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Time Line of Events Leading to the Revolution:  dominos.gif (3062 bytes)

1771 to 1774

April 27,
1771
(New York)
The popular leader of revolutionary efforts who was imprisoned for libel after writing the December, 1769 pamphlet titled "To the Betrayed Inhabitants of the City and Colony of New York" is finally released from prison.
July
1771
(Virginia)
The commonwealth of Virginia, originators of the Virginia Association proposed by George Washington that rallied the non-importation policy of the Colonies in protest of the Townshend Acts, becomes the last of the American Colonies to resume trade with Britain since all provisions of the Acts except for the tax on tea were repealed by Parliament the previous year.
March 5,
1772
(Boston)
A new radical leader in the revolutionary community of Boston emerged to join Samuel Adams and John Hancock when he spoke out today against the British on the anniversary of last year's riot that has come to be known as the "Boston Massacre".  The new voice belongs to 31 year old Joseph Warren, a Harvard educated and rather successful local physician.

Meanwhile the sentiments of Colonial women begins to be felt with the publication of Mercy Otis Warren's play "Massachusetts Spy", which lampoons the British.  Mrs. Otis is the sister of James Otis, the local attorney who has become a leader after taking defiant stands against the Stamp Act and Townshend acts.

June 9,
1772
(Rhode Island)
British Lieutenant William Dudingston's revenue cutter "Gaspee" ran aground in the darkness at Namquit Point near Providence, Rhode Island.  Dudingston was both hated and feared in the Colonies for his aggressive efforts to end smuggling in the area, and quickly became their target.  A group of patriots led by Abraham Whipple boarded the grounded ship, put the commander and his crew ashore, and then defiantly burned the Gaspee.  It was a bold and radical move by these Colonists, invoking the wrath of the royal governor who offered a reward for information to identify the men involved.  He has indicated that any of the men identified will be sent to England for trial, a move that has further upset the local patriots.  Rhode Island chief justice Stephen Hopkins refused to sanction the arrest and trial of the men involved saying he would neither apprehend anyone responsible "nor suffer any executing officer of the colony to do it."
June 13,
1772
(Boston)
Massachusetts' royal governor Thomas Hutchinson announced this day that he will now begin receiving his salary directly from England, removing any dependence he may have had on local government.   This has effectively removed any control the Massachusetts' Assembly previously had over the upper levels of government.  Governor Hutchinson's announcement was followed by a Royal commitment to also directly pay the salaries of the judges of the Superior Court, yet another slap in the face at the idea of any local control of government or jurisprudence.
Nov 2,
1772
(Boston)
Outrage in Massachusetts over the British government's acts against the Colonies, heightened by the recent move to remove any financial control local governments may have had over their royal governor or Superior Court judges, has led to a town meeting in Boston.  Local activists James Otis and Samuel Adams have called for the establishment of local groups for the purposes of resisting these illegal British acts and to keep other communities informed of the activities in their own area.  These local groups will be called COMMITTEES OF CORRESPONDENCE, and the local committee is planning to publish its first report later in the month.
Nov 20,
1772
(Boston)
The local Committee of Correspondence issued its first report including three papers, one written by Samuel Adams, Dr. Joseph Warren, and the third by Dr. Benjamin Church.  In his treatise, Dr. Church called upon other towns to establish similar Committees of Correspondence and not "to doze or sit supinely indifferent on the brink of destruction." 
January,
1773
(Boston)
According to Massachusetts Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson, there are now more than 80 Committees of Correspondence throughout the Colony.  The groups have become highly active with lively political meetings, printed materials, and support from similar groups as far away as Virginia and the Carolinas.  Hutchinson sees the activities of these committees as treason, stating they are "the foulest, subtlest and most venomous serpent ever issued from the egg of sedition."
March 12,
1773
(Virginia)
The Virginia House of Burgesses met and established a committee to improve communication with the Northern Colonies.  Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, and Thomas Jefferson already belong to a Committee of Correspondence, and this move gives further support to the program introduced in Massachusetts last year by Samuel Adams.  At the heart of the decision by members of the House of Burgesses was the attempt to identify the men who last year burned the British customs cutter "Gaspee" and try them in England.   There is grave concern over the prospects of other local patriots being put on trial in England.
May 10,
1773
(London)
With the British East India Tea Company deeply in debt and struggling for survival, the members of Parliament sent King George a Tea act which he quickly approved.  In effect the measure gave the Tea Company in which many members of Parliament have financial interests, a virtual monopoly on all tea exports to the American colonies by reducing the tax on imported tea.  Though the measure retained the Townshend Act's sole surviving revenue measure upon sale in the Colonies, the tax on tea, it allows the Company to sell its surplus tea at a price below that which Colonists are currently paying for tax-free, illegal smuggled tea.
September,
1773
(Boston)
Parliament granted the East India Tea Company to move a half-million pounds of its stored surplus tea to the Colonies for sale.
November,
1773
(Colonies)
British merchant ships laden with a half-million pounds of British tea began arriving to a frosty welcome in the American Colonies.  In Philadelphia and New York local merchants refused to accept the tea.  In Charleston the tea was unloaded but stored with a warehouse when no merchants would accept the British taxed product.  Throughout all of the Colonies the Committees of Correspondence are calling upon local patriots to refuse the tea cargo, and impose an embargo on British Tea.
December
1773
(Boston)
Three British ships (Dartmouth, Eleanor, and Beaver) laden with tea being imported here by the East India Tea Company are stalled in Boston harbor.  With no local merchants willing to accept the cargo, the captains of the three ships have agreed not to attempt to unload the cargo.  Meanwhile Governor Thomas Hutchinson has refused to allow the tea laden vessels to depart the harbor until the import duty on the unwanted tea is paid.
Dec 16,
1773
(Boston)
Local citizens have their own solution for the three British merchant ships stalled in Boston Harbor with their unwanted cargo of East India Tea Company tea.  Disguised as Indians some 60 members of the Sons of Liberty boarded the three vessels one-by-one to dump their cargo of tea into the salt water of the Harbor.  Unconfirmed reports spread that local activist John Hancock, Boston's richest resident, actually led the raiding party.   What is certain is that the local populace enjoyed the event that began around 6 o'clock in the evening, the crowd cheering from Griffin's Wharf as 342 chests of tea were dumped.    When the raiding party withdrew there was not tea remaining on any of the three ships but not one British sailor was injured in the attack, and the tea was the only cargo aboard ship that was destroyed.

