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1754-1783: Business and the Economy: Chronology

1754-1783: Business and the Economy: Chronology




  • A board of brokers is formed to supervise the financial activities at the London Coffee-House for Merchants and Traders in Philadelphia.


  • A stagecoach line begins operating between Philadelphia and New York City.
  • Parliament allows duty-free imports of American iron into England.


  • Virginia forms a public corporation to encourage the growth of manufacturing.


  • Benjamin Franklin publishes The Interests of Great Britain Considered, arguing that colonial manufactures will not hurt the mother country.
  • Boston, Providence, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Charleston are connected by a rough road.


  • Boston merchants oppose in Massachusetts court the use of general warrants by English customs officials. These warrants allow the authorities to search anywhere and at any time for smuggled goods.
  • The United Company of Spermaceti Candle Manufacturers of Providence and Newport is formed to fix prices, limit dealers, and ban new candle companies.



  • Parliament reduces bounties on indigo.
  • Chambers of commerce are established in New York and New Jersey.
  • Boston forms the Society for Encouraging Trade and Commerce.
  • In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Henry Williams unsuccessfully attempts to navigate a steamboat on Conestoga Creek.
  • The Proclamation of 1763 places the Indian trade under royal control and temporarily bans new settlements west of the Appalachian Mountains.
  • 9 Sept. The English Crown grants George Washington and associates 2.5 million acres at the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.


  • New York City businessmen and merchants form the Society for the Promotion of Arts, Agriculture, and Economy.
  • Parliament bans the immigration of skilled workers to the colonies.
  • German-born Heinrich Stiegel founds a glass factory in Pennsylvania and staffs it with foreign glassmakers.
  • Peter Hasenclever starts two industrial complexes, including blast furnaces, forges, stamping mills, and grist and steel mills, in northern New Jersey.
  • 5 Apr. Parliament passes the Sugar Act.
  • 19 Apr. Parliament passes the Currency Act forbidding colonies, particularly Virginia, from issuing paper money.
  • May-June Boston merchants and mechanics begin to boycott English luxury goods.


  • Jonn Harmon manufactures the first chocolate in North America, in Dorchester Lower Mills, Massachusetts.
  • 22 Mar. Parliament passes the Stamp Act.
  • 19 Oct. The Stamp Act Congress in New York City resolves not to import goods that require payment of the stamp duty.


  • London merchants, fearful of losing business, petition Parliament to repeal the Stamp Act.
  • The Flying Machine, a wagon running from Camden, New Jersey, to presentday Jersey City, offers passengers a service faster than any currently available.
  • 18 Mar. The Stamp Act is repealed, but Parliaments Declaratory Act affirms its right to make any law for the American colonies.


  • 29 June. The Townshend Revenue Act imposes taxes on tea, glass, paper, and dyestuffs.
  • Public protest meetings in Massachusetts and Virginia result in nonimportation agreements.
  • A committee is formed in New York City to develop native industries.


  • The proclamation line of 1763 is redrawn to accommodate land companies.
  • Twenty journeymen tailors strike for higher wages in New York City.
  • The New York City Chamber of Commerce is formed in Fraunces Tavern.
  • 10 June. John Hancocks Liberty is seized by customs officials for transporting illicit wine, but the authorities release it when a mob forms.
  • 1 Aug. Boston and New York merchants boycott English goods.


  • Heinrich Stiegel opens a second American glassmaking plant at Manheim, Pennsylvania; his name becomes identified with a type of American glassware.
  • Anthracite coal is used for the first time in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
  • The Grand Ohio Company is formed in England to buy twenty million acres in the Ohio River valley for settlement.
  • New Jersey grants the Hibernian Ironworks seven years exemption from taxes.
  • A guild of building trades workers is founded in New York City.
  • The Boston Society for Encouraging Industry and Employing the Poor builds a spinning school.
  • Mar. Philadelphia and Baltimore merchants join the nonimportation association.


  • 31 Jan. Five hundred Boston women agree to support a boycott of tea.
  • 12 Apr. Parliament repeals the Townshend duties but retains the tax on tea. In response the colonies lift their embargo of British goods except tea.


