "check" the other branches' power

      • England had a balanced constitution, dividing power among monarchy, aristocracy, and commoners

        • This didn't work because the monarchs exercised absolute authority, and the other groups couldn't check their power

  • Colonists believed there should be a written constitution, and its assemblies should have representatives from each region

    • Hated that Parliament didn't have representatives from each British region

      • Rallied under the cry "no taxation without representation"

      • Believed each region of the British empire should have representation in Parliament

    • Believed British empire should be a commonwealth where each colony rules itself and is loosely unified by a king


New Governments & First Continental Congress (1774)

  • The colonies attempted to autonomize their governments from Britain

    • Many people enforced boycotts and met as assemblies to resist British rule

    • Colonists organized Committees of Correspondence to resist British rule

      • Samuel Adams (cousin of 2nd president John Adams) created the first one in MA​

      • VA created an intercolonial committee of correspondence

        • Governor disbanded it, so they met at Raleigh Tavern (1774)

        • Believed a Continental Congress was needed to discuss resistance plans

  • In Sept 1774, delegates from all colonies but GA met at Carpenters Hall, Philadelphia

    • Known as First Continental Congress

    • Made a list of grievances against Parliament

    • Passed resolutions to make military preparations to defend against British troops in case of war

      • Especially needed in Boston as most of the violence occurred there

    • Agreed to stop all trade with Britain

      • Formed a "Continental Association" to enforce this​

    • Agreed to meet next spring, making the Continental Congress a continuing organization

  • To make the colonists less angry, Lord North passed the Conciliatory Propositions (1775)

    • Instead of Parliament directly taxing the colonists, Parliament would make the colonial assemblies tax the colonists on their behalf

    • Did this to divide the colonial moderates and extremists, but it failed


Battles of Lexington and Concord (1775)

Massachusetts farmers (known as "minutemen") gathered arms/munitions to fight the British on a minute's notice

Gen. Thomas Gage, a British General dispatched in Lexington (near Boston) heard about a gunpowder storehouse created by the minutemen in Concord

Gen. Gage sent 1000 soldiers to Concord (18 miles from Lexington) to take over the storehouse

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While the British were returning to Lexington, the local farmers, hiding behind trees, shot the British soldiers, killing many

British troops arrived in Concord the next day, and local minutemen were waiting outside. British troops fired, killing many minutemen, and burned the storehouse

The Bostonians were secretly watching Gen. Cage, and in the night, 2 horsemen, William Dawes and Paul Revere, rode to Concord to warn the locals

Important Terms & People