a very long history of the united states of america and surrounding areas
chapter 1 : english colonies in north america
1607 - 1763 AD
Jamestown / 1607
Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement in the New World in the area that later became Virginia. They came to find gold and get rich. But they weren’t prepared for hard labor. So they end up, sixty of them surrounded by 20,000 Powhatans without a plan or the necessary tools to survive, let alone thrive.
Tiny aside: is it important to learn from your mistakes? Yes...but it’s so much more fun to learn from other people’s mistakes. And these Jamestown settlers made plenty. For example:
They built their settlement by dirty water that was largely undrinkable. Not good.
They built in a marshy area by a bunch of mosquitoes, which carry disease. Not good.
They were more interested in adventure than hard labor, so they spent more time looking for gold than doing stuff like building and planting. Not good.
So many of them starve. But some of them don’t. Good news is almost half of them make it through the first winter!
Then Captain Smith comes in. Captain John Smith. Sometimes you need a commanding and authoritative - authoritarian? - presence. And John is this man. He forces everyone to work. Work hard. Dig in. Survive. He brokers treaties with the Powhatan Confederacy, a large Native American group, who help them out. Things get a little rocky here and there, and they almost smash his head in at one point, but a certain precious princess saves his life and becomes one half of one of history’s great almost-but-not-quite romances. *spoiler alert* she does marry John. But a different one.
Things aren’t all dandy though. There’s more starving, John Smith has to head back to England, there’s another tough winter, people possibly trying to eat each other, the normal things every civilization goes through during difficult times.
But fortunately, there are other Johns.
Like John Rolfe.
John Rolfe, Jamestown settler, has a plan. Tobacco. He figures out how to cultivate and export it, and voila! A whole new business opportunity opens up and lungs will never be the same. Also, he marries Pocahontas, the Native American princess who was instrumental in helping convince her father to not annihilate the early settlers.
So the tobacco trade opens up. And what does it take to grow tobacco? Labor. A lot of labor. Where to get cheap or even...free labor? More on that soon.
Plymouth / 1621
Plymouth is 450 miles north of Jamestown. But these peeps aren’t here for riches. They’re around for religious freedom. They make the trek on a boat called the Mayflower. They call themselves Pilgrims. Nineteen families and some animals. Plus some firepower.
So they spot a place north of Virginia, in New England, that seems like a place to construct a society of their own making and their own rules. Before they even get off their boat though, they codify some rules in writing called the Mayflower Compact. It basically says a bunch of good stuff about making laws that are just and equal and doing everything to the glory of God and honoring the King of England and so forth. The important thing is, it was important enough to write down to help them remember and jointly hold to values and principles commonly important to all in the community.
Ashore they go. The area now known as Massachusetts.
William Bradford leads the community. Half of them die in the first months of the brutal winter. Fifty remaining of the initial hundred-plus. Sad. The remaining barely have strength to continue building shelters. One tries eating his wife. Not cool.
This time period also gives us the great Thanksgiving myth; one of the greatest of American folk tales that is foundational to who we see ourselves as being. The romantic version is that a couple Native Americans helped broker peace with a local tribe and showed them how to grow crops. Eventually the settlers got things under control and in a beautiful example of karmic friendship, invited everyone to a big harvest feast. One big happy family. I like that story. It’s a good one.
Don’t remember 1621
Do not remember this date. The one I’m about to give: 1621. It’s not important to remember the date 1621. It’s semi-important to know that somewhere in the 1600s was when the first representative government formed and assembled. A government with citizens as elected representatives. This happened in Virginia and was called The House of of Burgesses. But don’t worry about remembering that either. Just remember that in the 1600s was the first example of representative government in the colonies. It opened possibilities; a gateway. And sometimes that’s what you need to build a vision of what can be.