  • July A crisis in the English banking system reduces the credit available to colonial merchants, forcing them to sell their inventories at low prices.


  • Tailors in Philadelphia form a company to fix prices and limit journeymens wages.
  • Phillip Mazzei of Virginia imports workers and materials from Italy to start silk production.
  • 27 Apr. Parliament passes the Tea Act to save the British East India Company from bankruptcy. The companys resulting monopoly puts American tea merchants out of business.
  • 16 Dec. The Boston Tea Party occurs.


  • Parliament bans exports of textile machinery, including plans and models, to the American colonies; additional acts are passed in 1781 and 1782.
  • The Transylvania Company is formed by land speculators in Kentucky. The Illinois and Wabash Land companies are formed to buy tracts of western territory.
  • 19 Apr. Edmund Burke writes On American Taxation.
  • 20 Oct. The Continental Association, a committee of the Continental Congress, bars the importation of British goods.
  • 25 Oct. Fifty-one women in Edenton, North Carolina, sign an antitea declaration.


  • The English Board of Trade approves the Vandalia Companys request to buy 2.4 million acres of land in eastern Kentucky. (Benjamin Franklin is among the members of the company.)
  • Samuel Wetherill starts a cloth factory with spinning jennies in Philadelphia.
  • 20 Feb. The first joint-stock manufacturing company, the American Manufactory of Woolens, Linens, and Cottons, is established. Shares of the company sell at ten pounds apiece.
  • 10 Mar. Daniel Boone begins blazing the Wilderness Road westward from Virginias Shenandoah Valley. It was improved for wagon traffic in 1795.
  • 22 Mar. Burke gives his Speech on Conciliation with the Colonies to Parliament.
  • May Congress establishes a postal system with Benjamin Franklin as postmaster.
  • 15 July. Congress authorizes foreign vessels to import essential war materials and to export American products.
  • 19 Sept. Congress appoints a Secret Committee to make contracts for the purchase of foreign war supplies.
  • 8 Nov. Congress empowers the Secret Committee to export American products to the West Indies in exchange for arms, ammunition, and saltpeter.


  • Congress institutes a national lottery.
  • Paul Revere starts a gunpowder factory at Canton, Massachusetts.
  • John Sears builds a saltworks on Cape Cod to evaporate salt from seawater.
  • Adam Smith publishes The Wealth of Nations.
  • Congress authorizes a loan of $5 million to finance the war.
  • 6 Apr. Congress declares American ports open to all marine traffic except that from England.
  • 26 Sept. Congress appoints commissioners to negotiate commercial treaties with European nations.


  • Oliver Evans invents a machine that improves the productivity of wool manufacturing.
  • Congress establishes a cannon manufactory in Springfield, Massachusetts.
  • July After declaring itself an independent state in January, Vermont adopts a constitution that abolishes slavery and adopts universal male suffrage without regard to property.


  • Congress prohibits the importation of slaves into the United States.
  • 6 Feb. A French-American commercial treaty is signed in Paris.


  • Peletiah Webster writes Essay on Free Trade and Finance, opposing regulations on prices and wages.


  • 25 Feb. Congress requisitions the states to provide specific supplies to the Continental Army.
  • 1 Mar. Pennsylvania becomes the first state to abolish slavery. (Vermont does not join the Union until 1791.) All children born after the laws passage are free citizens.
  • 18 Mar. Congress passes an act to redeem Continental paper money at one-fortieth of the face value.


  • The first American pharmaceutical firm is founded.
  • The Mutual Assurance Company is formed in Philadelphia to provide fire insurance on houses.
  • Robert Morris and associates form the North American Land Company, the first American trust, to sell nearly six million acres of western lands in six states.
  • France extends a large loan to the United States.
  • 20 Feb. Congress appoints Robert Morris as superintendent of finance.
  • 31 Dec. The Bank of North America is established by Congress.



  • 3 Sept. The Treaty of Paris is signed, ending the Revolutionary War.
  • Britain closes the West Indian trade to the United States but permits it to ex-port manufactured goods to England.
  • The Empress of China, financed by Robert Morris and partners, is the first U.S. vessel to visit Canton, China.

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