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Growing Conflict Between the Colonists and the British

The French and Indian War

The English were not the only ones with colonies in the New World. France and Spain also had colonies. French colonists claimed land in the Ohio River Valley. Conflict in the area arose between the French and English settlers. War broke out in 1754, with French and American Indian tribes fighting against the British colonists. This conflict is known as the French and Indian War. It was actually part of a larger war between England and France. The English won the war against the French and American Indian tribes. France gave up much of its North American colony to the British.

Teacher-guided, social, device-enabled instruction for the face-to-face and remote classroom European colonies in North America
before and after the French and Indian War

Taxation on the American Colonies

Wars cost a lot of money to fight. After the French and Indian War, Great Britain was left with large debts to pay. The British government passed laws that placed new taxes on the American colonies in order to raise money. They taxed everyday things that the Americans needed, such as sugar, stamps, and tea. Each time colonists bought one of these items, they had to pay a tax to the English government. The British thought that this was a fair way to pay for protecting the colonies.
These tax laws angered the colonists. They felt it was unfair to be taxed so heavily when they had no representative in the British government to support their interests. The colonists organized boycotts, where they refused to buy taxed products. But it was difficult to survive without some of these items.

Samuel Adams was an American colonist who lived in Boston, Massachusetts. He organized a group of men, called the Sons of Liberty, who would play an important role during the American Revolution. Their slogan was “No taxation without representation.” They organized protests against British policies. They also prevented tax collectors from doing their jobs.

The Boston Tea Party

In 1773, the British government passed the Tea Act, which required colonists to pay a tax on this popular drink. One evening, the Sons of Liberty boarded British ships in Boston Harbor and dumped the tea from the ship’s cargo into the bay. A lot of tea—342 chests of tea leaves worth millions of dollars in today’s money—was thrown overboard. This protest is known as the Boston Tea Party.

Teacher-guided, social, device-enabled instruction for the face-to-face and remote classroom The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor, by Nathaniel Currier (1846)

The Intolerable Acts

As a reaction to the Tea Party, the British government cracked down hard on the colonists. They passed a series of laws in 1774 called the Intolerable Acts. Here is a list of some of these laws:

  • They closed the Port of Boston to all ships and trade until the colonists paid for the tea that was dumped into the harbor.
  • The Massachusetts colonial government was placed under direct control of the British. The British could choose local officials, and town meetings in Boston were limited.
  • British officials could be tried outside Massachusetts for crimes. Most trials were moved to England, where the officials received better treatment.
  • The Quartering Act was extended. Quartering means that citizens may be forced to house soldiers in their private homes.

Conflict between the colonists and the British grew until finally war broke out. The American War of Independence started with the Battles of Lexington and Concord in April 1775 and ended with the Battle of Yorktown in October 1781—over six years of war and battles. The American colonists won the war, and the United States was born.


Source: Growing Conflict Between the Colonists and the British
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Lexile level: 810L - 1000L

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