Explore the timeline below, describing the lead up to the Declaration of Independence. As you do so, answer the questions in the right hand column. You will be evaluating these events. Did the colonists handle the situation correctly? You will be the judge!
The British colonies in North America could pretty much do what they pleased. They were 3,000 miles away from Britain, so communication with Britain took nearly two months. Therefore, local legislatures dealt with everyday problems in the colonies, instead of Britain itself.
1. The colonists acted independently because they’d been mostly left alone, but they still British citizens. Was it right for the colonists to act like they were free after being mostly ignored, or was this a dangerous way to think?
The relationship drastically changes. From 1754 to 1763, Britain fights France in the “French and Indian War,” running up a huge war debt. In 1760, King George III came to power, and he intended to take greater control of the colonies.
2. Britain went to war with France, knowing that the war would be very expensive. When we go to war, how much should we worry about the how much it will cost?
To pay the war debt, George III levies the first direct tax on the colonies, the Stamp Act. It puts a tax on legal documents, pamphlets, newspapers, dice, and playing cards.
3. They colonies were ruled by Britain but had been left alone for a long time. Was the king right to begin taxing them?
After nearly a decade of new taxes from Britain, a group of colonists protests by dumping 342 chests of British tea into Boston Harbor during the Boston Tea Party.
4. The Boston Tea Party destroyed private property in protest to make a statement. Was this justified?
Sept. 5, 1774
The First Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia to decide how to deal with Britain, leading to an embargo on (and boycott of) British goods. No one will buy from Britain.
5. Is cutting off trade with a country an effective means of hurting that country?
6. How might this backfire?
April 19, 1775
Shots are fired between British soldiers and colonists at Lexington and Concord. The Revolutionary War has begun!
7. Did the colonies seem to be treated poorly enough to justify rising against the king?