Different types of colonies
Some colonies were chartered. This means they were under the control of a joint-stock company. (Rhode Island, Connecticut)
Some colonies were proprietary. This means they were under the control of whoever owned the land. (Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland)
Some colonies were royal. This means they were under the control of a English-appointed governor. (the Carolinas, Georgia)
These will be relevant in a second (see below).
Again, this happened in Virginia
Remember tobacco? Yep, it’s becoming a bigger and bigger crop. There’s more and more farms taking up land and resources and the Powhatan people are not happy about the impact on their territory. There’s some fighting, killing, bad stuff. Too much fighting. And most fights come down to money and/or power. King James, far away in England, is irked at the effort it’s taking to fight off the Powhatans, so he takes control of Virginia. It’s no longer a charter colony under the control of a company, it’s now a royal colony under the control of...him. England. He appoints a governor to rule and does away with the House of Burgesses.
When you get a taste of something, it’s hard to let that go. Do you think that the colonists of Virginia, after having a taste of representative government, were excited about giving it up?
Eventually, King James’ successor reinstates the House of Burgesses, which is great, but now the colonists have the seed of rebellion sprouting and are prepared to battle and fight for things that seem unfair.
Things like land grabs, high taxes, and failure to adequately respond to their needs.
founding a settlement, religion, government, economy, conflict, slavery
Overview of the Thirteen Colonies
A super fast overview to give you an idea and flavor before we move into pre-Revolutionary War. Aah! So many exciting things ahead. Here we go.
Plymouth / Massachusetts
Another attempted utopia. Remember, the Pilgrims already settled around Plymouth, and a decade or so later, we got more people setting up in Boston with the notion of creating a perfect Christian society. They come up with all kinds of great ideas, including representative government - for males only, of course. More and more folks are leaving England because of persecution; mainly the Puritans (there’s some heavy irony coming up. Wait for it).
So a bunch of Puritans leave England in the 1630s to make a perfect Christian society. And everything goes perfectly. Except for the 21 witches hanged by the Puritan brethren later on that century. Not so perfect for them. But that’s later on.
Not everybody was happy with how things were going in Boston. So some lead their flock to (what is now) Connecticut to start their own colony. They write up the first written constitution in North America and loosen up some of the voting requirements a tiny bit. But of course it’s still only males who can vote. White Christian males.
The heavy irony with the Puritans is that they fled England to flee religious oppression, but then they became the oppressors once they found liberty. Not all of the new settlers liked this hypocrisy, and one of the cool dudes of the time, fellow by the name of Roger Williams in the 1630s, has some crazy ideas that maybe people shouldn’t be forced to go to church, and maybe they shouldn’t steal land from the indigenous peoples, and maybe there should be some type of separation between the church and the state. Yikes! Crazy. He gets banned from Massachusetts. Fortunately he has some followers, and they follow him and they start up the town of Providence.
Also, a woman named Anne Hutchinson gets in hot water with the Massachusetts Puritan clan for having some errant theological views which might have been forgiveable if she wasn’t a woman. But she was. And it was unseemly and disrespectful for a woman to be speaking on matters of import, especially if they were divergent from prevailing dogma. So she heads to Rhode Island. What a heavenly haven.
Remember Anne Hutchinson? See above: she has a bro-in-law. Guess what. He’s a heretic too. According to the Massachusetts bunch. He runs off. Not to Rhode Island, but north to what eventually becomes New Hampshire. Bully for these brave peeps.
Remember the main European countries who explored, settled, and took over the New World, as they called it?
We got the French, who ended up around Quebec and Louisiana.
We got the Spanish, who found themselves in Florida, Texas, California, and the southern parts of the continent.
We got the Italians and Portuguese, who helped revolutionise sailing and navigation, and somehow never dug their claws in deep to North America.
And we’ve got the Dutch, who started a massive colony they called New Netherland.
