1754-1783: Government and Politics: Chronology

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1754-1783: Government and Politics: Chronology




  • The Philadelphia State House is completed.
  • 9 May Benjamin Franklin draws a cartoon of a snake cut into eight pieces, representing the colonies, with the caption Join or Die.
  • 19 June Representatives from seven American colonies meet at Albany, New York, to work toward common defense against the French and to secure the support of the Iroquois Confederacy.
  • 10 July The Albany conference approves Benjamin Franklins plan to form a union of colonies.
  • 17 Aug. Pennsylvania rejects the Albany Plan, and other colonies and the British government also refuse to support it.


  • 14 Apr. British general Edward Braddock meets with colonial governors at Alexandria, Virginia, to plan an attack on French fortifications.


  • 3 Feb. The Pennsylvania assembly appoints Benjamin Franklin their agent in dealing with the proprietary government.


  • 5 Nov. In the secret Treaty of San Ildefonso, France cedes Louisiana to Spain.


  • The Ottawa chief Pontiac leads an Indian uprising against the British in the Ohio River valley.


  • 5 Apr. Parliament passes the Sugar Act, reducing the tariff on molasses imported into North America and sending customs agents and collectors to the colonies.


  • 2 Feb. Benjamin Franklin and other colonial agents meet with Prime Minister George Grenville to protest the stamp tax.
  • 22 Mar. King George III endorses the stamp tax, which Parliament had approved on 27 February; it will take effect in November.
  • 15 May Parliament passes the Quartering Act, requiring the colonists to provide shelter and supplies to British soldiers.
  • 13 Aug. A Boston mob destroys the office of stamp collector Andrew Oliver and attacks his house.
  • 26 Aug. A Boston mob destroys the home of lieutenant governor and chief justice Thomas Hutchinson in protest of the Stamp Act.
  • 1617 Sept. A Philadelphia mob attacks stamp distributors.
  • 725 Oct. Nine colonies represented at the Stamp Act Congress in New York protest Parliaments taxation of the colonies.
  • 1 Nov. The Stamp Act goes into effect, and colonial courts are shut down by angry mobs refusing to purchase stamps.


  • 17 Mar. Parliament rescinds the stamp tax but insists it has power to tax the colonies.
  • 16 May Celebrations begin in America as news of the Stamp Acts repeal reaches the colonies.
  • July The Treaty of Oswego ends Pontiacs War.
  • 6 Dec. The Massachusetts assembly votes to compensate victims of the Stamp Act riots but also pardons the rioters.


  • John Dickinson begins publishing Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania to the Inhabitants of the British Colonies, protesting Parliaments power to tax the colonies.
  • 20 Jan. The formal transfer of Louisiana to the Spanish governor Don Antonio de Ulloa occurs.
  • 2 July Parliament passes the Townshend duties, imposing taxes on tea, glass, paper, and other goods sold in the colonies.


  • 11 Feb. Georgia appoints Benjamin Franklin its colonial agent in London.
  • 10 Apr. After inspecting all the Spanish presidios from Texas to Sonora, Mexico, Marques de Rubi recommends that Spain consolidate them into a line of seventeen sites, which will be done in 1772.
  • 10 June British authorities seize John Hancocks sloop Liberty for violating customs laws.
  • 1 Aug. Boston merchants adopt a nonimportation agreement.
  • 22 Sept. Delegates from twenty-six Massachusetts towns meet in a convention to draw up a protest against the Townshend duties.
  • Oct. A rebellion by French colonists forces Spanish governor Ulloa to flee New Orleans for Havana.
  • 1 Nov. British troops arrive in Boston to enforce customs laws.
  • 5 Nov. In the Treaty of Fort Stanwix the Iroquois confirm the cession of territories in the Ohio and Tennessee River valleys to the British.


  • 16 May After Virginias House of Burgesses rejects Parliaments right to tax the colonies, the governor dissolves the assembly, which continues to meet privately, agreeing not to import British goods.
  • 27 June The Massachusetts House of Representatives petitions the king to remove Governor Francis Bernard from government.
  • 18 Aug. Gen. Alexandra OReilly suppresses the Louisiana rebellion and restores Spanish control.
  • 19 Nov. Inhabitants of the French settlement at St. Louis take the oath of allegiance to the king of Spain.


  • Jan. Lt. Gov. Thomas Hutchinson refuses to use military force to protect customs agents and merchants from Massachusetts protestors.
  • 19-20 Jan. The Battle of Golden Hill, New York, results in one death as the Sons of Liberty skirmish with British soldiers trying to remove liberty poles from Golden Hill, Manhattan.
  • 5 Mar. In the Boston Massacre five Bostonians are killed when British soldiers fire into a mob.
  • 12 Apr. Parliament repeals all the Townshend duties except the one on tea.


