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1763 - 1773 Precusors to Revolution

1763 - 1773 Precusors to Revolution - The initial stimulus...

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The initial stimulus for rebellion came from the gentry (rich & well-born) who resented Parliament’s efforts to curtail their rights within the British Empire. As relations with Britain deteriorated, particularly after 1765, the traditional leaders of colonial society encouraged the ordinary folk to join the protest. Newspapers, sermons, and pamphlets helped transform what had begun as a squabble among the gentry into a mass movement. Colonial Society at a Glimpse Population continued to grow with ethnic and racial diversity Extraordinarily young population – nearly 60% of Americans were under age 21 Most men who fought in the Revolution were children or had not been born when Stamp Acts were implemented Thus, continuing political mobilization must have been cause of independence High level of prosperity in general – per capita wealth, including blacks & whites, was ₤37.4 Would have purchased 310 bushels of wheat, 1600 lbs of rice, 11 cows, or 6 horses Typical family (Father, Mother, & 3 kids) would have had money left over to purchase consumer goods Wealth was not evenly distributed Southern Colonies enjoyed highest levels of personal wealth – explained in part by ownership of slaves (90% in South) Only New England lagged noticeably behind b/c relative inability to produce large amounts of exports for world markets The English Perspective Ultimate responsibility for preserving empire fell to King George III (became king in 1760 at age 22) Grew up loveless and nearly fatherless (father died in 1751) – grew to hate people associated with his grandfather George II Adopted habit of correcting people for small faults Planned to play aggressively in politics Whigs (powerful, loosely associated group of men) had set policy and controlled patronage for decades George II had accepted this so long as Whigs did not interfere with army George III selected as chief minister the Earl of Bute (a Scot), outraging the Whigs By 1763, Bute left office Series of ministers follows until 1770 – chronic instability created absence of long-term policy George III showed little interest in colonies through this period Members of Parliament who drafted statutes gradually drove a wedge between the colonies and Britain Accurate information proved extremely difficult to obtain – 4-week voyage delayed messages & created misunderstanding Often unable to understand each other’s positions Parliamentary Sovereignty is central element English viewed Parliament as dominant element – “to make laws in all cases whatsoever” Dividing/sharing sovereignty made no sense to English ruling class The American Perspective Crisis in imperial relations forced colonists to define and then defend principles of their own political culture By 1763, certain fundamental American beliefs had become clear Provincial bodies had assumed a major role in policymaking & routine administration, including taxation & expenditure Therefore unreasonable for British to suddenly insist on supremacy of Parliament
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