The importance of this single act of rebellion was not lost on the moderate politician John Adams who said, "The people should never rise without doing something to be remembered, something notable and striking.  This destruction of the tea is so bold, so daring, so firm, intrepid and inflexible, and it must have important consequences."  A more radical patriot leader Josiah Quincy, Jr. has predicted that the event now being called the "Boston Tea Party" will lead "to the most trying and terrific struggle this country ever saw."

Dec 25,
1773
(Boston)
Last summer Benjamin Franklin brought to the attention of the Massachusetts Assembly, certain letters by Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson in which he asked for "abridgment of what are called English liberties".  Today the Massachusetts Assembly sent a petition to Parliament requesting Hutchinson's removal.  The native Bostonian and descendant of Anne Hutchinson has held every major political office in the Colony since his career began in 1737.  The letters brought to light by Franklin has eroded much of Hutchinson's most loyal support, and the move by the Assembly could signal the end of his public service career.
Mar 31,
1774
(London)
Most Colonists have anticipated that King George III would act swiftly and decisively in the aftermath of last year's rebellious "Boston Tea Party".  To assert England's authority over the Colonies, Parliament has passed the Boston Port Bill, closing the harbor until the Colonists agree to pay for the ruined tea.  Only food, fuel and military stores can now be brought into the harbor, and then only if cleared by a royal customs official.
May 12,
1774
(Boston)
In retaliation against the Boston Port Bill closing Boston Harbor, local citizens vote to renew their non-importation policies that were previously effective in the Colonies in the repeal of the Stamp Act and most provisions of the Townshend Acts.
May 13,
1774
(Boston)
General Thomas Gage returns to Boston, bringing with him four regiments of soldiers to maintain order in the city that is becoming the Colonial leader in rebellion against and defiance of the Crown and Parliaments.  General Gage replaces Thomas Hutchinson as Royal Governor, and Hutchinson is sent to England aboard ship in what is expected to be a "temporary" recall following the local unrest and the call last December for his ouster by the Massachusetts Assembly.
Spring,
1774
(London)
Following the earlier Boston Port Bill, Parliament has acted again to punish the Colonists for last year's Boston Tea Party through a series of Coercive Acts.  The recently passed Administration of Justice Act provided Royal protection for officials involved in suppression of local riots by moving trials from the Colonies to England in all court cases involving riot suppression or revenue collection.  The Massachusetts Government Act provided for government officials to be selected by the crown effectively eliminating the Massachusetts charter of government and any control by the people of Massachusetts.  It further specified that Town Meetings may only be held with the written consent of the governor, who could impose strict limitations to the meeting's agenda.
June 2,
1774
(Boston)
The fourth of Parliament's Coercive Acts is passed broadening the Quartering Act of 1765.  Where the previous act called for the Colonies to provide shelter, and more specifically barracks, as well as food for British soldiers and their horses, the new act demands that the Colonists provide "housing" for these soldiers and their mounts. This has grave implications upon the populace as they may now be forced to allow soldiers to reside in their own dwellings.  The effects of these four acts of Parliament are meeting stiff resistance by Colonists who consider them illegal acts of aggression that can not be tolerated by a reasonable society.  For this reason the acts have become widely known as the "INTOLERABLE ACTS".
June 5,
1774
(Boston)
The committee of correspondence has drafted a non-importation agreement known as the "Solemn League and Covenant" urging all Colonists to boycott imported British goods.  Meanwhile the idea of a united delegation in some form of intercolonial congress, first proposed last May be the Colony of Rhode Island, is gaining increasing popularity.
Sep 5,
1774
(Philadelphia)
At the behest of the Virginia House of Burgesses to meet in some form of intercolonial congress to consider and act on Parliament's Intolerable Acts, 56 delegates from 12 Colonies began meeting in Carpenter's Hall in Philadelphia, PA.  Invitations had been sent to all 13 Colonies and to Canada, the latter of which declined to attend.  In the American Colonies, only Georgia was unrepresented at the gathering, due the loyalty of their royal governor to the crown.

