• England believed in an economic system of mercantilism. In this system, the key to economic success was for a country to export (sell to other countries) more than it imports (buys from other countries).
• The goal of mercantilism was to benefit the mother country—England—not the colonies.
French and Indian War
• Beginning in the 1750s, England fought a war against the French and Indians.
• Benjamin Franklin, a colonist, suggested that the colonies unite to defend themselves. His plan was called the Albany Plan of Union. His cartoon supporting the plan is here.
British Taxes and Laws after the War
• After the French and Indian War, England was in debt.
• To pay back their debts, they taxed the colonists. The taxes included:
o Stamp Act: tax on paper products (newspapers, playing cards, etc.)
o Sugar Act: tax on sugar and molasses
o Townshend Acts: taxes on many products
• They also passed the Proclamation of 1763, which stated that colonists could not move into the western parts of the colonies. The goal of the proclamation was to avoid conflicts with the Native Americans in the west.
• The Quartering Act declared that British soldiers could be housed in colonists’ homes.
Colonial Reactions to British Taxes
• The colonies protested the British taxes. They organized boycotts (refusing to buy the taxed products) and petitions (writing protest letters to the British government).
• The colonists’ famous slogan was “No taxation without representation.” They insisted that they should have the right to vote on whether they would be taxed.
• Famous protests included the Boston Tea Party.
• Eventually, the colonists launched a war against the British.
• The two sides in the war were known as:
o Continentals/Patriots: fought for independence, protested taxes
o Redcoats: British. Colonists who supported the British were Loyalists or Tories.
• Famous events in the war included:
o Lexington (1775): first battle of the war
o Saratoga (1787): turning point of the war
o Valley Forge (1787): winter camp where Patriots faced hardships
o Yorktown (1781): last battle of the war
• The Patriots won the war, earning independence and creating the United States.
Declaration of Independence
• In 1776, the Patriots decided to declare independence from England.
• Thomas Jefferson was chosen to write a document declaring independence.
• The declaration did the following:
o Stated that people have natural rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
o Stated that the English king, by taxing them, had violated their rights.
o Declared that, because their rights were violated, they were declaring their independence and establishing the United States of America.