The home of Thomas Hutchinson, chief justice and lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, was attacked by a violent crowd of Bostonians on August 26, 1765.
When the rioters arrived, Hutchinson and his family were eating dinner.
They barely had time to escape before the crowd broke down the front door and took most of their possessions, including paintings, furniture, silverware, and notes for a history of Massachusetts Hutchinson was writing.
Only the outer walls of the home remained standing when they left.
The Stamp Act, a recently enacted British tax that many colonists felt violated their liberty, was the cause of the riot.
The measure's critics spread a rumor that Hutchinson had written to London in favor of it.
Hutchinson helped to break up a crowd attacking a building owned by Andrew Oliver, a merchant who was appointed to help administer the new law.
The crowds were led by a man who had fought against the French in the Seven Years' War and had a large following among Boston's working people.
The Loyal Nine, a group of merchants and craftsmen who had taken the lead in opposing the Stamp Act, freed him after the destruction of Hutchinson's home.
The Loyal Nine promised authorities that resistance to the Stamp Act would be peaceful after the violence went far beyond what they intended.
It was very much in doubt whether the colonists would accept the abridgement.
The August 26 riot was one of a series of events that started a half-century of popular protest and political upheaval in the Western world.
The Age of Revolution began in British North America, spread to Europe and the Caribbean, and ended in the Latin American wars for independence.
"Liberty" was the main cry for popular discontent.
The idea is central to political debate and social upheaval.
If the attack on Hutchinson's home demonstrated the deep feelings of Britain's desire to impose greater control over its empire, it also showed that revolution is a process that can't be predicted.
The crowd's anger against the rich and powerful was different from the objections of the colonial leaders.
The Stamp Act crisis gave rise to a multisided battle to define and extend liberty within the new nation, as well as a struggle for colonial liberty in relation to Great Britain.
The Stamp Act Congress met to formulate a response to the Treaty of Paris Parliament's requirement that revenue stamps be affixed to all colonial printed matter, documents, and playing cards.
When George III assumed the throne of Great Britain in 1760, no one on either side of the Atlantic thought Britain's American colonies would leave the empire in two decades.
The Seven Years' War, which left Britain with an enormous debt and vastly enlarged overseas possessions to defend, led successive governments in London to seek ways to make the colonies share the cost of empire.
The colonial leaders saw the measures as part of a British plan to undermine their freedom after studying the writings of British opposition thinkers who insisted that power inevitably seeks to encroach upon liberty.
They came to the conclusion that membership in the empire was a threat to freedom, rather than its foundation, after recently enjoying British liberty.
The colonies were set on the road to independence by this conviction.
Consolidating the Empire The Seven Years' War, to which the colonists contributed soldiers and economic resources, underscored for rulers in London how important the empire was to Britain's well-being and status as a great power.
They believed that new regulations were needed to guarantee the empire's continued strength and prosperity.
Before 1763, Parliament occasionally acted to forbid the issuance of paper money in America and to restrict colonial economic activities that competed with businesses at home.
The Molasses Act of 1733 wanted to impose a tax on French molasses used to make rum in American distilleries.
The navigation acts sought to channel key American exports through British ports.
All these measures were ignored by the colonists.
The British government didn't seem interested in internal affairs within the colonies.
The Board of Trade tried to strengthen imperial authority in the late 1740s.
It demanded that colonial laws conform to royal instructions and encouraged colonial assembly to grant permanent salaries to royal governors.
The Seven Years' War halted this initiative.
During the war, Britain treated the colonists as allies, but in the mid 1760s it reverted to seeing them as servants of the mother country.
The government in London wanted to make British rule more efficient and systematic in order to raise funds for the war and to finance the empire.
The new laws enraged the colonists and nearly all British political leaders supported them.
Britons felt that Americans should be thankful to the empire.
The equivalent of tens of trillions of dollars in today's money was borrowed by Britain to fight the Seven Years' War.
Half of the government's revenue was absorbed by interest on the debt.
The tax burden in Britain had gone up.
The colonies should help pay the national debt, foot part of the bill for continued British protection, and stop cheating the treasury by violating the navigation acts.
