Becoming a Revolutionary
Chris Lowell brings 50 years of experience to his portrayal of Benjamin Franklin in The Gathering Storm in America and the soon-to-be-released A Rising Sun — a dramatic presentation in which the first democratic republic was formed in the history of the world with the creation of the U.S. Constitution.
Visit Christopher Lowell and meet Ben Franklin Live to learn more about his life and times.
Hello. I’m Mercy Otis Warren and I will be your guide
Writs of Assistance were blank search warrants that authorized customs officers to conduct general searches of private homes and businesses, and to seize any items suspected of having been smuggled without payment of duties.
James Otis challenged the writs in court as unlawful and a dangerous instrument of arbitrary power.
The Treaty of Paris is signed ending the French and Indian War. England is granted Canada and the Ohio River Valley west of the Appalachian Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. Then, because of Pontiac’s Rebellion, the Proclamation Act prevents Americans from settling west of the Appalachian Mountains.
The Stamp Act is enacted, which places a direct tax on all printed materials in the colonies, including legal documents, newspapers, pamphlets, licenses, almanacs, ships’ papers, dice, and playing cards. Affected by the act are lawyers, publishers, land owners, merchants, and ship builders.
The Townshend Acts place an import tax on British paint, paper, glass, oil, lead, and tea, and establishes a colonial board of customs commissioners in Boston. The tax is to pay for colonial governors and judges who would now be appointed by the Crown.
The Boston Massacre occurs as a mob harasses British soldiers on guard at the Customs House in Boston. Knowing that the British will not fire without orders, the crowd threatens the soldiers and throws snowballs, one which conceals a rock. The soldiers fire their muskets into the crowd killing three instantly, mortally wounding two more, and injuring six. Sam Adams persuades the new Royal Governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Hutchinson, to withdraw the British troops to an island offshore. Captain Thomas Preston is arrested with eight of his men and charged with murder.
The Townshend Acts are repealed, and all duties on imports to the colonies are eliminated except for the tax on tea. The Quartering Act requiring colonists to house British troops is not renewed.
Parliament issues the Coercive Acts, called the Intolerable Acts by the colonists. The Boston Port Bill shuts down all shipping until the taxes owed on the tea is paid, and the East India Company is reimbursed for its losses. General Thomas Gage, commander of the British military forces in the colonies, arrives in Boston. He replaces Governor Hutchinson and puts Massachusetts under military rule. Parliament re-writes the charter of the Massachusetts Bay colony, eliminating all self rule. The Royal Governor is given political power. The Quartering Act requires Americans to house British troops in homes, taverns, and unoccupied buildings.
The Quebec Act establishes a centralized government in Canada. It extends the southern boundary of Canada to include the Ohio country west to the Mississippi River. These territories on the western frontier are claimed by Massachusetts, Connecticut and Virginia. The act cancels the lands granted by Virginia to George Washington and to others in exchange for payment of services during the French and Indian War. It obliterates Benjamin Franklin’s proposed colony in Illinois. The Quebec Act also gives the French Canadians the right to live under French civil laws and practice the Roman Catholic religion.
The First Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia with 56 delegates representing every colony, except Georgia. Attendants include George Washington, Patrick Henry, John Hancock and Sam Adams. The Continental Congress declares its opposition to the Coercive Acts and promotes the formation of local militia units. A Declaration of Resolves proclaims the rights of the colonists, including the right to “life, liberty and property.” The First Continental Congress boycotts all English imports, including the further importation of slaves, and places an embargo on all exports from the colonies to Great Britain.
The Rights of the Colonies Asserted and Proved, a pamphlet written by James Otis, is circulated throughout the colonies and abroad.
The Sugar Act is passed as a means to tax the colonies, obtain additional revenue to pay for British troops, and to help pay for the expenses of running the newly acquired territories.
The Stamp Act is repealed, but the Declaratory Act proclaims that Great Britain has the right to make laws for the colonies in any way “whatsoever.” The Declaratory Act is similar to a 1719 declaration of parliamentary supremacy that oppressed Ireland, reducing that nation to an imperial appendage.
The Virginia Resolves affirms that Virginia would not be taxed without her consent. They oppose British opposition to the circular letters, and British plans to send American agitators to England for trial. The Royal governor of Virginia dissolves the House of Burgesses. But its members meet in a Williamsburgh tavern and agree to a boycott of British trade goods and slaves.
The boycott of English goods spreads to New Jersey, Rhode Island, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
The British East India Company is given authorization to sell a surplus of half a million pounds of tea directly to colonial agents, bypassing and underselling American merchants. Colonists hold a mass meeting in Philadelphia in opposition to the tea tax and the monopoly of the East India Company. In Philadelphia and Charleston, the tea agents were forced to resign, and the tea-bearing ships were returned to England.
In Boston, the tea agents — two of whom were sons of Governor Hutchinson– refused to resign. When the tea arrived in Boston, the colonists decide to send it back without paying the import duties. Hutchinson ordered harbor officials not to let the ships out of the harbor until the taxes were paid. The Boston Tea Party occurs on December 16 when the Sons of Liberty, disguising themselves as Mohawk Indians, board the ships and dump 342 containers of tea into the harbor.
Due to the result of his experience in England, Benjamin Franklin Becomes a Revolutionary