t of four North American warswaged from 1689 to 1763 between the British and the French, with their respectiveNative American and colonial allies, for domination in the New World. Britain’seventual victory stripped France of its North American empire, thus concluding theseries of conflicts (King George’s War; King William’s War; Queen Anne’s War),which were known collectively as the French and Indian War. Although the warbegan in America, it expanded (1756-1763) into Europe as the Seven Years’ War,and into Asia as the Third Carnatic War. In winning the war, however, the Britishgovernment had virtually doubled its national debt and acquired more territory thanit could control.
Attempts by British politicians to reform the administration of theempire and to raise revenue by taxing the colonies soon antagonized the colonistsand eventually precipitated the American Revolution. The French and Indian War, of which England was victorious, allowed theBritish to become the prominent power in the North American continent, whichcontributed to the restlessness of the colonials. The peace settlement at Paris in1763 expelled all French power from the North American continent. This allowedGreat Britain to emerge as the predominant authority in North America. The wardetermined that English rather than French ideas and institutions would alsodominate North America.
To quell any more post-war uprisings by the Indians,Parliament administered its Proclamation of 1763, which prohibited colonialsettlement beyond the Appalachian mountains. The Americans were upset that theywere not allowed to advance westward and revolted accordingly by organizing a fleetof roughly 1,000 wagons to migrate on trails to the west. The restlessness andimpatience of the eager colonials represented their strong desire to take over theentire continent. This early and mild example of rebelliousness characterizes astrong ambitious people ready to free themselves from the chains of the crown. The Stamp Act, a taxation system adopted by Parliament in 1765 in order tofinancially tap the colonies for aid in war debt (140 million, accumulated by theSeven Years War) united the colonies against the crown in a major step towardsrevolution. The Stamp Act required that all legal documents, licenses, commercialcontracts, deeds, mortgages, newspapers, pamphlets, and playing cards carry a taxstamp issued and sold by the British government.
Passed without debate, it arousedwidespread opposition among the colonists, who argued that because they were notrepresented in Parliament, they could not legally be taxed without their consent. Additionally, according to Benjamin Franklin in his testimony against the Stamp Actbefore the House of Commons in London, “there is not gold and silver enough in thecolonies to pay the stamp duty for one year. ” To the colonists, the Stamp Actviolated the right of English subjects not to be taxed without representation; itundermined the independence of their colonial assemblies; and it appeared to be onestep in a plot to deprive them of their liberty. The unity of the American colonists intheir opposition to the Stamp Act contributed substantially to the rise of Americannationalist sentiment, and the conflict between the colonists and the Britishgovernment over the Stamp Act should be considered one of the fundamentalimmediate causes of the American Revolution. The Townshend Acts of 1767 indirectly led to a series of events precedingAmerican revolutionary activity.
The Townshend Acts, named after the Britishchancellor of the Exchequer Charles Townshend, were measures passed by theBritish Parliament politically and financially affecting the American colonies. Thefirst measure called for the suspension of the New York Assembly, thus penalizing itfor not complying with the Quartering Act, enacted two years earlier, requiring thecolonies to provide adequate quartering of British troops in the New World. Thesecond measure, called the Revenue Act, imposed customs duties on colonialimports of glass, red and white lead, paints, paper, and tea. The Townshend Actswere tremendously unpopular with the colonials. The colonials conjured up non-importation agreements against the Townshend Acts and smuggled tea atinexpensive prices.
These rebellious reactions increased particularly inMassachusetts. In response this active criticism of the measures, the British crowndissolved the Massachusetts legislature in 1768. Subsequently, the Boston Massacreoccurred in March 1770, when British troops fired upon American demonstrators. The Townshend Acts faltered in revenue production, though it did almost cause asevere colonial uprising. These events brought the colonies closer to revolution.England’s debt from the Seven Years War induced Parliament to suffocate theambitious colonists with a myriad of .