Countries, like people, get jealous, and when England saw how prosperous and great the Dutch were doing, they decided the best thing to do would be to appropriate their land. So they sent their big boats in the mid-1660s to politely ask the unprepared and unarmed Dutch if they could have their land. Surprisingly the Dutch agreed that would be the best plan, and they put their arms down and let their place get renamed New York, which of course was named after some rich and obnoxious English Duke.
The afore-mentioned Duke gave some of his land to his buddies, who named it New Jersey. Sadly, they didn’t have a harbor, so it was harder to trade and make big bucks. But they did start a representative democracy. Remember Virginia and that 1621 date I told you to forget? Sort of like that.
We can start to see a trend on the East Coast with these colonies revolving around religion and tolerance. Or rather intolerance. Remember, a bunch of people came from England in the first place because they didn’t want to be persecuted for their beliefs. The heavy irony is how much persecuting many of those people did once they were able to worship as they pleased...and expected others to do the same.
New Jersey had a bunch of Quakers, who preferred - and still prefer - to go by Friends rather than Quakers. Because it’s important to call people what they’d like to be called, I shall try to do so. The Quakers - excuse me, Friends, had been kicked out of other colonies, mostly in the New England area, in large part because they believed in three ridiculous things:
They were pacifists. That is to say, they didn’t like or believe in violence.
They were tolerant of other religious beliefs.
They believed that women were equal to men.
How obnoxious can a religion get?
Fortunately, the Puritans did the right thing and booted them out, but sadly a guy named William Penn got a bunch of land from the King to pay off a family debt. He started a new colony called Pennsylvania where people could practice religion how their conscience led them, rather than the Puritans. Philadelphia, its biggest city, grew quickly, and was appropriately known as The City of Brotherly Love.
Mr. Penn also got some other land that became very popular with Swedish immigrants, and later on, corporations due its highly favorable tax laws and shelters. Technically, it was part of of Pennsylvania for a while, but friendly fellow that he was, Penn let them figure things out themselves. Keep part of your brain handy to remember all these little pockets in the colonies where people are getting more and more used to independent thought and the liberty to govern and believe how they wanted. There’s a slight possibility these ideas may be relevant soon as we move into the transition from a loose group of colonies to a united group of...I won’t spoil anything more now. But exciting stuff is coming up soon. Really exciting.
Remember that whole pesky religious deal in England where the Catholics and Protestants are at each other’s throats? Maryland is an attempt at problem-solving that in the 1600s. For Catholics. It’s set up to be a safe zone for Catholics, but guess what? All is not calm. Maryland is a beautiful place so Protestants move in as well, and of course they get along. No they don’t. And to make it super sad, this is what happened: A law gets passed called The Act of Toleration, which is appropriately named, as it prohibits any Christian from being persecuted for their religion. Sidenote: the guy who passed that law was a Catholic. Sidenote: the previous was not a sidenote. It was actually super important, because the law was passed by a Catholic in power and actually seems fairly fair. But as soon as the Protestants are in power, they dump this law, because it’s not fair. Well, to be fair, it’s fair to both Protestants and Catholics, but it’s not fair if you believe you’re a Protestant and therefore more equal than a Catholic, and therefore above being persecuted. So persecuting someone for being a Catholic is once again okay in the mid-
(see: preceding sections about Jamestown and Plymouth)
Sometimes when the children are extra great I give them a cup of hot chocolate to sip on while they study calculus or Latin or whatever it is they do for fun these days. It’s a simple way of expressing thanks for their support. King Charles II had a different way of expressing support for those who supported him in his bloody battle to ascend the throne: he gave them a colony in North America. You’ll never guess what it was called…
...nope. Wrong. Carolina. It was called Carolina. A lot of the people in the northern part were from Virginia, and a lot in the southern were straight from England. These latter peoples came with with slaves and were excited about fertile farmland and a place that would accept their religious preferences and not get too judgmental about slavery and let them govern themselves how they wanted. If it feels like there could be conflict between the northern and southern parts, then yep, you’re right: eventually in the early 1700s the richer folks in the south split off and it becomes…
A guy with a good heart named James gets permission from George - sorry, King George - to start a colony. So he does. This colony has a special mission: it’s going to be for people who have debt trouble. In those days being in debt was a huge deal and there was no Dave Ramsey around to throw them a lifeline. Being in debt - a debtor - was a crime, and James saw Georgia as an opportunity for poor people to have a fresh start. The king liked this idea because the colony could serve as a sort of wall between the other more important non-debtor-inhabited colonies and the Spanish-controlled Florida. So Georgia was born, and James’ vision panned out...exactly the opposite as he had planned. Despite a bunch of rules, like no booze, no slaves, and no huge plantations, wily opportunists found loopholes and pretty soon gave up, and Georgia got filled up with lots of rum, slaves, and giant plantations.