  • 3 Feb. Pedro Fermin de Mendinueta, Spanish governor of New Mexico, makes peace with the Comanches.
  • 14 Mar. Thomas Hutchinson is commissioned as royal governor of Massachusetts.
  • 23 Sept. Antonio Maria Bucarely y Ursua becomes viceroy of New Spain and immediately advocates the Spanish settlement in California.


  • 28 Feb. The Boston assembly threatens to secede from the British Empire unless its rights are protected.
  • 9 June The H.M.S. Gaspee, a British customs vessel, runs aground while chasing a suspected smuggler in Rhode Island; local citizens drive off the British sailors and burn the ship to the waterline.
  • 2 Nov. The Boston town meeting creates a twenty-one-member committee of correspondence to communicate with other towns in the colony and to defend the rights of colonists as Men, as Christians, and as Subjects.
  • 20 Nov. The Boston committee of correspondence issues a declaration of rights and a list of grievances drafted by Samuel Adams.


  • 6 Jan. Gov. Thomas Hutchinson opens a session of the Massachusetts assembly with a speech outlining the proper constitutional roles of colonies and Parliament.
  • 2526 Jan. The Massachusetts assembly responds to Hutchinsons speech on proper constitutional roles.
  • 12 Mar. The Virginia House of Burgesses creates an eleven-man committee of correspondence to obtain information about British actions and to keep other colonies informed of these developments.
  • May New York and Massachusetts resolve a border controversy.
  • 7 May The Rhode Island assembly creates a committee of correspondence.
  • 10 May The king approves the Tea Act, giving the British East India Company a monopoly on all tea sold in North America.
  • 21 May Connecticut forms a committee of correspondence.
  • 27 May The New Hampshire assembly forms a committee of correspondence.
  • 28 May Massachusetts Bay forms a committee of correspondence.
  • 2 June The Massachusetts assembly reads letters from Governor Hutchinson and Lt. Gov. Andrew Oliver to British authorities, advocating repression against rebellious colonists; the assembly calls for the removal of Hutchinson and Oliver.
  • 7 July Governor Hutchinson learns that Benjamin Franklin had sent his letters to the assembly and calls for his prosecution for treason.
  • 8 July South Carolina forms a committee of correspondence.
  • 10 Sept. Georgia forms a committee of correspondence.
  • 14 Oct. An Annapolis mob burns a cargo of tea.
  • 15 Oct. A Philadelphia mass meeting denounces the Tea Act as an attack upon the liberties of America which every American was ... bound to oppose. Maryland forms a committee of correspondence.
  • 16 Oct. The Pennsylvania assembly forms a committee of correspondence.
  • 23 Oct. Delaware forms a committee of correspondence.
  • 8 Dec. North Carolina forms a committee of correspondence.
  • 16 Dec. A Boston mob disguised as Mohawk Indians dumps a cargo of tea into the harbor.


  • 20 Jan. The New York assembly forms a committee of correspondence.
  • 29 Jan. Benjamin Franklin is examined by the Privy Council for Plantation Affairs and by Solicitor General Alexander Wedderburn, who is also representing Thomas Hutchinson and Andrew Oliver, on how he obtained Hutchinsons correspondence; the next day he is dismissed from his postmaster general position.
  • 8 Feb. The New Jersey assembly forms a committee of correspondence.
  • 31 Mar. Parliament enacts the Boston Port Bill, closing the port of Boston in retaliation for the Tea Party.
  • 3 May Effigies of Thomas Hutchinson and British solicitor general Alexander Wedderburn are burned in Philadelphia.
  • 13 May Thomas Gage, commissioned governor of Massachusetts, arrives in Boston.
  • 20 May The king signs two statutes: the Massachusetts Government Act suspends the colonys charter and gives the royal governor the power to appoint local sheriffs and magistrates; the Administration of Justice Act allows the Crown to move trials in cases involving royal officials to Nova Scotia or England.
  • 26 May After reading the Virginia House of Burgesses call for a day of fasting and prayer in support of the Massachusetts colonists, John Murray, Lord Dunmore, the Virginia governor, dissolves the assembly.
  • 27 May Eighty-nine members of the dissolved Virginia Assembly meet at the Raleigh Tavern and agree to support Massachusetts, call for a Continental Congress to consolidate action, and support economic pressure to force England to rescind the Massachusetts Government Act.
  • 15 June Twelve colonies begin choosing delegates to a Continental Congress.
  • 17June After the Massachusetts House of Representatives meets behind locked doors to choose delegates to the Continental Congress, Gen. Thomas Gage dissolves the General Court.
  • 22 June The king signs the Quebec Act, establishing a government in the province of Quebec, extending its borders to the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, and granting the Catholic Church power to collect tithes.
  • 10 Aug. Georgia adopts a declaration of rights but decides not to send delegates to the Continental Congress.
  • 3 Sept. General Gage begins fortifying the town of Boston.
  • 5 Sept-16 Oct. The First Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia; each state has one vote in this body.
  • 17 Sept. Congress approves the Suffolk County Resolves.
  • 28 Sept. Joseph Galloway proposes a union of colonies with Great Britain, with the colonies choosing members of a grand council, which, with a president-general chosen by the king, could make laws for the colonies with the approval of Parliament; the proposal is defeated, six to five.
  • 18 Oct. Congress adopts the Continental Association, pledging to cease imports from England after 1 December 1774.
  • 22 Oct. Congress expunges Galloways plan from its records.