Most Britons believed that Parliament had a right to legislate for the empire.
Millions of Britons, including the residents of major cities, had no representation in Parliament.
According to the theory of virtual representation, the interests of all who lived under the British crown were taken into account.
Americans began to insist that the British government couldn't tax the colonies because they weren't represented in Parliament.
The British found that the effective working of the empire required the cooperation of local populations.
British officials back down in the face of colonial resistance, only to return with new measures to control the empire.
The British government was alarmed by the issue of writs of assistance.
General search warrants allowed customs officials to search for smuggled goods.
The lawyer James Otis argued in a court case that the writs were an instrument of arbitrary power and that Parliament had no right to authorize them.
In the previous chapter, it was mentioned that the Proclamation of 1763 barred further settlement on lands west of the Appalachian Mountains.
The Sugar Act of 1764 reduced the tax on molasses imported into North America from the French West Indies from six pence to three pence per gallon.
The act established a new machinery to end widespread smuggling by colonial merchants.
The admiralty courts were strengthened to counteract the tendency of juries to acquit merchants charged with violating trade regulations.
The measure was seen by the colonists as an attempt to get them to pay a levy they would otherwise have avoided.
The Revenue Act placed goods such as wool and hides, which had previously been traded freely with Holland, France, and southern Europe, on the enumerated list, meaning they had to be shipped through England.
The measures threatened the profits of colonial merchants and seemed certain to cause an already serious economic recession after the end of the Seven Years' War.
The Currency Act made it clear that the earlier ban on colonial assembly issuing paper as legal tender was still in place.
The Sugar Act was an attempt to improve the navigation acts.
The Stamp Act was a departure from imperial policy.
For the first time, Parliament tried to raise money from direct taxes in the colonies.
The act required that all printed material produced in the colonies carry a stamp.
It was intended to help finance the operations of the empire, including the cost of stationing British troops in North America.
The Stamp Act offended almost every free colonist, including rich and poor, farmers, artisans, and merchants.
It was resented by members of the public sphere who wrote, published, and read books and newspapers.
Many colonists were alarmed by the idea of a British army on American soil.
Parliament directly challenged the authority of local elites who had established their power over the raising and spending of money by imposing the stamp tax.
They were prepared to defend this authority.
The doctrine of "virtual representation" states that the House of Commons represented all residents of the British empire.
Britannia stumbles into a pit in a cartoon that criticizes the idea.
Two people complain that they were robbed by British taxation.
The "Catholic" city of Quebec and the "Protestant town of Boston" are in the background.
The Stamp Act opposition was the first great drama of the revolutionary era and the first major split between colonists and Great Britain over the meaning of freedom.
The act was opposed by nearly all colonial political leaders.
They invoked the rights of the freeborn Englishman in order to voice their grievances.
British principles such as a community's right not to be taxed except by its elected representatives were used by opponents of the act.
There were competing ideas of the British empire.
The empire was seen by American leaders as an association of equals, with free inhabitants overseas enjoying the same rights as Britons at home.
Colonists in other outposts of the empire agreed with this outlook.
All claimed the right to govern their own affairs.
The empire in America was seen by the British government and its appointed representatives as a system of equal parts that were subject to the authority of Parliament.
The colonies' right to tax would set a bad precedent for the empire as a whole.
Many Americans were beginning to disagree with Bernard's description of Parliament as the "sanctuary of liberty".
The powder horn was engraved with an all-seeing eye by Prince Simbo, a former Connecticut slave who served in the Continental army.
Simbo was a black soldier who fought for American independence.
The Stamp Act's opponents differed between internal taxes like the stamp duty, which they claimed Parliament had no right to impose, and revenue raised through the regulation of trade.
Patrick Henry offered resolutions that said Britain had no right to tax them.
The Stamp Act Congress, made up of delegates from nine colonies, including some of the most prominent men in America, endorsed Virginia's position.
The "allegiance" of all colonists to the "Crown of Great Britain" and their "due subordination" to Parliament were the first resolutions.
Merchants in the colonies decided to boycott British goods until the Stamp Act was repealed.
