American Revolution Timeline: Important Political Dates

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John Adams once wrote, "But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people."

The following table recognizes Adams' distinction and offers a summary of those events that changed many Americans from loyal subjects of the king in 1763 to revolutionaries intent on independence in 1776.

The military result of this process is summarized elsewhere in the timeline of the War of Independence.


British Policies
Impacting American Colonies
Events in American Colonies
February 10
Treaty of Paris ending French and Indian War
Proclamation of 1763 prohibits western settlement
April 5
Sugar Act enacted to defray cost of recent war
Customs Office reforms to tighten enforcement of trade laws
April 19
Currency Act restricts issuance of paper money in colonies

James Otis raises cry of "no taxation without representation"

Bostonians boycott British-made luxuries
March 22
Stamp Act passed as first "direct tax" on American colonies
March 24
Quartering Act passed for maintaining British troops in America

Patrick Henry delivers "treason" speech in the Virginia House of Burgesses

Massachusetts sends Circular Letter to organize opposition to Stamp Act
August 14

Sons of Liberty terrorize Andrew Oliver in Boston
August 26

Looting of Thomas Hutchinson house by Sons of Liberty
October 7-25

Stamp Act Congress meets in New York City
November 1

Effective date for Stamp Act

Stamp Act riots in New York City
February 22
House of Commons considers repeal of Stamp Act (House approval March 4; Lords on March 17)
March 18
Declaratory Act approved in wake of Stamp Act repeal

Riots in New York City over enforcement of Quartering Act

New York assembly suspended
June - July
Townshend Acts passed:
New York Restraining Act
Customs Service Reform
Townshend Duty Act


Boycott of British luxury items in Boston
December 2

First installment of John Dickinson's Letters
February 11

Samuel Adams and James Otis' circular letter opposing Townshend Acts sent to colonial assemblies

Temporary crisis over John Hancock's ship, Lydia

British warship arrives in Boston harbor to protect threatened customs officials
June 10

Customs officials seize Hancock's Liberty

Massachusetts assembly suspended for refusing to rescind Circular Letter
October 1

British troops occupy Boston

Virginia Resolves of George Mason oppose British policies; governor closes House of Burgesses

Nonimportation agreements spread to Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina
January 16-18

Sons of Liberty v. Redcoats in New York City ends in Battle of Golden Hill
March 5

Boston Massacre followed by removal of troops from city
April 12
Repeal of Townshend Duties except for tax on tea
October - December

John Adams' defense of Capt. Preston and troops
June 9-10

Gaspee affair in Narragansett Bay

Boston Committee of Correspondence formed

Virginia creates Committee of Correspondence
May 10
Tea Act into effect
December 16

Boston Tea Party
January 29
Benjamin Franklin scolded by Privy Council in London
March 31
Coercive Acts (initial)
Boston Port Act
Measure labeled as "Intolerable Acts" in colonies
May 13

Boston boycott; Thomas Gage replaces Hutchinson; additional troops arrive
May 20
Coercive Acts (additional)
Massachusetts Government Act
Administration of Justice Act

June 2
Coercive Acts (additional)
Quartering Act (revised)

June 22
Quebec Act (Regarded in America as Intolerable Act)
July 18

Fairfax Resolves adopted by Virginia convention
September 5

First Continental Congress convenes in Philadelphia (adjourns Oct. 26)
September 9

Suffolk Resolves adopted in Massachusetts
September 17

Congress urges defiance of Coercive Acts and formation of militias
October 10
Battle of Point Pleasant
October 14

Congress approves Declaration of Rights and Grievances
October 20

Continental Association formed to enforce boycotts
February 9
Parliament declares American colonies in state of rebellion
March 23

Patrick Henry's "liberty or death" speech
March 30
New England Restraining Act
April 18

Revere and others warn of British move
April 19

Battle of Lexington and Concord
May 10

Second Continental Congress convenes in Philadelphia

---- Selected Quotes ----

Quotes regarding American Revolution Timeline: Important Political Dates.

By John Adams
What do we mean by the Revolution? The war? That was no part of the revolution; it was only an effect and consequence of it. The revolution was in the minds of the people, and this was effected from 1760–1775, in the course of fifteen years, before a drop of blood was shed at Lexington.
Letter to Thomas Jefferson, August 24, 1815
By Thomas Paine
THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.
The American Crisis

- - - Books You May Like Include: ----

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