Differences amongst colonies
By the mid-1700s all 13 colonies were established and thriving. They shared certain commonalities...but also some significant differences. They can be remembered as follows:
Despite the good intentions of some, tobacco was just too lucrative a crop to not pursue for the South at large, so massive plantations popped up, often far apart. Tobacco is a crop that is tough on the soil and has to be replanted every three or four years, so this meant a lot of labor. Did plantation owners want to pay a bunch for labor?
The long answer is No. So, where might a supply of free labor come from? Yep. Slaves.
Plantations were big. They were often their own social systems and similar to small towns in the sense that everything happened there. They were spread too far apart for non-farming business to thrive or even survive. They were big and they were far apart, which meant a few people got rich, which meant that the reins of power were held by only a few. However, even though only a small percentage of Southerners were wealthy, the economy of the entire region depended on...slavery.
Ah, slavery. Remember those greedy conquistadores who kept wanting more and more and more? Their lust for gold, more gold, more gold more gold more gold, was insatiable. That’s the way it is sometimes with money and power. You get a taste of it and can’t stop wanting more and more. So tobacco is a super great way to make a bunch of money, so these plantations keep getting bigger and bigger, and the bigger they get, the more slaves you need, and the more slaves you need, the more slaves...there are to potentially rise up and defy you.
Oh...so now we start to have a problem. There’s gotta be slaves, right, but what if there’s too many? And that’s the reality, the reality of the plantation owners’ greatest fear: that because there so many more slaves than slave owners, that they might rise up and rebel. So they made sure there were plenty of laws to keep slaves in their place. Strict, strict laws to maintain the natural order of things.
Northerns tended to live much closer together geographically. Their lives were much more social in the sense of having neighbors and ongoing daily interactions with each other.
They have farms, but nothing on the scale of the South. The soil was far inferior for crops, so they were dependent on developing other industries. Lumber, shipbuilding, trade, fishing, and crafts were all integral parts of their economy. Because they didn’t have huge plantations, they didn’t rely on slaves like their Southern brethren, but they certainly benefited from the slave trade and its effect on their economy.
It’s so much easier to have clear-cut enemies and bad guys. The Puritans are such great villains, in all their religious hypocrisy, but they did have some good notions, such as a belief in hard work and the importance of education. Schools were required in any town of more than 50 residents.
The Middle Colonies
These colonies were sort of like the bridge between the North and the South. This might have to with them coincidentally existing in the middle between them. They shared similarities with the South in the sense that they grew some crops, and similarities with the North in how they developed certain industries such as forestry and iron.
They were also in the middle with their use of slaves. Nothing to the extent of the South, but they freely used them in both farms and cities. Add in the high percentage of immigrants, and the Middle Colonies had the most diverse population of any region. When you’re living amongst diverse populations, it does something to your ability to empathize and understand, so perhaps not coincidentally, these colonies tended to have the most tolerant attitudes. Also, remember William Penn and his influence on ideas of tolerance. Those would be the Middle Colonies.