This was the first major action among Britain's mainland colonies.
Parliament inadvertently united America by trying to impose uniformity on the colonies rather than dealing with them individually.
The Stamp Act crisis did not lead to revolution.
Almost all of the British colonies in the Western Hemisphere protested the tax, but only a small percentage of them decided to break away.
Most colonists believed that their liberties and material interests were safer inside the British empire than outside it.
In mock funerals staged by the opponents of the new tax, liberty's coffin was carried to a burial ground only to have the occupant miraculously revived at the last moment, and the assembled crowd repaired to a tavern to celebrate.
There were symbols of liberty as the crisis continued.
The Liberty Tree was the elm tree in Boston where protesters hanged an effigy of Andrew Oliver in order to get him to resign his post.
Its image appeared in prints and pamphlets throughout the colonies.
Open-air meetings were held beneath the tree, and as a result the space came to be called Liberty Hall.
The Liberty Pole was a pine mast erected in New York City as a meeting place for opponents of the Stamp Act.
The new law's implementation was prevented by the leaders.
Before the Stamp Act was passed, Boston communicated with other colonies to encourage them to oppose the Sugar and Currency Acts.
Committees sprang up in other colonies to exchange information about resistance.
The movement against the Stamp Act drew in a wide range of Americans.
The repeal of the Stamp Act was marked by a British engraving.
A funeral procession on the banks of the River Thames in London includes a coffin carrying the Prime Minister, who died a year after the act was born.
Two large containers labeled "Stamps from America" are returned because they no longer needed to be used at the funeral.
Now that the boycott of British imports has ended, there is a warehouse filled with goods that will be shipped to America.
Politics in the Streets Opponents of the Stamp Act did not rely solely on debate.
Crowds forced those who were chosen to administer it to resign and destroy shipments of stamps before the law went into effect.
Hundreds of people shouting "Liberty" paraded through the streets of New York City in the late 18th century.
The Sons' leaders enjoyed a broad following among the city's craftsmen, laborers, and sailors and were organized by the newly created.
The Sons posted notices that said "Liberty, Property, and No Stamps" in order to enforce the boycott of British imports.
The Livingston and De Lancey families dominated New York politics and were alarmed by their actions.
Crowds could easily get out of hand as the assault on Thomas Hutchinson's house in Boston demonstrated.
A New York crowd of sailors, blacks, laborers, and youths threw stones at Fort George at the tip of Manhattan Island.
They destroyed the home of Major Thomas James, a British officer who was said to have boasted that he would force the stamps down New Yorkers' throats.
Stunned by the American resistance, the British government retreated.
The Stamp Act was repealed.
The Declaratory Act rejected Americans' claims that only their elected representatives could tax them.
The power to pass laws for the colonies and people of America was given by parliament.
The Declaratory Act promised more conflict since the British government continued to need money.
The Regulators The Stamp Act crisis was not the only example of violent social turmoil.
Many colonies had disagreements with each other.
The conflicting land claims of settlers, speculators, colonial governments, and Indians sparked fierce disputes as population moved west.
Rural areas had a long tradition of resistance by settlers and small farmers against large proprietors of land.
Liberty had less to do with imperial policy than with secure possession of land, as was seen in the Stamp Act crisis.
Regulators protested the under representation of western settlements in the colony's assembly and the legislators' failure to establish local governments that could regularize land titles and suppress bands of outlaws.
The lack of courts in the area has led to a breakdown of law and order, allowing an infernal gang of villains to commit "shocking outrages" on persons and property.
Small farmers in North Carolina refused to pay taxes, kidnapped local officials, attacked land speculators' homes, and disrupted court proceedings.
The complaint was about corrupt county authorities.
The Regulators claimed that these local officials were threatening the prosperity of ordinary settlers through high taxes and court fees.
The Regulators condemned the "rich and powerful" who used their political authority to prosper at the expense of the poor.
Around 8,000 farmers were armed at their peak.
The farmers were suppressed by the colony's militia after the battle of Alamance.
Tenants on the manors along the Hudson River north of New York City stopped paying rent in the mid 1760s.
