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PinkMonkey Study Guide - American History

3. 2 The Events Leading to the War of Independence

The Gaspee Incident

Due to the strong anti-British feelings aroused by the Townshend Acts, the Parliament in London was compelled to repeal it. And for years, there was peace between the colonies and the mother country. Hostile feelings surfaced, when in 1772, the "Gaspee" incident shook the British throne. This incident occurred in Rhode Island. To stop the smuggling of goods from the numerous coves and inlets of the Island, the British Government had sent a ship "Gaspee" to guard the seacoast of Rhode Island. Due to the tide, the ship was pushed onto a sandbar. When some of the members of the "sons of Liberty" group, Rhode Island, heard this, they took over the stranded ship, arrested the captain with his crew, and set the ship on fire.

The king was shocked. The British government immediately instructed a commission of inquiry, to investigate the "Gaspee" affair. Further, it gave the commission the power to send suspects to England for a trial. But the commission could not do much in America, because witnesses to the incident refused to testify against the people involved in the incident. So the committee had to return home midway. The incident only served to anger the ’Patriots’ further.

Another interesting phenomenon that resulted due to the Gaspee affair was that a committee of correspondence was set up in each colony. The committee consisted of men who decided to send and receive messages on matters concerning mutual concern. This network of responsible patriots went on to play a leading role in the struggle against Britain.

The Boston Tea Party

In 1773, Britain passed the Tea Act. By this Act, about 17 million pounds of surplus tea (assets of the East India Company, India) was proposed to be sold in America, by under selling it. Since the tea would be sold at an extremely cheap rate by bypassing the traders, the wholesalers in America were going to be seriously affected. For this reason, the Act was fiercely resisted by the colonies. Since British tea was already being boycotted because of the heavy duties on it, the Act in America was seen as a bribe from the British Authorities.

In Boston, the opposition against the Tea Act took a dramatic form. Here some men dressed as Indians boarded a ship containing tea, at the Harbor and dumped the entire consignment into the sea. This incident is known as the Boston Tea Party. While the people in Boston rejoiced, the British Parliament passed certain laws to punish the colony. They passed what the colonists popularly called the Intolerable Acts in 1774. Under these Acts, the Boston port was closed until due compensation was paid to the government (London) for the lost tea. Further, the British troops were re-stationed in the city.

The Boston Tea Party

Exhibit 3.1

These measures were just the first few in a series of laws passed by the parliament in Britain. The British authorities, under the Administration of Justice Act - announced that if any royal official in the colonies was prevented from carrying out their duties the suspects could be brought to Britain for a trial. Besides, the Massachusetts Government Act gave a hard blow to the self-government (in Massachusetts) by depriving its legislature of many powers. Instead, a royal governor was appointed - who had the sole right to call town meetings. Members of the Jury, who were always elected in Massachusetts, were now, to be summoned by the sheriff.

These Acts obviously, made the colonies furious. Something, had to be done to fight the unjust, ’Intolerable Acts.’

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Table of Contents

3.0 - Chronology of Major Events in this Period
3.1 - Causes
3.2 - The Events Leading tothe war of Independence
3.3 - The First Continental Congress
3.4 - The declaration of Independence
3.5 - The Course of the War
3.6 - War and Peace
3.7 - Articles ofConfederation
3.8 - The Formation and Ratification of the Constitution
3.9 - Points to Remember

Chapter 4


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