At this point, the West, or the backcountry, is everything west of the Appalachian Mountains. There’s fewer rules, less law, and not near as many big farms and plantations. Perhaps because of these factors and others, recent immigrants are drawn the area.
Unified National Identity
There are significant differences amongst the three regions. In spite of those differences, there are some unifying factors.
To begin with, most shared an English background. Whether or not they liked each other all the time, they had a shared common experience and culture to unite and give a frame of reference. And understanding where someone is coming from, both figuratively and literally, is an important step in forming strong connections.
Because land was plentiful and cheap, and because ownership of it was tied to the right to vote, it meant simply being a landowner brought a degree of power - and brotherhood with fellow landowners. I say “brotherhood” because of course only men could own land, and therefore vote.
The rise of landowners and its accompanying wealth and status also meant that a middle class begin to emerge. Instead of having super rich people at the top and super poor workers at the bottom, they had A) no aristocracy or nobility at the top and B) slaves at the bottom. So a whole new class of society began to form around the middle. Not rich, not poor. Middle.
There was also a greater tolerance for differing religious beliefs than in the countries they came from. We look now and view their level of supposed tolerance appearing intolerant, but just as the idea of “the West” was relative to the time, the idea of “religious tolerance” was relative as well.
Perhaps most important, that whole idea of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” rang true. The three regions found themselves in overlapping conflicts with Native Americans, as well as the Spanish and French. Nothing helps forge bonds, besides a good cup of coffee and conversation, like fighting side-by-side someone. So I’ve heard.
Speaking of enemies, in the mid-1600s, England did something super uncool. They passed a law that basically made it illegal for the colonies to trade with any country except for England. Remember, the colonies have been getting a taste of representative government and making decisions for themselves, so are they happy about this mandate from a country far across the ocean?
No. Do they unquestioningly obey?
No. The stage is slowly being set. Stay tuned.
English bill of rights / Magna Carta
Once upon a time, 400 years before this, there was a terrible king. His name was John. He was not likeable because he was mean and he was a bully. Fortunately, some people stood up to him, which is a good thing to do with bullies, and he was forced into signing one of the most important legal documents in history: the Magna Carta.
The Magna Carta basically said that there are certain rights people have, and just because you’re king doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want. It put into writing and into law the idea that there are limits to a king’s authority.
It is considered a cornerstone of individual liberty today; the idea that people have certain rights such as the right to a fair trial, the right to justice, the right to have individual liberty.
Anyway, back to the present, which is 1600s England. King James does some dumb things, like trying to take control of the northern colonies. Short version is, nobody’s happy about this and he gets booted. His daughter and son-in-law take over.
They sign off on an English bill of rights which basically puts certain limits on what the monarchy can and can’t do, and gives more power and oversight to Parliament. Sort of like a sequel to the Magna Carta. England keeps making laws about trade and such, but - this is the important part - they pretty much keep their hands off enforcing them.
Colonists, importantly, still consider themselves to be full citizens of England and to retain all of the rights that a full English citizen has.
Imagine there’s no television, no YouTube, no Instagram, no Beyonce concerts, no Barnum Brothers circus. Your entertainment is this:
Somebody on a stage under a big tent waving a Bible and yelling at you. Sort of like those things (see above) all rolled into one. In this case, it’s religion delivered as what seems to be entertainment now, but at that point was deadly serious business. The business of saving souls by screaming at them loudly. This was part of The Great Awakening starting in the 1730s. Preachers would travel around and deliver ferocious sermons about hell and damnation and such under a big tent, and people would be revived from their secular stupor and brought to their senses. Coincidentally, these were also called revival meetings. People loved them, and because of these huge numbers of people were moved by these traveling speakers to find personal relationships with God.
Think of the most opposite thing you can think of from someone yelling at you about the fires of hell; something that would certainly burn and lighten your face. That is my attempt to segue to another important happening, using fiery illumination as a bridge.
