Background to the American Revolution: When the war between France and England ended in 1763, Britain had won. Britain wanted to keep strict control over the colonies in America. The colonies imported goods such as cloth, hats and tools from England. The war was expensive and the British Parliament placed new taxes on the colonies to help pay off the debts. The 1764 Sugar Act and the 1767 Townshend Act placed taxes and duties on imported goods. Colonists refused to pay the taxes, claiming they had not voted for the taxes since they had no representation in Parliament. The Parliament then passed the Quartering Act, allowing British soldiers to be housed in any empty, public building.
In 1768 British Redcoats occupied Boston to punish the city for its resistance against the taxes. In 1770, Redcoats fired on a mob, killing five colonists; it was called the Boston Massacre. In 1773, in reaction to the tax on tea, colonist threw 342 tea chests into the Boston Harbor. The British Parliament closed Boston Harbor and in 1774, imposed harsh regulations. The colonists called them the “Intolerable Acts.”
The God Who Gave Us Life, Gave Us Liberty: Thomas Jefferson had strong views on independence. In 1768 he was elected as a Delegate to the Virginia House of Burgesses; he protested the Townshend Acts. Jefferson’s resolutions (opinions) on the colonist’s struggle were published as a Summary View of the Rights of British America.
The First Continental Congress: Before the Revolutionary War, the colonies had no central government that met in America. In reaction to British taxes and acts, delegates from twelve of the colonies (all except Georgia) met in Philadelphia for the First Continental Congress.
The delegates wanted Parliament to end the harsh policies. The delegates did not speak of independence, they just wanted to restore harmony. They urged colonists to stop buying British goods. The delegates vowed to organize a Second Continental Congress if Great Britain did not repeal the Intolerable Acts.
Richmond Convention: In March 1775, Jefferson was elected to attend a Virginia convention held in Richmond. Patrick Henry spoke at the convention. He believed that Great Britain threatened the colonists’ independence. “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.” Jefferson supported Patrick Henry’s call to arms.
Revolution Begins: On April 19, 1775, British Redcoats marched on Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts. 94 colonists died or were wounded. 272 British died or were wounded or missing. It was the beginning of the Revolution. Messengers spread word of the conflict. The message took two weeks to travel to Virginia. The Virginia government met and chose Jefferson as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress.
Source: Jefferson and the beginning of the American Revolution #1
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