Early in the proceedings of the body that became known as the (First) Continental Congress, Virginian Peyton Randolph was unanimously elected president of the Assembly.   Considering the fact that the Assembly has no basis in law and could be considered as an illegal assembly by the Crown, The Continental Congress is by its very existence, an act of revolution.

Sep 6,
1774
(Boston)
Amid unfounded rumors that the British had burned Boston to the ground, 40,000 Colonial militia were quickly mobilized.  Though the militia disbanded when it was learned that the rumors were false, the size and efficiency of the local militia was enough to concern General Thomas Gage who commands the 3,000 British soldiers garrisoned in Boston.   The potential of such a threat has led him to fortify the city with a full regiment supported by field guns.
Sep 17,
1774
(Philadelphia)
The delegates to the Continental Congress today adopted the "SUFFOLK RESOLVES" after their dramatic reading on the convention floor by Peyton Randolph.  The articles contained within the Resolves were the result of meetings at Dedham and Milton in Suffolk County, Massachusetts from September 6 - 9 and were drafted by Joseph Warren.  The resolves declare Parliament's recent Intolerable Acts to be illegal and urge the people of Massachusetts to refuse to pay taxes and otherwise ignore the orders of royal officials.  The resolves also call for a unified halt to all trade with England, and went to so far as to urge local militia called "Minutemen" to muster weekly.

The Suffolk Resolves arrived in Philadelphia after a quick trip by Boston silversmith Paul Revere who carried the historic documents in his saddle bags.   By endorsing the Massachusetts born resolves, the entire body has passed a point of no return in their defiance of Parliament.

Sep 28,
1774
(Philadelphia)
The Colony of Pennsylvania has placed before the Continental Congress a moderate reaction to the Coercive Acts and calling upon the Colonies to pursue a plan for union...or reunion...with England.  Introduced by Joseph Galloway, the move would have called for a complete overhaul of government within the colonies.  The new government would consist of a president general appointed by the king and a grand council elected by the colonial assemblies.  The grand council would posses veto power of Parliamentary action affecting the Colonies.

Today the Pennsylvania Plan was presented for a vote by the delegates and was defeated by a margin of ONE VOTE!  The underlying concept however, of a complete overhaul of Colonial government, may have lodged itself in the minds of many of the delegates who voted against the Pennsylvania Plan.

Oct 14,
1774
(Philadelphia)
In perhaps the boldest move of the Continental Congress, now well into its second month of proceedings in Philadelphia, the delegates voted today to endorse a condemnation of British interference in the affairs of the American Colonies.  Among the 10 resolutions within the DECLARATIONS AND RESOLVES was a strongly worded rebuke of Parliament and language granting the American Colonies the first steps in self government--the right to enact legislation and to levy taxes. 
Oct 20,
1774
(Philadelphia)
As the proceedings of the Continental Congress near their end, the delegates today put "teeth" behind the non-importation policies aimed at boycotting British imported goods.  To enforce the policy the Congress today established THE ASSOCIATION, a system of committees to look for and publicize the non-compliance of any who violated the boycott.
Oct 27,
1774
(Philadelphia)
The 56 delegates to the Continental Convention closed their nearly two months of meetings today after several sweeping acts including the Suffolk Resolves, the Declarations and Resolves, and the establishment of The Association to enforce the unified call for a boycott on British goods.  Before adjourning the committee  issued their petition of Rights and Grievances to King George, and called upon the Colonial assemblies to send delegates to a SECOND CONTINENTAL CONGRESS to convene in Philadelphia next May 10th.

Perhaps the greatest single ideology derived from the two months of debate were best echoed by the moderate John Adams of Massachusetts who states "The foundation...of all free government is a right in the people to participate in their legislative council."  Americans "are entitled to a free and exclusive power of legislation in their several provincial legislatures.

Dec 14,
1774
(New Hampshire)
Freshly home from the Continental Congress, 34 year old Portsmouth attorney John Sullivan today led the first military action by Colonial soldiers in opposition to the British.   Warned by Paul Revere that the British planned to send soldiers to Portsmouth and fearful of a siege similar to that presently occurring in Boston, the fiery militia leader assembled a force of 400 Minutemen and captured nearby Fort William and Mary to seize the military hardware his militia may need in the face of future military actions against the British.  There were no casualties on either side of the engagement but the armed act of rebellion may set the stage for further Colonial military action in coming months.
 

1754-1770              1775/1776

 


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Sources:
Chronicle of America. DK Publishing.  New York: 1997
Family Encyclopedia of American History. Reader's Digest Association. Pleasantville, NY: 1975.
"Continental Congress."  Funk & Wagnals New Encyclopedia, Volume 7.  1986
The American Nation. Addison Wesley Longman, Inc. New York: 1998
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
George Washington, Man and Monument. Cunliffe, Marcus.   Little, Brown & Co.  New York: 1958

 

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