Instead of a religious movement such as the Great Awakening, the Great Enlightenment was a philosophical movement that emphasized the importance of human reason rather than divine providence. It advanced the idea that humans could solve problems and apply scientific analysis to learning about the world and creating just laws to live by.
It started in the 1620s along with scientific advances and *spoiler alert* was a huge influence on later pioneers of liberty such as Tom Jefferson and Ben Franklin...and pretty much all the gentlemen whose names appear on the Declaration of Independence.
A fellow named John Locke wrote a piece called The Social Contract that outlined certain expectations that every individual should be able to make about their rights, in return for living within a just society.
What is the relationship between the Great Awakening and the (Great) Enlightenment? They’re so totally different, man.
Wel, they both advanced the idea that individuals could and should expect equality. Equality in the eyes of God and equality in the eyes of their fellow human beings.
Not to dampen the parade, but just as a reminder, equality at this point generally meant:
Equality as long as you’re a Christian. You can believe differently and be treated equally. As long as you’re a Christian.
Equality as long as you’re a white landowning male. If you have property and your skin’s the right color and you’re born the correct gender, then you totally have equality, man.
Baby steps. Sometimes it really is agonizing baby steps. And let’s face it: those steps seem agonizing when we analyze and judge afterwards. But there are many, many people who suffered terribly and horribly in order to fight for those baby steps. Let’s not forget that. And along with that, let’s cut each other some slack as we pursue ever-greater understanding and empathy.
Freedom of the press
All this stuff about rights. Rights, rights, rights. What happened to when things were sweet and simple and everybody just obeyed the king completely?
Johannes Gutenberg ruined so much for those in power. Once mass printing was a reality, there was no slowing down the onslaught of information - and propaganda - flooding the streets. Much of this information came from newspapers, and in the mid-1700s, the first ideas about freedom of the press started to hit the courts.
The first had to do with a publisher who wrote negative things about the New York governor. The governor was a buddy of the king, and it was illegal to write smack about the king, so therefore, the publisher was in violation of the law and went on trial.
Can a free nation survive and thrive without a free press? Hmm...the long answer is…
No. No way. It cannot. Stay tuned.
chapter 2 : American Revolution, part I
1754 - 1769
Forgive the previous time jump. The one where we leaped back to the Magna Carta signing in the 1200s, the movable type printing press in the 1400s, and the Enlightenment beginning in the 1600s. Now we’re to the present. The mid-1700s.
There’s a bunch of land. That’s why so many Europeans have come to the New World. There’s land. Lots of it. Plenty. Except...the more of them that come over, the more crowded it gets. So the English settlers keep edging their way west…
...which shouldn’t be a big deal, right? Wrong. At this point most of North America is settled by two European countries: the English and the French. There are way more English...but the French dominate the trapping and fur trade. Rich Europeans back home can’t live without their fur coats and beaver hats. So the French have built forts all along the rivers to protect their trade routes. And now those routes, waterways, and lands are being threatened as British settlers continue moving west…
The friend of my friend is...
Are Native Americans excited about helping any Europeans? Hard to say at this point without benefit of a time machine. But they do have a hard decision to make: which side are they going to ally themselves with? The British or the French? In the end, many go with the French, who are smaller in number, bring European treats to trade with, and are slightly less aggressive about taking their lands than the British.
The colonies - mostly British - aren’t stupid. They’re making their own preparations for war. Guy calling himself Ben Franklin comes up with a plan for the colonies to band together; an alliance where they could pool their resources to train militias and be better organized to fight the French. But the individual colonies don’t want to give up any independence or power...so it’s a no go. They keep on fighting alone. And frequently losing.
George, not the King III
The super short version is that the 1750s mark the first time history meets a young Virginian in his 20s by the name of George Washington. He gets in fights with some French, builds a fort, attacks a fort, loses a battle, but returns a hero. The legend begins.
The Seven Years’ War, a.k.a….
Fighting is not only usually stupid, it’s always expensive.
