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The American Revolution: Triggers


The American Revolution is a colonial uprising that took place in 1765 – 1783 in the British colonies of North America. Being in a military alliance with France, the colonists won a landslide victory in the War of Independence, the main result of which was the proclamation of the United States of America and the recognition of their complete and unconditional independence by the British crown (Bonwick, 2017). However, the revolution was initially catalyzed by a series of three major events, which are the Stamp Act, the Boston Massacre, and the Boston Tea Party.

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The Stamp Act

The Stamp Act of 1765 was Britain’s attempt to impose direct taxes on its colonies. According to this document, all trade transactions, the sale of newspapers, books, brochures, playing cards, and some other goods, as well as the execution of any civil documents, were subject to duty in favor of the crown (Hutchins, 2016). At the same time, taxes and duties levied on the colonists, even exacted in full, were lower than those paid by the king’s subjects in the British Isles. Nevertheless, the public in the colonies was outraged by the arbitrariness, a wave of protests and demonstrations against the parliament arose, and various opposition organizations began to emerge.

The Virginia Assembly passed a resolution that it alone, and not legislators from across the ocean, can tax Virginians. In October 1765, representatives of nine colonies in New York took a petition to the king and parliament, demanding the repeal of the stamp duty law (Hutchins, 2016). The text of the stamp duty law was printed with the image of a skull instead of a crown, the funeral ringing was heard in the churches, flags were half-lowered, stuffed ministers of the king dangled from the gallows, and the governor’s house was destroyed in Massachusetts. All tax collectors abandoned their seats, partly out of solidarity with the protest movement, partly out of fear of physical violence. Merchants agreed not to buy English goods, communication committees that arose in various cities decided on the unity of action. The tension between the colonies and the mother country increased.

The Boston Massacre

The Boston Massacre was the second event that further elevated tensions between Britain and the American Colonies. The incident took place in 1770, on March 5, in Boston (Fisher & Abrams, 2020). English soldiers in Massachusetts opened fire on an unarmed crowd, killing several people. Several people were killed, and the army was hastily taken out of the city. The Boston massacre forced England to abolish all fees except the tea tax, which the settlers did not oppose, but simply switched to smuggling the tea. The incident made the people of Boston highly resentful and hostile towards the British Empire.

The Boston Tea Party

The East India Company paid a high tax on the cost of tea, which was imported into the UK. Tea imported into Holland was not taxed, and thus, smuggled Dutch tea was much cheaper. The East India Company was on the verge of bankruptcy (Gilman, 2016). The company could fix things by selling the huge stocks of tea that had accumulated in warehouses to the Americans. Indeed, even with the payment of an insignificant duty, tea imported from England will be the cheapest on the American market. However, for Americans who thrived on the smuggling trade in tea, such an offer promised losses. Widespread propaganda unfolded against this so-called unhealthy tea imported from India presented to America. In 1773, an event took place that was known in history as the Boston Tea Party. On December 16, 1773, three ships loaded with selected tea entered the Boston port (Gilman, 2016). These were the ships of the East India Company, which, according to the so-called tea law, since then received a monopoly on tea trade with the colonies. Therefore, the English government enjoyed free trade in America.

The British Parliament passed the Tea Act, which lowered the price of legitimate, taxable tea and made it competitive compared to the smuggled Dutch one. Ships with tea were sent to America, and responsible consignees were appointed to combat smuggling. A group led by Samuel Adams seized ships and threw thousands of sterling tea into the sea. Decades later, in response to these actions, the government appointed the general as military governor of the Massachusetts Gulf province. He was supposed to implement the just adopted Unbearable laws, which aimed to strengthen the role of Britain in the management of the colonies. At the same time, the Quebec Act was issued, which increased the territory of Canada at the expense of the lands claimed by other American colonies and created an autocratic rule (Gilman, 2016). Thus, Canada was preparing as a bridgehead against the colonists. The subsequent event unfolded in cascade, which resulted in the American Revolution.


In conclusion, the American Revolution was primarily triggered and catalyzed by a series of events, which are the Stamp Act, the Boston Massacre, and the Boston Tea Party. The Stamp Act was one of the first major heavy taxation attempts by the British, which was sharply rejected. The Boston Massacre elevated tensions between the people of Boston and the British. The Boston Tea Party was a final trigger, which initiated the cascade of events that led to the American Revolution.

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Bonwick, C. (2017). English radicals and American Revolution. UNC Press.

Fisher, D., & Abrams, D. (2020). John Adams under fire: The founding father’s fight for justice in the Boston Massacre murder trial. Hanover Square Press.

Gilman, S. (2016). The Boston Tea Party. Enslow Publishing.

Hutchins, Z. M. (2016). Community without consent: New perspectives on the Stamp Act. Dartmouth College Press.

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