A.P. U.S. History Notes
Chapter 7: “The Road to Revolution”
~ 1763 – 1775 ~
The Deep Roots of Revolution
In a broad sense, the American Revolution began when the first colonists set foot
The war may have lasted for eight years, but a sense of independence had already
begun to develop because London was over 3000 miles away.
Sailing across the Atlantic in a ship often took 6 to 8 weeks.
Survivors felt physically and spiritually separated from Europe.
Colonists in America, without influence from superiors, felt that they were
fundamentally different from England, and more independent.
Many began to think of themselves as Americans.
The Mercantile Theory
Of the 13 original colonies, only Georgia was formally planted by the British
The rest were started by companies, religious groups, land speculators, etc…
The British embrace a theory that justified their control of the colonies:
A country’s economic wealth could be measured by the amount of gold or
silver in its treasury.
To amass gold and silver, a country had to export more than it imported.
Countries with colonies were at an advantage, because the colonies could
supply the mother country with materials, wealth, supplies, etc…
For America, that meant giving Britain all the ships, ships’ stores, sailors, and
trade that they needed and wanted.
Also, they had to grow tobacco and sugar for England that Brits would
otherwise have to buy from other countries.
Mercantilist Trammels on Trade
The Navigation Laws were the most famous of the laws to enforce mercantilism.
The first of these was enacted in 1650, and was aimed at rival Dutch shippers
who were elbowing their way into the American carrying trade.
The Navigation Laws restricted commerce from the colonies to England (and
back) to only English ships, and none other.
Other laws stated that European goods consigned to America had to land first
in England, where custom duties could be collected.
Also, some products could only be shipped to England and not other nations.
Settlers were even restricted in what they could manufacture at home; they couldn’t
make woolen cloth and beaver hats to export (they could make them for
Americans had no currency, but they were constantly buying things from Britain,
so that gold and silver was constantly draining out of America, forcing some to
even trade and barter.
Eventually, the colonists were forced to print paper money, which depreciated.
Colonial laws could be voided by the Privy Council, though this privilege was used
sparingly (469 times out of 8563 laws).
Still, colonists were inflamed by its use.