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America: 1763-1776


Key Terms and Events

terms Key Terms and Events


Committees of Correspondence  -  Committees of Correspondence were organized by New England patriot leader Samuel Adams and made up a system of communication between patriot leaders in the towns of New England and eventually throughout the colonies. Committees of Correspondence provided the political organization necessary to unite the colonies in opposition to Parliament.
Declaratory Act  -  The Declaratory Act stated that Parliament could legislate for the colonies in all cases. Passed just after the repeal of the Stamp Act, most colonists interpreted the act as a face-saving mechanism and nothing more. However, Parliament continually interpreted the act to its broadest extent and continued to try to legislate in the colonies.
Letters From a Pennsylvania Farmer -  This series of twelve letters published by John Dickinson denounced the Townshend duties, demonstrating that many of the arguments employed against the Stamp Act were valid in regard to the Townshend duties as well. The letters inspired anti-parliament sentiment throughout the colonies.
Loyal Nine  -  The Loyal Nine was a group of Boston merchants and artisans that formed during the Stamp Act crisis to lead the public in attempts to drive the stamp distributors from the city. This was one of the first steps toward political organization in the colonies.
Quartering Act  -  The Quartering Act was enacted in 1765, requiring colonial assemblies to pay for certain supplies for troops stationed within their respective colonies. In 1767, New York, the colony in which the greatest number of troops were stationed, refused to comply with the law, provoking parliament to threaten the nullification of all laws passed by the New York colonial legislature.
Salutary Neglect  -  Salutary neglect refers to the state of Anglo-American relations before the end of the French and Indian War. British Parliament did not interfere in the government of the colonies, and America existed in relative political isolation.
Sons of Liberty  -  The Sons of Liberty were the successors of the Loyal Nine as the leaders of the opposition to the Stamp Act. They brought a new level of sophistication to the mass demonstrations, prohibiting their followers to carry weapons and using strict discipline and military formations to direct the protestors.
Stamp Act  -  The Stamp Act required Americans to buy special watermarked paper for newspapers and all legal documents. Violators faced juryless trials in vice-admiralty courts, just as under the Sugar Act. The Stamp Act provoked the first truly organized response to British impositions.
Sugar Act  -  The Sugar Act lowered the duty on foreign-produced molasses from six pence per gallon to 3 pence per gallon, in attempts to discourage smuggling. The act further stipulated that Americans could export many commodities, including lumber, iron, skins, and whalebone, to foreign countries, only if they passed through British ports first. The act also placed a heavy tax on formerly duty- free Madeira wine from Portugal. The terms of the act and its methods of enforcement outraged many colonists.
Townshend Duties  -  Parliament passed the Revenue Act of 1767 on July 2, 1767. Popularly referred to as the Townshend duties, the Revenue Act taxed glass, lead, paint, paper, and tea entering the colonies. The colonists objected to the fact that it was clearly designed more to raise revenue than to regulate trade in a manner favorable to the British Empire.
Virginia Resolves  -  In response to the Stamp Act, Patrick Henry persuaded the Virginia House of Burgesses to adopt several strongly worded resolutions that denied Parliament's right to tax the colonies. These resolutions were known as the Virginia Resolves, and persuaded many other colonial legislatures to adopt similar positions.
Virtual Representation  -  The concept of virtual representation was employed by Prime Minister George Grenville to explain why Parliament could legally tax the colonists even though the colonists could not elect any members of Parliament. The theory of virtual representation held that the members of Parliament did not only represent their specific geographical constituencies, but rather that they took into consideration the well being of all British subjects when deliberating on legislation.
Writs of Assistance  -  Writs of assistance were general search warrants, which allowed customs officers to search any building or ship they thought might contain smuggled goods, even without probable cause for suspicion. The colonists considered the writs to be a grave infringement upon personal liberties.


Boston Massacre  -  On March 5, 1770, a crowd led by sailor Crispus Attucks formed to demonstrate against the customs agents. When a British officer tried to disperse the crowd, he and his men were bombarded with rocks and dared to shoot by the unruly mob. After being knocked to the ground, one soldier finally did shoot, and others followed. Five people were killed, including Attucks, who is often considered the first casualty of the Revolutionary War.
Massacre of St. George's Fields  -  After John Wilkes was denied his seat in Parliament, some 30,000 of his followers, known as Wilkesites, gathered on St. George's Fields, outside the prison where he was being held, to protest his arrest. When the protestors began throwing objects, soldiers fired into the crowd, killing eleven. The so- called Massacre of St. George's Fields emphasized the disagreement in Britain over colonial rights and spurred the movement that grew up in support of Wilkes' cause.
Stamp Act Congress  -  In response to the Stamp Act, and representing a new level of pan-colonial political organization, on October 7, 1765, representatives of nine colonial assemblies met in New York City at the Stamp Act Congress. The colonies agreed widely on the principles that Parliament could not tax anyone outside of Great Britain, and could not deny anyone a fair trial, both of which had been done in the American colonies.

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