The French and Indian War ended in 1763 with the French losing Canada and all their land east of the Mississippi River.
King George III decided to leave troops in the American colonies in case of future French incursions or native uprisings. British troops were to be paid with taxes collected from the colonies: the Sugar Tax of 1764, the Stamp Tax of 1765 and the Townshend Acts of 1767, taxing glass, paint and paper.
As the Colonies had no representative in Parliament, the cry arose, “No taxation without representation.”
The King imposed Writs of Assistance in 1765 allowing British authorities to arrest anybody, anytime, anywhere on any suspicion, read their personal correspondence, and detain them indefinitely. Citizens could have their houses, property and farms taken without a warrant or due process.
As there were no barracks, British troops forcibly entered into colonists’ homes and lodged or “quartered” in them, leaving families to live in barns, basements or attics.
On March 5, 1770, a mob formed in Boston to protest, and in the confusion British troops fired into the crowd, killing five, one of which was the African-American patriot, Crispus Attucks.
This became known as the Boston Massacre.
Paul Revere’s popular engraving of the Boston Massacre fanned flames of anti-British sentiment. On the second anniversary of the Massacre, 1772, the president of Massachusetts’ Colonial Congress, Joseph Warren, who would later send Paul Revere on his midnight ride, stated:
“If you perform your part, you must have the strongest confidence that the same Almighty Being who protected your pious and venerable forefathers … will still be mindful of you. … May our land be a land of liberty … until the last shock of time shall bury the empires of the world in one common undistinguishable ruin!”
On the fourth anniversary of the Boston Massacre, 1774, John Hancock, who would be the first to sign the Declaration of Independence, stated:
“Let us play the man for our GOD, and for the cities of our GOD. … By a faithful discharge of our duty to our country, let us joyfully leave her important concerns in the hands of HIM who raiseth up and putteth down empires and kingdoms of the world as HE pleases.”
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