The Sons of Liberty were like opponents of the Stamp Act.
British and colonial troops suppressed the uprising of the original Sons.
Conflicts within the colonies were caused by the rift between Britain and America.
The social divisions revealed in the Stamp Act riots made some members of the colonial elite fear that opposition to British measures would cause unrest at home.
When the next imperial crisis came, they were more reluctant to challenge British authority.
The idea that the American colonies had no representation in Parliament was a common one.
One of the colonies' main complaints against Britain was that the writs allowed unlimited search warrants.
Parliament decided to tax sugar and other colonial products.
The rally cry of opponents was the 1765 Stamp Act.
The slogan was about the lack of representation in Parliament.
The Stamp Act led to the creation of the organization formed by Samuel Adams.
Carolina settlers protested colonial policies.
The Townshend Acts were imposed on Americans by the government in London.
Charles Townshend is the cabinet's chief financial minister.
The Stamp Act opposition seemed to suggest that they would not object if Britain raised revenue by regulating trade.
Townshend persuaded Parliament to impose new taxes on goods imported into the colonies and to create a new board of customs commissioners to collect them.
The new revenues would be used to pay the salaries of American governors and judges, freeing them from dependence on the colonial assembly.
The Townshend duties developed more slowly than the Stamp Act despite merchants objecting to the new enforcement procedures.
The ban on imports of British goods was reimposed in 1768 in several colonies.
The essays argued for reconciliation with the mother country, with the colonists enjoying all the traditional rights of Englishmen.
Dickinson's presentation showed that Enlightenment ideas were common in the colonies.
Many American leaders assumed that political debate should take place among the educated elite.
The boycott spread to the southern colonies after Boston.
The symbol of American resistance was Reliance on American rather than British goods, on homespun clothing rather than imported finery.
As the colonists saw it, it reflected a spirit of self-sacrifice as compared to the self-indulgence and luxury many Americans were coming to associate with Britain.
The women who spun and wove at home so as not to purchase British goods were called the Daughters of Liberty.
The idea of making their own goods appealed to the planters, who found themselves owing more money to British merchants.
George Washington wrote that nonimportation gave the extravagant man an opportunity to "retrench his expenses" by reducing the purchase of British luxuries, without having to advertise to his neighbors that he might be in financial distress.
Smaller planters in the Piedmont region away from the coast ignored the temporary ban on the importation of slaves announced by Virginia's leaders.
The boycott was supported by urban artisans who welcomed an end to competition from imported goods.
Philadelphia and New York merchants were hesitant at first, but eventually agreed to participate.
Lower-class turmoil was raised by the threat of nonimportation.
During the Stamp Act crisis, the streets of American cities were filled with popular protests against the new duties.
Local committees tried to enforce the boycott of British goods.
The focal point of the conflict once again was Boston.
John Hancock was one of the city's most prominent merchants.
The soldiers were unpopular because they competed for jobs on Boston's waterfront with the city's laborers.
Five Bostonians were killed on March 5, 1770, when a snowball throwing crowd and British troops got into an armed confrontation.
Crispus Attucks, a sailor of mixed Indian-African-white ancestry, fell in the Boston massacre.
The commanding officer and eight soldiers were put on trial.
John Adams, who viewed lower-class crowd actions as a dangerous method of opposing British policies, defended seven of the people who were found not guilty.
Paul Revere, a member of the Boston Sons of Liberty and a silversmith and engraver, helped to stir up indignation against the British army by producing a widely distributed print of the Boston Massacre.
Less than a month after the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere produced this engraving.
One of the most influential pieces of political propaganda of the revolutionary era was the image of a disorganized brawl between Boston and British soldiers.
The nonimportation movement was collapsing as merchants' profits dwindled and many members of the colonial elite found they couldn't do without British goods.
During 1769, the value of British imports to the colonies declined, but rebounded to its former level.
British merchants pressed for the repeal of the Townshend duties because they wanted to remove a possible source of future interruption of trade.
American merchants abandoned the boycott after the British ministry agreed to remove troops from Boston and leave in place only a tax on tea.