  • 9 Feb. The king declares Massachusetts to be in rebellion.
  • 19 July The Massachusetts legislature meets in Watertown.
  • 21 July Congress receives a plan of union prepared by Benjamin Franklin.
  • 4 Nov. Indians attack the Spanish mission at San Diego, California.
  • 7 Nov. Virginia governor John Murray, Earl of Dunmore, declares martial law, charging with treason all men eligible for military duty who do not serve His Majestys standard and offering freedom to all slaves who join his forces.
  • 21 Dec. Parliament passes the Confiscation Act, allowing for the seizure of property belonging to rebels.


  • 5 Jan. New Hampshire adopts a new constitution to create a stable government while British authority collapses.
  • 9 Feb. Juan Bautista de Anza leaves San Diego to explore the area of San Francisco Bay.
  • 10 Feb. The South Carolina provincial congress begins a debate on a new form of government.
  • 5 Mar. The Pennsylvania Post publishes the plan of union drafted the previous summer by Silas Deane.
  • 26 Mar. South Carolina adopts a new government to take the place of British authority.
  • 2729 Mar. The Anza expedition determines that the San Francisco Bay area will be conducive to Spanish settlement.
  • 4 May Rhode Island removes the mention of royal authority from its charter, in effect renouncing allegiance to the king.
  • 6 May The final meeting of Virginias House of Burgesses occurs; it is replaced by the Virginia Convention.
  • 10 May The Continental Congress calls on the colonies to form new governments.
  • 15 May The Virginia Convention instructs its representatives in Congress to declare independence from England.
  • 810 June George Mason presents a plan for state government to the Virginia Convention.
  • 12 June Congress appoints a committee led by John Dickinson to draw up a plan for confederation.
  • 21 June The New Jersey provincial congress votes to write a state constitution.
  • 23 June George Wythe presents the Virginia Convention with a draft constitution prepared by Thomas Jefferson.
  • 29 June The Virginia Convention adopts a new state government, and Patrick Henry is elected governor.
  • 2 July The Continental Congress votes unanimously that these thirteen colonies are, and of right, ought to be, free and independent states.
  • New Jersey adopts a state constitution.
  • 4 July Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence.
  • 9 July The New York provincial congress begins work on a state constitution.
  • 12 July Adm. Lord Richard Howe arrives in New York as head of a peace commission; Howes terms are not acceptable to the colonials.
  • 15 Aug. John Adams publishes Thoughts on Government anonymously.
  • 20 Aug. Congress has copies of the Articles of Confederation printed.
  • 20 Sept. Delaware adopts a state constitution.
  • 28 Sept. Pennsylvania adopts a state constitution.
  • Oct. Concord, Massachusetts, protests the power of the Massachusetts General Court to write a state constitution, insisting that constitutions can only be created by the sovereign power of the people.
  • 9 Nov. Maryland adopts a state constitution.
  • 18 Dec. North Carolina adopts a state constitution.


  • 5 Feb. Georgia adopts a state constitution.
  • 20 Apr. The New York provincial convention adopts a state constitution.
  • 8 July Vermont draws up a state constitution, but it will not officially become a state until 1791.
  • 15 Nov. The Continental Congress adopts the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union and sends it to the states for approval; it needs the endorsement of all state legislatures to take effect.
  • 21 Nov. Congress recalls Silas Deane from Paris.
  • 17 Dec. Louis XVI of France recognizes the independence of the United States.


  • 6 Feb. France and the United States sign a treaty of mutual defense.
  • 28 Feb. The Massachusetts legislature submits a constitution to town meetings for ratification. The towns reject it by a vote of 9,972 to 2,083 and instruct the legislature to call a special convention to draw up a constitution.
  • 19 Mar. The South Carolina assembly approves a state constitution.
  • 10 June The New Hampshire state constitutional convention meets in Concord and is the first special convention called to draw up a constitution; its proposals, though, are rejected by town meetings.
  • 19 June The British evacuate Philadelphia.
  • 2225 June Congress rejects thirty-seven changes to the Articles of Confederation proposed by the state legislatures.
  • 9 July Delegates from eight of the ten states that have ratified the Articles sign them.
  • 4 Sept. The city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Congress sign a treaty of amity and commerce.
  • 20 Nov. New Jersey adopts the Articles of Confederation.
  • Dec. Maryland refuses to adopt the Articles of Confederation.
  • 5 Dec. Silas Deane publishes a defense of his conduct in the Pennsylvania Packet.
  • 9 Dec. Henry Laurens resigns as president of Congress because Congress refuses to censure Deane for publishing his defense.


  • 20 Jan. Congress appoints a committee to investigate the Silas Deane affair.
  • 1 Feb. Delaware adopts the Articles of Confederation.
  • 5 June The New Hampshire town meetings reject a proposed state constitution.
  • 21 June Spain declares war on England although it does not recognize American independence.
  • 1 Sept. The Massachusetts state convention meets to draw up a constitution.
  • 13 Sept. John Jay, president of Congress, asks the states to collect taxes in order to pay requisitions to the federal treasury.


  • 19 Feb. New York agrees to cede its western land claims to the United States.
  • 1 Mar. The Pennsylvania assembly approves a law abolishing slavery.
  • 2 Mar. The Massachusetts convention submits a state constitution to the towns for ratification.
  • 12 May The five-thousand-man garrison of Charleston, South Carolina, surrenders to the British.
  • 25 Sept. Benedict Arnolds plot to betray West Point to the British is discovered.
  • 10 Oct. Connecticut cedes its western land claims to the United States.
  • 21 Oct. Congress grants retiring Continental officers half-pay benefits for life.
  • 25 Oct. The Massachusetts state constitution takes effect.


  • 2 Jan. Virginia cedes its territories north of the Ohio River to the United States on the condition that Congress establishes new states in the region and that land purchases from Indians be voided.
  • 10 Jan. Congress creates a ministry for foreign affairs.
  • 1 Mar. New York delegates present their land cession to Congress, and Maryland delegates ratify the Articles of Confederation on behalf of their state.
  • 26 May The Pennsylvania legislature charters the Bank of North America.


  • Mar. The British Parliament calls for an end to the war in America.
  • 20 Mar. Lord North resigns as prime minister, and the new government opens peace negotiations with the United States.
  • 30 Nov. Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Henry Laurens, and John Jay sign the preliminary peace agreement with British emissaries.
  • 30 Dec. A congressional commission resolves the Connecticut and Pennsylvania dispute over the Wyoming River valley in Pennsylvania, maintaining that the land is within Pennsylvanias jurisdiction but that claims of Connecticut settlers should be honored. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania militiamen begin ejecting Connecticut settlers from their homes.


  • 15 Mar. Gen. George Washington denounces the threat by some officers to force Congress to pay them. He promises to use his own influence with Congress to ensure officers are paid.
  • 18 Apr. Congress proposes a revenue system as a way of paying the national debt.
  • 26 June Mutinous soldiers from Pennsylvania march on Philadelphia, and Congress flees to Princeton, New Jersey.
  • 2 July The British close West Indian ports to American shipping.
  • 7 Oct. Congress votes to build a federal town on the banks of the Delaware River in New Jersey.
  • 20 Oct. Congress votes to build a second federal town on the Potomac River, alternating its sessions between the two sites.
  • 31 Oct. New Hampshire towns ratify the state constitution, having rejected three earlier proposals.
  • 3 Sept. British and American negotiators sign the Treaty of Paris, recognizing American independence and ending hostilities.
  • 13 Nov. The first and only meeting of the Pennsylvania Council of Censors occurs.
  • 25 Nov. The British evacuate New York City.
  • 26 Nov. Congress meets at Annapolis, Maryland, resolving to alternate meetings between Annapolis and Trenton until the new federal cities are built.
  • 23 Dec. George Washington resigns his commission as commander in chief of the Continental Army.

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1754-1783: Government and Politics: Chronology

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1754-1783: Government and Politics: Chronology