Super expensive. King George III, sitting comfortably in England, is tired of spending money on fighting. Fair enough. So he makes an armchair decision; one from thousands of miles away that makes the colonists unhappy. The decision is this:
“No more settling east of the Appalachian Mountains,” his proclamation says.
Settlers are not pleased. And why not? They’ve paid money for land, and now some guy sitting thousands of miles away tells them they can’t live there? Not fair. They pretty much ignore this proclamation and keep on doing their thing, settling where they want and building farms where they feel like. Including east of the Appalachians. From this standpoint, yep, they’re the protagonists, defying the powerful king - or rather ignoring - and carving their own destiny. Carving, of course, through Native American land and French forts. So the fighting continues. King George III is not cool with this. Again, fighting is expensive.
These little ongoing battles finally turn into all-out war. It’s often called The French and Indian War, and this is mostly accurate: it’s the British and the British colonists versus the French and their Native American allies. However, The Seven Years’ War is more accurate because the war ended up including other European countries as well and it lasted...seven years.
It was also a foretaste of the mighty British army and its approach to war. King George sent a general over with some men and told him to take care of things. George Washington tried talking to this general, Ed Braddock, and giving him a little advice:
“You gotta fight ‘em Indian style,” George said. “You don’t wanna march in there all organized and lined up in your red uniforms.”
General Braddock ignored George and did exactly that. Soon he was killed and the British - inexplicably known as redcoats, possibly due to their red coats - were losing terribly.
But the British had numbers. They sent more and more troops and the tide began to turn. Finally, they took the last of the French armies down at the Battle of Quebec. The war was over.
The two countries signed a treaty at which France gave up claim to all their territory east of the Mississippi as well as the Spanish-held territory of Florida. Spain had chosen to back the wrong country and therefore lost what would later become known as the Sunshine State. Sad. For them. Choose your allies well.
Everyone’s happy, let’s get together
Speaking of allies, let’s remember whose lands we’re talking about. England, France, and Spain are arguing and fighting over which of them should control...whose land? Was there somebody there before any of them?
Oh, right...the Native Americans. They’re in a lose-lose-lose scenario. Some scenarios are worse than others though, and the British winning the Seven Years’ War was not a big break for them. Now they’re dealing with even more seizing of their lands. They keep fighting, but the British presence is growing stronger and stronger and it’s getting more and more difficult to push them back, although they keep trying.
Money money money
Again, back to this idea of King George III sitting on his safe throne far away, along with Parliament, and making decisions about the Colonies and their future. Who’s got skin in the game? This ‘rule from far away’ is starting to rub some colonists the wrong way.
We’re the ones doing the hard work. We’re the ones fighting. We’re the ones building, trading, settling, creating new homelands with our sweat and blood, yet these laws and proclamations are passed from across the ocean...and we don’t have a say in what happens.
Not cool. They’re getting hungrier and hungrier to control their own lives and destinies. Or at least to have a voice in the making of laws that affect them.
Protest (1764 - 1774)
What is the big thing we know about war? It costs money. Lots of money. That money’s gotta come from somewhere. The Seven Years’ War has ended, but King George is leaving an army in the colonies to help keep peace. Those soldiers aren’t volunteering their time. They gotta get paid. But how are they going to get paid and how is the massive - and mounting - war debt going to paid? Bills bills bills. Where to find the money?
George goes to the solution politicians have gone to for centuries: taxes. The reasoning is this: It’s my army, and they’re protecting you guys, so you guys can help foot the bill. Seems reasonable?
Adams and Henry
Boston Tea Party
First Continental Congress (1774)
The colonists are not happy. They’re ready to do something. Something formal. They meet. The year is 1774 and it marks the first meeting of the First Continental Congress. Momentous.
Lexington and Concord
Second Continental Congress
Battle of Bunker Hill / Breed’s Hill
Declaration of Independence (1776)
States and capitals: